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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Daniel Lesson 8 Chapter 6

Wednesday as I listened to my favorite radio station, the program was about D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history. American troops storm the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. More than 150,000 Allied troops invaded Western Europe, overwhelming German forces in an operation that proved to be a turning point in World War II. http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/03/world/europe/d-day-fast-facts

Why discuss D-day in October? The radio minister reveals every day is D-day. We are in a battle for our lives. We live in a world of moral decay, intense degradation, and gross unrighteousness.

A sign outside of Trinity Church in New York invites worshippers to pray for Allied victory in D-Day invasion.  Prayer should be our first line of defense, not our last.
Just like Daniel, we have an enemy and there is a war going on. Do you sometimes feel that you have been in a conflict? Every day we need to dress for battle. Soon you will enter a war zone, for some the challenge is within the wall of your home. For others it could be the workplace, traffic, or ever present media.

Open your bibles to Ephesians 6. Keep a bookmark here because we will return later in the teaching.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Prayer taps us into “the all encompassing power and sovereignty of our great and awesome God.” Let us pray.

Warren Wiersbe in his book, Be Resolute, titles chapter 6 of Daniel: Liars, Laws, and Lions. That sounds perfect to me.

Liars, Laws, and Lions Please excuse my alliteration.
·        Darius Deceived by Flatterers 1-9
·        Daniel’s Devotion to God 10-19
·        Daniel Defended; Darius Delighted; Deceivers Destroyed 20 - 28

Our memory verse is our theme tonight. We must obey God rather than men.

Darius was appointed to rule Babylon. He chose 120 satraps (governors of Persian provinces), to manage his affairs in the whole kingdom. Verse 2 tells us “and over them three presidents, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss.” Greed and corruption were rampant, but they were accountable to Daniel and he stood in the gap.
Daniel was reliable, faithful, and worthy of trust over the king’s money. As with Nebuchadnezzar he held a place of honor and responsibility over others.

3Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

The other two presidents and the satraps (governors) were seething with jealousy, and searched for some indiscretion in Daniel to report to the king.
4-they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.
Wouldn’t we want that said of us in our eulogy? We must obey God rather than men.

Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Not only were they jealous, they hated him enough to desire him torn “limb from limb” by the lions. Isn’t that one of Nebuchadnezzar’s famous sayings? (2:5,3:29)

Psalm 5:9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.

"O King Darius, live forever!” We all agree the king should make a firm decree that whoever makes petition to any god for 30 days except you, O King, shall be cast into the den of lions.

Flattery and the anticipated exaltation certainly turned the king’s head. Thinking of his own glory, Darius consented to the plot and signed it into law. According to Medo-Persian custom the decree once sealed was irrevocable. As we remember the first dream of Nebuchadnezzar we should note that the power of the monarchs of the silver empire had diminished from the golden empire of Babylon. A king was subject to the laws that he passed; they could not be changed.

Romans 16:18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

“All the presidents, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have agreed”—they lied! Daniel was not there.

Who do we know that is deceitful, full of flattery and lies to manipulate God’s creation? From the first book of the Bible Satan has deceived with lies.
Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not surely die. (Lie #1!) You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Lie #2!) 
John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

Betrayed by lies and flattery, King Darius put the decree in writing only to regret it later.

Daniel’s Devotion to God 10-18
v.10 “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”

Daniel could have found many ways to modify his prayer time, but he chose not to stop his routine. He knew the price for such defiance of a royal edict. But ever faithful, Daniel trusted God enough to handle the situation. Do we have that much trust?
We must obey God rather than men.

Ladies this is my life verse and until this week, I had not remembered the second half. How perfect for this chapter of Daniel!
Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”
The despicable witnesses accused Daniel before the king."Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day."

Unlike Nebuchadnezzar who flew into a rage when Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused to bow to his statue, King Darius 14 “was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.”
Ironically, everyone was standing and now Daniel was bowing in prayer before his God.

Have you experienced the blessing of being persecuted for your faith? Yes a blessing.

You may not find it on the local news, but Christian literature and radio reports atrocities around the world concerning the persecution of Christians. We haven’t witnessed extreme persecution in America yet. But our freedoms are being tested. We must take a stand before we lose the rights for which our country was founded.
We must obey God rather than men.

Do you openly pray in public or in front of families who are unbelievers?  Which one is harder for you?
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:11-12a “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”  

Daniel Defended  
The king held Daniel in high regard. His parting words were like a prayer, "May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!"
v.17 tells us “a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet.” Could this be a foreshadowing of the tomb of crucified Christ being sealed with a large stone?

Daniel trusted God enough to humbly enter the lion’s den. He made no protest or quarrel against the law. No doubt he spent time praying, but I bet Daniel slept better that the king.

Unable to sleep or eat during the night, King Darius arose at daybreak and went in haste to the den of lions. 20He cried out in a tone of anguish, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?"   
 21Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live  forever! 22My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm."
Ladies don’t we long to be found blameless? We must obey God rather than men.

Deceivers Destroyed
24The king commanded those men who had maliciously accused Daniel to be brought and cast into the den of lions. Skeptics of the bible claim the lions had no teeth or they were not hungry, but the accusers and their families did not walk out of the lion’s den.

Have you ever felt like you have been in a lion’s den: In a work situation, with your extended family, and yes even in the church? Ladies our problem is not with people, no, we have a greater opponent.

1 Peter 5:8 Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Sisters he wants our children.  We must teach our son and daughters how to be prepared.

Let’s return to Ephesians 6:11-1211 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

But praise God he is able to save! Jesus blood won the war, now we must appropriate our victory.
We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Ladies remember these verses are only true for God’s children who have accepted the free gift of salvation purchased by His Son’s blood. If you do not know Jesus as LORD please take this opportunity to search your heart. Invite Him in tonight.

King Darius was Delighted to proclaim in these last verses (will you say them with me)
·        Our God is the living God, enduring forever;
·        His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
·        His dominion shall be to the end.
·        He delivers and rescues;
·        He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth,
·        He is able to save us from the power of the lions

28-So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel was a faithful to God until the end of his life. He had overcome the ungodly opponents in the king’s court, and God rewarded His faithful servant with authority and power in two empires.

We must also stand firm in a depraved and sinful world, be true to God’s commands and maintain obedience and integrity in the face of disapproving family or unsympathetic government. We must intentionally fervently pray for our nation, our homes, and our CBS.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Peter 2:12).

 Ladies will you dare to be a Daniel and obey God rather than men?
There is an old hymn titled Dare to Be a Daniel. Written by Phil­ip P. Bliss, 1873


Monday, October 13, 2014

Daniel Chapter 4-Nebuchadnezzar Humbled by God

Have you ever tried to help someone learn a life lesson or teach a biblical truth? How about talking to a teenager about consequences of their actions? Did you want to pull your hair out? They just didn’t get it. As with our children and grandchildren we have to teach them over and over until the “aha” moment when they finally get it.
After his first dream we see Nebuchadnezzar acknowledge the God of Daniel-"Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, …2:47 In chapter three after the rescue of the three Hebrew boys from the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”4:48 In addition the king rules that no one could speak against their God.
Think he’s got it? Notice he still refers to Our Lord as Daniel’s God. This week God gives him a warning in another dream which made the king fearful and alarmed.   God will use radical means to teach Nebuchadnezzar the He is sovereign. God alone rules the earth and God is accountable to no one. Revelation 22 tree of life.

Let me acknowledge from the beginning my teaching for tonight came through God’s directions and gentle urging. Everything I desired to elaborate on was covered remarkably well in your Commentary. Don’t forget to read it when you go home.

Daniel Lesson 6 Chapter 4 God Humbles Nebuchadnezzar

  • ·        Pride before the fall
  • ·        Patience of God
  • ·        Merciful grace to Nebuchadnezzar
Those who walk in pride God is able to humble.
(Probably written 30 years after chapter3)Chapter four of Daniel is very distinctive in the entire bible for it was written by Nebuchadnezzar himself—a pagan king! It was an open letter to be distributed to all people, nations and languages. It is the king’s own witness of how God reached out to him. The first three verses of this chapter are a testimony of his unique discipline and the power of God.
In the thirty-fifth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had brought under his rule Syria, Phoenicia, Judah, and Egypt. This second map denotes current country names.

1King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! 2It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.3How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
v4 I, Nebuchadnezzar was content in my home and prospering in my palace.


How would we define contentment? “At ease” in some translations, pleased and satisfied, no worries. This was a time of peace and basking in all that he had accomplished to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon. History confirms that Nebuchadnezzar built this Hanging Garden for his wife. (see commentary)


How about prospering? The dictionary defines it as successful in material terms; to be flourishing financially.
Another extravagance is this Ishtar Gate. It was the eighth gate into the city of Babylon made of cobalt glazed bricks. It was constructed around 575 B.C.E. by Nebuchadnezzar.  George Rawlinson, Historical Illustrations of the Old Testament, 1871 verifies 9/10 of the bricks in Babylon were stamped with his name.
This recovered section of wall was is 45 feet of the original foundation of the gate. The material excavated by Robert Koldewey between1902 to 1914. The Gate is now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany.

Those who walk in pride God is able to humble.
Speaking about Babylon  Jeremiah 50:31 “Behold, I am against you, O proud one, declares the Lord God of hosts, for your day has come, the time when I will punish you.
·        Psalm 10:4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
·        Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
·        Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
Beth Moore in her study Daniel does an excellent job of pointing out how pride can creep into our lives as Christians. If we are to be effective witnesses we must be aware of how others see us. “Pride is not a circumstance but a state of mind.”
How might pride be evidenced in a Christian? Beth Moore bought a new bible at the urging of her daughter. Our pride might be as innocent as a well marked Bible and unintentionally giving the impression to others of piety.

While answering your core questions, make sure you do not give the appearance of pride with your knowledge or memorization of scripture.
In God’s economy the way up is down. From heaven's perspective we never stand taller than when we bow down to lift up God.


Those who walk in pride God is able to humble.
Isaiah 2:11The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
As your Teaching Director I enjoy searching for and sharing facts and information not included in your commentary. God already knows that my love of knowledge and my skill in technology could be sources of pride in my life.
One evening at our home church we waited for the guest speaker to queue his DVD. My prideful self thought they needed my help, but the Good Lord put me in my place. As I bent over to check the player, I fell backward and ended up on my rump in front of everyone.
·        
Patience of God is shown to Nebuchadnezzar.
The tree In the Nebuchadnezzar’s dream symbolizes his pride and self-exaltation. The removal of the tree shows God’s sovereignty in raising him up and bringing him down. Ezekiel 17:22-24 and other references to trees are found in Psalms, Jeremiah, and Jesus parables often used a tree as supporting life.
 You know if The LORD had revealed to me in a dream that I was the tree and he would “'Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit15But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze,”
I would be looking over my shoulder constantly.
If you have ever gotten a speedy ticket or warning, are you a little paranoid? After attending traffic school last year for going 45 in a 35 mph zone, I sure am. Noticing a patrolman in my rear view mirror Monday, my hands gripped the steering wheel. He travelled behind me for several miles. I could not be at ease until he turned off the road. Evidently King Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten the dream.
Those who walk in pride God is able to humble.
 Job tells Elihu 33:14 For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.15In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, 16 then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, 17that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man;
This was the lesson God has tried to teach Nebuchadnezzar through the both dreams and the rescue of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the fiery furnace. Oh the extreme measures the Lord will use to bring us under submission!
Jonah 4:2 confesses I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. The Lord is patient and long-suffering.
Daniel advises in verse 27 “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity."
Daniel’s advice was not taken but the LORD continued waiting for Nebuchadnezzar to give Him the honor and praise and glory.

 29At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon,30and the king answered and said, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?"
How does God finally receive the praise and adoration he deserves from the greatest monarch that Babylon ever produced? By taking Nebuchadnezzar through the humiliation pictured in his dream.
31 While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, "O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you,
33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.
Nebuchadnezzar’s malady is a historical fact, documented from other writing. It is well covered in your commentary. ““Ly-can-thropy” (from the Greek word (lukos, wolf), which causes a human being to think he is a four-footed animal. In his palace, he began to hop around like a four-footed animal, and according to the custom of the day, they drove him out from the palace into the open fields.” It seems likely that Daniel remained precept, and protected Nebuchadnezzar during his seven-year malady.
Those who walk in pride God is able to humble.
No matter how low you have ever felt about yourself I doubt you could ever be as low as poor Nebuchadnezzar in this state.
·       
Merciful grace to Nebuchadnezzar
We can believe God’s promises and trust his word.
Verse 26 And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the TREE, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules.  Through these actions you can see God’s loving care for his people through the salvation of Nebuchadnezzar
Verses on HUMILITY
·        Psalm 113:7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
·        Luke 14:11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
·        1 Peter 5:5. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
·        1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
·        James 4:6 "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."
34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
The best time for a public testimony tends to be after we’re thinking straight again.
Luke’s story of the prodigal son says he came to himself.
Nebuchadnezzar says36 “At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me.”
A bronze door-step to a temple was recovered, bearing an inscription to that it was presented by Nebuchadnezzar as a votive offering upon his recovery from a terrible illness. 
Nebuchadnezzar’s last recorded words in Scripture summarize chapter four: “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
Daniel 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

 I can think of no better model of humility than our Lord Jesus himself.  
Philippians 2: but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

“If you truly understand that there is a God and that you are not Him, then you can begin to relinquish your own rights, hopes, desires, and wants and submit them to His will.  Bend your own will to submission to His work in your life.  Trust Him in all things. He is God and you are not.” Matt Slick
 “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised.
Andrew Murray
Will you choose to walk humbly before the Lord?
  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Daniel Chapter 3 Fiery Furnace

Welcome back, ladies there are so many teaching opportunities in this chapter of Daniel alone and all worth teaching. His spirit impressed on me the ones we might need tonight. Image makers; Tale Bearers; Faithful believers
Whenever you watch the television, check your email, visit the nail salon, or read magazines in a waiting room there's lots of advice about how to improve your image. Do you feel that as we age our doctors just assume that we need our bladders tacked and our eyebrows lifted? 
At my dermatologist, a large whiteboard lists their products -shots to tighten, fillers for wrinkles, medicine for growing eyelashes. I feel like my dermatologist office is divided into two sections; one side is for the beautiful people where getting lasered and injected. The other side is for those of us with skin conditions: skin cancer, moles, barnacles- (the not so lovely.)
In my earlier life that may have made me depressed. But CBS and the study of God’s Word has freed me from fear of man and the judgment of this world. In the Bible we are taught that our temporary bodies, our earthly tents are wasting away. We are waiting for our glorified bodies when Christ returns. 2 Corinthians 5:1-7
He has shaped and molded us to be people that He can use. “I am a daughter of the living God. My Father is Creator of the Universe.” Can you say that and mean it? We are His precious possession He lavishes us with love. Don't let the Image makers of this world change and remake you. Prayer
Lesson 5 Daniel 3-the Golden Image
·        Image makers
·        Tale Bearers
·        Faithful believers
“God will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
According to the oldest Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, this passage tonight (BC 586) occurred between 16 or 20 years after the end of chapter 2 (BC 603), so the Hebrew boys were no longer teenager who needed Daniel to lead them. The fact that Daniel was absent may seem insignificant, but it was in God's ultimate plan.
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits . A cubit was 18 inches which translate 90 feet X 9 feet. Abnormal proportions made it look like an obelisk. The tall thin statue could be seen for miles away. Similar to the Washington Monument which is 554 feet tall and 15 feet at the base but the proportions for the Kings image was 1/10.
2Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather all the important people in Babylon (the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the province) to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
This golden image reminds us of the haunting dream in chapter 2. Remember nobody except Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel had seen the image. However, now instead of just the head of gold the entire image is covered in gold, perhaps proclaiming that his kingdom would last forever. There was not enough gold in Babylon for a solid gold image 90 feet tall. The statue was most likely wood overlaid with gold. Outwardly it seemed to be imperishable but inwardly inferior kind of like the images we see in the news today. Music idol, athletes, stars of the big screen.
As noted in verse 1 the golden image was built on the plain at Dura 6 miles from the city of Babylon.  Along with his issue of pride, Nebuchadnezzar probably maintained a natural fear and concern for personal position and his kingdom. To make sure the people remained loyal to him, he commanded all the officials to report to the site of the statue.  It is estimated there were 300,000 people from all over the Empire. These VIP’s would represent the commoners left back home.
David Jeremiah says the king was trying to unite his vast empire by bringing it together religiously. When everyone bowed down before this image, it was an effort to unite his vast empire bringing them together religiously. By commanding everyone bow down before this image it was a perverted form of worship. The word “Worship” is used 10 times in this chapter. There are prophetic comparisons to the end times in Revelation with the number 666 representing the Antichrist, who will demand to be worshipped.
How do you create an image? A fa├žade? Is the real you the one everyone sees: at work, at church, in public? Is the image you portray the one God desires?
Chameleons have special cells (chromatophores) which produce bold color changes communicating moods. Males become bright to signal their dominance and turn dark in aggressive encounters. Owners of chameleons can learn to read their pet’s mood based on the color of its skin.
Can your family tell your mood based on the tone of your voice or the frown on your face? Bring your troubles to the throne of grace. No matter what you have done or how unworthy you think you are- remember God will never leave you or forsake you.
·        Tale Bearers
SLIDE 6 Do you think there were enough instruments? This was more of a worship service than a grand unveiling.  King Nebuchadnezzar gazed at the brilliant gold image shining in the sun of the desert. He was so taken with the ceremony and the festivities of all those important people worshiping the image that he did not notice that some did not bent the knee.
Enter the Chaldeans declaring to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever!”
Don’t you just love people like this; seeking attention by fawning over and praising the king, stroking his ego.  They could hardly wait to whisper in his ear.
V.12 These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
Do you think they were jealous that these Hebrew boys were “appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon?”
Song of Solomon 8:6 tells us:
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.
A tale-bearer is like a merchant, but he deals in information instead of goods. 
A Jewish fable: A woman went about the town spreading gossip about the rabbi. Later, she realized the wrong, and began to feel remorse. She went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, seeking make amends. The rabbi told the woman, "Take a feather pillow to the center of town, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." When she returned to tell the rabbi it was done, he told her go back and find every feather and put it back in the pillow case.
She replied, “But rabbi that is impossible. There’s no way I can possibly find all those feathers. The wind will blow them everywhere!” 
“That is true; you can no more make amends for the damage of your words than you can re-collect the feathers scattered to the wind."
Do you seek to deliver the best appraisal of a situation or do you carry tales? Think about your words and how powerful they are: to encourage or to tear down. If you have been the victim of gossip or unkind words just know...
 “God will never leave you nor forsake you.”
·        Faithful believers
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded to bring these men before the king.
14 "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?
Instead of a herald, King Nebuchadnezzar issued the command to “fall down and worship the image that I have made. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?"  It is very dangerous to mock a Sovereign God as we shall see in chapter 4.
This furnace six miles outside of town could be in an area that bricks were manufactured.  Babylon was known for their brick kilns. The location of the furnace made it the perfect device of punishment.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego expressed their absolute commitment to God. They didn't make their obedience contingent upon God saving them.
17If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
Exodus 20:4-5 is God's command, You shall not bow down to created image, an idol.” Their choice was to obey the King or to obey God’s command. They didn't need to discuss it, have a committee meeting, or negotiate.
They knew “God would never leave them nor forsake them.”
Warren Wiersbe says "True faith isn't frightened by threats, impressed by crowds, or swayed by superstitious ceremonies.” Page 51
Clearly the king in his rage was not thinking. The best way to punish a man wasn't to increase the temperature to kill quickly but to decrease the temperature so the victim would die a slow painful death.
Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
As Nebuchadnezzar watched he cried out, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods."
The fire burned the cords which bound the three men and set them free.
A Theophany is a visible appearance of God. Some say the fourth person in the furnace is a Christophany a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, seen many time in the Old Testament. The king called it an angel. Whatever you believe; it was God’s protection.
Nebuchadnezzar was convinced of the power of the Most High God.
Isaiah 43:2-3 (written 150 years prior)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
In the final verses of the chapter Nebuchadnezzar:  Blessed God, degreed everyone to worship the one true God, and promoted the Daniel’s friends. Their names were repeated 12 times in this chapter always a trio, but we will not here from them again.
It's easy to be a Christian when everything is going great but when the fires of testing is hot we are being watched by God.
A church sign I have passed for weeks says, “God gives the hardest test to the strong.”
God uses fire so hot to purify us that we think we're going to be consumed. Yet we come out liberated from the things we waste our lives worrying about.
When was the last time you were tested?
When you must walk through the scathing fire of criticism, anger, or pain, you will emerge without burns, without harm. “God will never leave you nor forsake you.”
As we sang the words of How Firm a Foundation remember we will face trials as Christians, but they are designed to help us live the way that Jesus walked.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Illustration from David Jeremiah’s The Handwriting on the Wall
John Chrysostom  (AD 347 to 407) who later became Archbishop of Constantinople.
An emperor ordered John to give up Christ, or he would be banished forever from the country.
John said, “You cannot, for the whole world is my father's land. You can’t banish me.
The emperor said, “Then I will take away all your property.”
“You cannot. My treasures are in heaven,” was the reply.
“Then I'll take you to a place where there's not a friend to speak to.”
John replied, “You cannot. I have a friend who is closer than brother. I shall have Jesus Christ forever!”
The Emperor finally threatened, “Then I'll take away your life!”
The answer was, “You cannot. My life is hidden with God in Christ.”
Can you answer tonight that you life is hidden with God in Christ?

Will you choose to accept His promise that he will never leave you or forsake you?