Living Principles – Lesson 7

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Pride – World

Daniel 3

Pride destroys many

  

There is no indication of the amount of time between the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the implementation of the worship of the idol.  But, it does show the arrogance and pride that Nebuchadnezzar had in his life.  He went about to erect an image of gold to be worshipped by his subjects.

Nebuchadnezzar made this image of gold to stand 60 cubits high and was 6 cubits wide, which equates to 90 feet tall and 9 feet in diameter.  The image was made with gold, which was more than likely overlaid in gold because there is not enough gold in that time to make the image out of solid gold.  The height of the image probably included the base, which the image rested on.  (Note:  cubit is equal to 18 to 21 inches in length) 

The interesting aspect of this image is that its dimensions are the number of man, which is 666.  The height is 66 cubits and the width is 6 cubits.  The number of perfection is seven, yet man always falls short of perfection because he is a fallen creature.

No one knows exactly what the image represented.  Some contend that the image was to represent Nebuchadnezzar himself.  That he was setting himself up to be worshipped as God.  Others contend that the image represented Bel, the primary god of the Babylonian empire.

Here Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that Daniel’s God is the God of Gods, yet, he still worships Bel, the Babylonian primary god.  But, in either case, the image was to be worshipped as God.

The king brought all the people together and made a proclamation through the herald, which is a public proclaimer or crier.  He told all those gathered that at the appropriate time, when the music is playing, that you will fall down and worship the image as God.  This was a government command to worship this image as God.

Those who failed to worship the image would be cast alive into a burning furnace and be destroyed.  

So the message was clear, worship this or die.

Faithfulness required

Daniel 3:8–12 ESV “3:8 ¶ Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 

3:9 They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 

3:10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 

3:11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 

3:12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 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.”” 

When the cry went forth to fall down and worship, there were three men who stood out in the crowd because when everyone else was bowing, they were standing upright.  Immediately, several began to accuse these before Nebuchadnezzar saying that they refused to bow to the image he erected.

These three Hebrews refused to bow before the image because they knew the Word of God forbids them from bowing before anything other than Jehovah.  God has commanded them not to worship any graven image or any false god.  They kept the commandments of the Lord.  Their faithfulness that was exemplified in chapter one has not changed after being in Babylon for several years.

Exodus 20:1–6 ESV “20:1 ¶ And God spoke all these words, saying, 

20:2 ¶ “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 

20:3 ¶ “You shall have no other gods before me. 

20:4 ¶ “You shall not make for yourself a carved 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. 

20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 

20:6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” 

Faithfulness tested 

Daniel 3:13–18 ESV “3:13 ¶ Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 

3:14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “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? 

3:15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. 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?” 

3:16 ¶ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 

3:17 If 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.

3:18 But 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.”” 

Nebuchadnezzar had the three Hebrews brought before him and he gave them a second chance to fall down and worship the image that he set up.  He told them that they must fall down and worship his gods.  But, if they refused, they would be cast into a fiery, burning furnace and be destroyed.

Nebuchadnezzar made a snide remark about them and Jehovah.  He said who is God that can deliver you from me.  In other words, your life is in my hands that there is no one, not even God, that can deliver you from my punishment if you do not worship the image.

Option – worship what I tell you to worship or die.

The three Hebrews proclaimed their faith and trust in the Lord even if it means that they will die for the Lord.  They faithfully proclaimed that God knows what is best and He is able to deliver if He so desires.  They trusted in the will of God for their lives.  They knew that God knew what was best for them.

Romans 8:28 ESV “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” 

They stood upon their faith in Jehovah and would not be moved by the threats of Nebuchadnezzar.

Pride’s rage

Daniel 3:19–25 ESV “3:19 ¶ Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 

3:20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 

3:21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 

3:22 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. 

3:23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. 

3:24 ¶ Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 

3:25 He answered and said, “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.”” 

Nebuchadnezzar had an anger problem that he needed to control.  He is a perfect picture of a worldly person who wants his way regardless of what anyone else thinks.  Back in chapter two, he gets so mad that he commands all of the wise men to be killed.  Now, he gets so mad that he commands the furnace to be heated beyond its capacity, to a sevenfold level.  His anger and rage caused some of his mighty men to die. 

The mighty men that were commission to bind the three Hebrews and throw them into the fiery furnace were all destroyed.  

As Nebuchadnezzar watches the three Hebrews cast into the furnace, he does not see what he thought would happen.  He thought he would see them die a horrible death, yet, they are up and walking around in the middle of the furnace.  He cannot believe what he is seeing because he asks his counselors, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”  They all answered, “yes”.

But, Nebuchadnezzar saw four men walking around and he recognized a huge difference in the fourth man.  He said that the fourth person looked like the Son of God.  The appearance of the fourth man astonished the king.  He recognizes a divine attribute to the fourth person.

Faith’s victory

Daniel 3:26–29 ESV “3:26 ¶ Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 

3:27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 

3:28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 

3:29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”” 

Nebuchadnezzar drew near the door of the furnace, the portion to added fuel to the fire.  He asked the three Hebrews to come out of the furnace.  As they emerged from the flames, it was noted that the fire had done nothing to them, not even leaving a smell of fire on their clothes.

No one could deny that this was a miracle.  There could be no tricks or illusion to handle such a great event as what happened.

When the three Hebrews stood before the king, Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed that their God was the able to deliver them out of his hand.  He declared that no one should speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego.  If they did, they would be destroyed.

This proclamation does not mean that he gave up his worship of Bel and the other false gods of the Babylonians.  It means that he recognized that the three Hebrews’ God had a prominent place among the gods.

Remember that Nebuchadnezzar was polytheistic in his beliefs.

In the end, he promoted them to higher positions for their faithfulness to serve the Lord.

Living Principle

Living Principle – Before your faith is tested, you must establish who you serve.

When one reads this chapter in Daniel, they see a wonderful, historical story about three Hebrews keeping their faith in Jehovah when faced with a cruel despot.  However, one must see beyond the historical aspects and see the spiritual significance of this event.

There is a great battle going on in the world that can be traced all the way back to the Tower of Babel.  At this tower, man began replacing the worship of Jehovah with his own worship.  Man began an organized, self-made religion to replace God.

Since this happened, there has been a battle brewing throughout the ages where the world is saying, “This is what you worship.”  The world is trying to dictate to men and women what to worship.  Today, they are calling on men and women to worship materialism, sensuality, pleasures, greed, and many more things.  They want the Lord replaced with the things of this world.  They want man to treasure worldly thing rather than serve the Lord.

They want men and women to bow down to this idolatrous idol.  Unfortunately, there are spiritual leaders who are saying that you can do both:  bow down to the idolatrous image and serve God at the same time.  But, you cannot.  The Scriptures are specific; you cannot worship God and mammon at the same time.  There cannot be two gods in one’s life.  Either you serve the Lord God or you serve something else.  You cannot serve both.

The world says, “Bow down to our image”.  The Lord says, “Follow me.”

Here is a spiritual battle.  The line had been drawn; “Bow down or die.”  But, the Lord tells the Christian to be faithful and to worship Him alone.

The choice must be made.  Will I bow down and worship the god of this world or will I worship the Lord?

What would you have done in this situation?  Would you have said, “I will bow down now, but continue to worship the Lord later?”  Will you think to save your life, only to really lose it?

Luke 9:23–27 ESV “9:23 ¶ And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

9:24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

9:25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

9:27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.””

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