Summary: The world appears to be tolerant of God's people then moves to tolerance with some compromise; and finally to intolerance. This is displayed in the lives of Daniel and his three friends.
1. I did not grow up regularly attending church. I learned Psalms 23, 100 and the Lord’s Prayer in public school – we recited these along with the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. “Times, they are a ‘changing”
No prayer in school
No Bibles in most schools
The shift away from God is getting greater
Benjamin Rush "By removing the Bible from schools we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing criminals and so little pains to prevent crime. Take the Bible out of our schools and there would be an explosion in crime."
3. What happens when a culture ignores or rebels against God?
Judah is in Babylonian Captivity (586 BC in modern Iraq); 70 years
Exceptional Hebrews were brought into the king’s court, including Daniel and the 3 friends
Daniel served 4 Kings and was challenged in regard to his faith
He may have gone into captivity about age 20 and died about 90, so he would have seen the beginnings of the return
4. As Daniel was tested by his times, we will be too and the outcome will be determined by our faith
I. Tolerant Intolerance (Worship MY gods and YOUR God) – Daniel 3.1-6
A. God Worship is Permitted
1. Hebrews saw God as the one to be worshiped and served (Food issues; prayer)
2. Hebrews saw God as Creator
[Even atheists say that the universe exploded into existence out of nothing. Its existence implies a Creator outside of time, space, and the material; He is personal (made the decisions); Powerful; Intelligent – GN 1.1
3. Hebrews saw God as Sustainer Colossians 2.17 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The universe is fine-tuned and sustained by an outside Being.
If the strength of gravity is off by 1 part per 1040 we would cease to exist; this is like stretching a tape measure across the whole of creation and gravity is off by 1” we would cease to exist.
Every few seconds you are manufacturing 100,000 new Red Blood Cells without any intention because God sustains us
4. Hebrews saw God as the God of Covenant – Babylon brought time to reflect on God’s covenant with Abraham; raising of the nation; covenant through Moses; their unfaithfulness to the covenant and their repentance for Restoration
B. Idol Worship is Required
1. Idols are made by men – Isaiah 44.6-8
a. God made man in his image
b. Men make gods in their own image
c. Babylonians had a low view of the Hebrews’ God; high view of their gods
2. The idol of the King was a representation of their god
C. Idolatrous Intimidation – Worship of Furnace
Government intimidation today – Affordable Care Act – birth control; abortion issues that some did not believe in but were forced under threat of heavy fines; Hobby Lobby and a few others opposed the intimidation and won
For over 60 years churches have been silenced in regard to government issues – “Separation of Church and State”; Johnson Amendment – lose tax exempt status; removed prayer and bible from schools; legalized abortion – little to nothing was said; churches have no voice; in some countries, reading certain scriptures is “Hate Speech”