Peninsula Community Church
August 25, 2019
Daniel 3:15-18 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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. 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.”
I have entitled this message “We dance to a different tune.” It is noteworthy that the idiom “dance to a different tune” means to change one’s behavior, manner, and attitude. This is a big deal because when we follow Christ passionately we will find that our behavior and attitude changes to match His desire for us. To dance to a different tune means that we align ourselves to His purposes and His goals. Tony Evans has stated “In order to transform what you do, you must first transform how you think.” Therefore, we could say that we need to dance to the tune of right thinking which produces right action.
For the Hebrew Children they were passionate about following their God and they danced to a different tune. However, this came at a price, but they were willing to pay the price and dance the dance. Because of their relationship with God they had their thinking in the right place and their actions followed. Because their thinking was in the right place, the three Hebrew Children served the Lord and they were obedient to what they had been called to do.
They did so because they knew something key to their success, we all worship something or someone. It all depends on what we choose. They chose to worship God and put the Kingdom of God first not just in their speech but in their actions. Bob Dylan the great poet and the confused religious guru understood this when he wrote the following lyrics. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes. Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. This is a powerful truth. We all come to an intersection in our life where we must choose who or what we will worship. We will worship God or we will worship man, worship things, success or any other number of things that will seek to take the place of God.
But how did they get to this place in time. You see, because Israel had sinned and disobeyed God’s will, God allowed Jerusalem to fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon. Many were taken from Israel as captives to serve Babylon. Among those taken to Babylon were young Israelites who were of noble birth and from royal families. They were to be trained in the ways of Babylon. Four of those taken to Israel were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Once in Babylon, their faith was tested and they passed the faith test with flying colors. While they did learn the culture, there was one area of their life they would not change and that was their relationship with God. When asked to worship a graven image and a false god they chose to worship God and Him alone. They were not willing to change their allegiance to God. We must note that as a church and as passionate followers of Christ we are to engage the culture in which we live, but we must never compromise our faith in Christ. We must not change our dance partner as tempting as it might be to do so.
Daniel had his lion’s den moment and now the three Hebrew Children were about to encounter their fiery furnace. It did not matter what they encountered, the fate of the Hebrew Children was sealed in favor of serving God no matter what. It is important to understand this was a decision that had been made long before this moment in time. For that reason, this was not a difficult decision. They chose to go against the tide and they refused to bow their knee to the god’s of Babylon.
Too often we encounter difficulty and then we want to engage the disciplines that protect us, but that can come too late. We can be sucked into sinful ways if we do not engage with the disciplines of Christ. Conversely, we must be engaged in the disciplines of Christ long before we encounter difficulty. We must be people of prayer, of worship, and must have a commitment to Christ before we face difficulty. In so doing, we will be conditioned for whatever we encounter. Think about it. Before war our armed forces prepare and drill. Firefighters drill and run through scenarios during training sessions. Football teams practice and prepare for the season and for every opponent they face. They consider different scenarios they will face and how they must answer those situations. By engaging in prayer, worship, and the study of God’s word our spiritual man is conditioned for whatever scenario to be faced in this world.
Because of their commitment to Christ and their ongoing focus on worship and prayer the question of compromise was never a thought in their decision making process. You see this as being critical since compromise begins when we do not know where we stand and we try to fake our way through the process. For many, when asked to bow could have led to compromise, but the Hebrews did not. They could have bowed in the physical as an outward show but they did not. It might have been easier, but it would have started a slide toward compromise. Those who have fallen from grace too often have been captivated by sin. They do so most often through a series of smaller steps of compromise. In general, compromise has never happened in an instant. But the Children of Israel did not compromise. They knew their God and they knew their purpose in the Kingdom of God. They refused to compromise and settle for less than God’s best.
Second, our worship of God cannot be deterred by the fear of outside influences. Their desire to serve and worship God was greater than their fear of the king. Their desire to serve and worship was greater than their own self-exaltation. How often are we deterred from obedience to God because we are filled with fear and anxiety of what people think or a desire to make a name for ourselves? How many times do we fail to trust the outcome to God?
Third, the Children of Israel had a confidence that God wanted to keep them and preserve them. This is seen through their response of being thrown into the furnace. They experienced a so what moment. They may have had questions but that did not deter them from obedience. What if we are burned up? What if we are just burnt and we find that we are disabled for the rest of our life? Here is a big one. What if God doesn’t show up? These were real questions, but because they had lived in the reality of God’s presence they knew God would rescue them. Corrie Ten Boom was quoted as saying. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
And now, here is the crux of the matter. Four, they experienced God’s presence in worship long before they experienced God’s presence in the fiery furnace. They danced to the music of worship and the reality of God’s presence. This holy dance of worship kept them from compromise and kept them from falling for the oldest scheme of the devil, give a little which requires a little more which leads to more and more compromise. While we see the power of the three Hebrew Children also notice the response of the king. He was filled with fear. He was angry. He was surprised at the power of God. He depended on himself. Nebuchadnezzar was dancing to a different tune. He was dancing to the tune of pride and self exaltation.
Let’s look at the end of the story. God came through, end of story. Because the three Hebrew children refused to compromise, God showed up. Because they had committed themselves to worship and trust in God, God came through. Their world was rocked. God showed up and the men did not even smell like smoke. This is surprising for a couple of reasons. First, because of Nebuchadnezzar’s anger he had the furnace heated up seven times more than normal. Second, the men who tossed them into the furnace were destroyed instantly (Daniel 3:22). And thirdly, they were bound in their tunics, their hats, their other garments (Daniel 2:21). This alone would have caused them to be consumed by the fire, but they were fully protected by God.
Everyone were surprised at the outcome. Everyone was changed because God showed up. As we worship God alone, we are positioned for God’s work to be accomplished through us and to experience the surprises of God. Rather than tell the story listen to Daniel’s word as he describes this event in Daniel 3:24-28. 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.” 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.” 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. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 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.
Their faith and their obedience changed them but it changed the world they encountered. Nebuchadnezzar in the end danced to a different tune because he witnessed the miracle of God in real time. So are you ready to worship? Are you ready no matter what comes? Are you ready to change the world as they see God at wok in you?
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom