“In God’s Hand”


       Greetings in the name of Jesus! Hi, I'm Pastor Don Guthrie and I want to thank you for joining me today as we
look into God’s Holy Word to learn how we can become more faithful followers of Christ, and a better witnesses to
the world.

       Pray with me. Lord, I come before you this day, in the name of Jesus. I ask that you anoint me with your Holy
Spirit and that you speak through me.Open our heart and ears to receive your word and to be touched by your
Spirit. AMEN
       
       
Today I want to talk to you about three young but faithful Hebrew men who were tested beyond anything you
and I will probably ever have to face. The three young men were named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They
along with Daniel were carried off into captivity when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon defeated Judah in the time
of Zedekiah King of Judah. They were among the learned, and educated, the best Israel had to offer, so
Nebuchadnezzar took them to Babylon to in his kingdom.

       
The scripture for today comes from Daniel, chapter three, where we will be looking at several verses to get us
prepared for the message.

       In the book of Daniel, chapter three and verse one, we find these words:

Daniel 3:1
1.   Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits,
and the breadth thereof
     
six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon  

       
Here in verse one, we find that Nebuchadnezzar made an image, what the image was, whether it one of the
Gods of the Babylonians or an image as some believe, of Nebuchadnezzar himself, is something we do not know.
Nevertheless, he made an image of Gold standing 45 feet high, and 9 feet wide.

       After the image was erected, a decree was sent out to all the people in the land.

Daniel 3:4-6
4.   Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
5.   That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery,dulcimer and all kinds of musick,

     
ye fall down and worship the golden image that  Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
6.   And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst
of a burning fiery         
     
furnace.

       
Whatever the image was made to represent, it was to be considered a God. Whenever any music was heard,
the people who heard the music was to fall down and worship the image. Anyone who refused to worship the
image, or to bow down towards it when any music was played, was to be cast into a furnace of fire, and burned to
death.

       I can imagine the fear this caused in the hearts of the people. The idea of being cast into the furnace, to be
bound up, carried to the top of the furnace and tossed into the fire like a piece of firewood would have caused most
anyone to fall down and worship the image whether they wanted too or not. Throughout the land, people began
doing what the King decreed. Every time they heard music, they fell down wherever they were and worshiped the
image Nebuchadnezzar built, all that is, except for three young Hebrew men, who had been carried into Babylon by
the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, three Hebrew men by the names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

       I must confess, I do believe there were others who did not bow down to the image. I’m certain Daniel didn't,
and maybe other of the Hebrew children who had been carried off into captivity refused as well. Yet, Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego and Daniel, had been made Rulers in Babylon because of Daniel’s interpretation of a
dream Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, a dream the wise men of Babylon were not able to interpret. Daniel was made a
ruler over all the provinces of Babylon, and in turn had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego promoted into positions
of leadership as well.

       Because of the positions Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been entrusted too by Nebuchadnezzar, the
governors and other leaders of Babylon became jealous, and determined in their heart to get rid of them. When they
discovered that our three Hebrew heroes did not bow down to the image of Gold, they were quick to jump on the
opportunity to get rid of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and they went to the king and in Daniel 3:12 we find
what they told Him. They said:

Daniel 3:12
12. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon,
Shadrach, Meshach,
     
and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden
     
image which thou hast set up.

       When Nebuchadnezzar heard this. he was not happy

Daniel 3:13-15 says
13. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego. Then they
      
brought these men before the king.
14. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego, do not ye serve
     
my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
15. Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp,
sackbut, psaltery, and
     
dulcimer, and all kinds of musick,ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship
     
not,ye shall be cast the same hour into the  midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall
     
deliver you out of my hands?
 
       Nebuchadnezzar was furious. Daniel had interpreted  Nebuchadnezzar's dream and to reward him for his
wisdom  Nebuchadnezzar made him a ruler over the land. Than Daniel had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to
become rulers as well even though lesser rulers than Daniel. Even so, I believe Nebuchadnezzar liked them, or else
he would not have had them brought to him, nor would not have offered them another second chance.

       But, a second chance is exactly what he offered them. In my own words,  he told our three heroes "I
understand that you do not bow down, or worship my image. Maybe you did not understand my decree, and maybe
you thought it did not include you. Nevertheless, when I sent out my herald proclaiming the law stating that
everyone was to bow down and worship the image every time music was heard, that included you as well. Now that
this has been cleared up. I am willing to forgive you for not understanding if you promise that the next time you hear
music, you will bow down and worship my God’s and the image I have erected. If you are not willing to do this, I will
be forced, and indeed willing to have you thrown into the furnace of fire, and even your God, the God who you
worship cannot help you.

       I love what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said in answer to the king.

Daniel 3:16-18
16. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar,
we are not careful to
     
answer thee in this matter.
17. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace,
and he will deliver us out
     
of thine hand, O king.
18. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship
the golden image which
     
thou hast set up.

       What faith, and obedience these three had for God. In my own words, they said; "Oh King, we are not going to
try to talk our way out of this, nor are we going to try to sugarcoat our answer, or plead for your leniency."

       "If God desires for us to be delivered from the fire, we know without a doubt the he can do so. If it is his will for
us to die, then we are ready to go. Either way, we will not serve or worship any God other than the one true God
nor will be worship your image." Basically what they were saying, was, Our life is not in your hands, our lives are in
the hand of the Almighty, and to borrow the words of Paul, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
       
       
Either way they were going to win. If they were killed by the fire, they would  be safe in the arms of the
Almighty, if they lived, they would keep on serving him, and him alone.

       
I’m not going to take the time to read the rest of the story, but nevertheless, Nebuchadnezzar was beyond
furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He had the furnace fired up, and had the fires burning seven times
hotter than normal. Then he had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bound and taken up to the top of the furnace
in order to be be thrown inside. The fire was burning so hot that it killed the guards who threw them in, but when
Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire a little later, he saw four men walking in the fire, Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego, and an Angel who had been sent by God to protect them.

       Nebuchadnezzar called to them and told them to come forth  out of the furnace. When he did, they walked out
of the fire without not even the smell of smoke on their clothing, or a singe burn or singe mark on them. God had
saved them just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said he could do, if he so pleased.

       The point of today’s message is this. There are times in our lives we too are faced with difficult decisions as to
what we should or should not do. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego it was bowing down and worshiping an
image made of gold. They knew that to refuse was to endanger their life, but they choose instead to follow God and
trust him, regardless of the consequence for their actions. They could have bowed down before the image and
faked it, and instead of worshiping the image, they could have worshiped God. No one would have known the
difference. But, to have done so would have been a lie, and they would still have been breaking the commandments
of God, and pretending not to be a follower of God. That was simply not acceptable.

       We probably won't be threatened with a fiery furnace, but it is possible that we might be threatened with
something nearly as bad. For instance, what will you do, if your boss tells you to remove your bible from your desk
or you will be fired? What will you do if you asked to say a prayer, but are told you cannot use the name of Jesus in
it? What will you do if you are told you cannot speak the name of Jesus, or talk about your religious beliefs? What
should I as a preacher do, if the Government tells me I cannot speak about abortion, homosexuality, and other
things the bible says is a sin? What should we do when our denominations tell us we have to accept sin into our
churches, and allow folks who are practicing sin to even become a preacher, or a teachers?  
       
       
This is only a partial list. The list and questions can and does go on and on. The point is, what are we going to
do? Are we going to allow men, who are under the influence of Satan to scare us into not following God, or into
making concessions, and allowing ungodliness to come between us and God, or are we going to stand up like
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and say, it is in the hands of God. If he desires for me to be punished, or to be
hurt by you, so be it, but I know that my God can preserve me, and protect me if he so desires. I will not change my
ways, nor will I compromise my salvation by listening too or doing anything than God does not desires for me to do.

       You may say, Thank God it hasn’t come to this yet, but I am here to tell you, it already has. In England and
Canada, it is a crime for a preacher to preach about certain issues,  such as homosexuality. If they do, they can be
arrested. Some have been trying in America to have similar laws passed, and a version of the law was passed not
too long ago. Consider this. today we cannot have prayers in our Schools, or religions scenes on Government
property and so on. No longer is a Christmas breaks called a Christmas breaks or Easter called Easter breaks,
instead they are called Holiday breaks, winter breaks, and spring breaks for fear of offending someone. I don't know
about you, but I am offended because I am being told I cannot call things what they are.

       Churches are splitting apart over controversial issues, issues that the bible is very clear about, but
unfortunately folks are reinterpreting the bible to say what they want it to say instead of what it really does says,
and as a result there is much confusion in our denominations and in our local churches.

       Has God changed? My bible says that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is never changing. It is
we who have changed because we're scarred to stand up for what the bible says, and for what God expects of us
for fear that someone may be offended, of because we might be looked down on by others.

       Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego wasn't worried about others, nor were they  concerned with their life. I’m
sure they were scarred, but their fright, nor the threats of the king deterred their faith, or their actions. The question
today is, will you? Will you allow Satan to take your faith or make you do things God said you should not do?  Or,
will you stand up to evil knowing and believing what  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew, and that is, "our
God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and can and will deliver us out of thine
hand, O king. AMEN
Aired week of June 19 - 25, 2011
Don Guthrie
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