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?