Year 3 Day 16
Read - Daniel 3v1-30
Message - Scott Woodburn
At the end of chapter two it appeared that Nebuchadnezzar had come to the Lord. He made a bold statement to Daniel saying “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery." Wow! Was Nebuchadnezzar saved? Sadly not. As chapter three begins it seems that the king was inspired to turn his dream to reality by making a ninety foot golden image and setting it up on the plain of Dura (v1).
Whenever all the people of Babylon heard the sound of a cacophony of musical instruments they were to fall down before Nebuchadnezzar's golden image and worship it (v6). Anyone failing to do so would immediately be thrown into a fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar had not been saved, instead he was displaying the attributes of antichrist by demanding his subjects worship his false gods.
The rise of Daniel and his friends had not gone unnoticed and so when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship the golden image, their enemies quickly informed Nebuchadnezzar that certain Jews were paying no attention to the king's commands (v12). Nebuchadnezzar's rage was quickly kindled at the thought of anyone disobeying him. He had the three men brought before him and demanded to know just who they thought they were. As far as Nebuchadnezzar was concerned not even a god could save the young men (v15).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn't buckle before the king's rage. Their faith was in the living God. The Lord might save his servants from the fiery furnace and He might not, regardless they would not serve Nebuchadnezzar's gods or worship his golden image (v17-18). Nebuchadnezzar had heard enough. His fury had reached boiling point and so he ordered the furnace to be overheated and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be thrown to their deaths. The heat was so severe that some of Nebuchadnezzar's own men were killed by the flames as they sought to execute Daniel's three friends (v22).
Like all good despots, Nebuchadnezzar hung around to witness the brutal deaths of those who wouldn't obey him. But as he watched the execution of the three men he was astonished to see a fourth man in the furnace and all four men were unbound and walking in the midst of the fire (v25). Nebuchadnezzar described the fourth man as having the appearance like a son of the gods. Who was this fourth man? Some make the claim that this was a mighty angel and others suggest that this was an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament - a Christophany. Regardless of the fourth man's identity the servants of Almighty God were untouched and unharmed by the fiery ordeal (v27).
Nebuchadnezzar once again recognised the brilliance and uniqueness of our God. He promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and declared “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”
Years later another Christian by the name of Polycarp would be cast into the flames because he refused to worship the Roman emperor. He said "Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a season, and after a little while is quenched; but you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment that is prepared for the wicked." Polycarp's life ended in the flames but by faith in Christ he was spared the fire of everlasting punishment.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord will never forsake His people and He will be with us to the end of the age. Few of us will face a fiery trial like the men we have discussed today but we can still agree with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The Lord may save us from the flames of a king or He may not - regardless, we will not worship the false gods of this present evil age. Child of God, the flames of hell will never touch you and the Lord will not forsake you - ensure that you never forsake Him.
Q22 How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man? Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.