SERIES: Ridiculous Faith
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS FOR WEEK OF MAY 20-26, 2020
Daniel 3 tells us the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They stood up to king Nebuchadnezzar, refusing to bow to the nine-story tall golden image, even when their lives were at stake. Why didn’t they bow? Because they believed that God was able to deliver them! Faith that seems absurd (that’s another word for “ridiculous”). Their faith was so strong until they stated that they believed He was able to deliver them, but if He didn’t they still would not bow!
Nebuchadnezzar likely considered bowing down to his statue the equivalent of taking a pledge of allegiance. He was perhaps trying to develop unity since Babylon was made up of many different races and classes of people. To have everyone bow to this image of him was like ushering in a state religion and he can see no reason but insubordination for refusal to worship as requested and therefore he does not hesitate to prescribe a brutal punishment in the furnace.
When the musicians started up the music everyone fell down to worship the image. The response was total and immediate. The king had achieved the unity he sought. Everyone bowed, that is everyone except Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Daniel 3 (KJV)
14 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.
19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.
20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments.
22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in.
23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.
24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.
25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego showed ridiculous faith in God when they declared they were willing to burn then bow!
- It would have been easy to compromise at this point. Or even make excuses!
- I mean, how can we stand up instead of bowing down under pressure like this? God would understand, won’t He? He knows our heart!
- Or, “Look, if we get ourselves killed, who is going to look out for the welfare of the Jewish people? We’re no good to anybody dead. Even if it means bowing down to this idol, we need to survive.”
- Perhaps, they would have thought “When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians do.”
- Then, they could have reasoned, “we’ll bow down but we won’t actually worship the idol. We’ll just make it LOOK like we’re worshipping the idol but we’ll really worship God in our hearts.”
They could have said this and many other things, and save their lives. All these rationalizations sound sensible …. at first. But God’s word disallows them all.
Exodus 20:4-5a (KJV) – 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything 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:
Point to Ponder: What excuse would you have used if faced with such a dilemma? What would you have done?
If there is one thing that is crystal clear in Scripture, it is the idea that God’s people bow down to God and God alone. There can be no compromise on this. So if we want to beat the heat, what’s our option?
If you want to beat the heat, fight fire with faith! Have fireproof faith! What is fireproof faith? First, fireproof faith is . . .
- Faith in God’s POWER – God is sovereign and can do whatever He needs to do!!
- He has power to deliver and to defend.
- He has “Triple A” Power –
- Able Power – He is able to turn. . .
- Darkness to light
- Despair into delight
- Anxiety into assurance
- Burdens into blessings
- Emptiness into fullness
- Take the heat out of fire!
God is ABLE!! He has the power!!
1 Chronicles 29:12 (ESV) – Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
Jude 24 (ESV) – Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy
- Abundant Power – His power is not lacking
- No shortage
- No scarcity
- Absolute Power – God’s power is not. . .
God has omnipotent power! That means God can do. . .
- WHAT He pleases
- WHEN He pleases
- WHERE He pleases
- WHY He pleases
- AS He pleases
Secondly, fireproof faith is. . .
- Faith in God’s PURPOSE
- As with all true faith, their confidence was not blind to the realities of the situation nor to the fact that God works out His purposes in the way that He chooses, not the way we would choose.
Romans 8:28 (KJV) – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
- When God allows problems, trials or any disasters in our lives, God has a plan and a purpose.
- God allows problems to be teaching moments to us.
- In the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we learn that. . .
- jealous people will try to hurt you,
- immoral people will try to defile you,
- selfish people will try to use you.
- We also learn. . .sometime our faith increases our problems rather than reducing
- If God is better glorified by delivering His people, He will do it.
- If God is better glorified by not delivering His people, He will do that!
- But we must never conclude that the absence of deliverance means a lack of faith on our part or a lack of faithfulness on God’s part.
These men of faith would not have regarded their deaths in the flames to be a failure of faith, but rather an indication of God’s will!
- Faith means trusting in God and His word.
- Faith does not mean that we either know or we understand what His specific purpose in our lives may be.
- However, it means a ready willingness to follow Him whatever His purpose.
And thirdly, fireproof faith is. . .
- Faith in God’s Presence
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were delivered from the flames, or more accurately in the flames.
- There is no suggestion here or elsewhere in Scripture that the believer will be cushioned against trouble and suffering except by the presence of the Lord with him in it.
- You meet the Lord in the furnace a long time before you’ll meet Him in the sky!
- Whatever our circumstance may be, God promises to be with us!
- He promises. . .
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee (Isaiah 43:2)
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Joshua 1:5)
I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)
Progress in the Journey. . .
How fireproof is your faith? Is your faith in Christ strong enough to meet the challenge of a personal tragedy? An unanswered prayer? Criticism? Personal threats? A Christian leader’s falling? Loss of health? Loss of possessions? Persecution?
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Ask God to allow you to take a bold step and remain faithful to that bold task that God has put on your heart.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: When you see others taking a stand, be in prayer for them and stand with them should God put that on your heart.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Share with others that need to know and remind those that may have forgotten that the greatest act of courage was done by Christ for our salvation.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: The expansion of God’s Kingdom takes consistent and persistent giving; make sure you are doing your part.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: Although you may have experienced or may be experiencing a challenge, ask God for the strength to endure because the results may be out of this world.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: They Have to Come Down
SERIES: Ridiculous Faith
NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT: Joshua 5:13-6:20; Joshua 1:5, 9; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7; 2 Chronicles 20:15