Daniel 009: Disobeying the Government?Daniel 3:1-12 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 22, 2017 • Daniel
Disobeying the Government
1-22-17 Daniel 3:1-12 Lesson 9
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Daniel, chapter 3, beginning at verse 1. The title of our message this morning is The Bible and Civil Disobedience, what a topic. I’m not addressing it just for the sake of addressing it, it’s in the passages. I just got back from New York participating in a prophecy conference there this week at Calvary Chapel Finger lakes, and the last day of the conference it was exactly the same temperature that it is right now, 50 degrees, and all they could talk about was how hot it was outside.
One thing I want to bring to your attention before we start is today is Sanctity of Life Sunday, as you no doubt are aware, an infamous Supreme Court decision was handed down, in 1973 roughly, which basically made it legal constitutionally for a woman to procure an abortion. And as a result millions and millions of lives have been lost as a result of that decision. It’d be the equivalent of one out of every six Americans, or maybe one out of every five Americans in our current population just disappearing. So it’s a holocaust that even outstrips, far outstrips what Hitler did and it’s a blight that hangs over our culture, as it has been for several decades. Then President Ronald Reagan declared the Sunday following the Roe decision to be Sanctity of Life Sunday.
So I just wanted to acknowledge that, and part of our position statements at Sugar Land Bible Church is we believe in the rights of the unborn. For those that have had an abortion we preach the grace of God that’s available but we also believe that the unborn are children within the womb of their mother and, you know, it’s a funny thing about being prochoice; everybody that’s prochoice has already been born. I wonder if we pulled all the children in the wombs of their mothers that can’t vote how they would vote. So when I see these polls about the country wants this or that I think well, maybe we have shrunk our sample set a little bit. Anyway, I just wanted to bring that to your attention and acknowledge that.
Daniel 3:1, if you’re visiting with us for the very first time we’re in the book of Daniel. The nation of Israel has been torn out of its homeland and exported about 350 miles to the east, to a place called Babylon. It’s really a time period that the prophets never foresaw happening in detail. So this is why God has raised up Daniel, to give prophecies about this time period that they’re now in, when they have no king reigning on David’s throne and they’re being bullied, Israel is, by various Gentile powers.
So Daniel explains prophetically this time period but he also explains it ethically. How do you live for God on pagan territory? And Daniel and his four friend function as role models, if you will for how to live for God in troubled times. We’re going to see some trouble that three of Daniel’s friends run into and how they responded to it. And it’s such an insight to us as we seek to live for God in a world that by and large doesn’t acknowledge Him. Your place of employment may not acknowledge Him; your vocation may not acknowledge Him. Maybe your own family doesn’t acknowledge Him. So how do you live for Him in that kind of environment. The book of Daniel is so instructive to us.
Chapters 1-7 is really the historical section; chapters 8-12 is the prophetic section. We finished chapter 1 which lays the groundwork for what’s following; it’s the setting. And then we move into a section that [blank spot] there we go, I didn’t do anything, I’m an innocent bystander here. How do you top all that? As the proverbs say, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall never be broken.” I don’t think that is in Proverbs, that’s my personal proverb of the day.
But we move into this section that we call the… it’s basically organized chiastically. In other words, the information of chapter 2 is restated in chapter 7. And the information in chapter 3 is repeated in chapter 6. And the information in chapter 4 is repeated in chapter 5. So here is sort of an outline if I can give this to you. We have the setting, verses 1-7, and the setting is followed by an accusation, verses 8-12, and after that comes a test, verses 13-18, after that comes divine deliverance, verses 19-27, and then after that comes a decree, if you will, verses 28-30.
Let’s take a look at the setting. Take a look, if you could, at Daniel 3:1, it says, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” So we don’t really have any chronological markers here so most people believe that these events happened maybe a couple of years or so after the events of Daniel 2, which would make Daniel just a child still, I would consider him, a very young man, 19 or 20, and his three friends would be around that same age. And you’ll notice that again and again God is putting them in positions where they have to choose between God and the world system. And in fact the choices are so severe in all of these chapters we’ve covered, they could forfeit their own lives. And we’re going to see that here in Daniel chapter 3.
The king that’s behind the scenes, the antagonist, if you will, all the way through Daniel 1-4 is Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. And watch very carefully Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon because God is working in his life through the testimony of these Hebrew youths, just like in your life, amongst your unsaved friends, family members, coworkers, you would be shocked to discover how God is working through you to reach them. We don’t think of our lives that way, we kind of look at it as just me, myself and I, but in reality there’s a lot of people watching you that you are probably not even aware of. And you name the name of Christ and they are looking to see if this Christianity thing that you talk about is really real. And so I like the statement that you are the Bible, the only Bible perhaps, that somebody may read. So the question is, how are we really exhibiting Biblical truth to those around us.
So these three youths have an opportunity to walk with God and in the process touch the heart of a very wicked king, a king that people never thought would ever come to God. And yet I’ll show you in Daniel 4 (when we get there, down the road) that Nebuchadnezzar, I believe, did in fact come to God and we’re going to see Nebuchadnezzar again in heaven.
But at any rate this statue is built, looking at the normal size of a cubit would be about 90 feet high, 9 feet wide. So you’re talking about something that would be the equivalent of an eight story building. So he puts this giant monolithic contraption in front of the people of Babylon and he begins to make a demand. Now you’ll notice there in chapter 3, verse 1, it says this took place in the plain of Dura. John Walvoord, in his commentary on the book of Daniel writes this. He says: “The most probably location is a mound located six miles southeast of Babylon, consisting of a large square of brick construction which would have ideally served as the base for such an image that Nebuchadnezzar erected.”
The fact that the specific name is given to the location implies an intimate knowledge of Babylon in the sixth century. So details like this, the plain of Dura, we just kind of skip over that but that’s actually very important because it adds credibility to the author or the writer, because what a lot of people are saying is the book of Daniel really was not written by Daniel in the sixth century, it was written by someone pretending to be Daniel, a forger if you will, in the second century. Well, that’s kind of a strange claim to make because the writer seems to have some kind of intimate knowledge of the geography of sixth century Babylon. And so these little pieces of detail, I think, are given to us really by the Holy Spirit to make us aware of the fact that this is actually eyewitness testimony, this is not fiction, these are not tall tales like Jack and the Beanstalk. These are actual historical events that transpired. The history that’s transpiring here is just as real as the history that’s taking place in your life and in your circumstances.
You move down into verses 2 and 3 and even before I get into verses 2 and 3 let me just make one quick point: what was the motive of Nebuchadnezzar? Why in the world did he decide to build a statue like this? John Walvoord, in his commentary, says this: “The likely background for the events of chapter 3 is a coup attempt against Nebuchadnezzar that occurred December, 595 to January 594 during the tenth year of his reign. This event was significant enough to have been recorded in the Babylonian Chronicle as the major event of that year. After the coup attempt failed it is likely that Nebuchadnezzar summoned all his rulers and vassal kings back to Babylon to participate in a loyalty oath.”
So there is some history behind the scenes that we know from secular documents as to why Nebuchadnezzar most likely is doing this. It coincides with an attempt, an uprising in his own kingdom, to remove him from his throne and he puts down the rebellion and he summons everybody to the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon to demand loyalty. So once again you see that these are actual historical events that transpired in history.
Now why did he decide to create this giant eight story tall building image of gold? I think the answer to that goes back to Daniel 2. In Daniel 2, remember that God through Daniel, told Nebuchadnezzar that Nebuchadnezzar was the head of what? gold. But the head of gold one day would cease and would give way to what? the chest and arms of silver. And in that particular prophecy essentially what God, through Daniel, revealed to Nebuchadnezzar is yeah, you’re the king now but your days are numbered.
In fact, in Daniel 5, in Daniel’s very own lifetime the Persians would arise and overthrow Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom in a single night. Now Nebuchadnezzar probably said to himself you know what, I reject that; my kingdom is not temporary, my kingdom is going to last forever. And so he says I’m going to create a statue where the whole thing, head to toe, is made of gold and you can forget what God said and you can forget what that prophet said because my kingdom is going to last forever. So the decision that he made to create this whole statue of gold could very well be a rebelling against, if you will, what God had revealed to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2.
And it’s very interesting that when you study world emperors or empires, whether it be Rome, or China, or any other global power that you see throughout history, what you discover is they all have this mindset that they’re going to be there forever; our kingdom is going to last forever.
Americans are like this, you know, what’s poor God… what can He do without America, we’re so important to God when in reality America is just a blip in world history in terms of time. We’ve only been in existence for just a tad over 200 years, and yet we forget that we are here in a very temporal manner. And people are like this with their lives. People don’t think about that; they have this mindset that they are going to live forever, they are going to exist forever. And the Bible is telling us that our lives are like mist that appear just for a little while, and then they vanish. And this is why the Psalmist, Moses in the Psalms, Psalm 90 being the oldest psalm in the Psalter, written by Moses, Moses says that we ought to number our days for a heart of wisdom.
We ought to go through life understanding that we are not here forever, we’re here for a very short period of time. And we ought to use the few moments of life that God has given us to live for His eternal purposes. And yet people don’t do that, they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” [Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”] I believe largely that’s what Nebuchadnezzar is doing here: God is wrong, I am not going to be just a head of gold, I’m going to be the whole body of gold and my kingdom is going to last forever.
You move down to verses 2-3 and you see a summons, and it says this, “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Verse 3, and this gets a bit redundant because it mentions those groups again, “Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces were assembled for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” So we have a summons, if you will. We have what’s summoned is administrators at every level. There’s probably about eight different offices that are being mentioned here. So he’s getting all of the rulers and all the leaders of the nation to assemble to pay homage to this giant statue standing eight stories that he himself has established.
Now you see a command given in verse 4-6 and notice what these verses say. “Then the herald loudly proclaimed: ‘To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language,
 that at the moment you hear the sound of” and now we have more repetition, “a horn, a flute, a lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.” Verse 6, “But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” And this is why I had Ed read, not from Daniel this morning, I had him read Exodus 20:1-6 which are the first two commandments in the Decalogue, going all the way back to the time of Moses.
[Exodus 20:1-6, “Then God spoke all these words, saying,  ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”]
No other gods before me and no graven images. In other words, if you, as a Hebrew fulfill Nebuchadnezzar’s dictate you are violating the foundation of your relationship with God. God is monotheistic, He is not interested in any competitors and He is to be worshiped alone in spirit and in truth. And the Jews, for 800 years lived under this Mosaic system and they understood that they are not to give credence to idolatry and now these three Hebrew youths are being forced into this circumstance legally.
And of course this is where the whole subject of civil disobedience comes up. People have asked me as I went through our Bible and Voting series, well when is it acceptable to disobey the government. And I said eventually we’re going to get there in Daniel and here we are. It’s in Daniel 3 and it’s repeated, the information, in the form of Daniel himself in the lion’s den; the same theme is repeated in Daniel 6. Make no mistake about it that government is an institution of God. Government was created through what is called the Noahic Covenant, going all the way back to Genesis 9:6.
Why did God create the institution of government? Because prior to the flood there was what’s called a wild, wild west mentality where Genesis 6:11 says, “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.” So after the flood had ended, when God restarted things and humanity to repopulate the earth, God Himself established the institution of human government and He put into the institution of human government, into its hands the sword. And He said this in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” In other words, we’re not going to have violence spreading over the earth anymore; what we’re going to do is we’re going to establish an institution, this is a pre-Israel institution, this chart that I have here indicates on this section and in the section that follows, this is a covenant that God made before Israel ever existed. This is not a redemptive covenant, this is a covenant designed to restrain evil. It’s a covenant that God entered into with the human race called His covenant with Noah, or the Noahic Covenant, pre-Israel, pre-Mosaic Law.
So your views on the existence of human government actually predate the time of Moses. It’s not God dealing with a singular nation as He did with Israel; it’s God dealing with the whole human race. Some have called these types of things that God did in early Genesis divine institutions. Divine institutions are things that God has put into fallen creation so that fallen creation could last, so fallen creation wouldn’t destroy itself. And one of the things that He saw in the pre flood world was rampant violence. And as the saying goes, if you don’t want to do the time don’t do the crime. So the very existence of human government itself acts as a check and balance against man’s sinful nature that naturally wants to murder anyway.
As the saying goes man will either be restrained by the Bible or he’ll be restrained by the bayonet. If I don’t have the internal work of God inside of me holding back my sin nature the only thing left that will preempt me from doing evil is the threat of being caught, the threat of being punished. Many times I cruise in here to work, or I want to anyway, about 80 miles an hour, that’s my desire and what prevents me from doing that is not the goodness of my heart, I can assure you of that; I see the guy on the side of the road there, the police officer, that black and white vehicle with the cherry on top and he’s got his radar, he can clock how fast I’m going and I don’t want to pay the ticket. So the fact that I am being threatened by an institution greater than myself keeps my speed down, which in the process saves people’s lives. And see thus this is God’s purpose behind the institution of government.
So this concept carries over into the New Testament; in Romans 13:1-7 it says this: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;  for it” government “is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the” what? “sword for nothing;” I mean, what did you do in Rome with a sword? You didn’t use it to clean your teeth; it was an instrument of death. This is going back to the Noahic Covenant, the sword that God put into the hands of the state.  “for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.  Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.  Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”
So we have a mindset in biblical Christianity where we actually look on the government as something that God Himself established and so we have a natural tendency to honor it, respect it, pay our taxes. And 1 Timothy 2:1-14 actually teaches that we should be on our knees in prayer for those who rule over us in government. You might want to jot these verses down because they teach the same thing, we won’t read them all. Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-17, I already mentioned 1 Timothy 2:1-4. [Titus 3:1, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed.” 1 Peter 2:13-17, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,  or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.  Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”]
These are all carry over ideas into the New Testament from the Noahic Covenant which God never intended to disappear, because the sign of the covenant is the what? The rainbow; as long as you see the rainbow in the sky the covenant continues on. It’s not like the Mosaic Covenant which is made with only Israel and was never intended to be permanent. The Noahic Covenant is something that God has established pre-Israel.
That raises a problem, doesn’t it? What happens if you reach a point where the government gets out of control, the government becomes tyrannical, the government actually begins to coerce you against your convictions? This is what Daniel 3 and Daniel 6 are talking about. And the reason this issue has to be raised is because now Israel, after 800 years is outside of her land. She is no longer the governing authority, she is at the mercy, if you will, of Gentile pagan powers. And so what do you do when those pagan powers begin to coerce you against your convictions.
For example, what do you do if they tell you to do something that God says don’t do, as in worship a giant statue, Daniel 3. Or what if the opposite is true, what if they forbid you from doing something that God says to do, that’s what’s going on in Daniel 6. Daniel wanted to publicly pray and the civil government told him not to. What do you do then? Well, in those circumstances the door becomes open to something called civil disobedience, because Acts 5:29 says we must obey God rather than who? Rather than man. [Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”]
So this becomes a very important subject for national Israel, something they’re having to think about for the very first time. And that’s why a book like Daniel God uses to explain this concept. In my thinking about civil disobedience I have four prerequisites that I think biblically have to be met before civil disobedience becomes an option.
And here they are: There must be a crystal clear, and I mean crystal clear conflict between the laws of man and God. It can’t be a gray area, it can’t be just a casual disagreement, it can’t be not liking of the personality of a political figure. The government has to be telling you to do something that God says to do or the other way around. Number 2, there has to be an exhaustion of all creative legal remedies. What I mean by that is civil disobedience is never a first resort for the Christian. Civil disobedience is always a last resort for the Christian. There are many people that want to leap into civil disobedience, I believe, prematurely. As people that understand that God is the author of human government we try to work within the law whenever possible. We are not troublemakers, we are not rabble-rousers, we’re not people with a rebellious heart, we try to honor, respect, submit to the institution of human government whenever we can and we use civil disobedience not as a first result but a last result.
Number 3, and we’re going to see this in our passage as we go through it this week and next week, should you come to a point where you must disobey the government you also must be willing to pay the consequences. The death of Jesus keeps you out of hell, it does not exonerate you from temporal consequences that we face in this life. For example, the next time you’re pulled over for speeding try this one out, when the officer pulls you over: well, gee, office, Romans 8:1 says “there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus” and you’ll see very quickly that that won’t work. So if you want to disobey the government, if that is your conviction, then you have to be willing to pay the consequences. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, as I’ll be showing you later, around verse 18, were willing to pay the consequences.
And then finally, number four, as the act of civil disobedience is transpiring maintaining respect for civil authorities, even while you’re disobeying them is important. You’ll notice in this passage that as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego disobeyed the government they maintained respect, they did not become rude, crude, lewd and obnoxious. They didn’t resort to ridicule, they keep referring to Nebuchadnezzar respectfully as “O king.” And so a clear conflict between laws of man and God, the exhaustion of all creative legal remedies, a willingness to pay the consequences, and maintaining respect even as the act of civil disobedience is transpiring. I’m getting all of these, as I’ll be showing you, from Daniel 3 and Daniele 6. You’ll see all four principles honored.
And you might be saying to yourself, well how does this apply to me; we live in America, we don’t have to worry about those kind of things. Jack Phillips, a newspaper article, “Jack Phillips is a baker who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because his Christian belief is that marriage exists only between a man and woman. Now a Colorado judge has ordered him to bake cakes for same-sex marriages, and if Phillips refuses, he could go to jail.” In fact, when I was speaking recently at the Steeling the Mind Conference in Colorado I used this quote and somebody comes up to me after my session was over and she says I want to talk to you, and usually when they say that it’s like oh no, what have I done. She says I’m a judge and I know the person that you’re talking about in that newspaper article. I’m like oh no, did I misquote it, what did I do wrong? And she says I want you to know that everything you said is exactly what happened. This judge got into this conflict with this Jack Phillips, this owner of this bakery and this individual simply didn’t want to decline service to same sex couples, in the sense that they could purchase things. What bothered him was he had to go and actually use his services to, in his mind, endorse a same sex ceremony and his convictions as a Christian just wouldn’t allow it.
And you can put yourself in that situation and you can see how your convictions as a Christian that might bother you too. And this judge says to heck with your convictions, you’re going to do it or you’re going to suffer severe penalty. So now this Jack Phillips, this small business owner is forced to make this decision right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. You see, the teachings in the book of Daniel, although they are written back in the sixth century suddenly we’re starting to have to think about this in our country because this is not the United States of America, to a large extent, that I grew up in; it’s different. We’re living on pagan territory where the biblical values I hold to are not necessarily shared by the civil authorities. And so we’re having to think, just like Israel was having to think about the very first time the issue of civil disobedience.
Well, cheer up because it gets worse. “In yet another example of gay activist overreach, an Oregon official has not only burdened a Christian couple with a ridiculous fine, he has imposed a gag order on them…” A gag order? I thought we had a first amendment here. “In one of the most egregious anti-Christian acts committed by a state official in recent memory, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian” now a little footnote on this, if I remember my history right he lost his last election so don’t mess with God, God has a way of dealing with things when we turn people over to God. But what I’m just trying to describe is this anti-Christian mindset is alive and well. “Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian not only upheld the ridiculous $135,000 fine levied against Aaron and Melissa Klein” anybody that owns a small business understands that a $135,000 fine can cripple a business, and it was Chief Justice John Marshall of the United States Supreme Court who said this: with the power to tax is the power to destroy. You can destroy a family, you can destroy a business, you can destroy a career by levying some kind of excesses, punitive fine, regulation or taxation on somebody. And this is largely how the government is keeping people under control.
This “ridiculous $135,000 fine levied against Aaron and Melissa Klein” you see, if I can divert just for a moment, what is freedom? Freedom is when the government is afraid of the people. What is tyranny? The opposite, tyranny is when the people are afraid of the government. And I sometimes wonder if we’ve reached the tipping point on this. “Aaron and Melissa Klein for declining to bake a cake for a lesbian commitment ceremony, but he ordered the Kleins to ‘cease and desist’ from making any public comments about their religious convictions relative to this case.”
I’m not trying to stand up here this morning with scare tactics, I’m just trying to give us a heavy dose of reality. I’m trying to explain the significance, the application ability of Daniel 3 how it spoke to the Jews in Babylon it also speaks to us.
Something else that’s very interesting in this passage as we go through it is these musical instruments. These are a lot of strange sounding names, aren’t they. I mean, that might have been quite a musical noise that they had there. I didn’t even see these things at the inauguration. You’ve got a horn, you’ve got a flute, lyre, [can’t understand word] if I’m pronouncing that right, psaltery, bagpipe, and all kinds of music. So once they heard the music the command that Nebuchadnezzar gave is to bow down and worship this statue.
Now what’s very interesting about this is these names of these musical instruments are what we would call Greek names. These names don’t come from Hebrew, these names don’t come from Aramaic, these names come from the Greek language. And as I’ve tried to explain in our series on Daniel there’s a great war that’s gone on concerning the dating of the book of Daniel. Conservatives, like myself, believe Daniel wrote the book of Daniel. Isn’t that sad that I have to stand up today and say Daniel wrote Daniel and defend it? Because there’s a whole mindset out there that says Daniel really wasn’t written by Daniel; Daniel was written by someone using the penname Daniel, not in the 6th century B.C. but in the second century B.C. And why do people do that? Why do they want to drag the book of Daniel into the future and pretend like it’s a forgery?
The reason they do so is they can’t handle the fact that Daniel, if he is a 6th century writer predicts things before they happen. Daniel, as a teenager predicted the end of the Babylonian Empire. He predicted the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire. And after that, several centuries down the road he predicted the rise of the Greek empire. And then after that, 600 years in advance he predicted the rise of the Roman Empire. And because Daniel’s prophecies are so specific and have been so specifically fulfilled in history, all of his prophecies about the end times, which from the year 2017 are yet to come, must be accurate as well. I have no problems believing Daniel predicted all of these things because God revealed from the beginning.
But if you’re coming to the Bible with an anti-supernatural bias, if you’ve already dismissed in your mind that an omniscient God authored this book, then you have to have some kind of plausible explanation for these predictions. And so the name of the game is to pretend they really aren’t predictions, they’re just history forged as predictions written by someone other than Daniel. And one of the arguments that people use is look, these are all Greek names, so if these are Greek names this couldn’t have been written way back in the 6th century; this must have been written in the 2nd century and the 3rd century when a man named Alexander the Great came to power and made Greek the known language of the ancient world. And so when you’re watching A& E, the history channel, Mysteries of the Bible, they’ll bring on all these scholars with all of their fancy degrees and they will kind of float this stuff, and they’ll try to convince people that Daniel is really not an authentic book, and everybody knows that.
And the problem is the church is not equipping people to answer that question. So your children and your grandchildren are listening to this and they want an answer from you because you’re the one that goes to Sugar Land Bible Church and they want to know well, what do you say about this. And a lot of times we’re so busy with our lives we’re not equipping ourselves for answers so we’re sending our children off into an unbelieving world with the seeds of doubt already planted in their minds simply because we are not earnestly contending for the faith the way we ought to. And pastors are busy standing up in front of people, talking about how to be successful, how to be rich, how to be fulfilled and all of these kinds of subjects and they’re not really doing what God called them to do, which is to not just feed the sheep but to equip the sheep. My primary calling as a pastor-teacher is really not to unbelievers. I love being with unbelievers, I love talking to unbelievers, I love evangelizing unbelievers and I do that whenever God gives opportunity, but the fact of the matter is that is not my job primarily; that’s your job. My job is to equip you so you can do your job.
You say well where are you getting all of this from. Well, I’ve got a good book on the subject, called the book of Ephesians, and read Ephesians 4:11-16. You’ll see the whole thing there. [Ephesians 4:11-16, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;  but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,  from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”]
So the pastor-teacher equips the flock so the flock can do the work of ministry. And one of your ministries is going to be dealing with doubts in people from the propaganda that they get all of the time over the media. Why are they always attacking the Bible? Because if you believe the Bible you believe in political things like, for example, life in the unborn are people, that the left in this country doesn’t want you to believe. You, because you’re a Bible reader and a Bible believer have beliefs that the left or the humanist in America don’t agree with, and they know the source from which you’re getting your beliefs. So they don’t run specials and attacks against William Shakespeare, they’re always attacking the Bible because they think if they can malign the Bible enough in your eyes then that will change your worldview which will be consistent with their worldview which helps them in the takeover if you will, of the United States of America and frankly any nation on the fact of the earth.
This is why when Marxists take over countries the first people they begin to incarcerate and kill are pastors. And the very first thing that Fidel Castro did when he came to power in Cuba after he toppled the Batista Regime is he went into the public schools and changed the public schools. Now how do I know this? I know this because I have pastor friends that are Cuban refugees in Miami, Florida and I’ve heard the story from two different people. And what Fidel Castro and his emissaries would do is they would say look, I want you kids to pray to Jesus for candy; I want you to close your eyes and I want you to pray to Jesus for candy. This is taking place in the schools. And the kids would open their eyes, there’d be no candy. All right kids, close your eyes a second time, and pray to Fidel for candy, pray to Fidel for ice cream, and as the children eyes are closed Fidel’s agents come in, they put candy all over the desk, the ice cream truck shows up and this is how they were able to shift a country through the use of compulsory education away from the Bible, because the Bible does not promote Castro-like Marxism or godless communism so you have to demolish the Bible over and over again. You have to reduce or alter the thinking, particularly of young people, concerning the credibility that they give to the Bible. And I would say that on a smaller scale the same kind of thing goes on over and over again in the United States of America.
And of course Paul says we are not ignorant of Satan’s schemes. I’m afraid that the church in the evangelical United States of America today is largely ignorant concerning how Satan works, concerning how Satan operates and if you just have some conversations as I’ve had with Cuban refugees and pastors in other parts of the world you’ll see a consistent strategy. The reason I’m saying this is you’re asking why is he boring us with a talk on Greek musical instruments, who cares. I’m trying to show you the significance of this.
So having said all of that what’s the answer. The answer is the Greeks were enslaved by the Babylonians and the Persians in the seventh century. The Greek culture didn’t start with Alexander the Great; the Greek mercenaries came into both Babylon and Persia and as I mentioned before the Greeks actually enslaved the Babylonians and the Persians way back in the seventh century.
So if that is true, wouldn’t there be remnants of the Greek language still around? And that’s why these instruments begin to show up.
Think about this for a minute. If this book was written in the Greek era, in the time of Alexander the Great, we wouldn’t just have a few Greek words here, we would have the whole section in Greek, wouldn’t we? See, that’s the way to turn the argument around. If you’re so convinced this was written in the second century why just a handful of Greek terms; why wouldn’t we have more?
And beyond that the great Greek scholar, Gleason Archer… Gleason Archer was the kind of guy who was a linguistic genius. He knew somewhere between 22-24 Semitic languages. In fact, there are people like that that can just grasp language like that; I’m not one of them, languages have always been a struggle for me, I have a hard enough time with my native tongue, English. I manage to mangle a syllable or two from time to time. But he was the kind of guy that could learn language just like this [Andy snaps his fingers] and he actually was engaged to a woman who was from France and he wanted to over to France and talk with her parents about this engagement, and he didn’t speak French so he picked up a book and learned French on the plane ride on the way over so he could have a conversation with his future in-laws. This is Gleason Archer. And from what people have told me he was a genius in some areas but he had difficult times with airports and finding his way out of an airport and things like that. So that’s like a lot of smart people, they are really gifted in one area but when it comes to common sense that’s a different area. But I would encourage you to get the Old Testament Introduction by Gleason Archer. [A Survey of Old Testament Introduction: Gleason Archer]
And if you read what he said on the book of Daniel, by the way, he was a conservative, he just demolishes this whole late date argument. One of the things he brings up is by the time these Greek words were finally used, later on in history, in what is called the Septuagint which is in the second century, these very terms found in Daniel 3:2-3, were obsolete. In other words, maybe these were Greek terms but they were a very early form of the Greek language that fits the second century and not the sixth century.
You’re going to be asked questions and you’re not going to know the answer to every question but here’s what you can do: you’re going to know where to look. I can show you where to look. The education that God has given me has not allowed me the ability to answer every single question but I know exactly where to look for an answer. And I’m giving you a source; the source on this, the best source is the A Survey of Old Testament Introduction by Gleason Archer.
So we have the musical instruments that are described here, that’s perhaps what they looked like, and these were the musical instruments that were to be played at this inauguration, if you will, of this giant statue, and when people heard these musical instruments playing they were to bow down to this statue. And notice the response of the people. Nobody likes to die, right? Nobody wanted to die? What do you think the people did? Verse 7, “Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound” here we go again, “of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” [Daniel 3:7] The command is given, the kingdom responds… well, most of the kingdom responded.
We now move from the setting to an accusation. Notice, if you will, chapter 3 and verses 8-12, “For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews.  They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: ‘O king, live forever!  You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image.  But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.  There are certain Jews” this is Nebuchadnezzar’s henchmen, “There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely” can we name drop here, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.” Those were the three youths that came with Daniel into captivity as mere teenagers; these are not their original names, these are now the new names that Nebuchadnezzar had given them. “These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
What’s the motivation here of these accusers? I believe the answer is right there in chapter 3, verse 12, “There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the … province of Babylon.” You’ll recall that when Daniel successfully interpreted the giant statue of Daniel 2 that Daniel was elevated into the administration of Babylon. Daniel 2:49, he insisted that his friends be taken with him. [Daniel 2:49, “And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.”] So Daniel was elevated to a very high place and his three friends were elevated just a bit (I would say) under administratively Daniel.
What’s the motive here? The motive is jealousy. This is very important to understand. When God begins to promote you, when you begin to kind of be a cut above the others, in your career, work place, even in your church, expect people to start taking shots at you that are unfair. We have a tendency to think that as long as I’m in the will of God and doing God’s work that everybody’s going to like me, and get along. And the fact of the matter is it just isn’t so. I call it the parable of the whale; when the whale comes up out of the water that’s a keen opportunity to do what? Jab a spear into that whale. And if God is involved in your life and working in your life you just have to get used to the fact that some people are just not going to like you. It’s a threat; you’re a threat to them, not because you’re desiring to be a threat to them but the work of God in your life is exposing the lack of God’s work in their lives. And they, at that point, try to get you to compromise, oh come on back to sin. The reason they want you to go back to sin is they want your light to be a little less bright. Come on out and do some bar hopping with us; come on out and drink with us the way we used to.
And if that doesn’t work you can expect people to overtly persecute you, say mean spirited nasty things about you, say things about you that aren’t true. Remember the opposite end of the chiasm, Daniel 6? Daniel 6 reveals the same themes and the same exact thing that happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego happened to Daniel in Daniel 6. It says this in Daniel 6:3-4, “Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.” Daniel is distinguishing himself because of the excellent spirit within him. God was involved with him, God was empowering him. Verse 4 says, “Then the commissioners and satraps” said yeah, we love you Daniel. It doesn’t say that, does it? It says, “Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.”
Let’s look at your tax return Daniel, let’s look at your expense reports Daniel, let’s look at when you clock in and clock out Daniel, and let’s see if we can find some kind of problem with you because frankly we don’t like the hand of God in your life, and the hand of God in your life, although you’re not trying to do this, is eclipsing us. The same exact thing is happening here with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; that’s why this accusation is brought against them.
The book of Acts, chapter 5 and verse 14 records this exact issue with regard to the growth of the early church. Acts 5:14 says, “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,” the church was succeeding in Acts, it was growing. Now what do you think the religious authorities did? Acts 5:17 says, “But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees),” and it gives the motive, “and they were filled with jealousy.” And thus the unbelieving Israel begins to persecute the infant church because the early church was succeeding. The parable of the whale, you come up through the water you start to get speared.
The Apostle Peter says concerning the fiery trial that you are experiencing don’t look at it, 1 Peter 4:12, “as though some strange thing were happening to you;” you’re fitting into a pattern and I’m trying to reveal the pattern to you because God, I believe, is going to further many of you, He’s going to bless you, He’s going to use you and you have to prepare your mind and fortify your mind for an onslaught of criticism that comes your way, a lot of it, frankly, undeserved because your light is just a bit too light and we need to put that light out, we need to marginalize it.
Why wouldn’t Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego go along with this. It says it right there, they were Jews, they were monotheists, they had a particular view of God as revealed in Exodus 20:1-6 and the world system was pushing them in the opposite direction. [Exodus 20:1-6, “Then God spoke all these words, saying,  ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  but showing loving-kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”]
These three Hebrew youths simply weren’t open-minded enough. John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, the life and” what? “no man comes to the Father but by Me.” Acts 4:12 says, “…there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This sounds like a very narrow explicit viewpoint by the world standards that we believe here.
Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The six lane, five lane highway is the world system; the little access road on the side is biblical truth. Galatians 2:21, Paul says, “do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Paul says on this topic of all roads lead to God I will not budge an inch on this. Why not? Because the moment I open that theological door is the moment I’m saying that Christ’s death was needless.
Think about that for a minute; if there is another way to God other than through Christ, another way to God the Father other than through God the Son, if another path was open then the wounds of Jesus Christ were irrelevant. Gee, Jesus, thanks for the crown of thorns on your head, thanks for the 39 lashes on your back, thanks for the spear that was thrust into your side, thank you for the ordeals of the cross and the thirst You went though, thank you for the wound marks on your hands and your feet, I appreciate it but you know what, it’s not necessary. What blasphemous, idolatrous, wicked, vile thing to say let alone think. And you see, Christianity could get along great in any culture. The early Christians could get along great with Rome if they had just capitulated on this one point, just say Jesus is one of many, don’t call Him THE God, call him a God, that way we in Rome can have our pantheon, Babylon in the past could have its pantheon, and we’ll just sort of put Christianity right into the mix. And I’m sure there were voices in the church that said let’s just give ground a little bit on this, but they wouldn’t. And so consequently they were persecuted. I bring this up because this is the type of culture that we’re living in. You’re being forced over and over again into compromise.
Here’s the greatest spiritual leader in the world, Oprah Winfrey, and I say that because I think it’s true; I think this woman has more influence, spiritually, over the minds of more people than any other figure in the country, perhaps even in the world. She says, “…one of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way… there are “many, many paths” she says “to what you call God.” “It doesn’t matter whether she called it God along the way or not, there couldn’t possibly be just one way…, there couldn’t possibly be only one way with millions of people in the world! If you’re living “in some remote part of the earth and you never heard the name of” the Lord Jesus Christ are you telling me you can’t get to heaven?
Daniel 3, I’m bringing this up because it’s written for our time period, it speaks directly to us in the year 2017. Do you know why? Because the primary virtue of the United States used to be the “T” word, Truth. If you were a person searching for the truth and you were a person living for the truth, that was the highest virtue. But those days are over, aren’t they? We’ve substituted another “T” word, not truth but tolerance. The highest virtue in the United States of America today is tolerance, acceptance, and yet what we’re learning here in the Scripture is God is very selective, and we’ve got to make a decision, are we going to live for God or not? And how do we live for God in that kind of environment?
I ran into this quote from Aristotle. He said: “Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society.” I mean, we’ve given ground on everything else, the only thing we have left to pride ourselves in is we accept everything. So he says once a culture reaches that point it’s at the end of the line for that culture. This is where Babylon was, this is where the United States of America is and this is where Biblical Christianity is, and we’re having to make some choices in our lives, aren’t we. And so I trust and pray that as we continue through this book the Holy Spirit will convict us and motivate us to live for God in troubled times. Shall we pray.
Father, we’re grateful for this book and the way it speaks to us; we’ve barely scratched the surface but I ask that You’ll be with us as we go through this, as we order our lives after You in these last days in our Romans 1 culture; we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said…..