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Bible Ballistics: Vol. 16 No. 20    Assurance-VS-Arrogance???

 

We have read continually the decision of Daniel and his friends regarding their devotion to God, their godly character, and integrity; an integrity that we need to take note of and learn from.  We are looking at the behavior of godly men who are captives in a pagan land under a pagan king—Nebuchadnezzar—lessons of godly integrity that we can learn from today, especially today!  We begin again with the verse that makes the difference in their lives and can in ours.

But Daniel purposed in his heart

that he would not defile himself

with the portion of the king’s meat,

nor with the wine which he drank

therefore he requested

of the prince of the eunuchs

that he might not defile himself.”   Daniel 1:8

What have you and I made our mind up about?  Have we committed to trust in God’s provision or are we pursuing our own solutions to the trials of our day?  We talked last time about the character that our three friends had; and I want us to consider the choices that these men made and what they can mean to us!  If you remember, we find them at a grand “unveiling” of the golden statue that the king had erected (in his own honor) yet the issue wasn’t the statute but the call to “worship” and ‘bow down’ before it!

And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God,

which have brought thee

out of the land of Egypt,

out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee

any graven image,

or any likeness of any thing

that is in heaven above,

or that is in the earth beneath,

or that is in the water

under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,

nor serve them:

for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God,

visiting the iniquity of the fathers

upon the children

unto the third and fourth generation

of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy

unto thousands of them

that love me,

and keep my commandments.”   Exodus 20:1-6

Our friends knew the Law of Moses and were committed to keep it—even knowing it could cost them their lives.  The King’s threat was real and as we saw in chapters one and two, Nebuchadnezzar was a man given to temper, and our account in chapter three is a prime example.  But for our purposes we want to focus on the attitudes, responses and humility of our three friends.  Unlike the events of chapter one and two, which were relatively private in nature, this event was a public one and puts our friends on center stage!  What we also see is that their integrity (remember the king promoted them along with Daniel for their wisdom and integrity) has evoked some not-so-nice responses from others!

Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans

came near,

and accused the Jews.

9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.

10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree,

that every man that shall hear the sound

of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick,

shall fall down

and worship the golden image:

11 And whoso falleth not down

and worshippeth,

that he should be cast into the midst

of a burning fiery furnace.

12 There are certain Jews

whom thou hast set over the affairs

of the province of Babylon,

Shadrach,

Meshach,

and Abednego;

these men, O king,

have not regarded thee:

they serve not thy gods,

nor worship the golden image

which thou hast set up.

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar

in his rage and fury

commanded to bring

Shadrach,

Meshach,

and Abednego.

Then they brought these men

before the king.”  Daniel 3:8-13

We could call this the tale of ‘tattlers’, but while our friends were obviously envied, they didn’t respond in kind, but they stood firm in their faith and answered with fearlessness, honor and integrity.  What do you and I do when we are confronted with the ill-will of others?  Do we respond with confidence in our God or our own ‘wits’?  Are you like me and sometimes loose the integrity battle to the smart-mouth urges?  Do we give in to the call of the flesh to answer in kind?  That isn’t what we are called to do, I’m reminded of Paul’s message to the Ephesian church, and while he’s talking about interactions among believers, it applies to the broader context of our relationships with all people.

Let no corrupt communication

proceed out of your mouth,

but that which is good

to the use of edifying,

that it may minister grace

unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,

whereby ye are sealed

unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all

bitterness,

and wrath,

and anger,

and clamour,

and evil speaking,

be put away from you,

with all malice:

32 And be ye kind

one to another,

tenderhearted,

forgiving one another,

even as God

for Christ’s sake

hath forgiven you.”   Ephesians 4:29-32

Peter also gives us an urgent reminder concerning our behavior, and the import of reflecting our Lord and Savior, Jesus, rather than the world. (And 1 Peter is a great message about suffering for Jesus!)  And friends I believe it’s speeding toward us today!

Finally,

be ye all of one mind,

having compassion one of another,

love as brethren,

be pitiful,

be courteous:

9 Not rendering evil

for evil,

or railing

for railing:

but contrariwise

blessing;

knowing that ye are thereunto called,

that ye should inherit a blessing.

10 For he that will love life,

and see good days,

let him refrain his tongue

from evil,

and his lips

that they speak no guile:

11 Let him eschew evil,

and do good;

let him seek peace,

and ensue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord

are over the righteous,

and his ears

are open unto their prayers:

but the face of the Lord

is against them that do evil.

13 And who is he that will harm you,

if ye be followers

of that which is good?”  1 Peter 3:8-13

Jesus Himself gave us an “other worldly” view of relationships and how His children ought to behave.

Blessed are they

which are persecuted

for righteousness’ sake:

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye,

when men shall revile you,

and persecute you,

and shall say all manner of evil against you

falsely,

for my sake.

12 Rejoice,

and be exceeding glad:

for great is your reward

in heaven:

for so persecuted they the prophets

which were before you.”  Matthew 5:10-12

We are not alone, when we suffer for Jesus/God; but we must decide, do we want the blessings of God or His judgment.  And don’t be cocky, thinking Christians are never judged, for God will judge His own—not for condemnation, but for discipline and correction.

Yet if any man suffer

as a Christian,

let him not be ashamed;

but let him glorify God

on this behalf.

17 For the time is come

that judgment must begin

at the house of God:

and if it first begin at us,

what shall the end be

of them that obey not

the gospel of God?”  1 Peter 4:16-17

And more food for thought from God’s Word!  I’m just the messenger!

For whom the Lord loveth

he chasteneth,

and scourgeth every son

whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening,

God dealeth with you as with sons;

for what son is he

whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement,

whereof all are partakers,

then are ye bastards,

and not sons.”  Hebrews 12:6-8

So, what does this all have to do with our three friends?  Well, they were willing to “withstand in the evil day”!  Are we?  And, no pun intended, they were about to have their “feet put to the fire”, yet they still stood fast trusting to their GOD!

Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them,

Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

do not ye serve my gods,

nor worship the golden image

which I have set up?

15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick,

ye fall down

and worship the image

which I have made; well:

but if ye worship not,

ye shall be cast the same hour

into the midst of a burning

fiery furnace;

and who is that God

that shall deliver you

out of my hands?

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

answered

and said to the king,

O Nebuchadnezzar,

we are not careful to answer thee

in this matter.

17 If it be so,

our God whom we serve

is able to deliver us

from the burning fiery furnace,

and he will deliver us

out of thine hand, O king.

18 But if not,

be it known unto thee, O king,

that we will not serve thy gods,

nor worship the golden image

which thou hast set up.”   Daniel 3:14-18

In closing for this session, we see that our friends gave no quarter in their willingness to stand faithfully before their God regardless of the circumstances.  They had seen God’s faithfulness in the past and they trusted their future to Him, and answered the king in humble honesty, knowing that whether God physically delivered them or not—HE would deliver them, and they would NOT BOW!  Are we willing to trust God in all?  Even in the midst of hatred, jealousy and anger.  I’ll leave you with Nebuchadnezzar’s response, and then we’ll pick up next week, with GOD’s response and WOW does GOD have something to say!!!

Then was Nebuchadnezzar

full of fury,

and the form of his visage

was changed

against

Shadrach,

Meshach,

and Abednego:

therefore he spake,

and commanded

that they should heat the furnace

one seven times more

than it was wont to be heated.

20 And he commanded

the most mighty men

that were in his army

to bind

Shadrach,

Meshach,

and Abednego,

and to cast them

into the burning fiery furnace.”   Daniel 3:19-20

What’s burning in your life?  What fires are you afraid of?  Will you look up trusting God to provide?  Do you know Him?  Do you know HIS Word?  I call you to join me in spending time this week asking God to grow us in grace, truth and love toward those around us.  May others see Jesus in you/me?  May we reflect assurance rather than arrogance?

Let this mind be in you,

which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God,

thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 

7 But made himself of no reputation,

and took upon him the form of a servant,

 and was made in the likeness of men:

 8 And being found in fashion as a man,

he humbled himself,

and became obedient unto death,

even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8

Amen and Amen!!!