Hope (Daniel 3:8-28)

Exiles- In the World, Not of the World  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:21:21
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Hope in Exile

Key Passage

Daniel 3:8–28 NIV
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.


We opened this year with a vision of bringing focus on the things of our lives that need our focus.
We live in a world that is increasingly fighting for our attention and our hearts.
This year especially, being an election year, will bring to our attention a lot of loud voices, loud opinions, conflict, and a series of unending crisis that is often very effective in drawing our attention off of the things that we need to focus on.
We began this series looking at Habakkuk.
In that series, we emphasized a few overarching truths
God raises up kings and He brings down kings
We ought not look at the world around us and complain about how righteous or unrighteous they are.
Rather, God’s word is a mirror to our own unrighteousness.
Our righteousness and holiness are found in Him. When it comes to the things of this world, we must trust that He is God and He knows what He is doing.
Habakkuk was a 30,000 foot view of exile
But in Daniel, we are taking a much more focused view of living in exile
Daniel was taken from his country where he knew and worshipped God and brought to a pagan nation as an exile.
While living in Babylon, Daniel not only held onto his faith, he did so in a way that created influence in the world around him.
Daniel shows us a model that we can see of living in a pagan, sinful and evil culture while maintaining our faith.
However, Daniel did more than just maintain his faith. He became mightily influential in the Babylonian government.
He did this by keeping his eyes on God, growing in his faith, holding onto his hope, maintaining humility, and exercising wisdom in knowing which battles to fight and which battles not to fight.
If you think I am cherry-picking Daniel for this purpose, I want you to know that every principle we discuss can be directly translated to the life of Joseph under the Egyptian Pharoah, Peter and Paul under Nero, and even Jesus under the rule of Caesar and Tiberius.
These are not simply Daniels rules. They are an overarching principle of faith, hope, humility and wisdom that spans Biblical men and women.
Last week we opened the topic of faith.
We defined faith and we used 1 Peter as our outline to navigate the testing of our faith and saw how this Biblical truth applied in the Daniel’s life.
Today, we are going to build on the foundation of that faith and uncover the topic of hope.

Main Topic

Walking into this topic, we need are going to open up this topic of hope similarly to how we opened up the topic of faith.
As we walk through this topic, we will parallel these points of hope to the three young men mentioned in the passage we just read.
We will also parallel the points to our own lives.
What is hope?
Why do we need hope?
What are hope-killers in our lives?
How do we hold to hope?

What is Hope?

We begin our text by asking the question, “What is hope?”
This is a word that has some differing definition and oddly, even contradictory definition to it.
In our world, ‘hope’ is usually brought into two primary uses:
World’s Definition of Hope:
Wishful thinking— “I HOPE you have a nice vacation”
Positive thinking— “Don’t give up HOPE. You’ll make it through”
In our passage today, we saw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
These three young men were brought into exile alongside of Daniel. They endured all of the tests of their faith alongside of Daniel in chapter 1.
Nebuchadnezzar, in his pride and arrogance built a golden statue of himself and demanded that all of his provincial leaders come and bow down to it.
This was an immense test of their faith and would likely be incredibly disheartening.
We can see at the end of chapter 2 these verses:
Daniel 2:48–49 NIV
Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.
They had done their time. They had been faithful. God had placed them where they needed to be.
Things had to be a little smoother from here on out, right?
Then the golden statue came.
They were instructed to bow down and worship this giant idol of Nebuchadnezzar or else they would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
Literally, they were told to worship this idol. If they didn’t worship the idol, they would be given the death penalty.
These young men knew what God had desired from them. They knew His law.
Exodus 20:3–6 NIV
“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
They clearly knew what God desired.
They clearly had a strong faith in God.
But I want to go back to that worldly definition of faith:
World’s Definition of Hope:
Wishful thinking— “I HOPE you have a nice vacation”
Positive thinking— “Don’t give up HOPE. You’ll make it through”
Did they have hope in that story, wishing that God would save them?
We might think so because of their saying, “Even if he doesn’t...”
But their hope was not based on God rescuing them. Their hope was based in God Himself.
Daniel 3:17–18 NIV
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
This was a statement of hope and humility before God.
He is capable. Whether He does or doesn’t is entirely in His hands, but don’t question His power.
Their hope was not wishful thinking. It was grounded in much more security that that.
Their hope was also not a “positive thinking” tactic.
It wasn’t , “We have to maintain a positive attitude through this ordeal.
Their hope was something different altogether.
I want to give a Biblical view of the word ‘hope’
Faith slide
Give a brief outline of the faith slide
Faith Slide with Hope
We have a hope that is built on faith
What I mean about this is that the foundation of faith that is built is what we draw our hope from
The first arrow off of faith is a “Relational knowledge of God”
As we know God, our faith grows.
As our faith grows, it takes shape into a hope within us.
If our faith is rooted in the nature of God, it is a faith that does not change and does not move.
It only grows as we know God in a greater way.
In the same way, a faith that is rooted in a secure, unchanging and Almighty God develops a hope that is secure and unchanging.
Biblical Hope:
An absolute certainty in the nature and word of God as we live in an ever changing world.
Whether our circumstances in life are tragic or joyful. Whether they challenge our comfort, control or happiness, hope is something that endures and does not change throughout.
This is because our hope is rooted in God, His nature and His word.
God’s nature is unchanging. His Word is always truth.
Our hope is found built upon the foundation of an unshakeable faith and is rooted in a relational knowledge of God.
This definition will be evident as we draw through the rest of our questions.

Why do we need hope?

I want to begin discussing the answer to this question by looking at the three young men in Daniel chapter 3
What changes in this story if they do not have a hope that is built on faith?
They are hopeless (obviously)
They have tremendous fear
Nebuchadnezzar is in control
Their physical lives are the only things that mean anything
They should do what they need to do to survive
In fact, I believe every person in the kingdom that obeyed Nebuchadnezzar in that passage lived with a hope that was not built on God.
As a result, their hope was rooted completely in the nature of Nebuchadnezzar and their desire to survive.
Hope is not simply something that makes us feel good in hard times.
Hope is what brings us a peace of knowing that God is in control during our hard times.
The three young men had a certainty, a peace and a security even though they were given the death penalty in this passage.
They had hope, but it was not a hope that everyone else had.
They did not have fear, because their hope was an absolute certainty in the nature and word of God.
They did not believe that Nebuchadnezzar was in absolute control. They knew that God was in control.
Their physical lives were simply a gift from God and God would protect them or not protect them. It didn’t matter. What mattered was their obedience to God.
When we look at the circumstances of our lives, the object of our hope becomes the predictor of how we will act in any given situation.
The three young men knew what God had instructed them
Do not bow down to idols or worship anything else as God.
They knew that God was in control
God had spoken in Deuteronomy that they would be taken into exile.
But when they repented, God would restore them.
They knew who they were and they knew who God was. These truths were unchanging regardless of the changing circumstances within them.
Their hope became their compass.
When we seek God and know God, our faith grows. This gives us hope.
I want to walk through a few things that we have hope for in our world:
Our identity and salvation
Jesus resurrection
Our resurrection
Jesus’ return
God’s justice
Our identity and salvation
Last week in 1 Peter we talked about this
1 Peter 1:3–4 NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
On top of being a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and god’s special possession
Jesus’ Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:14 NIV
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Our resurrection
Jesus was raised and he is the first-fruits of resurrection. We will follow in His resurrection.
Jesus return
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 NIV
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
God’s justice
The book of Revelation talks about this
God will make right through His holy and righteous judgment all in this sinful world
Revelation 21:1–5 NIV
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Our identity and salvation
Jesus resurrection
Our resurrection
Jesus’ return
God’s justice
We know how this story ends.
We do not need to fear the things of this world.
We are learning to know God
We learn what He says
We are a part of His Kingdom
This is truth.
It is not wishful thinking or platitudes to bring us comfort.
This is something that is true
The truth of God becomes a compass for us to navigate how we act in the things of this world.
The world will through grief at us.
How much grief will change these truths?
The world will throw conflict at us.
Nothing in all of creation can change the reality of the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
That is because His hope is grounded in His unchanging and perfect nature.
So if this is the hope we have, we should walk through life without question, doubt or fear because we have hope, right?
Wrong, we all struggle with hope-killers.

What are Hope-Killers in our lives?

I wish I didn’t have to talk about hope-killers, but I do. They are real.
Last week I talked about the ways I allow the things of this world to test my faith.
Now I need to bring out the reality of the things that kill my hope.
Our hope is on things that are eternal. Also, our hope is based in the unchanging nature and word of God.
So the opposite will be what kills my hope.
It kills my hope when my eyes, my mind and my heart become obsessed with things that are not rooted in the Eternal nature of God.

Garbage in-Garbage out

What we put into our mind is what our mouth speaks and our actions reflect.
In no place have I seen this lived out more than in a struggling marriage.
When one or both parties in the marriage chooses to pursue counsel contrary to Scripture. They seek out all of the websites, books, counsellors, and advice columns that reinforce their emotions and their circumstances rather than truth.
This is deception.
Do you know what happens in a marriage when they pour this advice into their minds? They begin to believe it.
They then live out that garbage and often destroy a marriage because of the things of this world.
We know this principle from cooking.
If you dump nasty ingredients into your cookie recipe, you’ll get nasty cookies.
If we fill our hearts and our minds with all of the things of this world that claim to give us hope.
Hope for our relationships, hope for our government, hope for our finances, hope for the meaning of our lives.
All of these will become points of anger, fear and frustration in our lives because the hope we have filled our hearts with is a temporary hope.
A hope of the wisdom of this world.
Not a hope built on the nature and word of God.


When I get amnesia, I forget what God has done.
Not just in my life, but from the book of Genesis all the way through the timeline of our existence that hasn’t happened yet.
There is a Biblical principle that we need to know and that is to remember.
It is a really simple truth.
Do I remember who God is?
Do I remember what He says?
In life, we suffer from hope amnesia.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego all knew the acts of God throughout their history.
They knew the hope they had in God and they knew what their God had promised.
In that, their view was greater than the moment of fear. It was connected to the faithfulness of God throughout history.


Myopia is the problem of seeing everything through the lens of right here, right now.
We get this oftentimes when we look at prophecy in Scripture.
We don’t account for the time that has passed and possibly for the time yet to pass.
Rather, we try to jam the entirety of Biblical prophecy into today’s USA Today newspaper.
It may not fit into today’s events, it may not fit from the events that we are aware of in the United States.
But myopia prevents us from seeing our circumstances from God’s perspective.
I see this in our world right now.
Politics have so much consumed all of our news cycles.
Everything seems to revolve around my opinion of the way the government should act, or who should be in charge of the government.
I then begin to spiritualize everything in the government and live and die on the news and opinions heard.
One symptom of Myopia is a word (I actually don’t know if it’s a word): Catastrophizing
Everything is a catastrophe.
Every week there is a new part of the world that is on fire.
It is talked about in every news cycle.
It is repeated as the worst thing since...
Until the next catastrophe comes along.
This will kill your hope.
This often comes about by Garbage in-Garbage out
We are so caught up on the catastrophe de jour, that we continue to allow this garbage to fill our minds and we kill the hope we have and replace it with politics!
How crazy!
Garbage in-Garbage out, amnesia and myopia are hope killers

How do we maintain hope?

Satan will attack the church and try to derail it.
The church is God’s plan A for making disciples and being a light in this world.
What changes in our:
Our identity and salvation
Jesus resurrection
Our resurrection
Jesus’ return
God’s justice
What of these things change if/when someone is elected president that we don’t like?
What of these things change when we lose a job?
Or lose our health?
Or find that we are in the middle of conflict?
We have a role in this world
We certainly have places that we must stand for truth, but we cannot stand for truth in a panic.
We cannot stand for truth while losing our hope.
We stand in confidence that God is God. Our security is found in him
Even in worse situations than this God was proven faithful.
Our hope is eternal and based in the Unchangeable.
Philippians 4:8–9 NIV
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
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