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What a moment in the lives of the young Jewish exiles.
With everything on the line God came through and did the extra-ordinary.
And, Daniel, well Daniel was the lead on this one so the King brought him up to the highest arena of political leadership in Babylon: the royal court.
That is like being part of our President’s inside circle of cabinet members.
Daniel does not forget those who helped him get to the top.
He does not forget about his three Jewish compatriots who prayed with him and received revelation from God with him.
So Daniel asks King Nebuchadnezzar to “hook” his friends up with good jobs.
So the king does.
They become administrators of the province of Babylon.
Not a bad job at all.
They were not as high up as Daniel but they had some leadership responsibility and some status.
At this moment, I am sure things started to look up.
I bet there pats on the back to go around and lots of head-shaking, that head-shaking that says, “things are going to be different now.”
I am sure Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were so grateful that there friend did not forget them and got them a sweet job in the government.
Well maybe that promotion did not lead to such a rosy outcome.
We are going to explore this today in our passage from .
Grab your copy of the Scriptures and say it with me like you mean it, “Ha-foke-bah, Ha-foke-bah, De-cola-bah.
Ha-foke-bah, Ha-foke-bah, Mashiach-bah.
Turn-it and turn-it everything you need is in it.
Turn-it and turn-it the Messiah is in it.”
Main Point 1: Rather than going with the flow of the crowd go rogue because the pull of the crowd is the path to perdition.
(develop inductively)
The Crowd Obeys Nebuchadnezzar (3:1-7).
The Crowds are Summoned (1-3)
is geographically at the outer wall of Babylon at the pedestal of a idol statue.
Scholars get it wrong.
Picture of the wall.
Picture of images on wall.
is primarily about Babylon’s political leaders pledging allegiance to this image Daniel had made.
is historically at the end a rebellion that almost brought down Nebuchadnezzar.
The Crowds Here the Edict (4-6)
The Crowds Pledge Allegiance (7).
The crowds waste no time doing what they are told.
The crowds are not just swearing politically loyalty, this is about worship.
The Crowd Notices Some Rogue Elements (3:8-12).
The Accusers Address the king (3:8) -
The Accusation about certain Jews (3:9-12)
They don’t pay attention to you (12a)
They don’t serve your gods (12b)
They don’t worship the image (12c)
They don’t pay attention to you (12a) - They Don’t Walk in the Advice of the Wicked ()
They don’t serve your gods (12b) - They Don’t Stand in the Way with Sinners ()
They don’t worship the image (12c) - They Don’t Sit with Scoffers ()
The pull of the crowd is the path to perdition.
Elizabeth Bibesco famously said, “Irony is the hygiene of the mind.”
Irony keeps the mind healthy and on its toes.
Daniel knew that when he wrote his stories and there is a bit of irony in this story.
The irony is that the crowds will worship anything to escape the fiery furnace of the king all the while not noticing that by showing allegiance to a false god they are on the path to perdition.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego resist the pull of the crowd because they know it is the path of perdition for them.
Regardless of what lies ahead of them.
These Jewish men, and us I hope, recognize that the pull of the crowd is really just the pull towards conformity.
It is the pull towards conformity, to align your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with those around you.
It's a powerful force that can take the form of overt social pressure or subtler influences.
As much as we like to think of ourselves as individuals, the fact is that we're driven to fit in, and that usually means going with the flow.
Even though we may not agree we go with the flow because
Who wants to fight
Who wants to be singled out (somebody else’s weirdo)
What want to give up security
What we really love
Illustrate the idea: Have you ever played in a swimming pool and tried to hold a beach all under the surface?
Its tendency - you might even says its penchant and desire - is to rise to the surface.
You might even say the ball is “restless” when it is held under the water.
It keeps trying to sneak up and burst towards the surface.
It wants to float to the surface.
Apply the Idea: You can try really hard to push down beneath the surface what you really love but in times of crises especially when the crowd puts its pressure on you.
What is under the surface will push its way up and burst onto the surface.
If what you love is material things, if what you love is comfort, or security, or power, or influence you will not be able to keep it down it will pop up to the surface when the pressure of the crowd is upon you.
Transition: The story does not end here, it does not end with the crowd pulling everyone into its flow.
It just tells you “what no to do” but not what God is looking for.
Lets look at that.
Big Idea: When God has big business in the world, allegiance always gets the contract (Develop Inductively)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego stand out from the crowd (3:13-23)
Nebuchadnezzar smokes with fury.
Nebuchadnezzar fire does not scare Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (16-18).
S.M.A may seem a little disrespectful but that is because what was under the surface trying to push its way up and burst out was their loving allegiance to their God.
S.M.A. discerned this was not just about political allegiances to Nebuchadnezzar; no, this was about religious allegiance, this was about worship.
In this chapter, the word worship occurs 11 times, the word serve occurs 5 times, a total of 16 usages to hammer home the point that this is about a man trying to command the spiritual allegiances of other mens hearts to a false god.
S.M.A would have nothing to do with this.
True allegiance is the refusal to allow anything to be removed from the framework that the Torah established.
Nebuchadnezzar orders the execution of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (19-23).
(Narrate what happens to the end of 23).
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego stop the flow of the crowd (3:24-27).
Nebuchadnezzar sees the angel of the Lord: the king of Israel Yeshua (24-25).
Nebuchadnezzar and the crowds realize their is a sovereignty greater than the fire ()
Refresh the irony definition: “Irony is the hygiene of the mind.”
The Aramaic expression la sh’let nora b’gesh-meh’one which is translated “the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men” is very peculiar and exciting.
James Smith, “Apocalyptic literature is a genre of Scripture that tries to get us to see (or see through) the empires that constitute our environment in order to see them for what they really are.
The point of apocalyptic literature…[is not] just prediction but unmasking - unveiling the realities around us for what they really are.” (p.
39 [brackets mine]
While Nebuchadnezzar wanted to believe he was the only sovereign in the world - that is why he made the whole statute out of gold instead of like the pattern found in - the reality is that he is not the sovereign one but a servant to THE SOVEREIGN ONE.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego’s allegiance changes everything (3:28-30)
The King’s New Blessing (28)
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