- Sermon Notes
Another In The Fire
Intro: The Quan’s Gambit
It’s all too easy for us to miss the key elements of a situation. There is so often another factor, another figure, another way. We can be so nearsighted that we ignore what’s really happening until it lands in our face. The will and working of the Lord can often be this way. When we finally see what He is doing it can feel so obvious, and our blindness to truth and fixation on the wrong things becomes our embarrassment!
Today we will be studying the telling of a time when three young Israelites kept their focus on the right things and a powerful king didn’t. When these young men seem to stand alone against an empire, we all get to see that there was another in the fire.
Read: Daniel 3:13-30
Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego were not alone through their trial! They trusted so deeply in God that no threat of the king’s or any other man could pull them from their faith. The same God that deserved their trust in the midst of the fire, deserves ours as well. When we are in a trial or time of need we must not forget that Christ has made a way for us, that God is powerful enough, and that the final result will be glorious!
I. Our God Can Deliver
When Nebuchadnezzar calls Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego before him and commands that they worship his idol, he sets himself up from the start with the perfect question:
Daniel 3:15… “what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”
You see, the king should have known the answer already, just a chapter earlier, he had declared Yahweh “a God of gods and a Lord of kings” (Dan. 2:47) Yet, he must not have fully understood or accepted the scope of that reality.
Church, the answer to that question is “our God!” He can easily deliver us from fire, trouble, or the plans of any man, no matter how much earthly power they appear to have.
Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Illus. Jar Lids
The mountains and valleys of men may as well be wall texturing to God. In all his power, the great challenges of the world don’t stand a chance at overwhelming Him.
This is hope to us! Just to know that there is someone who could help us –that our situation is not impossible—brings hope. But even more than that, the source of that hope also loves us, and sees us, and has good in store for His people!
We can walk in boldness knowing that there is someone who can save us…from whatever we may face. If we are in Him, He is in us (John 14), and we can trust that He will not forsake us!
Stand for Him
Now our trio had been given another chance to worship the golden statue. The king was giving them an out, and all they had to do in order to save themselves was reject the command of their God in favor of the king’s.
It can be tempting to give ourselves to the gods of this world. In fact, there are times when this may feel like our best, easiest, or only option.
Exodus 20:3-5 “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them…”
People build all sorts of idols for themselves and expect to be saved. Idols of money, power, success. Idols of leaders, parties, worldviews. Idols of relationships, feelings, self. We are talented at finding and creating things to worship instead of the One True God.
Illus. First Girlfriend
We must not bow our heart to false God’s, but rather stand firm in our faith.
Philippians 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
This is what Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego chose to do. Not even waiting for the music to play, they tell the king that they have no intention to worship any God but theirs.
Daniel 3:17-18 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
What a statement! Not only do they speak to the awesome power and ability of our God, but they also make it abundantly clear that they would never abandon the God who they trust won’t abandon them.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
We are called to have faith that does not disintegrate in the face of fear. Standing for God, trusting that He is with us, even to and through death.
The Lord has the Final Say
When Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego were forced to choose between living in the way of man, or dying in the name of God, they chose what they believed to be the wisest, most righteous option.
Can we have the depth of trust? To give everything up for God is actually better than gaining all things without Him.
Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ
God’s ways are higher, they are better. His understanding far outreaches ours.
Illus. Bruce Almighty
But, how can anyone say that they will trust God even if He does not deliver them from their earthly troubles?! We have to hold to the truth that our hope extends beyond this life.
Psalm 118:5 From my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place. the Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?
Matthew 10:28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
I believe Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego had some understanding of this. They feared and respected God more than any man. A powerful person can kill your body, but only God has authority over your eternity.
He has the final say in your destiny, and that is joy for us! That there is no fire we can face in this life that has the power to nullify God’s ultimate hope to us!
But, our God’s sovereignty does not get cut off at the door to heaven, He has ultimate authority in this life, too!
We serve a loving God who sees us in our troubles, and knows the best way for His children, and for these three, God still had more story to write. He was going to show up in a powerful way, and show everyone which God was able to deliver!
Christ Is With You in the Trial
So, Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego have spoken their piece, trusting God to do His will. The kings reaction? Rage.
It looked as though things were getting worse, their choice to honor God inspired the king to crank the furnace 7 times hotter. So hot, in fact, that those valiant warriors who bound and carried Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego were killed just by coming near the flames.
There are gonna be times when following God makes our life harder. The path of the Lord is actually impossible to follow without the power of the Spirit.
Those men who went part way with Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego couldn’t survive the heat, but our trio would go even further, how? The same way that we will.
1Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
We can walk through suffering in a Christ-like way, because we have Christ with us in the ordeal!
When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, he saw someone, a fourth man with them in the fire, and all of them were unbound and walking around!
Many scholars agree that this is a Christophany, a preincarnate appearance of Christ. Jesus was literally in the fire with Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego, and so He will be with you, if you choose Him.
These men were simply following God, of course He would be there in the fire, they were following Him!
Not only that, but Christ has already demonstrated His willingness to suffer with us, and even die for us.
1 Peter 2:21-25 For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps, He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being abusively insulted, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He did not threaten, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Jesus is not some cold distant being, absently watching you suffer from the comfort of His throne. He intercedes for you, He suffered on your behalf, He is with you in the trial!
He brings Freedom in the Flames
Now, one thing that I don’t want us to miss is the fact that Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego went in bound up, but walked themselves out!
I love how brilliant our Savior is! Not only did He deliver them from the furnace, it looks like He used the flames to free His people. Our trio weren’t burnt in the slightest, but everything that bound them up was consumed in the fire!
God uses the trials of this life to refine us, to free us of impurities and inhibitions! All this, to reflect His glory to the world!
To God be the Glory
When Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego walked out of the flames, they didn’t even smell like smoke. God’s protection was so perfect, and so amazing, even the king could not ignore how wrong he had been.
In fact, he would go on to declare that there is no other god like our God!
When we walk through the flames of life in a way that only God could allow for, it’s a testimony to all who see that there is another in the fire with us. When we get beyond our own strength and continue to trust in the Lord, His power and glory shine even brighter!
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Isaiah 43:2-3 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. He commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.