With Christ in the Fiery Furnace


Text: Dan. 3:13-28
Title: With Christ in the Fiery Furnace
Subject: God's deliverance of the 3 Hebrews

Intro: Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived three Hebrew children. Their names were Han-an-i-ah ("Jehovah hath been gracious"), Mish'a-el ("Who is equal to God?"), and Az-a-ri-ah ("Jehovah has helped").

To the Jews, the names of their children represented something. 1) they represented a constant reminder to the children of God's characteristics; 2) they represented the hope to the parents that the children would live up to their names; 3) they were also a reminder to the parents of their God-given responsibilities to bring the children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and 4) the names provided a spiritual yardstick by which both parent and child could measure their relationship to God. Names meant something!

So these 3 Hebrew children grew to young manhood under the influence of godly names, a godly national identification (Nation of Israel), a godly cultural identification (Jews), and godly parents. We know these godly influences had their desired effect because these 3 teenagers are described in the Book-that-will-never-pass-away, as: well-favored in appearance, prudent in wisdom, experienced in knowledge, insightful in science, and confident to stand before kings.

When the Nation of Israel was carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, so were the 3 young men. This national judgment was not the making of these 3 young men, but they found themselves right in the middle of the consequences! But because of the national captivity, the 3 young men had the opportunity of displaying their faith through four personal trials.

The first trial was the forced changing of their names from being associated with the one true God, to names that were associated with Babylonian idols, in order to disassociate them from their God.

The second trial was in refusing to defile themselves by eating of the king's meat. This refusal was not based on the type of food served, "but because this meat and wine was offered up to heathen gods, and thus consecrated by a religious rite diametrically opposed to the worship of the one true God" (K&D).

The third trial was in trusting in the mercy of God to reveal to Daniel Nebuchadnezzar's dream concerning the great image.

The fourth trial, which is the subject of this message, was the forced worship of Nebuchadnezzar's golden image which was in direct contradiction and refutation of the worship of the one true God.

My point is this. These young men were brought up under the influence of godly names, a godly national identification, a godly cultural identification, and godly parents. And when called upon to stand or fall, to be unflinching or to compromise, to declare God or to denounce God, they chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb 11:25)

And some of you would stand for God! God bless you!

But some of you would cry, "Rms 13:1, Roms 13:1!, Its the law, Obey the law, Obey the law!" Or, "What can it hurt, it is only an image? I still love God!" Or, "But everyone else is doing it." They chose to suffer affliction!

And so, king Nebuchadnezzar set up the golden image, and lit the flames under the fiery furnace. And the king proclaimed that when his subjects heard the sounds of the musical instruments, that all the people were to fall down and worship the golden image. In other words, they were to recognize that Nebuchadnezzar's gods were the true and only gods of the kingdom. And if you did not fall down and worship, you kept your date with the fiery furnace! But God had other plans for the 3 young men who trusted in Him! And God has other plans for you if you will trust in Him!

Dan. 3:13-18 -- "With Christ in the Fiery Furnace" -- prayer

Note: It is likely that each person in this room has or will go through a fiery furnace. It might be the fiery furnace of divorce, of finances, of unemployment, of health, or family problems. It might be the fiery furnace of spiritual matters, such as wrestling over salvation, trusting in God, assurance, or leaving a cult or mainline religion. Our 3 young men are headed for the fiery furnace--and so are you sooner or later. What or Who will you trust in that furnace?

I. Nebuchadnezzar's 3 Questions (v15)

#1. "Who is that God?"

#2. "Can that God deliver?"

#3. "Can that God deliver you out of my hands?"

Note: These are actually the fundamental questions of life! These are the questions on which all religious systems must base their claim to legitimacy! Whether you have no god, one god, or many gods, these questions must be honestly faced and answered correctly before you go out into eternity!

For the Christian, these questions probe the basic tenants of our system of belief. These questions must be settled in your heart, and the answers must dwell on the tip of your tongue. (Repeat questions)

II. THE YOUNG MEN'S 5 ANSWERS (v16-17) (The Bible's answers!)

Note: Notice that the arch-heathen Nebuchadnezzar does not deny the reality of their God! Notice that the 3 young men do not try to prove the existence of their God; for only "the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Ps 14:1

"Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I Am He..." Isa. 43:10.

Their 1st response to the king (v16)

A. "We are not careful" = we do not have any obligation to defend ourselves [or our God] before you (but for the glory of our God, & for our testimony, we will!) (v16)

#1. "Who is that God?" & the answer: (v17a)

B. He is Our God Whom We Serve ("serve, worship, pay reverence to")
1. He is God (the reality of God)
"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM..." Exodus 3:14
a. He can be known by His creation, by His Son, in His Word, and by His changed children
2. He is THE God (the singular, definite God )
"...before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me" Isa. 43:10.
3. He is a personal God (our & Whom). They did not serve an idol, an image, an idea, a power, or an "it."
"Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" Jeremiah 33:3
4. He is a God worth serving, and a God who rewards service
"What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?" Ps 116:12

"And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be" Rev. 22:12

I close this point with this verse...

"Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, Which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations" Deut. 7:9

What God are you serving?

#2. "Can that God deliver?" & the answer: (v17a)

C. Our God is Able to Deliver
"If we be martyred or if we be delivered.."
1. Our God is able ("to prevail, by doing what is right")

Note: There is no question here of God's ability to do what He says He will do, nor of God's power to do what He says He can do.

"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?" Jer. 32:27

The thought is, that they understood that.....
a. God has the integrity & wisdom to do what is right. They did not know what was right under the circumstances, so they trusted God.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" Isaiah 55:9

Note: Notice that they did not say that they were able! None of us is "able" to circumvent the circumstances of this life, nor to extend our lives past their deadline, but we are able to trust in the wisdom and mercy of our God to do what is right is every circumstance of life!

Is your God able?

#3. "Can that God deliver you out of my hands?" & the answer: (v17a,b)

D. Our God Can Deliver Us Out Of Your Hands
1. From the burning fiery furnace (the trial of your life that would normally consume you if it were not for God!)
2. Out of thine hand--king!!! (the trial of your life that is directly attributable to the intervention of evil.) (death or deliverance)

Note: Lost friend, only God can deliver you from your date with the temporary, fiery furnace called Hell, and your date with the eternal Lake of Fire! And only God can deliver you out of the grasp of Satan, out of the grasp of your own unbelief, and out of the snare of your own sins!

The O.T. word deliver is the N.T. word saved. God can save or deliver you from the eternal penalty of breaking His laws. You deserve Hell--but Christ took your hell for you. You deserve eternal incarceration--but Christ bought your freedom. You deserve the wrath of God--but Christ satisfied God's wrath in your place. Now you need to repent of your sins, and to trust in Christ's work on the cross as the full payment for your sins. Reject Christ--go to Hell. Receive Christ--go to Heaven. (come at the invitation to be saved)

Can your god deliver you out of the jaws of Hell?

E. But If Not, Let It Be Known (v18)
1. Despite your position (king) we will not, we will not...............
a. Serve thy gods
b. Worship the golden image

"The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?" Ps 118:6

Has your salvation resulted in a spiritual back bone?

III. WITH CHRIST IN THE FIERY FURNACE (v19-27)

(Read v19-28)

A. Three Cast Bound into the Fiery Furnace (v24)
1. God's providential care is manifested in the furnace!

B. The Fourth Person's Appearance (v25c)
1. He was a man (v25a)
2. Who had "form" = appearance; who He looked like
3. Like the Son ("same as") of God

"Who [Christ] being the brightness of His [God's] glory, and the express image of His Person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He [Christ] had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" Hebrews 1:3

Note: In the O.T., God appeared in bodily form to men as Jesus Christ, Who is referred to as the Angel of the Lord (v28). This is one of those anthropomorphic appearances. Let it be noted that Nebuchadnezzar did not know that this was the Lord Jesus Christ, but he did recognize the supernatural aspect of this 4th man in the fire.

B. The Effect of the 4th Man's Presence (v25)

1. Loose = unfettered; from the root for remnant ("I see the godly remnant!")
2. Walking in the midst of the fire (not consumed but set free)
3. Without "hurt" = damage, injury

Note: Though this is the first physical appearance of the 4th man, He was with the 3 Hebrews each step of the way.

When you're in the fire, do the lost see you plus One more?

D. The Deliverance By the Deliverer (v26-27) (His power)

1. They came forth out of the fire (v26c)
2. Upon their bodies the fire had no power ("dominance") (v27)
a. Not a hair singed
b. Not a coat charred
c. Not the smell of a fire anywhere

Note: Christian; I can't promise you that you will be delivered from the fiery furnace, for God may determine that it is in your best spiritual interests to go through the fire. I can't promise you that the fire will have no effect on your life or person, for God may determine that it is in your best spiritual interests to bear the scars. But I can promise you that Jesus Christ will be with you in the fire!

E. The Deliverer (v28) (God)
1. God sent His Angel (Jesus Christ) to go through the fire
2. God delivered His servants because...

(Here are 5 truths we can apply to our lives)

a. They trusted in Him
b. They changed the effect of the king's word ("made it null and void by refusing to obey it")
c. They yielded their bodies ("freely gave them up")

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Rms. 12:1

d. They refused to yield their convictions

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" Rom 12:2

e. They refused to worship any but the one true and living God

Concl: The fire is coming--I can feel the heat, and hear the crackle of the flames. The furnace is red-hot, and ready to consume you. This is not the time to wonder, "Who is God?"; "Can God Deliver Me?"; "Can God Deliver Me Out of Your Hands?" You need to have these questions answered before you meet the flames!

Lost friend, if you go into the fire with the Lord Jesus Christ as your saviour, you will be consumed! Are you ready to bow your knee and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour?

Christian, though we have many trials, perhaps there is one great fiery furnace in each of our lives. Are you prepared for the will of God?
 

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