Under Fire but He’s in the Fire – Daniel 3:8-27 – Pastor Eric
God's people will come under fire, but their sovereign God will always be with them in the fire.
Our world especially the media Christians can be known as bigots, homophobic, anti-government, right wing conservatives, racists, and much more. The church can be misunderstood, criticized, and persecuted leaving God’s people under fire.
This leaves Christians wondering, how to reconcile persecution with the sovereignty of God? How do we live in suffering and God’s sovereignty? How do we comprehend a world full of tribulation and trial, and still trust that God is in control? Beyond these questions, Christians wonder, is God even still good? Is it even worth it to be a Christian when it seems so unpopular and negative these days?
In Daniel 3, there were three men, who faced persecution, suffering, and an unpopular situation. These three God-fearing men came under fire for their faith, but they courageously believed that God’s people will come under fire, but their sovereign God will always be there with them in the fire.
The truth is that God’s people will suffer tribulation, but their gracious God will always be present in their tribulations. The good news is that we, church, believe in a sovereign, powerful, and good God, who will never leave us nor forsake us for He has died for us.
(1) God’s people live in the sovereignty of God knowing that suffering and persecution will come. There ought to be an expectation of conflict rather than an expectation of comfort. The truth is that darkness and light will never mesh together, but will always be in opposition to one another. (Daniel 3:8-12, 19-23)
Israel is in exile to the Babylonians and their King Nebuchadnezzar. This king has built and erected a golden statue of himself, and he orders everyone in the kingdom to worship his statue. This was an act of national, political, and religious unification, but the Jews and Shadach, Meshach, and Abedengo decide not to follow the king’s order. They courageously stand their ground to worship the true King.
Their uncompromising faith results in accusations by the Chaldeans, and then, in an execution ordered by the king. The faithful actions of these men have lead them to the point of death.
This points to the tough reality that is when God’s people, the church, do follow Jesus and His Word, then the church will come under scrutiny, misunderstanding, and even persecution. For our Savior, Jesus Christ, uttered that hard reality in John 16:33 when He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Don’t be shocked by the world, what the world does or says, Jesus wasn’t. The world killed and crucified Him for it. But take heart, for your victory has already been won in Jesus Christ.
Shadach, Meshach, and Abednego were confident in God’s power and victory for they displayed amazing conviction and courage to do the right thing. Their actions were a respectful resistance and grounded in humility rather than showmanship. It was a deeply rooted faith with a desire to worship God above all else. Worshipping the King of Kings was front and center for these men, not man or his approval.
We, church, should follow in suit when we face persecution; let us response with courage and humility. Let us do so with grace and dignity. Let us be respecters of men in resistance.
(2) God’s people live in the sovereignty of God knowing that God is always in control. God’s people must acknowledge that God has complete control over every circumstance in life. There is no way a Christian can confidently and courageously live outside of the sovereignty of God. (Daniel 3:13-18)
King Nebuchadnezzar becomes furious as his pride is tested. He questions Shedach, Meshach, and Abednego to understand why they are resisting and who their God is.
They respond with great faith and courage, because they have great faith and courage in their God and King. It’s a twofold belief in God: (1) They lean into the power of God by saying, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us.” They believe God has all the power to save them.
(2) They lean into the sovereignty of God by saying, “but if not, be it known…we will not serve your gods…” For they know God has control over life and death. They know God has the authority to do as He pleases. They know God has mastery over all circumstances in life even death. Their faith was built on the solid rock and foundation of their God, and nothing was going to move them, not a powerful king, a fiery furnace, or even death itself.
What is significant about these men is that long before this moment, they had drawn a line in the sand, and they had made up their minds about God and who was ultimately in control. We must do the same thing in order to be ready when the firestorms of life come.
(3) God’s people live in the sovereignty of God knowing that He is always there with them. God never abandons us, rather He is right there fighting for us. Our God is an ever-present, omni-present God who sits with us in the struggle. Our God is Immanuel, God with us, through thick and thin. (Daniel 3:24-27)
God was there in the fire, and He does rescue the three men. The men come out of the fire and go unharmed with not even a single singed piece of hair or the smell of smoke. God shows Nebuchanezzer, who was in power, and God reveals to the world, that He is an ever-present God.
Today this reality continues in the gospel of Jesus Christ for He came into the world as the incarnate Savior of the world. Jesus was born of a virgin, and He wrapped Himself in humanity in order to dwell with us. Jesus came into a sinful and fallen world in order that He might redeem and rescue us from the fiery pit of Hell and eternal damnation. (John 1:14)
So, we might experience the fullness of His grace and truth through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We might know the reign of the true King over every king, governor, and president. We might feel His presence, no matter the tribulation of life.
We might not face execution or martyrdom, but we do live in a world, where a simple sign, decision, or choice can feel like an execution. We might lose friends and family for the sake of the gospel. We might lose our jobs or positions, and we might incur criticism or judgment.
But nothing, no nothing, can separate us from the love of our God. For our God is never absent, only ever-present. Our God is never out of control, but fully in control. Our God is never powerless, but completely powerful.
So, whatever you are going through today, whether cancer, criticism, crisis, or chaos, your God is there with you in your fire, not only is He there, but He is working to do something very good.
For our God is producing an eternal weight of glory that outweighs any earthly glory.
So that, in the fire, you might see and experience God’s wonderful compassionate and powerful presence like never before.
Jesus Paid it All, How Great Is Our God, Another in the Fire, Doxology