- Sermon Notes
From Trouble to Triumph
April 30, 2023
This morning we are going to do a study from the book of Daniel which is set in the time King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, took captive some of the Jewish people, and ordered them taken to Babylon. Among these people were Daniel and his three friends who were renamed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
They were blessed by God with wisdom, and they found favor in the sight of Nebuchadnezzar. As we get to chapter 3, we find Daniel being the chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon and his three friends promoted to be over the administration of the province of Babylon. They were elevated to this position because of the favor Daniel had with the king, but they were going to go through their own faith challenge that would change their lives forever as trouble was on the horizon.
As faithful followers of God, we are called to a different standard and path. This will at times, just like with Daniel’s three friends, inevitably lead to confrontation and trouble. They were not looking for trouble, but by standing on their convictions and values trouble found them.
Not only on a global scale but many people experience personal troubles where they are tempted to surrender their faith and give up.
How do we navigate through times of trouble? How do we stand when the heart is under fire? God wants us to stand in faith knowing that He will be with us through the trouble and lead us to triumph.
I. Refuse to Compromise
King Nebuchadnezzar gave the command that at the sound of musical instruments playing, everyone had to fall down and worship the image. In the Old Testament, Israel was repeatedly told to joyfully worship only God and praise His name with all types of musical instruments. The enemy wanted to corrupt this practice.
So, Daniel’s friends were confronted with this very real challenge. It was no longer a hypothetical question of what they would do if someone would ever ask them to do this. It became very real very fast.
We are reminded of Peter who said that he would rather die than see Jesus be executed. Yet, when the direct challenge came, he faltered.
This is also a practical challenge for us daily. It is sometimes easy to stand in faith with great conviction at church when all the believers are together, but when you’re all alone and the challenge arises it is a totally different story.
A. Discern the true attack
- Verse 6 – the message the herald proclaimed was that everyone had to fall before the image and worship it, and whoever refused would immediately be thrown in a furnace of blazing fire.
- Nebuchadnezzar was forcing their allegiance through fear. Nobody bowed out of love for the king. It was driven by fear of the fire.
- The command and how they responded to it revealed the heart, foundation, and resolve of every person.
- This was no problem for those not following God as their hearts were already captured by the things of the world. Ironically, by succumbing to fear and following the command they would lose more of their freedom as they surrendered their personal choice.
Illus – This is one of the modern principles of getting people or even nations to comply. If you can stir up enough fear, they will surrender their freedom for a false sense of security.
- For the follower of God, trouble becomes a watershed moment where the true heart is revealed.
- The true attack is driven by fear. Any difficult situation that you encounter is a challenge to your faith. The enemy wants to stir fear to such an extent that everything looks hopeless and impossible and that you would bow to the norm of the day or let go of your values, principles, and beliefs.
- This attack can be a personal attack, but those with discernment will recognize that we are under a global attack against our faith and what we stand for as we draw closer to the end of the age. This was the aim of this command to worship the idol in this chapter as well.
- Verse 4,7 – we see in both these verses that the command was that the peoples, nations, and men of every language had to bow to this golden image. It speaks of global uniformity and worship of one image.
- Many of the attacks today are also aiming for this goal. Some attacks are openly visible, but others are so subtle that it has even brought confusion in churches and faith systems about what the truth really is.
Illus – Professors in Theology moving away from biblical truth.
B. Stay focused on the true God
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood before this challenge as they were singled out in front of all the people and threatened to surrender their beliefs in exchange for their lives.
- How they handled this gives us great insight into how to handle the attack on our faith.
- Verse 17 – They did not make excuses but immediately stood on the primary foundational truth of their lives. They trusted in God. They stood on His commands and His word to guide their actions.
- They would not ascribe the worship meant for God to anything else. They would not compromise. They knew that Nebuchadnezzar might have the power to end their mortal lives, but he was not the one who had the power and say over their eternal souls.
Mark 8:34-38, And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
- Pablo Escobar famously said, ‘Everyone has a price, the important thing is to find out what it is.’ Meaning that everyone can be persuaded to do something dishonest or immoral for the right price. I heard another quote that says, ‘Everyone has a price, and it is less than you think.’
- Jesus asking ‘…what will a man give in exchange for his soul…’ is a deep question. There are things people are surrendering to, selling their souls for that which will cost them their souls.
- This is the enemy’s aim. To ultimately draw away the focus from God by any means possible.
- One of the safeguards against this is to stay focused on God, standing in fear and awe of the one who is all-powerful above all and has power over our souls.
Matthew 10:28, Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Psalm 118:6, The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?
Hebrews 10:31, It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
- Interestingly, Nebuchadnezzar was using destruction and death through fire as a penalty for not worshiping his idol, as this will be the eternal punishment for Satan, his forces, and those who choose to follow him into the lake of fire and destruction.
- Thank God that He is still sovereign and will not allow us to be tempted above what we can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Hebrews 10:39, But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
II. Stand in Faith
This was of critical importance in the lives of these three young men. They did not in the moment of temptation have to decide what they were going to do. They were already resolute in their worship of God and aligned their lives with the will of God and serving God.
We see in the first chapter of Daniel that they, with Daniel, refused to eat the food sacrificed to idols from the king’s table, but instead asked to just be fed vegetables and water. God honored this and gave them knowledge and intelligence and wisdom. So much so that they were found to be 10 times better than all the other wise men in the realm.
We must remember the history of these young men. They were taken captive and were living in exile under a foreign king. The potential was there for them to feel disillusioned with their faith, questioning where God was in this whole process and why they ended up where they were.
Yet this is not what happened. Although they were going through hardship, they trusted that God knew what He was doing and would use it all for His glory.
A. Remember God’s works
- They could stand in faith because they remembered who their God was. They remembered the stories of how God led his people from Egypt to the promised land.
- They must’ve also known that God had warned Israel that if they would not forsake their idolatry, they would fall to a foreign power and go into exile.
- But their faith was based not only on this but also on personal experience of God’s intervention in their lives.
- In Daniel 2 we read the account of the dream that the Nebuchadnezzar had. He wanted to know the meaning of the dream and so as not to be led astray by false interpretations, he asked the impossible from his magicians, conjurers, and wise men. They had to tell him the dream and give him the meaning.
- No one was able to tell him the dream and interpret it. Nebuchadnezzar got so angry that he commanded all the wise men in the whole kingdom to be executed.
- Daniel prayed to God who gave him the dream and interpretation which led to the execution of the wise men being canceled because of his intervention.
- Not only this but Daniel was given the highest rank over all the wise men and on his request, Nebuchadnezzar appointed his three friends as administrators of the province.
- This made their experience of God very personal. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were serving the one true God who was able to do far above what any man thinks or dreams.
- They remembered and held on to God’s works.
- This is such an important principle for us as well. It is important to be grounded in the word and built up in our faith in what God says in his word. We need to build faith and trust in our hearts that is beyond the shadow of a doubt. We need to have a personal relationship and walk with God.
- If we once again look at the promise in 1 Corinthians 10, we can be comforted that God will not allow us to be tempted above our ability. In other words, He will watch over the growth of our faith.
Illus – One’s math ability is determined by the difficulty of the problem one can solve.
- God knows the level of our ability. We can take comfort in the fact that He will not bring something over our path that we are not able to handle even though at the moment it might feel impossible.
Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
- This builds resilience in our souls.
B. Trust God’s perfect will
- When they are asked by King Nebuchadnezzar to make a choice that would seal their fate, their answer is remarkable.
Daniel 3:17-18, If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
- They were putting their trust in God’s perfect will. They knew that whatever the outcome might be, God would use it to perform his plan.
- They were ready to live and die for God. This echoes the apostle Paul in the New Testament.
Philippians 1:21, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
- Living for God is not just superficially saying ‘I am a Christian’. It is about entrusting your whole life to God, knowing that it is no longer yours but His to use for His purpose.
- This is a very deep truth, which is easy to agree with when everything is going right. But when things go wrong according to your perspective, it is a different story.
Illus. – Many people throughout history have gone through incredibly difficult circumstances. Many have in these circumstances prayed to God for change. Some got what they asked for, but others did not. Because of this many have also turned from the faith, disillusioned saying that there is no God.
- God does answer prayers when they are aligned with His will. But God is still God, and He sees the bigger picture that we do not.
1 Corinthians 13:12, For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
Illus – Jesus in Gethsemane asked for the cup to pass if it were possible, but still He asked that his Father’s will be done.
C. Stay grounded in peace
- in this moment of surrender, they knew that they would have to face the fire. We do not read that they were kicking and screaming and trying to get away. They were at peace because they have placed their trust in God’s perfect will.
- They knew that God was faithful. They stood for God, so God would stand for them.
- We must know that, even though we face trouble and difficult times, God is for us. He promised to never leave us or forsake us. More even than in the time of Daniel and his friends, His Spirit is now within us and is taken up residence within.
- To make it worse, the furnace was made extremely hot and they were bound by the enemy and thrown into the fire. All seemed lost. Even the guards that threw them into the fire were burned to death.
- Yet God was in the story. The impossible becomes an opportunity for God to do the impossible. Tough times and challenges or opportunities for God to step into the midst of it.
Isaiah 43:1-3,4,5, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God. Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, …Do not fear, for I am with you.”
- God did not promise to keep us from trouble, but He promised to be with us in the trouble. God will not always take us around trouble, sometimes we must go through the trouble.
- It might look like your situation is hopeless, the enemy has you bound and in the fire, but Jesus is the one who sets you free and redeems you.
- One of the reasons for this is that we grow in our faith and our walk with the Lord which results in a deeper relationship with Him.
Illus. – Newlyweds think that they love each other to full capacity and there’s no way that they could love each other more. But those who have been married for a long time might agree that the beginning of the marriage was exactly that: only the beginning. While journeying through years of joys, sorrows, laughter, and tears, successes, and failures, praying and trusting, surrendering and dying to self, love grows deeper and the relationship stronger than they ever could have imagined on their wedding day.
- This is a picture of our relationship journey with God as well. The only difference is that humans are not perfect and are not always faithful and make mistakes.
- Our God, the lover of our souls, is perfect, faithful, and never makes mistakes. Therefore, we can trust perfectly in his perfect love.
- After they survived the fire and were brought out by King Nebuchadnezzar, everything changed. The result of this epic challenge was that God was honored throughout the whole kingdom.
- To such an extent, the decree went out that if any person spoke against the God of these three men, he would be torn limb from limb and his house would be reduced to a rubbish heap.
- God used this challenge to establish His authority as the God above all gods and the Power above all powers.
- This experience elevated Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to another level. The king who was their adversary, now caused them to prosper in the province of Babylon. God intervened in the physical.
- Not only that, but can you imagine what an impact this had on their faith life!? Now they knew that nothing was impossible for God. They went through the trial of fire and God saved them.
- This is also the hope that we hold onto. Every trial that we go through elevates us to a new level of faith. We can look back and see all the difficult times that God has brought us through, and because He has done it before, He will do it again.
Daniel 3:8-30 NASB
8 For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and [a]brought charges against the Jews. 9 They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, [b]lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. 11 But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, [c]lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will [d]immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 [e]If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; [f]and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered [g]by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 He commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21 Then these men were tied up in their [h]trousers, their [i]coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. 22 For this reason, because the king’s [j]command was [k]urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. 23 But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire [l]without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. 27 The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no [m]effect on [n]the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their [o]trousers [p]damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, [q]violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” 30 Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.