Let us continue our study of the book of Daniel. Our theme is Big God Theology. My, what a big God these four men worshipped with all of their hearts.
We turn our attention today to a section of Daniel that deals with Nebuchadnezzar’s sin. In Daniel 4:19-27 we find this Big God to be ‘The God Of Restoration’. Restoration involves the necessity of patience, perseverance, and persistence on the part of the restorer over the one being restored. Man is not easily restored. The God of Restoration looks for genuine repentance from the one who needs to be restored. Repentance is a radical change of mind about sin, which results in a 180-degree turn away from that sin.
As we begin to look at the restoration process I see in our meditation ‘The Stumping Of The King’. In verses 22-23 of chapter 4 I find a ‘Picture Rehearsed About Stumping’. Oh, how this king has been given multiple opportunities to repent. There was the dream of the stone that is a glorious picture of the Rock of Ages. The fourth man in the fire is truly a glimpse of the Son of God. Yet he lifts himself up in pride that all he has is of his own doing. God has enough in verse 23 and sends the watchman to cut him down like a tree but leaves a stump. The watchman is to chain him to the stump as a brute beast for seven years. Our God knows how to stump the proud of this world. I am reminded of Peter’s three denials. The text said that Peter denied Him again and again and again. When we fail to listen to our Lord’s strong call to repentance we leave Him no choice but to leave us stumped.
In verse 27 of this stumping process I find ‘A Plea About Repentance From Sin’. The king is told to ‘break off’ his iniquities and sins. The phrase ‘break off’ means to disconnect by rending or tearing in pieces by a very violent action. We cannot embrace sin. It will stump us beyond belief. The word ‘sin’ means to miss the mark so as not to share in the prize. The word ‘iniquities’ means to step over the designated boundary line set down by God. How can one deal with sin and iniquity and bypass stumping?
The king is told to break off sin by righteousness. Righteousness speaks of that which can only be imputed by Christ. Christ came, took one shot and hit the bull’s eye dead center. He robed me in righteousness, handed the bow to me and said to make His shot my shot and smile for the picture. This position, when reckoned upon, frees one from the practice of sin and iniquities. Iniquities are conquered by showing mercy. The mercy of God is Him withholding from us what we deserve. When one meditates on mercy he is freed from all practice of iniquity. What is to be gained by this victory? The text says in verse 27 that there will be the ‘lengthening of the tranquility’. The phrase means to make longer ones security and prosperity of clean hands and a pure heart. God is pleading with man to repent. How can we do less that repent? Let us turn from every sin less we hear the spiritual chain saw of the watchmen coming to stump us.
We are studying the Book of Daniel. I find that Daniel and the three Hebrew boys have a Big God. I have been musing on the fact that He is the ‘God Of Refinement’. We have looked at two subjects thus far, ‘The Trial Of Your Faith’, and ‘The Testimony Of His Followers’. Let us look today at verse 23, which says, “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”
I find in verse 23a ‘The Test Of Our Position’. The Bible said that they ‘fell down’. This is a position of humility. It is not a position that is easily attained. It will take us off our high horse and bring us low. If I think I am a humble person there is a good chance that I am not one. True humility is a rare exotic plant seldom found on earth. Let us be careful of false humility. The refiner’s fire burns away pride. Pride is never more ugly than when pretending to be humble. May there be less of me and more of Him. May I decrease while He increases. Peter said for us ‘to be clothed with humility for God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble.’ The fires of trouble will bring us down low.
I find also in our text there is ‘The Test Of Our Practice’. How often in a time of trouble we will find ourselves to be tight with no freedom in the midst of our trouble. It seems like the Heavens are brass. The Bible is a dead book and God is silent. Let me assure us God never intended the refiner’s fire to cause this to be our practice. The text tells us in verse 23b they “…fell down bound into the midst…” The word ‘bound’ means that which retrains or impedes forward progress. Oh, how trials can bind us up in our relationship to the God of refinement. Let me assure us that God never meant this to be our practice. There is only one thing affected or lost in the fire by the three Hebrew boys. In 3:24 the King asks, “Did not we cast three men bound into the…fire?” “They answered…True, O king.” The king said ‘I see four men loose, walking in the …fire, and the fourth is like the Son of God.” In the fire they were set free and walking n fellowship with the Son of God. Look for Him in the fire. He will not bind us but set us free.
I see in verse 23c there is ‘The Test That Is Pointed’. We find the three boys ‘in the midst’ of the fire. This phrase indicates the center of the fire. For the most part when we are in the fire we want out. These boys are moving to the hottest point, which is the center. Let us remember our Lord is not interested in getting us out of the fire but taking care of us in the fire. In the midst of the fire they found Him. They were down low, below the smoke and saw the Son of God because the view was 20/20.
In the early 100’s there was a big God preacher by the name of Polycarp who was a convert of John the Beloved. He was sentenced to die for preaching the gospel. He was asked before the execution to deny Christ. He said, ‘These 86 years that I have known Him He has never done me wrong.’ He asked not to be nailed to the stake to be burned. He promised not to move. When the fire was set it refused to come near Polycarp. In disgust the soldiers ran a sword through his heart and the blood put out the fire.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. That soul tho all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never, forsake.
I am glad I have a big God. He is the God of Refinement who is in charge of the furnace where we are made into His likeness
Let us turn our hearts again this week to the book of Daniel. Our theme has been a study of “Big God Theology”. I want to meditate in the study on Daniel 3:1-18. May we take time to read this text before we begin to unpack these truths. In this section I want us to see ‘He Is The God Of Refinement’. This is the chapter in which Nebuchadnezzar places the three Hebrew children in the fire. How can God put folks in the fire and they are not burned? How can God cause good to come out of bad? How can God take depraved, dead, and deplorable sinners and make them like Himself? He is the God of refinement. The fire of refinement will involve physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial suffering. There are two relationships to His fire. One is to refine us and the other is to condemn us. Oh, I want to be rightly related to His fire. His refinement will involve ‘The Trial Of Your Faith’. Job said, ‘When He hath tried me I shall come forth as pure gold.’ Peter said, ‘Think it not strange when fiery trials come your way.’
In the trial of the faith of the three Hebrew boys we find in 3:1a ‘A Consideration Of Their Trial’. The King made an image of gold. Every time God creates something Satan will duplicate it. My Grandma said ‘everything that shines is not gold.’ In verse 7 we see the great arena of trial is that all were bowing to this image when the musicians played. Let us be careful when the majority is going, saying, or doing it. Our Lord has always in every generation had a small minority on the narrow road to life. I am free to do anything I want to do but as Paul said all things are not expedient. The word means best for me. My only real freedom is the freedom to be like our King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Chapter 3, verse 12 we find ‘A Conclusion Of Their Trial’. When these three Hebrew boys refused to bow they were brought to the king. The soldiers said to the king that these three have not ‘regarded’ thee. The word ‘regard’ means they don’t think you are in charge or have sole authority over them. When we are asked to do things contrary to the Word of God we better have come to the conclusion of who is our sole authority. Peter said ‘we better obey God rather than men.’ The king felt they had not heard the music so he played it again. Once again every one bowed but these three boys stood alone before the king. The king cried out in 3:15 saying, “…who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” If they get out of this situation it will take a ‘Big God’.
In 3:16-18 we find there is ‘A Confession In Their Trial’. They are told they are going to be thrown in the fiery furnace. The Hebrew children said our God will deliver us, ‘but if not, we will not bow down to your image.’ O King, know if you throw us in the fire we will be walking the streets of God before you get back to the palace. Lord give us a ‘But if not’ mentality. It matters not how life goes if I have a ‘but if not’ plan that causes me to follow Him without regard to my circumstances. It is my desire to be emotionally and mentally stable, ‘but if not’ I will follow Him. I desire to make a basic living ‘but if not’ I will follow Him. Let us not let life or circumstances threaten us with heaven. A ‘but if not’ mentality always believes it’s expectations are from the Lord. Whatever the Lord sends that is what I was expecting. Let our fiery trials not take us out of our rest of life. Peter said, ‘When fiery trials come do not threat them as strangers’ When trouble comes to the door tell them to come on in because I have been expecting you. Tell your trials it matters not what you do to me. I would rather be triumphant over my trials ‘but if not’ I have the confidence that I will walk the streets of gold once the fiery trial of refinement is concluded.
We continue this week to muse through the book of Daniel in our study of Big God Theology. We started to see last time that “He Is The God Of Refinement”. I brought to our attention the ‘Trial Of Your Faith’. It is during the time of refining trials that we will see Him manifested as a Big God.
This week I turn our attention to ‘The Testimony Of His Followers’. The word ‘his’ in our outline stands for Nebuchadnezzar’s followers. Our God will put us in the fires of trouble often so others can watch our response. I feel He placed these three boys in the fire so that the king’s followers could see the bigness of the God of the Bible. What testimony are we giving to others in our time of fiery trials?
Let us look first of all at the ‘Enlightenment Of His Followers’. In verse 20 we are told that the men who threw these three Hebrew boys in the fire were ‘mighty’ men. The word mighty means valiant warriors. In verse 19 they set the fires seven times hotter. These men were in great physical shape. They were mighty in battle. They were good at making fires but they had no spiritual discernment. They knew the art of physical fire but they knew nothing of the spiritual fires of our God. Oh, my friend let me be weak, helpless, fearful, no gifts, of no ability, can’t even boil water, but know Him who identifies Himself as the God who is a consuming fire. That fire will either condemn and consume or warm and comfort us depending upon our relationship to the furnace keeper of the fire.
In verse 22 we find ‘The Experiences Of His Followers’. These mighty men have listened to the Hebrew boys response to the king. There is no evidence of a struggle while they are binding their hands. They are in a rest mode and an easy yoke. The circumstances are not stealing their joy. Happenings are not taking away their happiness. These men are seeing a Big God people’s response to trouble. I cannot help but believe these boys spoke softly to these men warning them about the God of the consuming fire. This was to be their final warning. There is no evidence these men made any response. Let us be careful in our response to our troubles. Our response is either preaching the Gospel to others or making it of no affect.
I notice in verse 22 ‘The End Of His Followers’. This fire was so hot it slew these mighty men. In a matter of seconds after dealing with the three Hebrew boys they were in eternity. More than likely, of course I am not the judge, they went to Hell with their clothes on. I wonder who will go to Hell from our presence? Will they have heard a clear-cut warning of the Gospel? My wife had an uncle and cousin who recently passed away. I feel by their own testimony they were lost. I fear to ever see them again. I sat in their presence on many occasions. I know if they are given the opportunity they will ask me why I didn’t warn them about the God who is a consuming fire. Let us show forth Christ in our response to trouble.
We continue this week in our study of Daniel and the subject of ‘Big God Theology’. I looked last time at Daniel’s statement in 2:28a, “But there is a God in heaven…” Here we were studying ‘The God Of Revelation’. We found that He must reveal Himself as ‘The God Of Authority’.
In 2:19-20 and 23a we find that He will reveal Himself as ‘The God To Be Adored’. When Daniel is asked by the King as to how he found the dream and its interpretation he replied to the King, ‘Let us praise God for His Pre-eminent height’. In verse 20a Daniel says, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever:” The word ‘blessed’ means to kneel while giving abundant adoration. In verse 23a Daniel says of God, “I thank thee, and praise thee,” The word ‘thank’ means to bemoan with words of high praise with the hands up and palms extended outward. The word ‘praise’ means to give loud words of commendation. In 2:23a, can you imagine this young Jew boy kneeling before an earthly king with hands in the air giving words of loud commendation to a heavenly King as the only King. This would certainly be grounds for execution under most circumstances. But those actions will be the beginning key to breaking this old king’s heart. My, how Holy Ghost filled worship of something bigger than ourselves will cause the most hardened sinners to get in or get out.
In verse 23 Daniel mentions the God to be adored under the terms of ‘Let us praise God for His present help’. Daniel speaks of God making it known unto him now. Daniel said, I asked God about the dream and He told me. He is a God who wants to help us and wants to help us right now. He is a present help in time of trouble. Matter of fact, He made solutions before problems. What came first, birds or air, fish or water, trees or dirt? The solution was before the problem. What came first, sin or a Saviour? Long before God had a sin problem in the garden He had slain a Lamb before the foundation of the world. O Lord, reveal to your people a God so big we must bow and adore Him.
Daniel is also speaking of God being revealed in verses 29-30 as ‘The God Of Awareness’. He knows the secret things, He knows what is in the dark, and He knows what we say or think. ‘He is aware of our future life.’ He knows the end from the beginning. ‘He is aware of our fleshly life’. In verses 29-30 Daniel tells the king that God knew his secret life and even the motives and intentions of his heart.
He is revealed to us as ‘The God with answers’. ‘He has answers to the impossible questions.’ In verses 25-28a we see that Daniel knows the forgotten dream of the king. How can this be unless God reveals it? ‘He has answers with incredible quickening.’ The wise men in 2:11 said only the ‘God people’ have that kind of answers. In verse 44-45 Daniel reveals to the king the dream of a rolling stone who was none other than Christ the God man.
He came from the bosom of the Father to the bosom of the woman. The Son of God became the Son of Man that we might become the Sons of God. He was born by a virgin mother contrary to the laws of nature. He was born in poverty, reared in obscurity, only crossed the boundaries of His country once and that was in His childhood. He had no wealth or influence and no education in the world’s schools. His relatives were nobodies with no social influences. In His infancy He puzzled a King, in his boyhood He baffled the Doctors of Theology and in manhood He ruled the courses of nature. He walked on the billows and hushed the seas to sleep. He healed the multitude without medicine and charged nothing for His service. He never wrote a book though all the libraries of the world could not contain the whole of what has been written about Him. He never wrote a song but produced the theme for more songs than there are songwriters. He never founded a school yet no one could boast of as many students as He has. He has healed so many hearts yet never claimed to be a heart doctor. Jesus is the Star of Astronomy, the Rock of Geology, Lion and Lamb of Zoology, the Harmonizer of all Discord, and Healer of all Diseases. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Satan couldn’t seduce Him. Death couldn’t destroy Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. He is Nebuchadnezzar’s stone sitting high upon the throne of the universe that I might be able to say, ‘On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.