Either fall down and worship Golden Statue or Die in the Fire.
Daniel Chapter 3.
Good morning my friends, I don’t know about you, but I can feel the days are getting longer and the earth is warming up again. After Winter’s cold we begin to look forward to Spring’s warmth don’t we? It’s the same when we get ill, we look forward to the day when we’ll begin to feel better again or when hardships come, we remember the good times and look forward to a time of ease from hard labour.
Daniel and the Jewish people in Exile in Babylon also looked forward to those good times, but a decidedly dangerous turn of events occured when the King of Babylon built a Golden Statue and told all the people to bow down and worship it. For the Jews all knew that worshipping a false idol would bring God’s swift condemnation and judgement. The edict / order of the king was; “either fall down and worship or face being thrown into the furnace and being burned alive”.
People Value Their LIVES: The Bible clearly tells us that the vast majority of human beings value their life more than all their possessions and would give up everything in order to live. Even Satan knew this when he asked the LORD to allow him to take everything from Job. Job 2:4-5 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
So when the King gave this order to worship the idol of gold, most of the people would comply, their worship was not from their hearts but from convenience and compliance, they didn’t value the statue, but the did value their wellbeing, they loved their lives. For the Jews however, this was going to prove a very testing moment during their Exile from the Pormised Land.
There were four young men who from among the Jews had been selected for service in the Empire of Babylon, they’d been promoted because of their proven abilities; intelligent, wise, bright and clever, now what will they do? We know the story, but let us look at their hearts together.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego valued their lives just as much as anyone else in the world, but there was a higher power that took precedence over their own lives, because they’d received another edict / command long before Nebuchadnezzar had issued his own;
The Commandments of God:
1 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
They’d had these laws for hundreds of years by the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, they were embedded into the fabric of their being and their hearts were often tested in this area whilst they lived in Israel, they’d been sent into Exile by God (at the hands of the Babylonians) because they’d broken these commandments and had not listened or responded to the many messengers that the LORD had sent to warn them. These who were alive after the Babylonian attack, were taken back to Babylon and now they were faced with the critical choice; “Follow God’s Commands or Nebuchadnezzar’s”….
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.
3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language:
5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
The Christian’s Choice:
Follow The Way of the World: Under Satan’s Rule.
Follow the Way of the LORD: Under Jesus Rule.
I think it all boils down to TRUST & FAITH:
We all trust different things in life; getting married we make oaths to one another and trust that we’re able to live up to those promises. We get aboard a bus, train or plane; trusting the pilot or driver knows where he’s going and can get us to where we want to go. We exercise Faith is so many areas of life, but how are we getting along at actually TRUSTING God with everything in our life today. If our LIFE depended upon it, would we be faithful to the LORD?
Hypothetical Questions like that are very difficult to answer. The devoted Christian will immediately respond, “I hope I’d have the courage of my convictions”, but ultimately until we’re put to the test we just don’t know.
However, we can determine every day just how devoted and faithful to Jesus we really are; because moment by moment throughout every day of our life, we face challenges and tests of our devotion and faith and trust in Jesus don’t we?
For instance: For those of us who live in relative freedom those tests normally come in moral and relational ways; choices to live a good holy pure life in a world that’s quickly becoming less and less concerned with moral purity and conduct. We’re faced with explicit sexual temptations through the Media, Advertising, Films, TV and the Internet, and the way that people dress and behave, even in public places today. They are all temptations and we’ve got choices every day, but we’ve also got the LORD’S express commands in the Bile in these areas too; For example read the Ephesians passage below.
How to LIVE a HOLY, PURE and MORAL life for Jesus:
1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no-one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
But probably more of a problem is our ATTITUDES to others as Christians.
We’re challenged and tested every single day.
For instance: I’ve noticed that London is getting more and more overcrowded, the transport system is just not coping with the increase in numbers and the patience of people is wearing very thin. You’ll notice in Brixton outside the Tube Station, thousands of people every day queuing up for buses, but in days gone by, those queus were patient and we always let those who’d been in the queue first, bet on the bus first, but not these days. When a bus arrives there’s a mad scramble to be first. Fights break out often, people push one another to be first, sometimes you’ll have to wait for a few buses before you can board one of them. I’ve noticed mothers with children being left stranded whilst fit young men push in front of them. There have even been stabbings because of the overcrowding. How is a Christian going to behave in those queues? What’s our attitude going to be towards our fellow passengers? Oh yes my friends, we’re being tested RELATIONALLY every day. Patience, humility, peace, generosity, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control…
While we don’t face death decisions like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we do face the choice to be like Jesus; to die to self and live for God.
John 12:25 “The man (Person) who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
The person who chooses to live for themselves is choosing the benefits for the short term; i.e. you’ll get on the bus first, but you’ll feel bad about it afterwards, when your God given conscience kicks in.
The person who chooses to live for Jesus; is choosing blessings for all eternity; i.e. You’ll let others go ahead of you and you’ll bless those who overtake you and pray for those who push you aside in life. “Bless and do not curse”, “Do good to those who hate you”, “Love your enemies”, “Turn the cheek”, “Walk an extra mile”, “Give your shirt off your back to one who needs it”, etc etc… My friends, choose not to live for now or for the moment, but choose to live for ETERNITY. Store up for yourselves TREASURE in Heaven.
We’ll only be VICTORIOUS if we keep close to Him, Jesus Christ and get His Holy Spirit POWER to live for Him in this world today.
Decide right NOW to live for Jesus and be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit.
Choose Eternity over The NOW (Instant Gratification).
You know my friends, when you decide to live for Jesus every moment of the day, you are going to feel so much better about yourself, your attitude towards others and your heartfelt devotion to the LORD. You’ll be full of JOY and want to praise Him, even in testing and tempting situations that you’ll face.
God bless and keep you today.