When It Gets Hot
When It Gets Hot…
There is a story about a young minister who was going to give his lesson from memory like I’m going to try to do this evening with nothing written in front of me. He remembered that he was going to start off strong with, “Behold, I come quickly. ” But he couldn’t remember the rest of the sermon. He drew a blank. So, he thought, I’m going to start off and say it with a little more vigor. He said, BEHOLD! I COME QUICKLY.” He still drew a blank. He thought for another moment. He then thought that if he could put more gusto into it maybe he would remember the next lines. He thinks for a moment and then he says: “BEHOLD! I COME QUICKLY!” He puts so much force into it that he falls off the pulpit right into the lap of a young lady sitting on the front seat. Now, he’s very embarrassed. He says, “Mam, I’ve very sorry.” She replies, “Sonny, you have nothing to be sorry for. You warned me three times. I should have got up and moved the first time.”
We think about in that illustration about how people give us words and we just don’t listen, or there are words and we don’t think it applies to us and we move on. This evening I would like to entitle our sermon, based on the series that we started this morning about fans and followers, When It Gets Hot… basically when it gets hot stay in the fire. There’s really no other way of saying this normally we would get out, but that would be a fan. Sometimes in our lives as God has it, the heat may get turned up. We may just have to stay in there and bear with it getting hotter.
We are going to be looking at Daniel chapter three. In the book of Daniel we know that there’s a story of three men that are going to be told words by the king. The king is going to ask them or have a decree. They’re going to ignore the words of that decree because it goes against what they’ve been told. They could say, “Well, that decree might apply to everybody else, but it’s not going to apply to us.” We’re going to look at why.
Daniel 3:1-3 (NKJ) Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. This is a little bold, isn’t it? What purpose is this going to have? Look at the size of it. It’s made to brag, showoff. He invites all these people to come see it. The king doesn’t want anyone to miss this monument that is being set up for him.
We think about our own lives. I’m sure we come in contact with people today that view themselves a little more important than others. More importantly, they view their own actions as important. Anytime they say to you, “I can do whatever, I want.” What are they saying about God in their lives? They’re viewing themselves more important than anyone else—including God, our creator.
In verse 4 Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” That’s pretty plain. Not only is the image there, you are to be in awe: O, Nebuchadnezzar, how powerful you are! But also when you hear these instruments playing, you need to fall down and worship the golden image.
There were times prior to this in the Old Testament it says take not false images. Do not be an idol worshiper. We know in the New Testament also speaks of not partaking of idolatry. We know that there are examples of THE God. That He is alive. There are examples of false gods, but this king, Nebuchadnezzar, himself has made this image that he wants people to worship.
We think about people in our lives today who may value their car more than anything. They value their jobs more than anything. It would really be the same thing as this golden image. If we let something stand in our lives that is more important than our worship to God, if it more important than what we realize what God deserves, so there at verse seven: So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Now, I’m going to drop down to verse 12. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.” Hum? Tattletales! People saying, “Do you know what they’re going over there? There are people that don’t worship.” Obviously, there are people blabbing to the king. What difference did it really make to them? There was the decree. I don’t know if they wanted to see these three individuals get in trouble. Busybodies? I’m not sure. Basically, they’re saying, “Do you know that there are not people who don’t listen to that? They don’t follow your god.” It’s ironic that here there’s no footnote that says when they’re speaking to the king: they worship a God that is greater than your gods. Your gods are false gods. This would be a perfect time for them (if they really believe in this) to say: they don’t worship your image because they’ve got something better. That is basically what we know now. That is the lesson that God is going to be teaching, but we don’t see it yet.
Notice Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction in verse 13. Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So they brought these men before the king. If you’re Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and you’re brought before the king you might be thinking “Uh oh!” I don’t know if you’ve ever been sent to the principal in school. Just think of the fear of being told that you had to go to the principal. I don’t think I was ever sent to the principal’s office, but to just think about watching kids’ reaction when they’re told, “You have to go see the principal.” As a teacher I used to say jokingly, “I think the principal wants to see you.” You can see a little bit of the fear of respect.
Here is the king. Not only are you being sent to the king, I don’t know if there’s any word that the king is furious that you have not followed his decree. We talked about fans this morning. If you’re a fan, what are you thinking as you’re going to the king? You probably are thinking you have to give him every reason why I was doing this. Think about people today. They give every reason why they do what they do. So, here there’s going to be a list of reasons: We didn’t because we didn’t hear the sound. We didn’t because…you’d be thinking of all these different reasons why you didn’t do it.
In verse 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Put yourself in this situation. You are in front of the king. You’re asked a straight forward question. Is it true that you chose to ignore my decree? What would your response be? Today we may be asked just a simple question by our own friends—are you a Christian? Or, do you think that you really need to attend services every time? Or, just any type of question like this? I’m sure that God wouldn’t care if you missed service just this once. I’m sure that no one would care if you do this or that just once. Sometimes when I was growing up I would hear, why don’t we…it’ll be just this once. The king is asking this question: Did you ignore my decree?
In verse 15, Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Now, it becomes personal. Who is that God that shall DELIVER you out of my hands? Isn’t it ironic that the Titanic, we can’t prove it, but isn’t it ironic that this ship that had the statement made about it that even God Himself couldn’t sink it? This ship never made it to its destination on its maiden voyage. Hum? A little irony there. Here is a king basically saying, who is that God that shall deliver you? He was putting fear into them. There’s no way that your God is going to deliver you because your God isn’t my god. Your God isn’t our gods.
Which one is the true God? What do Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do? In verse 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. We are going to do what God wants us to do. How would you answer the question who is your God that is going to help you? Do they know the final ending? Do they know that there will be no harm to them? No. Do they know that the king is going to be upset? Yes. Do they know that there’s a decree saying they will be thrown into a fiery furnace? Yes.
I’m sure that all of us have experienced fire to the point that it’s been so hot that its signed our hair. But to be thrown into the midst of it is something that I can’t even imagine. Sometimes we have a fire in the fire ring in the back yard and we like to cook marshmallows, hotdogs or we have a fireplace. Sometimes the fire is so hot that the grandkids say, “Papa, you have to cook the hotdogs because I can’t get close enough.” You can feel the heat just barreling out of there and that is not being put into it.
Think about the punishment that these men are going to face. From my lesson this morning, how are we going to separate? I would say that you have definitely gone beyond the point of just being a fan and gone to being a follower if you are going to be willing to be put in the fire. I asked myself, as I was looking at this, what would my answer be? I don’t know about you, but I’m not one of those who like pain. I’m not crazy about being burned. To be told this, I might be stammering—ah-ah-ah… I don’t know what my answer would be.
We know what the results will be. We think, maybe God will excuse me just this once. Would God really excuse us? What is being said right here? God knows this is a test, correct? This is going to be a straight out test of their faith. When someone looks directly at them and says, your God, it’s almost like we’re going to put in a fiery furnace and we’ll see what YOUR God is going to do. Verse 17, If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. Did they know that for sure? They did know for sure that God has the power to do that. It’s going to be up to God.
That’s where a lot of people fail in life today. God has the power. God is able to do what wants to do. There’s a lot of things that we just don’t understand. A lot of people will say, why do I have to suffer? Why did that happen to this individual? We don’t have those answers. We do that God created the heavens and the earth. We DO know that God has the power to do ANY of the things that God wants to do. We know that God completely understands things that we don’t understand. We know that God will know on that Day of Judgment. We know that God has complete understanding where we only understand partially.
That is what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are doing. True followers will put it into God’s hands. They put it back into God’s hands. They know that they might suffer pain. Yet, they are saying, we know that our God has the opportunity to do whatever He thinks is right. Don’t tell us that our God doesn’t have any power to do any of this.
We look at verse 19. Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. To me fire is fire. Heat is heat. Burned is burned, but Nebuchadnezzar had to make a point. Not only are you going into the fire, we’re making it seven times hotter than we ever planned on making it. He commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the fiery furnace.
One of the things that I find interesting is that the king is getting his mightiest men. At this point Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I don’t see fighting. If they were really going to flee, if they were really only part-time fans, they would have given excuses in the first place. King, we’re really sorry. The next time that music plays we’ll be listening and we’ll fall down and worship. They’re not there to debate. They’re not there to fight. They’re not there to reason. They are there to accept. Whatever it’s going to be they know that it’s better to believe in the Living God and take their chances with God than with them.
As we think about the verses, what can keep us from the love of God? I’m going to add some verses. Fear: Maybe with some people it’s their own personal fear that keeps them from the love of God and being a follower. Principalities: Some are worried about the politics of things. We’re worried about what people will think of us. We know that scripture says: nor height, nor depth, nor anything, principality or whatever can keep us from the love of God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as true followers believed that. These men were bound, with their coats, their clothes, their hats, their garments, were cast into the midst of the fiery furnace. They are cast in.
The song we sang before our lesson this evening, number 100, Take My Life and Let It Be. That is the attitude of a true follower. That is the attitude that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had. Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. They are led by God’s love. That is what we need to see—God’s love, not the fear, not what we might feel in terms of torment or pain, but His love.
When I look at about what Jesus went through for each one of us, all the pain that He went through, knowing that He was going to suffer. These individuals, we know, will not suffer. Jesus wasn’t spared that. He suffered for each one of us, but it was the love, the love of the Father, His love for each one of us, that got Him through that suffering.
Look at verse 22. Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. If I’m watching this and I’m the king, I don’t know why I’d be satisfied, but you’re the king wouldn’t you be see these men going in you might think: Ah, take that! How dare you stand in my way! There are people that feel that way. They just want to run you over. We know that’s not going to be the case, but you see when these men fall down you have to be thinking I am victorious. I win.
Then we see in verse 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men (not just four men. That’s a mystery in itself. We throw three in but there are four in there and their loose. Four men loose---not bound anymore.) loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Let’s go back to the question he asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Your God , your God isn’t strong enough to save you out of this fiery furnace. Now not only is God strong enough to make sure that they aren’t hurt the fourth person is like the Son of God Himself.
I think of Stephen when he’s stoned. Stephen standing up for God is being stoned to death by people who couldn’t stand to hear him talking about God and the vision that God gives him so that he can see the Son of God. He sees Jesus in his vision. We see here these individuals have the Son of God standing right next to them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, (He’s got to be astonished by now.) saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, (Notice his change. Tell me that this man isn’t changed. You never would have heard it before this incident.) servants of the Most High God, (His voice changed now, didn’t it?) come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. I don’t know about you, but one of the things you can’t avoid when you’re around fire is the smell of fire on you. When you come in right away there’s that smell and it’s strong. The first thing that you do is take your clothes off. You don’t just put them in the hamper you usually put them in the washer or immediately take care of them because there’s such a strong smell. You can tell when people are around smoke and fire.
These men had no smell. I don’t know about you but there have been times when my hair is singed before I even know. The first thing you note is that burnt, singed smell of hair. They have none of the smell.
A true follower: Think about the impact. We don’t know how many princes, governors, captains, kings, counselors and so forth are gathered together. What have we going from? We have gone from a king building a monument so everybody could see how big the king is and everybody needs to fall down and worship him to everybody witnessing God as God. I picture that last cover (even though he’s not saying it here) Our God He Is Alive in Him we live and we survive. That is what we picture this evening.
The lesson that I would like to leave with you, in comparison/contrast to this morning’s lesson is these individuals were followers. They followed. Some of us look at the trials and temptations we go through in our lives. We know that nothing, some people go through things that are very severe, I know that I have never had to experience anything like this or what some others suffer. Yet, may I be willing to do so to make a point that I’m a follower of God. Here the total number of people that were impacted, even the king himself, has gone from being high and mighty to saying: ye servants of the Most High God. Think about that major statement.
Verse 28 and I’m going to close with this. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, (Notice, he even admits) and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” That, if you had to give any message to anyone, is one of the strongest messages in the Old Testament that you can look at. There are many examples, but that is very strong. The king himself is making this decree: If anyone alive today…
That’s what I would like to offer you this evening. Like Jesus has said, if anyone serves any other god than the one shown to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego they will be accursed. This evening we have the opportunity to come forward. To be baptized or to rededicate our lives back to the Lord, ask for the prayers of the congregation, if there’s anyone in need you have that opportunity this evening to come forward and make your life right as together we stand and sing a song of invitation.
Where and when we meet
Chardon, Ohio 44024