Story, Wk. 18 02/12/17—Highland—Meute
“Daniel in Exile”
The Story, Chapter 18
Daniel 3: 19-27; Luke 12: 4-7
Pearl: Tenacious dedication to your identity in Jesus Christ.
Function: To encourage worshippers to relentlessly hold onto their identity in Jesus Christ, especially in times ridicule and resistance.
God’s people in the nation of Judah, the southern kingdom, began to be taken into exile by the Babylonian empire as early as 605 years before the time of Christ.
1. From among the exiles the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, sought out the best and the brightest of the young men of Judah. They were recruited for his service. Among those best and bright young people were brought Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You recognize Daniel but what about the others? What if I call the three others Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Now you recognize them, don’t you?
2. These four young men were among the best and the brightest of the sons of Judah and they were immediately exposed to amazing testing among the nation of Babylon. They would go down in history as maintaining their identity in the Lord God in the midst of severe persecution and testing.
3. Daniel, whose name was changed to Belteshazzar, immediately distinguished himself as being different. These best and brightest were fed with food and wine directly from the King’s table. Daniel refused to eat this food as he believed that it would “defile” him. The overseer in charge of him feared for his own life because he thought Daniel would become emaciated and sick as compared to the others who would be eating the king’s finest food. So Daniel made an agreement with this overseer to be given vegetables and water to drink for ten days. After ten days, he asked to be compared to the other young men eating who continued eating from the King’s table. If they were obviously weaker then they would save his life by going with the royal menu. How do you think they fared after ten days of water and vegetables out of devotion to God’s law?
DANIEL, SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO KNEW WHO THEY WERE, AND NEVER FLAGGED IN DEVOTION TO THE LORD GOD OF ALL!
Randy Frazee is the co-author of The Story. When his son was in 10th grade he got up early every day and went to school early to join with others to pray outside of his high school for the students, teachers, and administrators of their school. This group grew to over 40 students gathering each day to pray together. They received plenty of harassment and ridicule from many. But they continued to endure and persevere in their devotion to Christ, to each other, and to the rest of their school.
1. It isn’t easy for young people to exercise that kind of courage and devotion to the cause of Christ.
2. But imagine the impact of their relentless dedication to pray for each other and for others visibly outside of their school? The impact cannot be calculated because of what God does when his people step forward in faith!
3. The impact cannot be calculated when God’s people step forward to seek to right the world’s wrongs! When his people stick to their identity in Jesus Christ, and continue to care about the things that he cares about, the impact is huge.
RELENTLESS, TENACIOUS DEVOTION TO YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST AND TO THE WAY OF CHRIST MAKES AN IMPACT!
King Nebuchadnezzar erected a huge 90 foot statue of himself and demanded that all of the nation worship it.
1. The command was that when the musicians struck up a tune at various times of the day all were to stop what they were doing and bow down to the statue and worship it. If any refused to do so they would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
a. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not obey the command because they knew the law of God—“You shall have no other Gods before me.” The King was so enraged that he ordered the furnace heated up many times the normal. It became so hot that the people who threw them into it were burned up in the process. Immediately, as the king looked into the furnace he saw that there were four men walking around in the flames, not just the three that were thrown in. The King ordered that these men come out of the furnace and miraculously not a hair on their body was even singed.
b. Many suggest that the fourth man was God himself (the pre-incarnate Christ) in bodily form who was inside of the furnace with them, who saved these three brave young men.
2. King Nebuchadnezzar immediately declared that the Lord God of Judah was the true and living God among the gods.
TENACIOUS, RELENTLESS HOLDING ON TO YOUR IDENTITY IN GOD AND TO THE WAY OF CHRIST MAKES AN IMPACT BEYOND CALCULATION!
Daniel had his day as well. Some years passed and Daniel and his associates distinguished themselves among a new power. The Medo-Persians took over leadership and Darius was the current King. And it happened again that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego caught the attention of the king and were given important positions of leadership. Many others became jealous and insecure over their renown. So they craftily got the King to draft a decree that when the musicians played at certain times of the day, all were to drop what they were doing and pray to the great King Darius but if they refused they were to then be thrown to the lions.
1. Being that Daniel knew who he was and so only prayed to the one living God, he refused to obey that edict. When they brought him to the King as guilty of not praying to him, even though the King loved Daniel, he had to follow through on his own edict so he ordered Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den. In the process he told Daniel to pray to his God for deliverance.
2. First thing the next morning when the King awoke he ran to the lion’s den and called out to Daniel. Daniel responded that he was just fine and the King ordered him lifted from the jaws of death. Once again a foreign King then declared that the God of Israel was the true and living God!
The fact is, though, that many through the ages and certainly today, who know who they are in Christ, are thrown into proverbial furnaces and lion’s dens and are even killed. God does not always do what he did for Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
1. But the impact of the martyrs is incalculable! It is true about what is said, that “the blood of the martyrs continually cries out!”
2. When people are silenced because of their single-minded devotion to the Way of Christ, the ironic result is that their witness is only multiplied to eternity!
3. You cannot silence the Way of Christ which is the way of love, grace, justice, equity, peace, and wholeness. It is like the game “whack-a-mole.” When you smack a mole down into the hole another one pops up somewhere else. When God’s people are struck down and silenced, two more pop up to replace the witness.
RELENTLESS, TENACIOUS DEDICATION TO WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST AND TO THE WAY OF JESUS CHRIST ALWAYS MAKES AN IMPACT!
You will stumble and fall as you seek to be who you are in Jesus Christ and in following the Lord’s Way. But life is a continual process of refinement and shaping. God is the Potter and you are the clay.
Praise God that the Lord Jesus Christ never deviated from being who he was in God and he never let go of his calling to establish the reign of God on earth.