If there was not a threat of hell, no threat of the burning fiery furnace, would you continue to worship God? Take it a step further. If there was no reward of heaven, would you still worship him? Would these at Nebuchadnezzar’s service fall and worship the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up if there was no fiery furnace? How many people today, “Christians,” would be in church today if there was no threat of a burning fiery furnace?
DANIEL AND TROUBLE
By Delbert Young
THE FIRST CHURCH OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR (Daniel chapter 3)
The First Church Of Nebuchadnezzar
Scriptures: Luke 14:34, Daniel 2:1, Job 33:14, Job 33:15, Daniel 2:14-15, Daniel 2:17-19
If we are Believers then we are called to be exceptional. The enemy to being exceptional is simply to be ordinary. Ordinary is the enemy of exceptional. If we desire to fit and be accepted by our family, our friends, our society, etc. we have been neutralized because we have become ordinary. The Lord Jesus said it this way, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Mat 5:13: Luk 14:34, 35). Salt that is neutralized is no good. Have we “salted” anyone this week?
Being exceptional will cause us trouble. There is one common denominator in every Bible character who affected his or her society. They had trouble. Trouble will neutralize us or make us exceptional. Today we look at three Bible characters that found trouble because they would not bow to the world’s image of God. Not bowing to the world’s image of Christ will put any person in fire!
Daniel chapter 3
THE IMAGE WHICH NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING HAD SET UP
Not the image of the dream of chapter 2
Most believe that the image that Nebuchadnezzar made was the image that Nebuchadnezzar had seen in the dream that Daniel interpreted (2:31). Perhaps, but I do not believe it was. It seems that Daniel would have told us if that was the case. Also, the image of Daniel chapter 2 was of gold, silver, bronze, and iron mingled with clay. The image that Nebuchadnezzar made was of gold. Gold in scriptures is the metal of God and gods. The ark, the shewbread table, the lampstand, the altar of incense, the temple that Solomon built, the golden calf of Baal, the temple of Astaroth, etc. all included gold pointing to God or gods. Additionally, the dimensions of the image do not seem that of a man. King James says the height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits. The NIV version says the image was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. That seems a little out of proportion to be a statue of a man. The dimensions of a man, if 90 feet tall should be about 30 feet wide. Couple these thoughts with the desire that Nebuchadnezzar had that people worship the image and it would appear that Nebuchadnezzar had set up his image of his god. Nebuchadnezzar wanted everyone to worship his god. So do we.
Title of the image
The title of the image was the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Nebuchadnezzar did not title the image “Nebuchadnezzar’s Image.” Instead it was the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Seven times in chapter three do we read the phrase set up. Each use is speaking of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
Impressive, enormous, music, herald
Nebuchadnezzar made the image enormous. According to the NIV version, the image was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. If he expected the people to worship the image, the image must be impressive. The image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up was gold and large and it was impressive.
Nebuchadnezzar brought together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. This was an influential bunch. Naturally, if these powerful people would worship the image, it would be a snap to get everyone else to worship the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
To enhance and stimulate worship to the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up, Nebuchadnezzar added music. He spared no expense on the music. There was the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick. All this was to allure the people to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up.
Obviously no one bowed to the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So, herald cried aloud saying that if anyone did not bow to the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up they would be thrown into a burning fiery furnace. He was saying, “We will play it one more time and give you one more opportunity to come down. If you don’t, you will go to hell.” Off to the side of the gold enormous image, off to the side of the orchestra and music, off to the side, but in the easy view of the eye was a burning fiery furnace. This furnace was to manipulate worship to the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. There are many similarities to the First Church of Nebuchadnezzar and today’s worship services.
Today, Impressive – enormous, music, herald
Today we detect a similar form of worship in the church at large. It too is impressive. We continue to set up images. Each leader will set up his image of his Jesus. Each portrays his image as larger and more impressive than the image others set up. Today we set up a Baptist image of Jesus. That’s very impressive. We set up a Methodist image of Jesus. That one is also convincing. We set up a Pentecostal image of Jesus. We set up a Kingdom image of Jesus. If we do not like any of these, we can set up a Jehovah Witnesses image, or a Muslim image. Each that set up an image is determined that their image is the image to worship.
We all add our flavor of music to stimulate the worship to the image we set up. To this music, if possible, we spare no expense. We purchase elaborate sound equipment. We will find the pipe organs with the most pipes. We find the grandest of pianos. We find the thumping base and the rhythm of the guitar. We find trumpets and saxophones. We will find cymbals and drums. We commission these instruments to transport people to a place where people will bow to the image we have built. Some music is designed to take us to heaven when we die. Some is designed to escape from this o fallen terrible world. Some is to declare his kingdom. We all add music with our image. When the music begins, we want everyone to bow to the image that we have set up.
Of course we add the dimension of the burning fiery furnace. One herald will declare that you will go to hell when you die. Another herald will say you will live in hell right now. The point is there is always some manipulation to force you to bow to my image.
This brings us to the question we now must ask. If there was not a threat of hell, no threat of theburning fiery furnace, would you continue to worship him? Take it a step further. If there was no reward of heaven, would you still worship him? Would these at Nebuchadnezzar’s service fall and worship the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up if there was no fiery furnace? How many people today, “Christians,” would be in church today if there was no threat of a burning fiery furnace?
OUR PERSONAL IMAGE – FRAGMENTED
Someone has set up an image for me and you
Peter, John, Paul, all the apostles, would set up an image of Jesus Christ to people. This was their job. Every week I set up for you an image of my God. This is my job. I make him impressive. I make him gold – precious, priceless. I make him enormous. He is the God of the universe. We play for you music. We have you sing songs. I ask you to bow and worship the image I have set up. This goes on every week at every church. I do not use the burning fiery furnace to force you to bow to the image I set up.
This, in turn, gives you an image. We will eventually accept the image that is projected to us. This is why the apostles hated false teachings. They portrayed different images that the people would accept as the true image. That is not to say different images are entirely wrong. It is to say that my image or your image can be incomplete or at best fragmented.
God portrays himself in images
We all know the Lord our God is one Lord (Deu 6:4; Mar 12:29). Yet the Lord gives us many images. He is the I AM THAT I AM (Exo 3:4). No, he is the God of Israel (Exo 5:1). No, he is the Almighty God (Gen 17:1). No, he is Jehovahjireh (Gen 22:14). No, he is the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob (Exo 3:6). No, he is the God who has a voice as thunder (Psa 77:18). No, he is the God who makes the clouds his chariot (Psa 104:3). No, he is Father God (Mat 6:8). No, he is a Spirit (Joh 4:24). No, he is love (Jo 4:8). No, he is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). Which of these are wrong? None are wrong, but all are fragments of God. Yet we set up an image and demand that others bow to the image that we have set up.
Difficulty in recognizing
Not only do we construct our own image, we also often experience difficulty in recognizing the true image. We see this from the lives of the disciples who had problems recognizing him. Once they thought he was a ghost (Mat 14:26). After the resurrection, they had serious problems recognizing him, i.e., road to Emmaus (Luk 24:13); Mary at the tomb (Joh 20:14, 15); Thomas, though looking at him, had to place his hand in his side (Joh 20:27, 28); Peter and the disciples fishing (Joh 21:4). The disciples would always figure it out, but they never seemed to recognize him immediately after the resurrection. However, they knew enough about him to identify him.
The image will change
The image can and does change. John saw the Son of man clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters (Rev 1:13-15). But then just a little later saw him as a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes (Rev 5:6). Then a little later John saw him riding a white horse; making war, and clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God (Rev 19:11-13).
So, we all have an image. The image was set up by someone. Having an image is not a bad thing. Learn to recognize other images. Allow the image to change. Still, the image is incomplete, fragmented, and unfinished.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH IMAGE IS THE CORRECT IMAGE?
How do you know?
Nebuchadnezzar set up an image. The world will set us up an image and demand that we bow. This could be an image of Jesus, or some strange god. The world does have an image of Jesus Christ. Is it the correct image, i.e., burning fiery furnace?
However, there was something wrong with the image Nebuchadnezzar set up. How did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego know this was not the correct image of God? We today would say, “That is easy. Anyone would know that was not the image of God.” Well, today I see people bow to images set up for them that I say, “Can’t you see that is not God?” What was there about not bowing to this image that was worth going to the fiery furnace? What was there about Peter’s image that caused him to be willing to be crucified upside down? What was there about John’s image that caused him to be willing to be boiled in oil and then exiled to the isle of Patmos? What was there about Paul’s image that caused him to be willing to have his head removed rather than bow? How do you know you are worshiping the correct image? What is there, or is there anything, about the image that you bow to that makes you willing to go through hell to preserve? Remember, not bowing to the wrong image will send you through hell. However, bowing to the wrong image may send you to hell.
How do you know the image I set up for you is truth or deception? There are probably several answers, but I want to give us four absolutes. First, from what must the absolutes be formed?
2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations [images], and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ
$2 + $2 = $4
Paul said the weapons we have been given are for the pulling down of strong holds. The NIV version says demolish strongholds. We have weapons that can bring us to the place of demolishing deception. We can come to the place of never being deceived.
The actual war of the enemy (carnal mind, devil, whatever) is against the knowledge of God. The enemy does not what us to have knowledge of, or about God. Once we have sufficient knowledge we cannot be deceived. It is impossible to be deceived if we possess adequate knowledge. For an example, we have knowledge that $2+$2=$4. No one can make us believe that $2+$2=$10. $10 does sound wonderful. We may even wish it was true, but it is not true. If we believe that we are deceived. The answer to being absolutely certain that we are bowing to the correct image is possessing sufficient knowledge. Once we have knowledge it is impossible to be deceived no matter how good it sounds or how much we wish it was true. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had knowledge that the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up was not the correct image. It looked nice. It was very impressive. The music reverberated, and there was that fiery furnace thing. But it was all deception. Therefore, they would not bow.
1. Knowledge of his Word – Thy Word is truth (Joh 17:17), Those at Berea searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Act 17:11)
- Knowledge by the Spirit
Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth
1Jo 2:27. . . need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things,
- Knowledge by Works (his and yours)
John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Jesus told Philip that if Philip could not believe that Jesus had set up the correct image, then at least believe because of the works that Jesus had done. How has your life changed Philip? Also, are you now doing works in the lives of others? If so, if your life has changed and if you are now capable of changing the lives of others, then it must be the correct image.
- Knowledge by answered prayers
John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
I believe that often our prayers are not answered because we set up an incorrect image. Jesus told Philip that if he set up the correct image, then he could ask anything and Jesus would do it. Our prayer life is greatly determined by our image of Christ. Thus, the answers are greatly determined by our image of Christ.
NOT BOWING TO THE WORLD’S IMAGE OF CHRIST OR THEIR GOD WILL GET US INTO TROUBLE
We all know that if we refuse to bow to the world’s image of god (Christ or a god of this world), their visage will change. They will become full of fury. They will walk out and if possible throw us immediately into a burning fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than for anyone else. It is at this time we must know the God to whom we do bow. We must at that time be ready to say, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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.”
They begin to watch us. Sure enough, we have to walk through some hell. But they are amazed. Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. We go through a hell so hot that it would annihilate them. They are watching, but see us walking around in it with our God.
It is at that time they call us and say Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Now they are ready to take a serious look at our image. We can now salt them. We can now flavor them. There will be a promotion. Naturally there will be one in the realm of the Spirit, but God will also make certain you receive one in the natural as well.
WHAT IMAGE DO YOU SET UP?
In your finances?
What image do people see in your life?
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