The Anthem of the Faithful



How many of us have heard the statement, “Believe in yourself?” There is an extent to which this is a natural thing. Take an athlete who trains for years and years to run a race. They get to the starting line and close their eyes and envision the race before them and have an inner confidence because of the training and hard work that they have put in for years and years. Others face a project that they’ve done before or a test they’ve taken before or a simple job before themselves and they have confidence in their work in the past and believe that everything will be fine. Inside of each of us is this inner temptation to believe that if we work hard enough and really really believe in something then we will get the results that we desire in our heart. In other words, we can create our reality if we just have enough faith in something. You can speak something into existence if you just believe in it enough. This is mainstream in our world and it’s become more and more popular in churches all around our world. If you just have enough faith, God will give you health, success, wealth, and happiness. While we do see that there are times where God DOES provide in these ways, we see example after example of people in the Bible who have faith in the Lord and experience defeat, loss, suffering, persecution, even death. What do we say about those Christians? What do we say whenever persecution comes knocking at our door?
What if my nightmare turns into my reality?
What if my child gets sick?
What if my health report comes back negative?
What we have to ask is this simple question: When tragedy strikes, is God enough?
If my health fails, is God enough?
If my job gets cut, is God enough?
If I don’t make the team, is God enough?
If my suffering stays, is God enough?
If my dream doesn’t happen, is God enough?
If God doesn’t provide the way that I want Him to in my heart, is God enough?
What is the church answer? Of course, He is! But whenever we’re in the trenches of suffering and we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, aren’t we tempted to fall into despair? What if I told you that there was a greater hope than to simply believe in yourself? What if there was a hope that was available to you today in the midst of your struggle? This is the good news of Daniel 3. This good news of hope isn’t dependent on our circumstances but our eternal situation. This morning we’re going to see how powerful two words can be: EVEN IF. Even if suffering stays. Even if my dream doesn’t happen. Even if this is my future. Even if things look hopeless - God is good. God is able. God is faithful. Let’s dive into this wonderful truth today in Daniel 3:1-18 and see how “Even If” is the anthem of the faithful.
Daniel 3:1–18 CSB
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to assemble the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the rulers of the provinces to attend the dedication of the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the rulers of the provinces assembled for the dedication of the statue the king had set up. Then they stood before the statue Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 A herald loudly proclaimed, “People of every nation and language, you are commanded: 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, you are to fall facedown and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 But whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.” 7 Therefore, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, and every kind of music, people of every nation and language fell down and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 8 Some Chaldeans took this occasion to come forward and maliciously accuse the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever. 10 You as king have issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music must fall down and worship the gold statue. 11 Whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. 12 There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” 13 Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. 17 If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. 18 But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
In the face of a tyrant. In the face of temptation. In the face of a terrifying furnace. These young men stand strong and they stand boldly on God’s Word. In the face of a godless world, may God give us boldness, strength, and courage to be faithful to Him today. Let’s pray

Those With Biblical Faith Obey God’s Word (1-15)

How many of you like to read? Have you ever read a book that was so good that you wish that you could press a button and forget the book just so you could read it again for the first time without knowing how the story ends? Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but do you remember the first time that you were told this story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? You see this background with this golden statue, you see the command to bow and worship it, and you see these 3 men say that they will not bow - regardless of the consequences! Now, if you’ve read your Bible before or if you have your copy of God’s Word this morning, you either know or can read ahead to see how this story ends… But put yourself in the shoes of someone reading this for the first time! You’re on the edge of your seat after verse 18 wanting to know what happens next. You’re asking this question: Why on earth would these men stand up if it means being burned alive in a fiery furnace? What convinced them to do this? How is this type of conviction even possible?
What we see at the beginning of this chapter is that these men have faith in the Lord and that faith leads them to first obey God’s Word. Remember the situation these men are in. New country. New position. New names. New people all around them. They have already stood on God’s Word whenever they refused to eat the king’s food. They determined what they would and what they wouldn’t do because they based their decisions not on what was popular but on what was Biblical. We might expect that because they were faithful in the past that they would no longer face any issues. After all, some people say that once you follow Jesus, your life gets easier… What about these men? They stood on the Word and they got promoted in chapter 1. In chapter 2, their lives were on the chopping block and they prayed to God and they got promoted again! What about chapter 3? The king was just praising their God. Maybe we expect things to finally get better. But we see the opposite. Nebuchadnezzar builds a massive 90 foot tall statue - an obelisk as they used to be called - and he commanded people to bow down and worship the statue. This is rich because in the previous chapter we saw that the king had a dream of a massive statue with a golden head that was struck down by Daniel’s God and here the king builds a massive golden statue, likely of either himself or one of the Babylonian gods.
What would you do? Would you bend the knee or would you stand your ground? We have to ask ourselves this question - when our moment arrives, will we obey man or God? It’s easy to say that we’ll stand up for Jesus… but knowing myself like I do, I’m probably going to first look at the cost. What will it cost me to stand on God’s Word? There are times where standing on God’s Word means that your friends might not like you because you say that you can’t do something that they want to do because you know that it’s wrong. Standing on God’s Word might mean that people around you don’t like a decision that you make because it’s not the traditional or popular decision - after all, it’s not what everyone else is doing, they say! If standing on God’s Word means that we get picked on or gossiped about, many will turn tail and run but some might still remain standing… Look at the cost of standing and not bowing here in Daniel 3 - the cost is your life. If you don’t bow, you’ll be thrown into the blazing fire! Again, if you’re reading this the first time maybe you’re thinking that the king is bluffing - look back in Jeremiah 29:22 with me
Jeremiah 29:22 CSB
22 Based on what happens to them, all the exiles of Judah who are in Babylon will create a curse that says, ‘May the Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire!’
The king had done this before and he was daring someone to threaten his power and sovereignty so that he could do it again. I love how the CSB renders that verse - the king roasted them in the fire. This isn’t your kitchen oven that heats delicious cookies to 400 degrees for a few minutes. This oven could reach temperatures of nearly 2,000 degrees. This is a serious cost! Think about the pros and cons of this decision. Kind of like the movies with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other giving the person advice.
Just bend the knee and ask for forgiveness later! After all, God is slow to anger and a compassionate God.
The Babylonians need faithful witnesses for God. If I die, who is going to tell them about God? Just bend the knee and be obedient tomorrow.
Just bend the knee on the outside, but stand and worship God on the inside because, after all, God looks at the heart.
Maybe find the nearest bathroom and strategically exit stage right when the music starts to play!
Stand up, stand up for Jesus.
When the option is destruction, our brain looks for any alternative available. Yet these men willingly choose number 5. They stand before a tyrant. They knew that they were in Babylon, but they would never become Babylonians. They worked for Nebuchadnezzar, but they would never worship Nebuchadnezzar. They would obey God’s Word, even though it would cost them. So, friend, why are we tempted to bend the knee and give into temptation when the situation arises? Sure, you and I probably aren’t tempted to travel to Washington DC and stand before the Washington Monument and bow down and worship it… But make no mistake, we all worship something. Look at what Romans 1:25 says about the human condition
Romans 1:25 CSB
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
Those who reject Jesus, worship creation. In modernity think of the things that our fallen world worships.
The idol of self.
The idol of pride.
The idol of technology - the average American spends over 7 hours a day on various screens.
The idol of tradition - every Church struggles with this: we must always do this because it’s how we’ve always done this. Y’all, if it isn’t in the Bible and we force ourselves to do something, it runs the risk of being an idol and if you can’t say amen to that one then you’d better say ouch.
The idol of sports? Social media? Politics? Work? How about our family?
As Calvin shared centuries ago, “The human heart is an idolatry factory.” We create things to worship and some of these things are even good things in and of themselves. We must guard against this an ensure that we aren’t worshiping creation, but the Creator. We don’t trust in what God has made, we trust in God Himself. As you look at your priorities, your allegiances, your preferences, what are you worshiping? Maybe to turn the heat up a bit, do you “worship” more at church whenever you see your favorite songs (or when there’s a “special”) than you do when there’s not? If so, that’s idolatry as we elevate our preferences above praising our Creator! We all have different preferences and we must remember that we’re not here to worship you. You are not the object of worship. Your preferences are just those, yours. If they’re not in the Bible, they’re not God’s. We’re here to obey His Word and to worship Him and Him alone as He demands and if you’ve been doing your Bible reading plan, Leviticus reminds us how seriously God takes worship! It’s easy to say that we’d never bow down to a golden statue, but we all bend the knee to all sorts of false things that don’t deserve our allegiance and our praise. As we read of these 3 men who stand unashamedly, our prayer must be that we do the same in the midst of temptation.
Whenever you stand on God’s Word, this means that you stand out from a godless world. Look at what happens whenever these men make the choice to stand, others take notice. They come forward to the king and accuse Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego of insubordination. We’ve all had people in our lives before that we don’t necessarily like for a variety of reasons. Maybe they were rude to us. Maybe they did something wrong to a friend of ours. Maybe, though, the reason that we don’t like someone is because they have something that we really want. This is the case in our passage. These 3 men are respected by the king and they can’t stand this… So they tattle. Literally in the Aramaic the word for maliciously accuse is “sinking their teeth” into these 3 Jews. They want to see these men fall.
Understand this, friend, whenever you stand on God’s Word, there will be people who want to see you fall. People from different worldviews, but sadly there are even people who grew up in church with you who might even claim to be Christians who want to see you fall because the way that you stand on the Bible isn’t traditional. It’s not popular. It’s not easy. We’re told in chapter 1 that the Babylonians took young men from Jerusalem to Babylon
Daniel 1:6 CSB
6 Among them, from the Judahites, were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
There were more than 4 who were taken, but we see that only these 4 stand on God’s Word. This is a wild question to ask, but it’s necessary: What were the other Jews doing in this moment? Daniel was likely not present because we know that he would’ve stood too… but their friends who they grew up going to the Temple with and who likely claimed to believe in God were bowing down and worshiping the King. Y’all, there are times where the stakes will be as high as can be, and right will still be right and wrong will still be wrong. It doesn’t matter how many people claim that something is right, if the Bible says it’s wrong, it’s wrong and you must not do it.
Kids, cheating on a test is wrong - it’s black and white
Cheating on a spouse is wrong - it’s black and white
Disobeying God’s Word is wrong - it’s black and white
In a world of gray, the Bible tells us that some things are black and white - always right and always wrong - regardless of how many people get it confused. We see over and over that Nebuchadnezzar “set up” this statue (9x) as this was his lasting legacy. He wanted people to worship him. It didn’t matter how many knees bowed, bowing was wrong. The king confronts the men and he reminds them of the situation because of course this is some misunderstanding… Look at what he explicitly says in the second half of verse 15
Daniel 3:15 CSB
15 Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”
Think of what Satan told Jesus in Matthew 4 - if you just bend the knee, you’ll have all this power and all these kingdoms and all this glory. This man who in chapter 2 praised Daniel’s God and claimed that the God of the Bible was more powerful than him with the title “Lord of Kings” suddenly says this blasphemous statement, “Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” Do you see the King’s pride? Do you see the pride that exists in our world today as people say the same thing? You believe in that old Bible? You believe in God? What god can rescue you from my power or from this view? You’d better get on board and go with the flow or else you’re going to get cancelled and suffer and lose. May we answer like these men in verse 16 as we see that

Those With Biblical Faith Trust in God’s Will (16-18)

They see the flames. They know the order. Things couldn’t be any more clear! They know the cost. Look at their response to the king in verse 16 - King, you are wrong. There is a God who can save us. Remember the power of the king and the heat of the furnace. How could they make this statement? Because they knew their Bibles. They like Daniel in chapter 1 had determined from a young age what they would and what they would not do. They knew the power of their God. They knew that the God that they worshiped was the same God who parted the Red Sea. The same God who created the world. The same God who saved Noah and his family from the flood. The same God who saved Hezekiah from 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. This same Sovereign King of Kings was their God who holds all things in the palm of His hands. They knew that the God they worshiped had all power. They had faith in God and their answer was this: I know my God is able to deliver me… But even if He doesn’t - I will trust in Him. So often we think that God has a lot of power, but not all power. We’re good to trust God with some of the things that we face, but broken relationships? Broken hearts? Cancer? Mental illness? Biological issues? Can God restore those things? Absolutely because He has all power! But just because God has all power it doesn’t mean that God uses His power in the way that we think He should or the way that we want Him to. These men knew God could save them, not that He would, but either way they would trust in Him! They knew that their God had all power and that whatever happened to them would not be a surprise to their God - in fact, whatever happened would be what God wanted to happen. If God wants them to live, they’ll survive. If God wants them to go home, they’ll be home. This is Job’s statement in Job 13
Job 13:15 CSB
15 Even if he kills me, I will hope in him. I will still defend my ways before him.
Notice he doesn’t say if Satan kills me, or if this bad surprise happens, he says if God kills me, I will still hope in him. He trusts in God’s perfect will and plan. That sounds otherworldly at times, so let’s break it down. Does God have all power? Is God able to deliver us from every problem and trial that we face? But DOES God always deliver us from our temporary trials? NO! God may allow trials and heartache and suffering to strike for a variety of reasons as we see in Romans 8, James 1, John 16, and 1 Peter 4. God might allow us to go through a trial so that we trust in Him more. He might allow us to go through a trial so that our light shines bright in a sea of darkness. He might allow us to go through a trial to demonstrate His power and provision. He might allow us to go through a trial so that we remember who we are and who He is. There’s a number of reasons, but God makes no mistakes! Therefore His people trust in His will, even in times of sorrow, suffering, and sickness - we trust in God’s will.
These men had full faith that one of 3 things would happen:
They would be Protected
They would be Resurrected
They would be in the Presence of God
Whatever God chose to do in this moment was fine with them because they were completely reliant in Him. They trusted in God. They knew that God would do what was best as Romans 8:28 promises to every believer. This sounds great, doesn’t it! If we know how Daniel 3 ends, of course we’re tempted to think that this is the health and wealth gospel of having enough faith and doing enough good things and sowing enough seeds and then God will always come through and bring about temporary deliverance exactly how and when you want him to because you have the ability to tell God what to do and God helps those who help themselves if you just have enough faith. In the days of deliverance, Daniel 3:16-17 sounds great. God can and I believe God will. I have faith in Him. But what about when God says no?
Think of our Lord and Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22 as He prays if possible for the suffering to be avoided… but verse 42 shows the heart
Luke 22:42 CSB
42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
This is Biblical faith - not my will, but yours be done. Even if God chooses for something to happen that we don’t like or agree with, He is still God. These men have no clue what God will choose to do, but they have made up their mind to trust in Him. This must be our response as well, church. We stand before the fires of life knowing full and well that God can bring about miraculous deliverance and also knowing that He doesn’t always do this if it is not His plan and realizing that whenever He chooses not to bring about an escape from temporary suffering, He always provides endurance in our suffering. He always provides His presence and His grace in our moments of adversity. There is such a danger in our world that says if you just have enough faith then you’ll get delivered - look at Hebrews 11 at all of those people who were used mightily by God and were delivered by God in verses 32-35. But this is only half the truth. Continue in Hebrews 11:35-38 and you see example after example of people who suffer for their faith in Christ, in accordance with God’s will for their life, and this is what verse 38 says
Hebrews 11:38 CSB
38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
This person might not be interviewed on TBN or platformed on social media or invited to speak at a conference after God delivered them from something… but is the person who made God’s hall of fame. The hall of faith is composed of people who weren’t always delivered but who maintained a trust in God’s sovereign plan even in the darkest and deepest valleys possible in life. If they died in the fire, that was fine with them - they would rather die than commit idolatry. They were fully trusting in God’s will. 700 years after these 3 stand before the fire, another man named Polycarp stood before an evil leader and was told to deny christ or burn. Polycarp said thus, “86 years I have served Him and He has never done me harm. How can I blspheme my Savior and King?” Polycarp was not delivered from the fire, but that was fine. To live is Christ, to die is gain. What about you and me? Are we willing to say that Jesus is enough in our darkest valley? That has been the anthem of the faithful for 2000 years: Even If He Doesn’t… I Will Praise Him! I will not bow. I will stand strong. I will keep singing. I will keep praying. I will remain faithful. I will trust Him. Even if the breakthrough doesn’t come, even if the deliverance doesn’t happen, even if suffering strikes and even if suffering stays, God is worthy and I will trust in Him.
The problem with the prosperity Gospel of have more faith and God will be your genie in a lamp to grant your wish is that it puts the fault on you when you don’t get your way. You don’t have enough faith. You’re the failure. You’re the problem. The reason God didn’t heal you was because of you. Bad theology hurts people. I had a person 2 hours down the road at a large church tell me that I’m not qualified to be a pastor because I have type 1 diabetes and the reason I have that is because I don’t have enough faith in Jesus and a pastor who doesn’t have enough faith can’t be a pastor. Sometimes God says no. Sometimes the flames consume. Sometimes suffering stays. Can we be honest, though? Even if you were healed of your biggest suffering today, you would have another thing take its place in a week, month, or year’s time and you’d need deliverance again. And again. And again. It is so much better for our sake that instead of giving us temporary deliverance, God has given us eternal salvation and hope. We echo David who said this in Psalm 23:4
Psalm 23:4 CSB
4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
We have nothing to fear. Even if we have to deal with suffering the rest of our lives, we have all eternity to live suffering free. The suffering of this present life cannot compare with the glory going to be revealed to us one day. God can. But Even if He doesn’t - He is still God. We stand firm. We trust in His will. We obey His Word. Settle it in your heart today that Jesus is enough! My circumstances don’t dictate God’s faithfulness - He is worthy regardless of how I feel or whatever is going on. Settle it today to join in the anthem of the faithful.
Even if this health situation takes me - I will worship God and witness for Him until the end!
Even if standing up for Jesus costs me my reputation or popularity, I will remain faithful to God!
Even if our government persecutes Christians, I will witness to a lost and dying world until the day I die!
Even if the worst happens, God is able to save me and if He chooses not to I will choose to worship Him as He deserves!
I will not be moved. I will not hide. I will boast in my weakness. I know that my Redeemer lives. I can do all things, including suffer, because my strength comes from God!
Get the “What-If’s” out of your vocabulary and replace them with “Even-If’s.” Even if the worst happens, He is with us. He will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He is with us. He is for us. As the centuries old hymn says, “Whatever My God Ordains is Right.”
Remember that God Has a Plan for Each of Us
His plan is perfect and it is unique to each of us! You’re not David. You’re not Daniel. You’re definitely not Jesus. Remember that God has a plan for YOUR life and trust that He knows better than you do. While we’re in the modern Babylon where people hate God, God is still in control. He still has a plan for His glory and our good. Remember that He is on His throne.
God Expects His People to Praise Him Alone
We are being forced to answer a straightforward and simple question: What does it look like to live as a Christian in a society that does not like what Christians believe? - Alistair Begg. We are beginning to see what it looks like to be the minority, even in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Don’t be saddened or fearful, be courageous! Light shines brightest in the darkness. In the darkness we worship the Lord. We don’t bow down. We prioritize things like Church and reading the Bible and prayer and the way that we wage war with a godless society is by raising Daniel’s and Shadrach’s and Meshach’s and Abednego’s. God expects His people to worship Him.
Trust in God’s Provision
Hebrew is not read left to right, but right to left. We would say that it must be read backwards. This is kind of how it is with God’s providence. It’s easy to look back in our lives and see how God was faithful and provided even in ways that we didn’t see in the moment. Think about the big picture of Scripture. How has God provided? In the person and work of Jesus Christ who stood before the evil emperor and was too thrown into the fiery furnace. What has Jesus done? He accomplishes our salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection! If God has provided eternal salvation for His people, we must trust in His daily provision today. Look backwards at all that He has done. Part of growing in our spiritual walk means trusting in Him whenever we don’t understand what He’s doing. Trust that He holds you fast. Understand that He is your hope in life and in death. Trust in God’s provision - whatever happens, He is with you. He is for you. He will keep you. Sing the song of the faithful - Even if He Doesn’t - He is worthy. If that’s a new song, join in the anthem today. Repent of your sins, trust in Christ, follow Him, and watch Him change you from the inside out.
The body they may kill - God’s truth abideth still. His Kingdom is Forever!
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