Daniel: Being a stand up person in a bow down world (week 5)

Daniel: facing the fire.
Daniel 3-4:3

Just as an immense statue featured in Daniel chapter 2 now also another immense statue features. This time instead of a dream it is a golden image that Nebuchadnezzar himself erects. It was an immense idol that would have loomed over 27 metres tall; a symbol of Babylon’s dominance serving to reinforce the power of the King who ruled over it.

Remember that Babylon endorsed pluralism.  No-one was denied their freedom to worship their other gods, but what was enforced was homage to the state and this image that represented the spirit of Babylon and the power of the King who ruled it.  It would have been quite easy if not ever so tempting for Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego to simply compromise.  But in remaining faithful to Yahweh they understood that a part of His revealed will for them is that  “they have no other god’s before Him.” (Exodus 20)

And so here they faced immense pressure to compromise their faith.  Firstly the pressure came from authority. The first 7 verses of the chapter mention the King several times as the person who lay behind this golden image.   The second pressure was that of conformity. All of the civil service had been gathered and told to conform to the King’s edict or else experience tragic consequences. The masses together had to obey.  There would have been an immense amount of pressure that came from what “everyone else was doing.” The third pressure was that ofmalicious intent.  They would have felt acutely the intentions of those who had a vested interest in their downfall. For Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego there were those who were spiteful that Jews should hold such prestigious positions and where ever possible were looking for ways to undermine or remove them. And finally the pressure of intimidation.  When the king learns of their disobedience there is one chance given, to bow down before the image or else face the treat of the fire.

But they don’t succumb to the overwhelming pressure.  Notice their response in verse 16-17:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Two important things to notice about their response.  Firstly they wholeheartedly believed that God was capable of delivering them.  However that deliverance was not their primary concern.  Their primary concern was obedience and as to God’s personal will for them well, that was up to Him.  It is very often the case that we get preoccupied with God delivering us rather than being obedient to Him.  Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego knew God’s revealed will through the ten commandments and so they sort to obey Him. And God delivered them not from the fire but from within the fire.   They had to go through the anguish of facing the fire but as they did God met them in it.

Listen to the sermon here

 

This short clip put together by the bible project gives a really helpful overview on the book of Daniel.

For discussion in communities:

Question to open discussion:

What are the idols that we are encouraged to worship in our context?  What does the pressure look like upon us to worship those idols?

Read together Daniel 3-4:3

Q1.   What do you think motivates Nebuchadnezzar to build this idol?
Q2.  What do you notice about the idol itself?
Q3. Do you think there is any significance to the list of people named that were summoned to come and worship the idol?
Q3.  Why do you think music was employed as a device for a call to the worship of the idol?  What role do you think music plays in worship?
Q4. Do you see any parallels between our culture and what was happening here with Nebuchadnezzar?
Q5.  What do you think gave Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego such courage?  Where do you see examples of courage today?
Q6. What do you think of Nebuchadnezzar’s response to the miracle of them not being incinerated?
Q7. What do you notice about the fourth person in the fire?  Who do you think that might be? What do you notice about the way in which God delivers them?

For accountability + prayer:

You can use these discussion questions either in smaller prayer and accountability groups or as a part of your own individual devotional life.


Q1. Share with each other the pressures that you experience everyday to compromise your faith.
Q2. How are you dealing with those pressures?
Q3. What do you think the first commandment to not have any other gods before God looks like in your life right now.

Prayer together for the renewed commitment to have the courage not to bow down when everyone else is.

For personal devotion + study:


Monday:  Praise be to….

This week we are going to meditate upon 1 Peter:3-9.
“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hopethrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.“

Take a moment to practice the discipline of praising God. Praising God for His mercy. Praising God for the gift of a new life. Praising Him for an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade. 


Tuesday: Shielded by Gods power. 

This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s poweruntil the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Meditate upon what God has shielded you from.


Wednesday: rejoicing while suffering…

6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

The words “rejoice” means find joy. What would it mean for you to find joy in the trials you currently are facing?


Thursday: suffering as a means of proving genuineness.

7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Reflect upon your journey, how have trials and challenges worked to produce character in you and more sincerity in your faith?


Friday: loving God even though you do not see Him. 

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

How is your love for God at the moment?  What could you do to foster a love for Him?


Saturday: faith and fruitfulness…

9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

How precious to you is your salvation?  What does it mean to you that you have been saved?