Please welcome guest author Matthew Bryant! Matthew serves as Coordinator of College Ministry at King Street Church and loves seeing young people grow in Christ. He also serves as a chaplain in the United States Air Force, is married to his wife Lindsay, and is a non-identical triplet. Enjoy his exhortation, and fall more in love with Jesus!
In the third chapter of Daniel, three Hebrew men - who were but boys two chapters earlier - stare down the most powerful earthly king of their time. Nebuchadnezzar was not just a king, but a king over many kings. He ruled the Babylonian Empire with absolute surety. The three Hebrews (Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego) were brought to the king because they refused to bow down and worship the king's gods or the statue that he had set up. The king had given the order that every time music, of any kind, was played that everyone in the kingdom would bow down and worship. It appears that everyone was compliant except for these three men. Why would people from so many different nations, faiths, and ethnicities be so "compliant"? Because the king also gave the order that those who do not bow down and worship his statue and his gods would be thrown into a fiery furnace. That’s where we pick up in verse 13 of chapter three:
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought... "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.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated... Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
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.” (Daniel 3:13-25)
Saying, "No" to the king would not only mean death was possible for the three Hebrew men, saying, "no" required death. Deliverance, for Shadrack, Meshack, and Abenego, was a guarantee: "our God...is able to...and he will deliver us." What the great king did not realize is that a rescue mission from an even greater king was already underway. Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego knew this - One thing was for sure: deliverance was on its way. Whether it was deliverance out of the flames or through the ashes. That day they were going to meet their deliverer.
All of us have "great" kings in our lives that claim to have dominance and control over our lives. These kings promise us that compliance to their ways is not only way easier but also more comfortable and pleasurable than rebellion. These kings take on many different forms: addiction to pornography, an insatiable fascination with entertainment, preoccupation with working-out to pursue the perfect body, a fixation on being in a romantic relationship, escape into video games,...you name your "king."
Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego's deliverance is testimony to the frailty of our kings and their chains that bind you. Their deliverance from the flames points us to an even greater deliverance that has already come through the Great Deliverer - Jesus Christ. When we compare our kings to The King they don’t even come close to matching up.
- Porn may provide minutes of pleasure, but Jesus offers ENDLESS pleasure (Psalm 16:11)
- Movies or TV shows may be fascinating entertainment for the night, but the worship of God will be our ETERNAL fascination (Psalm 84)
- Preoccupation with the gym or fitness centers may provide 80 years of a nice body, but Jesus offers a NEW body that will never break down (1 Cor. 15:50-58)
- Romantic relationships devoid of Christ provide cheap intimacy, but Jesus offers a relationship with God bought with his PRICELESS blood – anything but cheap (1 Cor. 6:20)
- Video games may give the illusion of danger and adventure, but Jesus invites us into a REAL fight equipped with the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17) – remember this fight requires your death (Rom. 8:13)
Jesus too, faced a "great" king in Pontius Pilate - representative of Caesar, the ruler over the whole Roman Empire. Jesus too, chose death over the pleasure, comfort, and riches of this world. Jesus too, went to His death but did not spare himself suffering - as he spared Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. He took the death we deserved, baring the full weight of sin as the wrath of God was poured out on the Son. Jesus too, just like the three Hebrews rose from the flames, rose from the grave in His Glory defeating sin and death. Now you tell me what earthly king has dominion over you?! Our KING is greater. Our KING is more glorious. Our KING is more powerful. Our KING is the true KING OF KINGS. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (Col. 1:15-20). He is KING JESUS. He was greater than King Nebuchadnezzer, He is greater than our feeble kings and idols. He invites us to come and die to the flesh that we might live by the Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead!
For the sake of your freedom - run to His death and your own! And you too will say, like king Nebuchadnezzar, "there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way." (Dan. 3:29). No God saves like Jesus. Amen.