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                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

                   Faith In The Face Of Fire (3:1-30)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Dan 1, we were introduced to three companions of Daniel:
   Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego...
   a. Like Daniel, they were young men taken from Judah into captivity
      and trained to serve before the king - Dan 1:6-7
   b. Like Daniel, they were blessed by God and impressed the king
      after their period of training - Dan 1:17-20

2. Dan 3 reveals more about the character of these three young men...
   a. In recounting an incident that has fascinated many, both young
      and old
   b. Like Dan 1, it illustrates the power of a strong faith in those
      who are young

[This inspiring story, which I like to call "Faith In The Face Of
Fire", begins by describing...]

I. THEIR TRIAL

   A. THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO IT...
      1. Nebuchadnezzar's image, and his command to worship it - Dan 3:
         1-7
      2. The accusation against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego - Dan
         3:8-12
      3. The king's threat of the fiery furnace - Dan 3:13-15

   B. THE NATURE OF THEIR TRIAL...
      1. To save their situation
         a. They had been promoted over the affairs of Babylon - Dan
            3:12
         b. They would lose their position as well as their lives
      2. To sacrifice their conscience
         a. All they needed to do was to conform outwardly
         b. Of course, that would have meant disobedience to God - Exo
            20:4-5

   C. WE MAY FACE SIMILAR TRIALS TODAY...
      1. To save our situation, such as:
         a. Our popularity at school, by doing things our peers or
            teacher do not see wrong
         b. Our position at work, by doing that which our boss or
            company requires which may be illegal, unethical or immoral
      2. To sacrifice our conscience
         a. It would be easy to conform outwardly, to "go along with
            the crowd"
         b. But our conscience would condemn us, and so would God

[Likely we all have been tempted in some way like this.  How did we
react?  How should we have reacted?  How did Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abed-Nego react?  Let's consider...]

II. THEIR TESTIMONY

   A. THEY DEMONSTRATED FAITH...
      1. In the power of God - Dan 3:16-17
         a. That God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace
         b. If it was His will
      2. In the will of God - Dan 3:18
         a. If it was God's will not to deliver it, so be it!
         b. They would still not worship other gods, nor the gold
            image!

   B. THEY DETERMINED TO SERVE GOD NO MATTER WHAT...
      1. Like Job in the midst of his affliction - Job 1:20-21; 13:15
      2. Like Habakkuk who would praise God even in suffering - Hab 3:
         17-19
      3. Like the apostles who rejoiced to suffer in His name - Ac 5:
         27-29
      4. Like Polycarp who offered this prayer as he was being burned
         at the stake:

        "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed
         Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge
         of Thee, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and
         of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Thy presence;

        "I bless Thee for that Thou hast granted me this day and hour,
         that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs
         in the cup of Thy Christ unto resurrection of eternal life,
         both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy
         Spirit.

        "May I be received among these in Thy presence this day, as a
         rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou didst prepare and
         reveal it beforehand, and hast accomplished it, Thou that art
         the faithful and true God.

        "For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless
         Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High
         Priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him
         and the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for the ages to
         come. Amen.'
                                      - From The Martyrdom Of Polycarp

[Such examples are truly "Faith In The Face Of Fire"!  This is what it
means to have faith, trust, and commitment to the Lord.  What about our
own personal trials at school or work?  Have we been true to God, no
matter the cost?  Finally, consider...]

III. THEIR TRIUMPH

   A. THE REST OF THE CHAPTER REVEALS...
      1. How they were saved in the fiery furnace - Dan 3:19-25
      2. How Nebuchadnezzar was led to bless the true God - Dan 3:26-39

   B. CONSIDER WHAT THEIR TRIALS BROUGHT THEM...
      1. A new sense of freedom!
         a. They entered bound, but were soon seen "loose, walking" 
            - Dan 3:23-25
         b. The very thing presumed to destroy them, enabled them to
            walk freely!
         c. So our own trials can be used to set us truly free! - Jm 1:
            2-4; Ro 5:3-5
      2. A new source of fellowship!
         a. Note:  There was a fourth person in the fire! - Dan 3:25
         b. The identity of this fourth person is not certain
            1) Some think it was an angel
            2) Others believe it was a Christophany (a preincarnate
               appearance of Christ)
         c. Whichever, it suggested a closer communion and fellowship
            with God!
         d. So our trials can bring us closer to God
            1) As explained by the author of Hebrews - He 12:5-11
            2) As promised by Jesus Himself - Re 3:12,21; 7:13-17
      3. A new opportunity for service!
         a. They were promoted to even higher positions! - Dan 3:30
         b. Just as Joseph, who in his trials went:
            1) From slave to steward
            2) From prisoner to Pharaoh's second hand man!
         c. So our faithfulness in trials will lead to greater things!
            - Mt 25:21; Re 2:25-27

CONCLUSION

1. What a wonderful example of faith in these three young men!
   a. Committed to serving God, no matter the consequence
   b. Believing that God can bring deliverance, willing to accept death
      if He doesn't
   c. Demonstrating that faith in the face of fire can lead to greater
      things

2. Let's not overlook perhaps the most important outcome of this
   incident:  glory to God!
   a. Note the praise rendered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon - Dan
      3:28-29
   b. So our faith (and works) should be to the praise of God - Mt 5:16

3. What kind of faith do we have?  Is it like a....
   a. Spare tire, used only in the case of an emergency?
   b. Wheelbarrow, easily upset and must be pushed?
   c. Bus, ridden only when it goes our way?

May our faith be like that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego,
committed to serving the Lord and demonstrating "Faith In The Face Of
Fire"!
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