In this message David Penuel retells the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. He uses the story to teach us what faithfulness and trusting in God looks like even in the face of opposition.
Retold: Jesus Calms the Storm
Retold: The Prodigal Son
Retold: The Beginning of the Church Part 2
Retold: The Beginning of the Church
Retold: Jonah and the Whale
Retold: Daniel and the Lions' Den
Retold: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Retold: David and Goliath
Retold: The Ten Commandments
Retold: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
Retold: Ruth and Naomi
Retold: The Good Samaritan
What are the “idols” that you feel pressured to bow down to? Fill in this blank: “I’m afraid of what might happen if I were to take a stand about ________."
Where in life are you facing opposition right now? Christianity—fully devoted followers of Christ—has always been a threat to be opposed. Why would anyone remain faithful to God in the face of vicious opposition? As we continue our series, Retold, David Penuel teaches us the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3.
My name is David Penuel, and you are watching part six of our summer Retold series. We're calling it Retold because we are retelling to you the stories we retell over and over again to our preschool students. If you were to go today, later this afternoon (don't go right now) to Watermark's YouTube channel, you're going to find these videos that are called the Watermarks Kids Kit. If you look at the preschool Kids Kit, you're going to hear them retell the same thing over and over again in every video that they have produced.
The thing they retell to our preschool kids over and over again is this. They say, "Absolutely true. Absolutely true. Everything the Bible says is absolutely true." They don't just say it. They sing it. We're going to get started with a little interactive experience here together this morning. I'd like for everybody watching at home to hold your hands out in front of you like this. So everybody watching hold your hands out.
What we're going to do everyone (Dad, Mom, siblings, friends), you're going to hold your hands out and pat your legs twice. One, two, and then clap. We're going to say, "Absolutely true. Absolutely true. Everything the Bible says is absolutely true." So let's all do it together. Here we go. Hands out. We're all doing it. If someone is trying to be a poor sport about this, nudge them, and say, "We're all doing this." Here we go. Hands out, two pats, and a clap. Absolutely true. Absolutely true. Everything the Bible says is absolutely true.
That is what we retell to our preschool kids over and over again here at Watermark. It's because we really believe it. We believe that everything this book says is absolutely true. This morning, we're going to be discussing a true story. Not a story that's based on a true story or based on actual events. We're going to see the actual events that have been preserved for us by God in his Word.
Another thing we tell these preschool kids over and over again is this. This book, the Bible, is a collection of a bunch of small stories that all tell one big story. We're going to look at a small story this morning, a story of three young men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We're going to see how this small story has a lot to teach us, but it also points us to one big story: the story of a God who has delivered us from the fires of wrath and judgment that we deserve because of our sin by sending his own Son, Jesus, as a Savior.
We're going to see how this story points us to that story. Fun fact: this story has been retold over and over again to our preschool kids, but it has never been told at Watermark on a weekend. Together, we are sharing a moment in history today.
We're going to be Daniel 3, learning about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And just as a preview, in this story, we are going to see that Christianity (fully devoted followers of God) has always been and always will be perceived as a threat to be opposed. We're going to answer the question as we see the face of these young men is a threat to be opposed.
We're going to see the question come up…Why? Why would anyone remain faithful to God in the face of vicious opposition? We're going to look at their story and answer that question. Don't you think this is a question that is relevant for today? Isn't full devotion to God today increasingly a minority position in our world? Is it holding firm to the truths revealed in this book an unpopular conviction in our day and age?
Isn't following Jesus as the Lord of your life…not just your Savior, but the Lord, the leader, who informs every step you take and every decision you make…something that may cost you? It may cost you friends. It may cost you followers. It may even get you fired in today's world or sued. If you're not sued, at least shamed in the court of public opinion. This is the world I think we're living in today, so I think this story is especially relevant to us.
I want to invite everybody, because we're going to do the whole chapter of Daniel 3, to get out your Bible. If you have a physical paper Bible, I would love to invite you to hop up now, go get it, set it in your lap, get a pen, so you can jot notes in the margin or underline something. I want you to follow along as we read an entire chapter of the Bible.
If you absolutely don't have one of these handy, you can probably find Daniel 3 on your phone or on some other device. But I would love for everyone to have this open because we're going to read the whole chapter, then I'm going to point out to you three motivations for remaining faithful to God in the face of vicious opposition. So as you're running through the house to collect your Bible and to prepare for this, let me set up the stage of where Daniel 3 is coming from.
This is recording events that happened around 600 years before Christ. That's around 2,600 years from today. At this point in the history of the nation of Israel, the Israelites have been taken captive and exiled to a foreign country. God has allowed their nation, Israel, to be taken over by a foreign country called Babylon.
It was because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness to what God had called them to do that he allowed this to happen as a discipline to them. Many of the Israelites have been deported. The setting is in Babylon. They're not in their hometown. As a side note, today I'm delivering this message in July of 2020. Doesn't it feel like we're exiled a little bit?
Here's what I mean by that. COVID-19 has changed our lives' plans. Doesn't it feel like sometimes we are subject to someone else's agenda, to some other agenda other than what we want to do? That is the situation that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego find themselves in in this story. That's not the main point of this story, but it is interesting. They are a people in exile, and in some ways, we are too.
In this book, the book of Daniel, nine out of the twelve chapters are explicitly prophetic. They deal with dreams and visions and predictions of the future. Scholars have called this book, "The revelation of the Old Testament." In the New Testament, there's a book called Revelation, and it's all about prophecies and predictions for the future. Daniel is the book that does that the most in the Old Testament.
But there are three chapters out of these twelve that are not explicitly prophetic, but they are called typico-prophetic. Here's what typico-prophetic means. It means they're prophetic in the sense that they capture a typical pattern that repeats over and over again throughout history. Let's read and see if we can recognize patterns or see anything that feels typical to us in this story. We're going to start with Daniel 3:1. I want you to follow along with me in your Bible. Here we go.
"King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon." King Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of Babylon, and he set up a gold statue. "Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up."
"Then a herald shouted…" Listen to what he shouted. "People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king's command! When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."
I want to notice a few things really quickly before we keep reading the story. The first one is this. A false god was established. It wasn't a god who was recognized as the Creator who had always existed. It was very clearly a new god. Have you recognized any of that in the world today where it seems to be that there are ideologies popping up that haven't been around forever, but everyone is buying into them as if they are true?
Whenever a new ideology or a new false God or a new idol comes on the scene, the people who put them forward typically appeal to two things. Firstly to the senses (audio and visual). There is an image that is established and a statue, and there is music that is played to stir people to worship that image. Just as a side note, I think it's interesting to think about the media of today. Does it draw our hearts to worship idols other than the one true God?
Additionally, when a new God is put forward, it does not inspire people instinctively to worship it. Instead, it uses intimidation. Is there intimidation happening in our world today to try to draw our attention toward gods who are not the one true creator God. That is the situation that is setting for this story.
Let's go back to verse 7. Everybody look at your Bible. Here we go. "So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people…" Everyone responded. It was the popular thing to do. "…whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. But some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on the Jews.
They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, 'Long live the king! You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments. That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.'"
Aren't there always people who are picking a fight? Do you ever feel like in the world we live in today, someone is waiting for you to say the wrong thing so they can cancel you, so they can call you out and say, "See there? I thought so. I thought followers of God were the problem, and these guys are the problem"?
These guys who spoke up thought that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their devotion to their God was the worst thing that could happen to their nation. Let me just tell you, Americans, who are watching this today, there are many in our nation who think the worst thing that could happen to our society is for there to be Christians who have the freedom to worship their God the way this book calls us to. I think there are some parallels here. Let's keep reading. Let's look at verse 13.
"Then Nebuchadnezzar [having heard this] flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, 'Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?'"
What did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do in this moment? They replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we…" Pause. There are three names, and the pronoun they use right here is we. If you are a Christian, you never have to walk alone. Praise God there's a church like a Watermark Community Church where I can come, and I can meet and be in relationship with others who believe the same thing as me and worship the same God I worship and want to follow him as much as I want to follow him.
I'm so thankful even though there are those who may be opposed to my faith, and maybe even increasingly going forward, that I know I will never walk alone, that I will always have other believers with me to strengthen me. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in a tough spot here. They were under a vicious threat of opposition, but they were not alone. They had each other.
They said, "…we do not need to defend ourselves before you." They didn't compromise, but they didn't argue. They didn't build their case. They didn't accuse Nebuchadnezzar of injustice. They simply said, "…we do not need to defend ourselves before you." Why? Here's why. In verse 17, they said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty."
This is where it gets awesome. "But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." They just said, "Win or lose, we're not bowing to your gods. We're worshiping the one true God." How did Nebuchadnezzar respond to this?
"Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage." There's that rage again. "He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.
But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, 'Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?' 'Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,' they replied. 'Look!' Nebuchadnezzar shouted. 'I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed!
And the fourth looks like a god [or a son of the gods] !' Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: 'Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!'" It was obvious that God had intervened, that someone had shown up and come to the defense of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He had not abandoned them to death in this moment. So what happened? "So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn't even smell of smoke!"
"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.'" No, that's not what he said. Previously, he was worshiping false gods and idols. He was worshiping himself. He was worshiping man. In this moment, he did not worship these men for their faithfulness. He worshiped their God, and he saw the power of God demonstrated in their lives. He said,
"'Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble."
This is what we teach our preschool kids. If anybody doesn't worship God, tear them limb from limb. We don't teach preschool kids that. That's left out of the story. Nebuchadnezzar says, "There is no other god who can rescue like this!" Then this is how the story ends. This is encouraging. Listen to what the king does. "Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon."
These three young men remained faithful in the face of threats and vicious opposition. Why? Why would they do that, and why would we do that? I believe it's because they understood something we should understand: there is opportunity in every opposition we face. Oppositionis an opportunity for three things I want to share with you this morning.
The first opportunity that is presented to us or created by opposition is this. Opposition is an opportunity to experience God's presence. I believe, and the Bible says that God is omnipresent, which means God is everywhere. That means he is near to you and he is near to me right now. God is always with us. Sometimes, we experience his presence differently. Sometimes his nearness is amplified through suffering for his name.
Think about it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faithful to God. They worshiped God alone. I doubt any other time in their life up until this moment had they experienced the nearness of God they experienced in that fire. In that fire, God came to them in the form of a man, and he walked right beside them, and they could see him, and they could touch him, and they felt his protection. Even though it was always there, they experienced it more in this moment than they ever had before.
Here's how the apostle Paul in the New Testament describes this for us. In Philippians 3:10, Paul says, "I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead." Then he says something that throws me off. He says, "I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death…" Why would Paul say that? He's saying, "Aww, I want to know Jesus. I want to experience his power. I want to be close to him." Here's what Paul knows. You experience that more when you suffer for him and you suffer like him.
Opposition to your faith and my faith you may experience in the workplace, you may experience in your neighborhood… I know. I work with high school students. They experience it in their classrooms, in their hallways, in their friend groups, in the locker room. Their faith is often challenged and opposed. I know this. Every opposition we face…we see it with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and we see with the apostle Paul…is an opportunity for us to experience the presence of God. It's always there, but to feel closer to him, maybe, than ever before.
You can also look up 1 Peter 4:12-14 that talks about fiery trials. It's a callback to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Peter says fiery trials make us partners with Christ, and that God's Spirit rests on us when we are insulted for being a Christian. I want to illustrate this really quickly with a story.
I grew up in Oklahoma, and I want to take you back to middle school when I was in eighth grade. When I was in eighth grade, I went to a middle school called Central Middle School. It had three stories. That's relevant to the story in a little bit. One day, I'm walking down the halls of this school. I'm talking to a friend here next to me, I'm looking over here, and I bump into another kid. My shoulder hits his pretty hard, and we both turn.
Unfortunately, it was this kid. I'm not going to tell you his real name, because this kid was the bully in our school. I actually looked him up on Facebook this week because I was thinking about using his real name, and he's on Facebook, and his profile picture scared me. So I'm going to use a fake name. We're going to call him Lester. So I bumped into Lester.
Let me describe Lester for you. He legitimately had a shaved head on top, bright blond hair, and a long mullet down the back. He always had a mullet. I'm not exaggerating or making it up. And no lie, everyday Lester wore a black leather jacket, the kind with the metal studs. He just was a bad boy. He looked a bad boy. He played the part.
I bump into Lester, and he turns and cuss words start flying. He starts saying, "You'd better watch where you're going." I just kept walking and laughed it off, hoping he didn't come and punch me in the back of the head. He didn't. So I thought I was safe.
The next day, I'm on the first floor of this three-story building, and my first class of the day is on the third floor. We had a five-minute bell, and then we had one-minute bell. I'd always hang out with my friends on the first floor, and when that one-minute bell rang, I'd sprint up three flights of stairs to the third floor to get to my class. So that's what I did.
The next day, after I bumped into Lester, I'm talking to my friends. The one-minute bell rings. I start sprinting. I make it to the second floor, and I'm starting to go up the staircase to the third, and halfway up on the landing, coming down the stairs from the third floor is Lester and the friend who was with him the day before. I don't know if this was on purpose and they were waiting for me or if it was just a coincidence, but the only people in the hallway were me and Lester and his friend.
They start to walk towards me. I stop dead in my tracks. They get on either side of me and start pushing me back and forth. They are repeating, "You'd better watch where you're going." Let me just pause for second to give you context for this story. I'm going to share with you a photo of what I looked like in the eighth grade. The girl I'm in the picture with is a normal-sized human being, and I was not a normal-sized human being in eighth grade. I didn't go through puberty until I was 17. That's a different story for another day. Needless to say, I was not going to win this fight with Lester and his friend.
They're pushing me back and forth. We actually go down the staircase back to the second floor, and we're in the hallway on the second floor. I guess they just wanted more space to pummel me. As they're pushing me back and forth, intimidating me, and threatening me, all three of us hear a voice coming down the hallway. We just hear, "Hey."
We all turn and look, and down the hallway was an offensive lineman from our football team. A big old boy with a fully shaved head (no mullet there) but a rat tail coming out the back. That's a long strand of hair that comes out down by the neck. His name was Jerry Ford. I don't know why Jerry Ford decided to come to my defense that day, but he did. When he said, "Hey," Lester and his friend looked over at Jerry Ford. When they did, I sprinted out of there, and I ran up the stairs, and I made it to my classroom.
That was a long story. Why did I tell you that story? Because I always went to school with Jerry Ford. Jerry Ford was always in my presence. He was always in the building. But I never experienced his nearness the way I did when I needed him most, when the opposition had surrounded me. That's often how it is with our God. He is always with us, but he shows up, and we feel his nearness when we need him the most.
Secondly, opposition is an opportunity to exhibit God's power. I want you to notice who the hero of the story is. It's not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It's God. He is the one who comes through in the clutch and rescued them by his power. They simply trusted and obeyed. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did absolutely nothing. They didn't even defend themselves. God did everything.
This is where this little story points us to the one big story of the Bible. This is the gospel. This is the gospel that saves us, and this is the gospel that sustains our faith. We do nothing, and God does everything.
The first and foremost fire that any of us will face is not an opposition to our faith. It is the opposition of God, the wrath of God, the just judgment of God we all deserve, and the death we deserve to pay for eternity; being separated from him in a place called hell because of our sin and our rebellion against him, as he created us and was nothing but good to us. All of us have gone astray and turned from him. What rescues us from that fire? It is God himself.
I want to show you how the apostle Paul explains this in Ephesians 2:8-9. He says this. "God saved you by his grace…" Grace is unmerited favor, a free gift. "…when you believed. And you can't take credit for this…" You didn't get yourself out of that fire. It's a gift from God. Listen. If you've never heard this, this is the most important thing you could hear today. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done.
None of us can boast about it. Salvation from eternal judgment is a gift that we receive from God, understanding and believing that God came to us in our deserved judgment, and he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. This happened in the form of a man named Jesus Christ. Many believe it's, potentially, Jesus Christ himself preincarnate (before he became a man) who was in the fire. Whether or not it was him or just an angel from God, it doesn't matter, because it points us to Jesus.
Jot down 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and look it up later. It talks about how God's power is made perfect in our weakness, and how we can delight in insults and persecutions because that's when Christ's power is most real in our lives. I started to share this quote with you guys, but I wanted to reference the quote properly. So I Googled it. I Googled it again, and then I realized I made up a really good quote. I'm ending this section with this quote, which is this. God only needs a hand when it's tied. Get it?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up, and they were thrown into the fire. All God needed to display his power was for their hands to be tied; for them to do nothing and simply to trust him to do everything. The same is true for you and for me. God only needs our help when we tie our hands. He only needs a hand when they're tied up and we just submit ourselves wholly to him. We trust and obey him and let him do the rest.
Mark it down. It's going to be on marques in front of churches. God only needs a hand when it's tied. If you ever see it, make sure they get the reference right. David Penuel said that quote. This also applies to Jerry Ford in my middle school. When I ran up to that classroom and I told my friends about what had happened, here's what I didn't say.
"Lester and his friend cornered me, and I fought my way out. I beat up two guys. I outsmarted them, and I snuck away." No. When I got to that classroom, I said, "Jerry Ford saved me. He just had to say, 'Hey,' and shake his rat tail a little bit, and I was out of there." But it was Jerry Ford's power that was glorified in that story. I was not the hero, and it is God's power that is exhibited and displayed when we trust him.
Lastly, opposition is an opportunity to elevate our position. We experience God's nearness. We exhibit his power, and ultimately, our position in Christ can be elevated when we trust God. Our endurance through opposition and the trials of our day can be fueled by the hope we have and the promise God gives us of reward.
You saw it at the end of the story. What happened when they came out of the fire? They were amazed. "There is no God like your God. Here's the new decree. Everybody worship their God," and then he gave them a promotion. He elevated their position. James, Jesus' brother, says this in chapter 1 of his book, verse 12.
"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." God will bless us if we endure. There will be a crown of life, a reward waiting for those who persist in loving God. You can also lookup Hebrews 12 or Matthew 25.
In Hebrews, the author talks about Jesus enduring the cross by focusing on the joy set before him and encourages us to think about Jesus when we need strength to endure. Matthew tells a story in Matthew 25 about the rewards we'll receive in heaven. There's a famous quote it ends with. It says the master said, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed they could trust God to reward their faithfulness. Get this. Win or lose, do you remember what they said to Nebuchadnezzar before they were thrown in the fire. I'm going to read it again. If you still have your Bible open, look back at it. Verse 17. It says,
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship [them] ." They said, "Win or lose, we're going to be faithful to God, because we know in the end, even if the fire burns us up, we win. God will reward us on the other side of this life." They trusted God's promises (win or lose).
I want to show you guys a picture of my family (my beautiful wife Alli and three children Chapman, Cole, and Annabel). Here's why I want to show you this picture. These three kids are pretty impressive. They play sports in the highly competitive environment of the Richardson YMCA. In the Richardson YMCA, they are guilty of doing something that many parents are against. I have these up here with me on the state. They are guilty of handing out participation trophies.
A lot of people think participation trophies are a bad idea because you reward children for losing, which some people would argue isn't a great way to build character. But I'm going to come out. I'm going to take the other side and disagree, and I'm going to say I am pro participation trophy for young children. Here's why.
Some of my kids' teams haven't had the best seasons. You win some; you lose some. My daughter's team, when they played against the Heartbreakers in soccer, they were beaten 14-0. If you're not familiar with soccer, 14 is a lot of goals to score in one game. Some might say it's humanly impossible, but let me tell you, the Heartbreakers can do it. They can break your heart.
Why does Annabel deserve a trophy for going out there and getting her tail kicked by the Heartbreakers? Not just once, but we had to play them twice in the same season. What is going on, Richardson? Why? Get those Heartbreakers in a more competitive league. Anyways, I digress. Why does Annabel deserve a participation trophy for that? Here's why.
At the end of every quarter, when they were down, and they were getting beat, and they were getting frustrated, and they were discouraged, and they went and had a water break, they walked back out there, and they stood tall on the field, and they faced their opponents. They kept going out there, and they were faithful to their team, win or lose.
I reward that. I recognize that. I think God does too. If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had perished in that fire, I think there would be a reward ahead of them in heaven when they meet the Lord. I think the same is true for us. We can be strengthened by the promise that win or lose in this life, there's a reward in store for those who remain faithful to worship God alone.
This chapter was typico-prophetic (Christianity, orthodox belief, devotion to the truths revealed in God's Word). It will always be perceived as a threat to be opposed. So how can we remain faithful to God in the face of vicious opposition? By seeing opposition as an opportunity to experience the nearness of God, to exhibit the power of God, and ultimately, to elevate our position in Christ.
I want to close with an application question. As you meet with your Community Groups or as you sit and discuss this message with others you're watching with or your family in your home, I want to give you one question to discuss. It'll be on the screen, and here it is. What are the idols you feel pressured to bow down to today? We know what the idol was that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego felt pressure to bow down to, but what are the ones you experience today?
I'm tempted to list a bunch of them for you, but I want you to think about what they are in your life. Here's another way to ask that question. Fill in this blank. I'm afraid of what might happen if I were to take a stand about [blank]. I'm telling you Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego learned the language of the Babylonians, they went to their schools, they ate their food. They adopted many of their customs, but at some point, when the customs of that land interfered with their worship of God, they had to take a stand. We're beginning to meet those decision points in our day.
How would you fill in that blank today? I'm afraid of what might happen if I were to take a stand about [blank]. That will reveal the idols you are feeling tempted to worship. I want you to think about your family, your coworkers, your friends, your acquaintances in the community. I want you to think about your classrooms or your locker rooms or your workplaces or your social media accounts, and where do you feel that fear?
In this story, when faced with opposition, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had their moment to experience God's presence and exhibit God's power and elevate their position. They established an absolutely true story that now we're still telling 2,600 years later. Now, it's our turn to embrace these same opportunities through opposition.
I want to leave you with this. What would happen if all of us watching this lived like Daniel 3? What would be the absolutely true story they would tell about Watermark Community Church in 2020? I've heard Todd Wagner say that Watermark might be the first church to get shut down to refusing to bow to the idols of our day. But even if we're the first to get shut down, Todd says we will probably be the last to shut up about the goodness of the one true God and his worthiness of all of our worship.
What if that's our place in history? What if we are the first to get shut down and the last to shut up? What if in that process taking place, we remain faithful and we experience the presence of God like we never have before? What if we exhibit the power of God to a watching world, and future generations who will tell our story? What if, ultimately, we celebrate what God does in our lives throughout all of eternity, receiving our inheritance in the kingdom of God. I hope that it's true. Let me pray that it is, and we'll get out of here.
Dear Lord, I thank you so much for this story, for preserving it in history for us. I thank you for the applications we can draw from it. I pray if I said anything today that was not of you and not the intention of your Word, that it would be quickly forgotten. But if there was a message you wanted to deliver today through this story of Daniel 3, I pray it would not be forgotten, but it would instead sink into our hearts and into our minds and transform our lives. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Thank you guys for streaming online with us today. We'll be back online next week. We're so glad you joined us. If there's any way we can serve you, you can go to watermark.org/news. You can scroll down, and there's a part that says, "Connect with us." Fill that out. If you have questions about this message or anything going on throughout the week, you can find all those answers at watermark.org/news. Go there now to check it out. Otherwise, have a great week of worship.