Last time we discussed that in this world we might be labeled by others and we do not like labels because sometimes we get put into categories with people we do not want to be associated with. Labels are used to put people into categories which in turn silences people from speaking out. The word phobia is added to you whenever you are speaking out about something that is controversial or goes against culture. (Islamophobia, Homophobia and ect)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not looking for trouble but they had principles and beliefs that they were not going to compromise because society told them what they should do and how they should think and live. This got them criticized by others and pointed out to the King which made them be in trouble with him. This is why we have to know what we believe and why we believe it because society will push us to conform to their ways. Everything is not black and white in scripture and so we have to make sure we have God’s Word and His Spirit to show us what we need to do. God has given us His commandments and through scripture we can see His principles that we are to live by. When the pressure to conform is not enough then the tactic switches to trying to create fear in you by having consequences for not giving in. None of us will probably be thrown into a fiery furnace but we may suffer personal relationships, job promotions, go to sensitivity training or fines all trying to use fear to get us to do the things of the world.
1) Extremist know the Word of God
2) Extremist do not give into peer pressure
3) Extremist do not give into fear pressure.
We left off in our story last week with King Nebuchadnezzar giving them another chance to bow or be thrown into the fiery furnace. Today we will see how Shadrach Meshach and Abednego responded to this demand from the King.
Read Daniel 3:16-18
4) Extremist obey God regardless of the outcome
“But even if He does not save us”
When we read the book of Esther most people know the line “For such a time as this”(Esther 4:14) which refers to her knowing that God placed her in this position for a reason even though when she steps in front of the king she could be put to death. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have a saying that everyone should memorize as well when they say, “Even if He doesn’t save us, we will not bow” Their obedience was not contingent on them getting their way, their obedience was based on what God had revealed to them in His word. They know that God can save them but even if He chooses not to they are not going to bow down to the kings command.
It is interesting to note that not once do they ask God to save them from the pain they are getting ready to face in the fiery furnace. If you study the book of Job you will see that God has purposes for allowing us to walk through things that we will not understand this side of Heaven. We do not have to defend God or His ways to a world that says that God does not exist because He did not come through for them. God has His purposes and just because it does not make sense to us we can trust in Him because He is God.
Some say that bad things happen to Christians because they did not have faith in God. Hebrews Chapter eleven is known as the Faith chapter and it shows God doing great and mighty miracles but it also shows people of faith not experiencing those miracles and suffering pain.
Hebrews 11:36-40 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
We live in a Christian Culture that says God will not give you more than you can handle but I think burning in flames is more than any of us can handle. The verse that is always taken out of context is 1 Corinthians 10:13 which is talking about being tempted not trials you might face.
We live in a Christian culture that says if you have faith then things will go your way and God will come through for you but that is not the attitude of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We have to learn to trust God even when life does not makes sense that He is using the pain, sorrow and tribulation we may face for a reason that goes beyond our understanding.
We should learn to say, “In the face of sickness God can heal but even if He does not…” “In the face of financial ruin God can come through but even if He does not…” We need to trust God even when He does not come through for us or at least the way we wanted Him to. Christians have always had to suffer at the hands of evil rulers but we are called to trust God even if it cost us our lives.
Revelation 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
“The difference between the true believer and the unbeliever isn’t the presence of faith, because everybody lives by faith in something. The difference is the object of that faith.” (Be Resolute, Warren W. Weirsbe, Pg 49)
Do you trust God when it seems He is not coming through for your life?
Do you trust God when life does not go the way you wanted?
Many of us like this story and the one about Daniel and the Lion’s den because God comes through for them but what if God decided to allow them to burn in the fiery furnace would God still be God?
Read Daniel 3:19-23
5) Extremist will not be accepted by the World
“His attitude toward them changed”
We must remember that Nebuchadnezzar was a control freak and was used to always getting his way. The King more than likely liked these guys because he gave them a second chance but the kings pride was at stake because of all the other governing officials were present. When they refused to bow he had soldiers tie them up to restrict them from escaping and then throw them in the fire. The fires was so hot that the soldiers throwing them in the fire were killed by the heat the furnace was generating from being heated seven times hotter than it was before.
There will be punishments that the world will do to us because we refuse to do things their way. Jesus, who did many miracles and healed many people was hated and He said we would be hated as well.
John 15:18-19 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Adapting to the ways of the world is not going to get the world to love Christianity. Jesus never softened His call to follow Him even at the expense of losing people. (See John 6:60-70) With Christianity you do not get to pick and choose what is or is not a sin and you cannot just say that this is my lifestyle choice, because with Christianity you have surrendered your rights to place yourself under the King of Kings When you want to be loved by the world then you will do things to make sure that they continue to love you and that will lead to compromising your beliefs.
Read Daniel 3:26-30
6) Extremist point people to God
Did we not throw 3 men in?
When Christians walk by faith, and trust God through their difficulty, that is when the world takes notice of our lives. Anyone can live for God when everything is going their way but living for God when life is difficult shows people that God does exist because that is when God is visible to those looking at you from the outside.The reason people do not believe our message is because they do not believe our lives.
How you live your life matters and with them it gave Nebuchadnezzar and all the others the opportunity to see Jesus. There is some debate as to whether this was an angel or Jesus Himself. Nebuchadnezzar was a believer in many gods and so by what he says I believe he was seeing God Himself in the form of Jesus. Most people ask what can God do for us but we should be asking what God can do through us.
Isaiah 43:2 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.
We are not promised to escape the trials of this life we are only promised that He will be with us no matter what we are going through. No matter how difficult your life gets you can know that God is with you and will never leave you. (Hebrews 13:5)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have a story to tell for all eternity about how Jesus walked them through the fiery furnace because they did not bow to the world. What stories will you tell in Heaven about how Jesus walked with you through the fires of life? Never give up in the midst of your fiery trial because it is there that you will see you are not alone and it is in the fire that God is showing Himself to others.
God knew it would be a bigger miracle to save them in the fiery furnace rather than saving them from the fiery furnace and God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to heat it seven times hotter to prove that God is the only one who can save. Your trials are an opportunity for God to show up and to show others He exist.
Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound,
The fiery trials in our lives have a tendency to unbind us from the cares of the world while at the same time allowing us to get closer to Jesus. If we are honest we all get entangled with the worries and cares of the world and it is as we go through difficulties that we see the things we care about are not things we should be worried about. When we as Christians are bound to the same problems and stresses and concerns as everyone else then they will not see a difference in us and not look to God for their salvation.
1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Do you ever have battles with your spouse, children or roommates over the temperature setting in your house or office? We all want to be in control of the thermostat and set it at the perfect temperature for ourselves. In a Christians life God is the one who controls the thermostat and although things may be hotter than we want we can still trust that He is the one who is in control.
Why did Nebuchadnezzar heat the fire so hot? Would it not have been better for him to let it cool down so that they would have been alive longer and suffered more pain? God controlled the thermostat and wanted the world to know that He was the true God and the God that saves. No one should have been able to survive and God did not want a natural explanation as to why they were able to walk out of the fire unbound and unsinged. Again, God will give us more than we can handle because that is when He can show Himself to the rest of the world.
7) Extremist Serve Faithfully
Then the King Promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could probably of asked to be released from their duties and sent home but instead they served the very king who just tried to kill them. They knew that God was using them in a pagan culture and instead of separating themselves from it they served faithfully in it.
Would you serve a person faithfully that just tried to kill you? You would if you just saw Jesus. Every Christian is planted by God in this world whether they think you are where you are at by accident or not. God wants you to serve Him faithfully by doing your job well and by living the commands of God. They served faithfully for 20 years before the fiery test to not bow came, but when tested their faithfulness changed the world. Faithfully serve and if for some reason you are called to take a stand then do it knowing that God has placed you there for “Such a time as this” knowing that He can save you but “even if He does not” you still will not bow.
God gave us these stories to encourage us in our struggles with the world that we live in to continue to follow God even if it cost us everything. Shadrach Meshach and Abednego not only introduced Jesus to the King but to all those who were present at the time. (some estimate 300,000 people) The pressure to conform will grow stronger and stronger and it will feel as though the furnace has been heated seven times hotter. Revelation 13 and 14 tells us that at the end of time the Beast will make a statue of himself and force people to worship him so this story will be repeated again in the end times. We can stand against the pressures of the world but we must know what we believe. We cannot give into peer or fear pressure no matter what the consequences. We have to trust God no matter what happens realizing that our lives are pointing other people to Him.