Daniel 011: The Incomparable God

Daniel 011: The Incomparable God
Daniel 3:28-30 • Dr. Andy Woods • February 5, 2017 • Daniel


Andy Woods

The Incomparable God

2-5-17     Daniel 3:28-30   Lesson 11

Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the book of Daniel, chapter 3 and verse 28.   Happy February to everybody!  Happy Super Bowl Sunday to everybody!  I personally think that we as Christians should be just as excited about church as we are the Super Bowl.  Amen!  Now that doesn’t mean you can pour Gatorade on my head when I’m finished today.  [Laughter]

Daniel 3:28-30, the title of our message is The Incomparable God.  God has no rivals and we certainly see this in the dramatic rescuing of three Hebrew youths.  In fact this rescue operation that God just performed in Daniel 3, which we looked at last time, is so profound it even has a profound impact on a pagan watching the man who orchestrated all the trouble, the Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar.  Of course everything in the book of Daniel relates to a special time period that Israel is now in, where they are outside of their land and they’re having to live for God on foreign territory.

So what does this time period look like prophetically and how is Israel to live ethically?  Daniel provides the answer to both of those questions.  Chapter 1-7 is the historical section, as we’ve indicated; chapters 8-12 is the prophetic section. So we are still in the very early stages of the book of Daniel, having already covered chapter 1 which lays the foundation of the setting for the entire book.

We then moved into chapters 2-7; chapter 2 we have studied where Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and he asks his (quote) “wise men” (close quote) to give him the dream and its interpretation. That’s a pretty high hurdle to get over.  And because they couldn’t he demands the death of all of the wise men in the kingdom, which would include Daniel.  Daniel goes to prayer with his three friends and gives Nebuchadnezzar the revelation of the dream itself and its interpretation.  And thus in chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan leader, learns about this God, that he is a revealer of mysteries.  The theology lesson doesn’t stop there because as we move from chapter 2 into chapter 3, having covered most of chapter 3 in the last couple of Sundays Daniel’s three friends are put into an impossible circumstance. They’re told to worship a statue that Nebuchadnezzar created, which a Jew or a Hebrew could never do, a devout Hebrew, and so consequently Daniel’s three friends are thrown, bound and actually clothed into this flaming furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar was in such a rage that he actually had the furnace heated seven times hotter than its normal temperature.  The heat was so powerful that the men throwing the three Hebrew youths into the fire died instantly.  And yet as we have studied last week, a fourth man showed up in the fire, an emissary of God to rescue these three Hebrew youths.  In fact, this rescue operation is so complete that it says at the end of verse 27, that neither the hair on their head nor their trousers were damaged nor had the smell of the fire even come upon them.”  [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 effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.”]

This pretty characteristic of miracles that you see in the Bible.  When God performs a miracle He doesn’t do an A-minus job, it’s an A plus, plus, plus job.  And obviously this had an effect, not just on Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, the youths thrown into the fire but on the pagan king observing all of these things, a man named Nebuchadnezzar.  And so as we close out verses 28 of chapter 3, looking at verses 28-30 this morning we see Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction to this.

We have, number 1, an exaltation of God, verse 28; number 2 we have a decree of Nebuchadnezzar, verses 29, and number 30 we have the continuing prosperity of the Hebrew youths, verse 30.  It’s tempting to just sort of rush over this and read through it very fast but there is so much in these three verses for us that I wanted to focus our attention on it this morning.

Notice if you will Nebuchadnezzar’s exaltation of God.  It says in verse 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, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.”  Notice this reaction here or this expression, verse 28, “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego,” notice these words “responded” and “Blessed.”

Nebuchadnezzar saw this and his reaction was to worship the Lord.  That, of course, is what worship is; worship is a response or a reaction to truth, you’re so overwhelmed at what you have just heard or what you have just seen that the only natural reaction left is to glorify God.  Worship has very little to do with our favorite musical songs; it has very little to do with whether a particular song gives me an emotional euphoria or not.  It has very little to do with whether I get the liver-quiver of the day through a particular melody.  It has to do with truth and being just absorbed by that truth and just wanting to explode into praise to God, through whatever means are available.

And of course we believe all of our songs here at Sugar Land Bible Church should be biblically based.  But there is so much talk today about what we call the worship wars, and so much of it really has to do with people’s personal preferences.  One generation likes it one way, the other generation likes it another way, and consequently churches begin to fight over this issue and I’m just wondering if at times we have gotten away from what worship really is.  It’s not about me, it’s not about my preferences.  It’s about Jesus!  It’s about wanting to get into the presence of God’s people and glorify this man, Jesus Christ, for the very things that we just celebrated at the Lord’s Table today, the fact that He is both my Creator and Redeemer.

Nebuchadnezzar responded… that’s worship, and blessed the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.  Now you have to watch this man, Nebuchadnezzar, very carefully because his story spans four chapters, Daniel 1, Daniel 2, Daniel 3, and of course Daniel 4.  As these chapters progress I believe what you’re seeing is a softening of the heart of this pagan king. God is gradually at work in this man; you see it at the end of chapter 2 in verse 47 where, “The king answered Daniel and said, ‘Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, [since you have been able to reveal this mystery].”

You see it again in chapter 3 with his response to God, verses 28-29.  [Daniel 3:28-29, “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, 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.”]

And I believe that the crescendo of God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar will take place in a chapter that we will begin next week, in chapter 4.  But don’t get ahead of yourself too much on this because I think at this point in Nebuchadnezzar’s pilgrimage with God, as God has been faithfully revealing Himself to this man, Nebuchadnezzar is not yet in saving faith.  I believe that that time will come in chapter 4.

But Ron Rhodes in his book, Forty Days Through Daniel says this:  “Don’t misunderstand Nebuchadnezzar here.  He was not here coming to following the Hebrew God alone; he was still a polytheist who believed in many gods.  The king essentially added Yahweh to a large pantheon of deities.”

Nebuchadnezzar at this point has respect for God but he is not yet a child of God and there are many, many people in the church world that are like this; they go to church because that’s sort of the thing to do.  It’s cultural.  Or they have a respect for Christianity because that’s what their parents believed, that’s what their grandparents believed and so they don’t want to speak dis­respectfully of Christianity but many times such people are not children of God.  The reality of the situation is a healthy respect for God is not enough to become a child of God.  People cannot live off the faith of somebody else, they have to have their own faith.  God, as we said, has no grand­children; He only has children.

And if you’re here today and you’re like that,  you’re showing up at church because that’s the thing to do, that’s what’s culturally acceptable, that’s what my parents believed that’s what my grand­parents would have liked, or whatever the issue is that in and of itself is not enough to get to heaven.  We’re going to talk about exactly how to get to heaven a little bit later in this verse, or verses, through the use of the word “trust.”  But more on that later.

Verse 28, “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego,’” watch this, “who has sent His angel and delivered His servants….”  People say well, pastor, you don’t believe in guardian angels do you?  You bet I believe in guardian angels.  Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”  In fact, did you know that the angels, and there’s myriads of them, innumerable, were created by God for a specific purpose?  Hebrews 1:14 of angels, says this: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”  Think about that for a minute!  As a Christian you not only have a relationship with God which would be enough to be united to the One who is all powerful, but He, as an extra work of grace, created the angelic realm.  For what purpose?  “…to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation,” that would be you as a Christian, that would be me.

I think this, that when we get to the other side of eternity we are going to be stunned as we look backwards and God begins to give us the full picture of the number of times angels were dispatched to help us in time of need and yet we didn’t realize it, because angels are invisible by and large, ministering spirits.  If you want a very good book on angels I would recommend the book by Billy Graham called Angels, God’s Secret Agents.  And on pages 16-17 of this book he writes this:  “The Reverend John G. Paton, pioneer missionary in the Hebrides Islands told a thrilling story involving the protective care of angels.  Hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night intent on burning the Paton’s out and killing them.  John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror filled night that God would deliver them.  When daylight came they were amazed to see that unaccountably the attackers had left.  They thanked God for delivering them.  A year later the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ and Mr. Paton, remembering that what had happened asked the chief what kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them?  The chief replied in surprise, well, who were all those men you had there with you?  The missionary answered there was no men there, just me and my wife.   The chief argued that he had seen many men standing guard, hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hand.  They seemed to circle the mission statement so that the natives were afraid to attack.  Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent His angels to protect them.  The chief agreed that there was no other explanation.  Could it be that God had sent a legion of angels to protect His servants whose lives were being endangered?”  An interesting story.

In fact, Billy Graham in his book, Angels, God’s Secret Agents, recounts multiple stores like this.  I’m of a tendency to believe that these occurrences are so frequent and so regular, and because we don’t see them we will be stunned in eternity and want to glorify God all the more as He pulls

back the veil and shows us how at different times of crisis in our life, when we thought that God had deserted us, He hadn’t, through this ministry of angels.

“… who has sent His angel and delivered His servants” watch this, “who put their trust in Him,”

I cannot put enough stress on this word “trust.”  “Trust” is another way of saying believe. When you see the word “believe” in the Bible, a synonym, same word, different meaning, it is to trust, it is to rely upon, it is to depend upon.  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words says this of the biblical word believe: “‘to believe,’ also ‘to be persuaded of’ and hence ‘to place confidence in, to trust’ signifies in this sense of the word reliance upon, not mere credence.  It is most frequent in the writings of the Apostle John, especially the Gospel.   He does not use the noun…. Of the writers of the Gospels John” uses the word believe “ninety-nine times.”

We throw this word “believe” around all the time but what does it actually mean?  It means to trust, to rely upon, to depend upon.  I’ve told the story a number of times of Charles Blondin who would push a wheelbarrow across a tightrope suspended over Niagara Falls and he became so skilled at this that crowds would gather on the side there and watch him do this.  And one of the days he yelled out to the crowd, do you believe that I can do this again?  At which point everybody said yes, we believe.  And he said, okay, which one of you wants to get into the wheelbarrow?  At that point mere credence becomes biblical faith, or trust, or reliance.  That becomes the single condition by which a person is ushered into eternal life.  We have a plethora of Scriptures on the screen here which show this. [Genesis 15:6, John 3:16; 5:24; 6:28-29, 47; 16:8-9; 20:30-31, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 1:16; Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 11:6]

It’s a concept that’s as old as Genesis 15:6 where we learn that Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as unto righteousness.  The Gospel of John is filled with this.  God wants us to understand this since whether we fulfill this condition or not depends on whether we’re really God’s children.  Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is” what? “impossible to please Him.”  A person cannot please God independent of the avenue of faith.

Now you might be saying to yourself well, I’ve done that already, I’ve trusted in Christ.  And I say praise the Lord, you now have the promises of eternal life from a God who cannot lie.  But let me tell you something about faith; faith is like a muscle, unless that muscle is used it atrophies.  You’ve heard the expression if you don’t use it you what?  You lose it.  We understand that in the physical world, we understand that in the area of physical therapy and things of that nature.  The same principle holds true in the spiritual realm.

One of the things that stands out to me in Romans 1:17 when Paul is quoting the Old Testament he says, “But the just shall” what? “live by faith.”  He doesn’t say the just believe once and then forget about the whole thing.  The pattern of God for the believer is that the faith that saves, which already happened in the past as a one-time event, making their salvation 100% secure, God wants to keep developing, as we move not just from being a believer in Christ and having my fire insurance paid up but now I begin to walk with Christ.  Your eternity is secure and you can make great progress in your life as you trust God and not trust God, eternity is no longer the issue, but God wants that walk of faith in the lives of each of His children.  The “just shall live by faith.”  If the “just shall live by faith” then God puts us through training exercises as His children which strengthens the initial faith that we expressed in Christ.

If God doesn’t put us in circumstances by which we have no one to trust in but Him the faith muscle atrophies, it becomes jelly, it loses its strength.  And God does not want that to happen so how does He solve the problem?  He puts you in a circumstance that you can’t figure your way out of.  Anybody in that circumstance?  Well, if you’re not cheer up, your time is just around the corner, you just don’t realize it yet because God is not going to let people get by without growing up any more than a parent would let their child wallow around in immaturity without inculcating growth and maturity.  God is the same way with His spiritual children and He does this through impossible circumstances.

I think you would agree with me that Nebuchadnezzar had put Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego into an impossible circumstance.  In fact, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego didn’t even know if God was going to come through because they acknowledged in verse 18 maybe God will come through, maybe He won’t.  [Daniel 3:17, “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.  [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.”]  Whatever God wants to do He’s going to do.  On this occasion God came through and God took that faith muscle in these three youths, which obviously was already there and He fortified it, which is what he’s doing with you.  And even this Gentile pagan king recognizes this because Nebuchadnezzar, of the three youth said they put their trust in Him.  He was able to see how these three youths had trusted God.

Let me ask you a question: when unbelieving unsaved people see your life can they see how you’re trusting God in  your trials of life?  I mean, the trust that these three youths had in God was so obvious, it was so conspicuous that even resonated to a Gentile unbelieving godless mind.  God will do the same thing in your life as people watch you go through life’s difficulties.

And these Hebrew youths moved out of the realm of just being believers into the realm of a disciple, and there’s a big difference between those because it says here they “put their trust in Him,”  that’s being a believer, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.”  That is a tremendous definition of a disciple of Christ coming from an unsaved pagan mind.  You didn’t just trust Christ for initial salvation, but you kept trusting Him through the exigencies of life to the point where you were willing to sacrifice your own body  and your own life so that you wouldn’t have to worship and serve a statue, a pagan deity.

These three Hebrew youths graduate from being believers, which is very wonderful to be a believer because that determines heaven or hell, into the realm of disciples.  How do you become a child of God?  One condition… you believe!  Well, how do you become a disciple?  God starts putting His hand on things in your life that have to go and you start to say to the Lord, well Lord, I don’t know how I’m going to give this up or that up, but you know what, You’re going to help me and I’m going to start to walk in obedience.  And if that’s your heart you’re moving in the direction of discipleship.  Sometimes the things that God requires us to give up are such a severity that it could even cost us our own lives.

Revelation 6:9 says, “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;” these are tribulation saints who are standing for God to the point where they were prematurely killed.  Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”  This is what God is trying to produce in us, this type of mindset.

And yet the interesting thing about being a disciple, yes, it does require, under God’s power, yielding and giving up things that God says need to go but what I’ve discovered, and I’m continuing to discover is whatever I give up God has a real habit in my life of replacing it with something better.  In fact, you don’t discover your purpose in life and why you’re even here until you move into the realm of discipleship.

Jesus, in Matthew 16:24-25 said to His disciples, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. [25] For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”’

We have a tendency to focus on oh my gosh, what am I going to have to give up?  God is saying just give it over to Me and you’ll find Me replacing it with something so much better; I’m just wanting you to enter into the realm of discipleship.  Meaning is discovered as you become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Nebuchadnezzar comments on what these Hebrew youths went through he is defining there at the end of verse 28 discipleship, the sacrifice of one’s own life and body for the zeal and the glory of God.  [Daniel 3:28, “…and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.”]

I would love it at this church if God created believers AND moved us out of the realm of believers into discipleship.  Think about what could happen at this small church in this location with disciples; think about what God could do.  Think about what God would begin to disclose.  Think about how God would begin to direct.  Think about the internal satisfaction where the focus becomes Him to the point of surrendering things.  We all have different things God wants to deal with us on; whatever those things are, whatever the Spirit of God is agitating you about, what if 2017 you just relinquished that to the Lord… I don’t know how I’m going to kick this habit or not do this or not think that or stop going here or doing this or that, I don’t know how it’s going to happen but the heart is there, the desire is there and I know God that You’re going to help me and empower me.

The exaltation of God, which is tremendous theology coming from an unsaved person moves into a decree and notice, if you will, verse 29, he says, “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…,” wow!  This type of statement that Nebuchadnezzar just made here is sort of like Genesis 12:3, isn’t it.  Do you remember Genesis 12:3, when God first began to deal with a man named Abram and the Hebrew race was just starting at that point?  “God said to Abram, ‘And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will’” what? “’curse.’”  Have you ever asked yourself why God in plague ten in the book of Exodus killed the firstborn all over Egypt?  The answer is Exodus 4:22 where God says this, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn.”’

You mess with My firstborn, Pharaoh, I’m coming after yours.  Is that biblical?  “The one who curses you I will curse,” that’s what it says, doesn’t it?  I don’t see any expiration date on that promise, do you?  Have you ever asked yourself why God drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea.  Why didn’t He just send a lightning bolt and kill them?  Why drown them?  You’ll find the answer in Exodus 1 where the Egyptians were drowning the Hebrew youths, male children, in the Nile.  You mess with My people I’m coming after you.  “The one who curses you I will curse.”  All the way into the Persian time, after the time of Daniel we read about a man named Haman who developed a plot to exterminate the Jewish people.  He even developed a gallows through which he was going to hang Mordecai.  Esther 7:10 says, “So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai….”   “And the one who curses you I will curse.”  [Genesis 12:3]

This is how you are to live Israel, during these times of the Gentiles when these Gentile kings think they have some kind of upper hand on you: keep walking with Me, keep trusting Me, keep following Me and I’m going to fix this in My timing, because you have a promise from God.

Have you ever noticed that every time the nation of Israel gets attacked in the Bible against overwhelming odds, not only do they survive but they get a holiday out of it?  Because God rebuffed the attack under Haman the Jews got a holiday out of it called Purim, which mean “lots.”  Much later on in biblical history, a few centuries later we’ll see this in Daniel’s prophecies as we continue through this book, a man named Antiochus Epiphanes, which means God manifest, (no ego problem there), desecrated the Jewish temple and it was miraculously rescued by God and the Jewish people, leading to another feast day in Judaism called Hanukkah.  It does not go well for nations and individuals and peoples to come against the Jews.

A word to the wise, a word to the politicians out there, a word to those that are crafting foreign policy, make sure that your foreign policy, whatever it is, aligns with the eternal truth because the destiny of  your country rides in the balance.  God has His hand on the Jewish people.  Have you ever met any modern day Jebusites?  Yeah, so and so, and so and so, moved down the street, a very nice Jebusite couple?  We don’t say that.  What happened to the Jebusites?  They’re in the Bible right along with the Hebrews.  Well, the sociologists tell us that when you’re out of your land for a few generations you lose your cultural identity and you assimilate into the whole culture culturally and linguistically.  Is it not somewhat interesting that the Hebrew nation continues today in the Middle East as a  unique people group and culture despite the fact that it was out of its land for 2,000 years?

They’re pushed out of the land of Israel by the Romans in the first century, they go back into that same land in the twentieth century with their culture intact, their language intact, and their religion intact.  And people say well, how come God doesn’t perform miracles today?  When you look at the tiny nation of Israel (which is really about the size of New Jersey) in existence, in a sea of hostile dictatorships you’re seeing a modern work of God.  It goes right back to Genesis 12:1-3.

[Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;  [2] And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; [3] And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’”]

It’s sort of interesting to me that the Romans, a world power, kicked Israel out of their land.  Rome, a Latin speaking power, kicked a little tiny nation that spoke Hebrew out of their land back in the first century.  What do we see in the 20th century?  What do we see in the 21st century?  The nation of Israel is there, Rome is gone, Latin is a dead language, Hebrew is a live language, and this is the significance of God taking this heart of this king, who I don’t even think is saved yet, and turning it in such a way that he actually begins to issue decrees which favor the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And then notice what it says here, “inasmuch as there is no other God who is able to deliver in this way.” [Daniel 3:29]  That’s why I entitled this message The Incomparable God, the God who is not just another entity or deity in a long string.  You can’t just take God and add Him to the Babylonian Pantheon, He stands above the Babylonian Pantheon.  He is incomparable; He has no rivals.  A lot of people look at the angelic conflict and they get their theology not from the Bible, they get it from the movie Rocky, where Rocky I, Apollo and Rocky are in the ring and they’re slugging it out and you don’t know who’s going to win, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, a slight edge for Apollo because he was the heavy weight champ but you’re literally on the edge of your seat the whole movie—is Rocky going to win.  And that gave way to Rocky II, and Rocky III, and now they’ve got like Rocky XXVIII, you know, where their grandkids are in there duking it out.  And so people take this, you know… is he going to win, is he not going to win mindset and they transfer it to the Scripture, as if God and Satan are duking it out and we’re not sure what’s going to happen here.

Let me tell you something; this is no contest!  It’s no contest because Satan, Ezekiel 28:12-17 is a created being.  He only exists because God brought him into existence and He is actually using Satan in the great ages of time and history to further God’s plans.  And once God is finished using Satan for His own purposes he’ll quickly be sent into the Lake of Fire.

[Ezekiel 28:12-18, “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  [13] You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you.  On the day that you were created they were prepared.  [14] You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you here.   You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.  [15] You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.  [16] By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God.  And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  [17] Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.  I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.  [18] By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries.   Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you.  [19] All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have become terrified and you will cease to be forever.”’]

Why am I talking like this?  Because God is incomparable.  Exodus 15:11 says this, “Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?  [Exodus 15:11, “Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”]  This why you keep seeing this expression over and over again in the Bible, “there is none like God,” or this question, “who is like God?”  Nebuchadnezzar here delivers to my mind an incredibly theologically insightful and accurate statement concerning the end comparability of God and look at the theology Nebuchadnezzar is learning here: he learned in chapter 2 that God is a revealer of mysteries.  He learned in chapter 3 that God is faithful and guess what Nebuchadnezzar, God is not finished teaching you yet because in chapter 4 you’re going to learn about God’s judgment.

And how is Nebuchadnezzar learning these things?  Is he reading the Hebrew Bible?  No, he is watching God work through His people.  You have heard that statement, you are probably the only Bible some people will ever read?  That’s true.  God wants to teach pagans through your life who will never read the Bible, who may not even darken the door of the church, but they’re watching you, at your school, at your workplace, where you live, in your family if there’s unbelievers in your family.  You’ve got a wider scope than you realize.  God is in the business of using His people to teach theology to people that basically are not interested in theology.  But let me tell you something, when you go through a valley you’ve got their attention because they’re trying to figure out this Jesus thing you keep talking about, is this real or not?  This is why the Bible says “You are the salt of the earth….”  He goes on and He says, “You are the light of the world… Let  your light shine before” who? “men in such a way that they may see your good works, and” do what? “glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

[Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”  [14] You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; [15] nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  [16] Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”]

Isn’t that’s what’s happening here in Daniel 3?  Isn’t Nebuchadnezzar glorifying God the best he knows how because of a pattern he can see in these Hebrew youths?  What kind of theology are people seeing in your life?  Interesting question to think about, isn’t it?

We move from the decree, finally, to the prosperity.  Daniel 3, verse 30, “Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.”  What does this teach here?  God blesses the uncompromised life.  God blesses the life that is not sinless but is sinning less.  And in all of these circumstances, chapter 1, how did it end exactly?  “At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food, [16] so the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink and kept giving them vegetables.” [Daniel 1:15-16]

They would not compromise on the Mosaic restrictions on diet and God blessed.  Daniel would not compromise and accurately relates to Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of the dream in chapter 2 and God blessed.  Daniel 2:48 says, “Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.”  What are we seeing here at the end of chapter 3, as these three Hebrew youths go into the fire uncompromised?  “Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego” verse 30 “to prosper in the province of Babylon.”

Here’s the deception?  We think that if I can just get away with this sin over here or this lack of compromise over there then I’m being benefited.  Somehow we think that if we cheat God we better ourselves.  What a deception that is!  It’s the opposite.  The hand of blessing is remaining on these three  youths and Daniel because of their consecration to God.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the book of Haggai.  Haggai 1:3, “Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, [2] Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”  I mean, they were building what we would call mansions for themselves and just letting the house of God deteriorate, the temple.  They probably thought they were getting ahead.  [5] “Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, Consider your ways!”  [6] You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes” in it.  [7] “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!  [8] Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the LORD.  [8] You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away.”  Sounds like an American pay check, doesn’t it?  “Why? declares the LORD of hosts, ‘Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.’  [9] Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce.  [10] I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.”

Man, I wish I could been there live to hear that sermon.  These people thought that they were (through compromise) building their own kingdom (at the expense of God and His temple) were getting ahead.  What a deception.  You’re in the predicament you’re in because you haven’t put Me first.  Had Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego been people of compromise in these three chapters they would have all ended differently.

You say well what’s the challenge to us?  Matthew 6:33, “But seek first”  what? “His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things” what things?  The things everybody is so worried about, what are we going to eat, what are we going to drink, what are we going to wear, “all these things will be added to you.”  Get your priorities straight, is what the Bible is saying, and watch God do differently and work differently in your life.  A great chapter on divine deliverance, a great conclusion to the chapter, as great theology is taught  by a pagan king who doesn’t even know God  yet.  And God protects, promotes, and provides for His people.

Very quickly, takeaways from chapter 3.  The Mosaic Law taught Israel how to live inside the land.  The examples of the three Hebrew  youths taught them how to live outside the land.  What do they teach?  Watch their lives, consecrate yourself to God, live by faith from crisis to crisis entrusting the results to God.  I’m so grateful for chapter 3 and verse 18, which we saw last week, “But even if He does not,” in terms of their rescue,  God is able to deliver us, verse 17, “but even if He does not,” what is that?  That’s a mindset that says I don’t know what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen but God knows.  I don’t need to know do I, if God knows.   [Daniel 3:17, “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.”  [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.”]

Why do I think I need everything figured out.  When I’m walking in a relationship with an omniscient God?  All I have to do is trust His character.  It’s like when you’re lost, and I get lost frequently, but you’ve got someone in the car that knows the neighborhood, knows the freeways, knows where to go and they’re saying turn left here, turn right here, go here, go there, you don’t even know where you’re going, do you?  But you don’t need to know because you can trust the person in the car with you.  What is God saying?  I’m in the car, I’ll just tell you what to do but you don’t need the big picture, all you have to do is trust My character.

So live from crisis to crisis trusting the results to God, be willing to pay the consequences if necessary.  God never promised us a bed of roses; we would be hated in the world for our stance for Christ but God is with us in those difficulties and allow God to promote us in His time.  I Peter 5:6, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” what a great example for us to take our ques from as we walk with God in these last days.

Shall we pray?  Father, we’re grateful for this ancient book, this sixth century book and how it speaks to our lives.  Help us to be people, Lord, not just learning but of application, not just of knowledge but of wisdom as we trust You and walk with You in the different places that You have us.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.