Book of Daniel, part 5

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Daniel 3: Four Moves

  1. Babylonian Idol (1-7)
  2. Who’ll Save You Now? (8-18)
  3. Fourth Man (19-27)
  4. Don’t “Dis” Their God! (28-30)

Idol Time
The idol that Nebuchanezzar sets up on the plain of Dura would have been a typical practice of kings in the ancient world. Kings built statues of their gods to represent their rule. Examples:

When Antiochus invaded Jerusalem, he looted the Temple. Later a Greek idol was placed in the Temple. Any Jew who refused to bow and sacrifice to the idol was killed. In 168 BC, the temple was dedicated to the worship of the pagan god Zeus Olympius by order of Antiochus, who forbade the practice of Judaism. An altar to Zeus was set up on the high altar. Those who resisted Antiochus’ orders were killed.

Who Will Save You?
Dedication to God despite threat of harm. This theme continues through the New Testament ...

  • Jesus and Pilate (Matt 27)
  • Apostles and Sanhedrin (Acts 5)
  • Paul and Felix/Agrippa (Acts 24 -26)
    See 1 Maccabees 2:51-64 for Matthias’ encouragement to his sons.

    “But If Not ...”
    Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego do not know the outcome. They know they could die.
    They demonstrate confidence in God’s power to save, but they also display dedication to God even if it results in their death.
    Either way, they are victorious and Nebuchadnezzar loses authority over them.
    The words “But If Not” have referenced this attitude thru history. It was reportedly sent in a telegram from a soldier at Dunkirk in 1940. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached a sermon with these words in 1967.

    Weren’t There Just Three?
    The fourth man has an appearance of a God

    Why didn’t God simply keep the Hebrews from being thrown into the furnace?

    1. God was in the furnace before Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. God does not abandon them in the place of fear and terror. He meets them there.
    2. He is showing Nebuchadnezar that “He is the God who can save his people even from the consuming fire.”
    3. I imagine that if Nubechadnezzar can stand the glare, he sees the fourth man staring back at him.
    4. So Nebuchanezzar calls them out and takes their God seriously.

    Close Encounter

  • Nebuchadnezzar is humbled
  • He makes his decree because he doesn’t want anyone to offend the true God
  • There is no other god like God!

    So What?

    1. A text that has inspired generations
    2. The connection between faithfulness and deliverance does not deny suffering
    3. Persecution continues ...

    Cloud of Witnesses
    “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
    – Hebrews 11

    Chris Benjamin

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Evening Sermon, 10 June 2007

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