A Furnace of Faith

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A Furnace of Faith

TEXT: Corinthians 16:13    (Daniel 3)

Introduction: The great stories of the Bible never grow old. They still thrill our hearts as when we first heard them. In this message we want to consider the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who were thrown into the burning fiery furnace.  We need to remember that these three were ordinary people like you and I. Their faith was severely tested, and they were victorious.  This story is sorely needed today because our faith will likewise be tested.  We can take courage as we consider the example of these three brave men.  God will be with and abundantly bless all who bravely make their stand for Him and His cause. Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

I.          THE COMMAND OF KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR. Daniel 3:1-7

A.        King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold and set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

1.      This great image would measure today about 90 feet high and 9 feet thick.

a)      It is uncertain whether the image was all pure gold or whether it was only overlade with gold.

b)      Satan uses of money and material things to get us to worship

2.      Nebuchadnezzar had gathered gold from all nations which he had conquered, and certainly he would have enough to make his image of pure gold.

a)      Nebuchadnezzar gathered all the important people of his kingdom to come to the dedication of his image.

3.      He gave commandment that at the sound of the music; everyone must fall down and worship his golden image.

4.      For those who refused, the punishment was severe. Vs. 6

B.        Consider the pressures of this situation. Who could resist such a command?

1.      Nebuchadnezzar himself was a mighty monarch and a tremendously successful general who never lost a battle.

2.      He was a mighty ruler who had the power and authority to do as he said.

3.      Satan uses his power to tempt us today

C.        Also, consider the peer pressure here. Vs. 7

1.      It would have been easy to fall down and worship the idol because "everyone else was doing it."

a)      The fear of persecution from fellow peers is one of the greatest hindrances to serving God.

b)      Notice how it weakens faith.

John 12:42-43 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

(1)  If everyone else is doing or not doing something, few people have the strength to be different.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

(2)  If "everyone else" is dressing immodestly, going to a certain R-rated movie, and/or whatever, what shall we do?

c)      Will we succumb to the pressure, or make a stand for God's way?

II.       "FAITH DECLARED." Daniel 3:8-18

A.        Certain Caldeans brought accusations against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.

1.      They informed the king that these three men, who had been given positions of authority in his kingdom, were not willing to bow down to the image.

a)      They pointed out that their refusal to do so would show disrespect to the king himself and his god. Vs. 12

b)      The more you do, the more you can be expect the attack of Satan

B.        The king asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, "Is this true?" Vs. 14

1.      The king showed his fairness by giving them another opportunity to obey his decree. Vs. 15

a)      Satan tries to get us to compromise

b)      Example of Adam & Eve; Jesus being tempted

C.        Consider the profound faith of the three Hebrews. Vs. 17-18

1.      Notice how implicitly they declared their faith.

a)      They declared that "Our God is able..."

b)      In other words, they were saying that God was able to deliver them if He so chose.

c)      If He did not so choose at this time, it made no difference. They would not bow down to the golden image.

d)      They were ready to die for their faith.

2.      We, too, need to boldly declare our faith at all times.

a)      At times, God may not choose to deliver us and, figuratively speaking, we may be thrown into the burning fiery furnace.

b)      No matter what might be threatened, we need to boldly make our stand for the Lord and His word.

c)      Joshua challenged the people to decide and proclaimed his own decision in following the Lord

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

III.    "FAITH TESTED."  Daniel 3:19-23

A.        Nebuchadnezzar showed himself to be a real "hot head" and ordered the furnace to be fired up seven times hotter than usual.

1.      Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, with their clothes still on them, were bound and thrown into the burning fiery furnace.

2.      The heat was so intense that it killed the men who were throwing in the three men.

a)      These facts make the miracle all the more obvious.

3.      Satan may turn up the heat when we are in the furnace

a)      Remember what he did to Job

B.        Our faith will also be tested.

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

1.      There will be "fiery trials.”

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

1 Peter 1:6-7 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

2.      How would we stand if we had the same test as these three men?

a)      I seriously doubt if we will ever be called upon to lay down our lives for our faith; nonetheless, whatever our "test of faith" might be, let us follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.

IV.    "FAITH VICTORIOUS." Daniel 3:24-30

A.        The miracle here is one of the greatest revealed in the Bible.

1.      They were able to walk around in the fire.

a)      A forth person was present to aid them. "The form of the fourth is like the Son of God." "Like a son of the gods." (NASV).

b)      Later Nebuchadnezzar calls this one, "His (God's) angel." Vs. 28

2.      Nebuchadnezzar commands them to come out of the fire, and as the witnesses gather around, they observe that their clothes were not burned; a hair of their head was not singed, nor was the smell of fire or smoke on them. Vs. 27

a)      God's promise to the Israelites through Isaiah literally came to pass.

Isaiah 43:1-2 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

b)      God may allow us to go through the test of the fire, but will protect us that we not be distorted by the fire

3.      Nebuchadnezzar rightly declared, "There is no other God who can deliver like this."

a)      Consider the awesome power of God.

b)      He is a God who is to be respected and feared.

B.        God will likewise reward those who make their stand for Him.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

1.      1 Cor. 10:13 - The original word for "temptation" means "a trial of any kind."

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

a)      Thus, it includes trials other than those which are temptations to sin.

b)      In every trial or temptation, God will provide a way of escape that we may be able to bear it.

Conclusion:  We can take courage as we consider the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. They were brave men. God will be with all those who bravely make their stand for Him and His cause.

This supposedly is a true story of something that happened just a few years ago at the University of Southern California. There was a professor of philosophy at USC who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God could not exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic.   For twenty years he had taught this class and no one had   ever had the courage to stand up to him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really stood up to him. Nobody would go against him because he had such a reputation. At the end of every semester, on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there's   anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say "Because anyone who does believe in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that he is God, and yet he can't do it." And, every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students could do nothing but stop and stare.  Most of the students were convinced that God couldn't exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up. Well, a few years ago, there was a freshman who happened to get    enrolled in the class. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about this professor. He had to take the class because it was one of the required classes for his major.  And he was afraid. But, for 3 months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said or what the class thought. Nothing they said or did could ever shatter his faith, he hoped. Finally the day came. The professor said "If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted "You FOOL!! If God existed, he could keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!" He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away, unbroken. The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then walked out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood up proceeded to walk to the front of the room; and, for the next half hour, 300 students stayed and listened as he presented evidences for the existence of God, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Fiery trials will befall all of us. Let us boldly make our stand.

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