A. For each truth in the Bible, there is a counterfeit. Since the creation of the world, the devil has been determined to deceive people. Since the beginning, his work has been the same: to deceive.
He is the father of lies (John 8:44). He lied when he deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:4), and he has been deceiving people since then. In contrast, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). His will exposes Satan's lies. Truth is something worth living for, it's something worth dying for! Our faithfulness to Jesus and to His truth will finally determine our eternal destiny.
B. Our Bible text for today reveals the cost three young men were willing to pay for the truth. Instead of accepting a counterfeit, disobeying God, and being deceived by Satan's lies, they put their lives at risk. Their faith took them to the fire, and the fire did not burn them. Today we will discover how we can have this faith that challenges death at the end of this world's history.
I. CHALLENGED BY A COUNTERFEIT
A. Read Daniel 3:1. You may remember that, in chapter 2, God gave Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, a dream revealing the future. In chapter 3, the king built his own counterfeit image. In opposition to God's vision for the future, Nebuchadnezzar intended to hold the future in his own hands. He intended for his kingdom to be forever. He wished to take God's place.
B. God revealed the future as being dominated by empires of gold, silver, bronze, and iron. But the statue that Nebuchadnezzar built was only made of gold, indicating his desire for Babylon to last forever.
C. Everyone should worship the statue. Read Daniel 3:3-5.
1. Nebuchadnezzar summoned all representatives of his kingdom. The decree was universal. The main subject of this growing conflict was centered in worship. The false and the true crashed into each other. In a moving drama on the plain of Dura, the king's loyalty crashed into God's loyalty.
2. Whoever did not worship the image would be cast into the fiery furnace. The three Hebrew young men were in a very difficult position. Staying loyal to God meant being disloyal to Nebuchadnezzar.
D. In Acts 5:29, the apostle Peter gives us a very important instruction for when we are in a situation of conflict, between obeying God or going against His will. He said: "We must obey God rather than men."
II. THE PRICE OF COMMITTING TO GOD
A. Read Daniel. 3:16-18. They decided to be faithful to God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's answer was immediate: "We do not fear to answer thee in this matter" (verse 16). They were determined. Procrastination, hesitation, or delay would have made them vulnerable to Satan's temptation.
1. The only safe way when facing temptation is to take a decisive stand for what is right.
2. As a result of their decision (Dan. 3:19-21), they were bound and cast into the fiery furnace.
3. Apparently, they would face death alone. But looking carefully at the flames, hoping to see the Hebrews immediately consumed, Nebuchadnezzar was astonished because he did not see three, but four men inside the furnace. And they were not bound, but free.
A. Nebuchadnezzar saw four unbound men—not three bound men.
1. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, entered the fiery furnace and miraculously freed the Hebrews.
2. The only thing that was burned was the rope that bound them.
B. Jesus is present in the trials of our lives. In life's torments, Jesus is also present. When we walk through the flames, He is present.
C. Here are some wonderful promises of encouragement for difficult occasions:
1. "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand" (Isa. 41:10).
2. "Cast all your anxieties on him, for He cares about you" (1 Peter. 5:7).
3. "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him" (Rom. 8:28).
D. When we face the most dreadful moments, He is present. He is the Son of God. He became a human and lived in human flesh, so He does understand our sufferings and longings.
You may even be thrown in the fiery furnaces of problems and hardships in this life, but you will never be alone. Jesus will be with you, and the fire will not burn you.
Contributed by the South American Division Ministerial Association