Monday, September 3, 2012

Boldness FOR or AGAINST righteousness?

The Boldness of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, and his 3 friends

Read Daniel chapter 2.

1)    King Nebuchadnezzar’s boldness: A prideful mistake

a)   The Golden Image:

i)     Physical Appearance of the Image: (Dan. 2:32-35)
(1)        The image was made of various materials representing the kingdoms that would follow his kingdom.
(a)       Gold-Babylon
(b)   Silver – Medo-Persia
(c)    Bronze - Greece
(d)   Iron - Rome
(e)    Iron & Clay – Kingdom yet to come
(2)                    In the King’s dream, his kingdom was portrayed as a head of gold, followed by several other kingdoms.  It was hard for the King to accept the fact the there would be other kingdoms after his, since his kingdom was the greatest kingdom around.  To show to all the people, and especially to show God, he had an image built of gold.   In one sense, King Neb. Was telling all the people, and God that his kingdom would last forever, that his kingdom was the most powerful kingdom ever and no other kingdom would be able to replace his.   I think that was a VERY BOLD attitude to have towards people, but especially towards the all powerful God!! 
(3)             The dimensions of the image were 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. (Dan. 3:1)

ii)   The Head of Gold: (Dan. 2:38)
(1)          King Nebuchadnezzar was ruler over the Babylonian Empire.

iii) The King’s Pride: (Dan. 2:37-38)
(1)          The Babylonian Empire was great with riches and power.  Not only that, but when Daniel told the king this news(which wasn’t really news, the king was probably aware of his own mighty kingdom), king Nebuchadnezzar was overcome with his own pride and joy over being told how great he was.   This happens to all of us and it’s hard to not become a little proud of yourself when someone else tells us that we did a good job at this or at that.

iv) The King’s Pride, Displayed: (Dan. 3:1)
(1)          This great, massive image of gold was proudly displayed in the valley of Dura, which would not only be seen by people in the Babylonian Empire, but Dura was the main city that was used for trade and market.  Who knows who would see this great image of gold.  Even from far distances, gold sparkles in the sunlight and attracts people to find out what it is.  90 feet is about the height of a 9 story building, which was quite tall in Daniel’s day, not to mention that the city of Dura was mostly in a desert climate where it was pretty flat and desolate. 
(i)  Think of the statue of Liberty in NYC.  Although it is more than 3 times the height of King Neb’s statue, it can be seen from at least 2 different states. Also, there are a lot of high buildings around and yet Lady Liberty can STILL be seen, and she’s not even gold.  Now imagine if Lady Liberty was gold plated and just think of the distance from which you could see her glimmer in the sun.

b)   The Fiery Furnace and the stand of Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego

i)     Now that this great image was proudly set up in the center so that everybody could admire it, the king wanted people to recognize his greatness even more, so the king issued a decree or law that whenever the people heard the music, it was declared that they would fall down and worship this great image. 
ii)   King Neb. thought so highly of himself and his mighty kingdom that the penalty for not obeying him, the almighty king, was that he would execute them and on top of that in Daniel 3:15, the king makes a pretty bold statement after he finds out that Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego refuse to bow down before this great image.
iii)   Notice the entirety of the deliverance of these 3 men.    
Daniel 3:27 “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.”

Daniel 3:15  “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 music, 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?

The end of this verse is an example of what we can say when we get too prideful.   Everyone says some things that afterwards they will have to go back and repent about them or they might be so prideful that the Lord will have to, and he does, humble them until they turn to him with a sincere heart and desire to get right with him.

2)   Daniel and his 3 friend’s refuse to worship:

i)     The Decree to Worship the image: (Dan. 3:3-6,10-11)
(1)            We read what this decree is in verse 5.
            That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:”
·       Even this decree applies to our lives.  At my work, the radio is turned up kind of loud so that people can hear the music.  Sometimes I hear the radio DJ come on and announce, maybe, an upcoming concert or some kind of event.  There is a catch with these discounted, and sometimes free passes, if and when you hear a certain song being played between such and such a time, be the 50th caller and you’ll qualify for these tickets.  Someone that really wants those tickets, chooses to be a slave to listening to that radio station for so many hours, not to mention that those tickets are not even a 100% guarantee.

(2)                    This decree was, in a way, purposed for Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego.  The King and other officials knew that these 3 men were Godly men so this decree was devised as a way to back them into a corner.

(3)                    Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego heard of this decree and still they were bold to stand up to what they knew was wrong.  In spite of the consequences for not bowing down to this image,  Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego were not going to compromise their relationship to the Lord for even a couple of seconds.

(4)                     Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego knew that the Lord was able to deliver them.  (vs. 17)

Daniel 3:17 “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.”

God IS able to deliver us from any danger because HE created and placed us in those dangers.  WE think the things we face are dangerous trials and we get all nervous and worried, but should we really get nervous and worried if the Lord created it and knows the outcome?  We need to keep in mind that he has a purpose for these “trials” that we go through, even though we might not be able to see any good from this circumstance.

3)   Daniel and the Lions Den:

4a) The King’s Decree:
i)      Daniel 6:7 “All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.”
ii)   We see in the beginning of chapter 6, the King issues a decree, much like the decree he issued in chapter 3.  There were men, officials, that didn’t like Daniel and so these officials came up with a plan.
iii)The King issued the decree, but at a further look we see that this was just issued by the King, he wasn’t the one to think this law up, he just put it in effect.  (Daniel 6:4)

b)   The Consequences for disobedience:

i)     Reading on, we see that the King also sets forth a consequence for the disobedience to the decree.  In verse 7, we’re told that if any one prays to any god or man besides the King for 30 days, he shall be thrown into the Lion’s den.
(a)  This is a good reminder of what we deserve for our sin and this just humbles me to know that the Lord, full of grace, loved me so much that he sent his son so that I don’t have to spend eternity in a lake of fire, but can experience abundant life through him.

c)    Daniel’s Boldness in Righteousness:

i)     This is very intimidating and, quite literally, a life decision.  I don’t know what kind of decision that I would make, but I am so thankful that we have an example in the Bible of someone who was not afraid to trust God, and be bold, in that faith no matter the circumstances.  We read in verse 10 that Daniel, obviously needed wisdom in what to do. In spite of all that Daniel was facing, he still was willing to look to the Lord, even if it would cost him his life,   Not only was Daniel willing to pray 3 times a day, but he prayed giving thanks to the Lord.  Daniel even continued the traditions of prayer, which he must’ve known would expose himself.  The windows in his house were opened to Jerusalem so anybody that was walking by could easily see him on his knees praying.   He didn’t even try to hide his prayer traditions, it was like nothing had changed.

ii)   In verse 10, we’re told that Daniel went to his house to pray.  Daniel’s windows were open and so the officials saw that Daniel was praying.  These officials hurried back to tell the King that they found Daniel breaking the law that he had issued.  When the King heard of this news, we’re told that he was distressed and this tells us that the King wasn’t really the one that was out to get Daniel, but because of the decree that the King had issued, he couldn’t make any exceptions.   Once the officials brought Daniel back to the King, he was cast into the lion’s den.
iii)To ensure that no one freed Daniel or that he didn’t climb out in any way, the King marked the doors shut with his own seal and the seal of his officials.  (verse 15)

d)   Daniel’s Deliverance:

i)     Daniel must have had a lot of trust in God from the first time he heard this law.  The Lord is able to deliver us from whatever we face.  (1 Corinthians 10:13)  Just as we saw in the event with the fiery furnace, the Lord also delivers entirely. 
ii)   The King was up all night concerned about Daniel.  I wonder if the King, deep down in his heart remembered how the Lord delivered in the past regarding the fiery furnace?
iii)  When the King awoke that morning, he ran to the lion’s den to see what happened.  In verse 20 the King cries out to Daniel and asks if Daniel’s God is able to deliver him from the lions?  In verse 22 is Daniel’s response.

Daniel 6:22 “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”

            We looked at 4 different circumstances in this book, and they all have one thing in common, boldness.  There’s always going to be situations that we face that require us to be bold.  We can choose to be bold FOR righteousness or AGAINST righteousness.  Recently, I was going through a struggle and I remembered this study because I was given the same advice that Daniel gave to King Neb. in dealing with this struggle.  We all struggle with sin and we need to remember that we have a choice.  Sin is ALWAYS going to come up in our lives, but the choice we have isn’t how can we STOP sin, but how can we RESPOND to sin and temptation.  In chapter 4 verse 27, we see that Daniel gives advice to the King.
      Dan 4:27 “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.”

The Lord really pointed this verse out and I’m sure everyone gets very frustrated about sin.  While doing this study, circumstances in my every day life came up and I had to make a choice to be bold either FOR or AGAINST righteousness.  Sometimes the natural reigned and sometimes the spiritual reigned.  The times that the spiritual reigned, that time spent in the Word and in Fellowship with the Lord was far more appreciated.  The times that the natural reigned, most often time was spent with a feeling missing out on that fellowship.  I had a choice to make, to be bold either FOR righteousness or AGAINST righteousness. 
We’ve seen in the book of Daniel the boldness that was displayed by Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  In chapter 4, the advice given by Daniel to  “…break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor …”, is a good reminder for us all. 

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