Salvation Stories From The Bible: The Fiery Furnace

Salvation Stories From The Bible: The Fiery Furnace

Opening Illustration:
Several years ago, missionaries had difficulty in communicating the good news of Jesus Christ to the Chinese people. They were extremely frustrated. But one day, there was a breakthrough.

A missionary was studying a particular Chinese ideograph, the one which means "righteous." He noticed that it contained an upper and lower part. The upper part was simply the Chinese symbol for "lamb." Directly under was simply a second symbol, the first person pronoun, "I" or "me."


"Suddenly, the missionary discerned an amazingly well-coded message hidden within the ideograph: "I under the lamb am righteous!"

"This startled the Chinese people. They never noticed it, but once the missionary pointed this out, they saw it clearly. They then asked the missionary, "Which lamb must we be under to be righteous?"

The missionary replied with John 1:29, which is a description of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” And Who takes away our shame and disgrace.

Point:
You see friends, it was in the difficulty that the missionaries made a powerful discovery.  It was in that moment of trial that triumph was born.  So, what about you?  What trial are you facing today?  What hardship are you dealing with? 

Let me remind you that life’s fires often let us feature our faith!

Life’s Fires Often Let Us Feature Our Faith!

Background:
I wish I had time to read the entire chapter of Daniel 3 to you this morning.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were exiles from Israel to Babylon.  King Nebuchadnezzar was in power at the time.  The King, at the start of Daniel 3, created a nation wide edict that everyone in the land must worship a massive statue of himself.  Specifically, when all the instruments played, the people were to bow down and worship the statue of gold.  We all know the story, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down at the statue.  

Their refusal was brought to the King’s attention and naturally the King, who fancied himself a god, was extremely angry.  So, this is where we pick up this morning. We pick up with the King questioning the three over their decision to remain standing while all the others fell to worship. Let’s read along together from Daniel 3:16-26. 

The Scripture:

Daniel 3:16-26 ESV
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.

Three Lesson’s From The Flames

I. Don’t Be Guided By The Flames, Rather Be Guided By Your Faith vs. 16
Daniel 3:16 ESV
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Point:
Fear is a powerful motivator.  The King wanted the people to worship him, so what did he do?  He motivated them through fear.  He knew on their own that they would not worship him.  Especially the Jews.  He knew that the Jews believed in Jehovah, not him.  So, in order to gain compliance, he threatened them with fear.  If they didn’t comply to his wishes, they would all be thrown into the fire.  No one would sign up to be burned alive.  That’s what he thought.  Except that’s not what happened.  Motivated by devotion, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood tall.  Now the three were no fools.  They certainly were fearful of the flames, however they were not motivated by their fears.  They were motivated by their faith.  

Point:
What is the practical application for you today? What is the application for me?  Well, it is pretty simple, we don’t need to be motivated by fear.  We need to be motivated by our faith.  Our faith is stronger, more powerful than fear.  

Point:
Its funny that most of the stuff that we are afraid of never really happens.  We worry and we are afraid of things that never really materialize.  Do you know what “fear” really is?  

False Evidence Appearing Real

Point:
So what are you fearing today?  Is it a doctor’s diagnosis?  Could you be slogging away in a job even though you know that God is calling you to do something differing out of fear?  How will you pay the bills? 

Friend, fear is a paralyzer.  It freezes us and prevents us from being productive for God.  Remember this, no one has ever done something to change the world by being paralyzed by fear.  No, they allow the fear to come and then they push through it.  

Were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego afraid?  Absolutely.  They knew about the furnace.  They certainly knew what the furnace could do.  However, they were motivated by their faith.

Psalm 56:3 ESV
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Three Lesson’s From The Flames

I. Don’t Be Guided By The Flames, Rather Be Guided By Your Faith vs. 16
II. Don’t Be Surprised By The Culture’s Rage, Remain Confidently Righteous vs. 19-20
Daniel 3:19-20 ESV
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 

Point:
Isn’t it interesting the words of Daniel as the three stood boldly against the King.  Scripture tells us that the King’s expression changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  You can see this in your imagination can’t you.  You see, Nebuchadnezzar like these three guy.  He liked them until they defied his order.  He liked them until they began to swim upstream against the norm of the culture.  He liked them until they were different and they said “no” to what the culture was doing.  

Point:
Does this sound familiar?  It should.  It should remind you of Daniel’s story.  Daniel could either do what the rest of the culture around him was doing, or he could be tossed in the lion’s den.  We all know the story.  It is the same as this story.  Daniel, along with his three friends, did not follow the cultural norm.  They stood out, stood apart, and stood out in the crowd.  

Point:
Notice however that the three make no remarks against the culture they are living it.  They do not lash out. They do not cry, moan, yell, scream, or malign anyone.  They tell the King that God will either rescue them or not.  Either way, they will not worship the Babylonian false God.  Their lives were a testimony to the truth.  

Point:
Again, what is the application for us today?  We live in a corrupt culture.  We live in a culture that chases after all sort of false gods.  The application for us today is that following our culture leads to destruction.  Jesus even says as much.  

Matthew 7:13-14 ESV
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

So, whatever the cultural standard, chances are it is leading to destruction.  

Here is the other application.  The three had very little to say about their culture, their lives did most of the talking.  Did you hear what I said? The three had very little to say about their culture, their lives did most of the talking.  Remember, they did not protest. They did not have signs. They did not rent billboards.  They did not hop on social media to decry the latest political injustice of social ill.  They just stood up when all others were willing to bow.  

They let their lives do all the talking.  Friends, let me remind you that our words, even our right words, often take away from what we are saying. You might say it like this, what we are saying is often tuned out because of how we are saying it.  

John 14:27 ESV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Three Lesson’s From The Flames

I. Don’t Be Guided By The Flames, Rather Be Guided By Your Faith vs. 16
II. Don’t Be Surprised By The Culture’s Rage, Remain Confidently Righteous vs. 19-20
III. Don’t Be Fearful When God Shows Up In The Flames vs. 24-25
Daniel 3: 24-25 ESV
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

Point:
Now we know God’s presence is everywhere.  There is no place that God’s presence is not.  He is everywhere.  However there are those moments in life where we see God, really see Him moving.  There are a couple of things to remember in this story.  

1. God is good.  The big three believed that God was good no matter what.  Even if he did not save them from their fear, God was still good.  That is true even today.  Sometimes God does not save us from the flames but that does not mean that He is any less good.  

2. God put them in this situation.  Yep, God is responsible for this one.  It was God who punished His people to be exiled. God knew that Daniel and his compadres would face this challenge.  The gold statue was not a surprise to God.  He knew about it and allowed it to happen.  So, whatever flames you are facing today, rest assured that God knew about it.  He knew that it was coming your way.

3. God is in the trail, in the flames with them. Nebuchadnezzar calls out and claims that there is not three people in the flames, rather 4.  He even claims that this forth man looks like a “son of the gods”.  Now we know who this other person was, it was Jesus.  The Son of God.  The one and only.  Any time we see the physical presence of God in the Old Testament, we call it a theophany.  

God shows up in the flames.  The big three saw God uniquely move in the fire.  Not so much outside the fire, but in the fire.  Isn’t it funny that we all pray to see God move and God tells us “well, if you want to see me, jump in the fire with me”.  That generally puts the brakes on how much we really want to see Him, doesn’t it?

Point:
Generally it is in the most difficult times where we see God move.  It is the in those dark moments where we feel His presence the most.  Isn’t funny that we generally run from those moments of brokenness.  

Point:
So, what happens to the big three.  We know the story.  They were saved.  They were secured.  Look what happens next.  

Daniel 3:28-30 ESV
28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Point:
Because of their decision to be guided by their faith, because they did not stand with the culture, because they willingly went through the fire, they changed the world.  They changed their culture.  They changed the King.  

Friends, I think that is something that we forget when we are going through the fire. We forget that we have the chance to influence the people around us.  

Closing Illustration:
Alexander Duff, who was born in Scotland in 1806 and went to India when he was 24 with two shipwrecks on the way, and spent almost 40 years there for Christ and His kingdom, wrote to his daughter later in life, 

"Why should I, who have been the child of so many mercies, be faithless or doubting? If any man living should trust in the Lord absolutely, and cast upon him the burden of all his cares . . . I am that man. All my days I have been a child of Providence, the Lord leading me and guiding me in ways unknown to me – in ways of His own, and for the accomplishment of his own heavenly ends." (William Paton, Alexander Duff: Pioneer of Missionary Education, p. 232).

The Lord stood by him, guiding him all is life. He will do that for you too as you offer yourself up to Him for his use and His mission. But it doesn’t mean that we will be spared terrible losses. It means Christ is there and governs all things and helps us and sustains us and turns all losses into gain as we trust Him. 

Isaiah 41:10 ESV
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 righteous right hand.


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