1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits,* and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then the herald cried aloud, “To you it is commanded, peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. 6 Whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace the same hour.”
7 Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and brought accusation against the Jews. 9 They answered Nebuchadnezzar the king, “O king, live for ever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man that hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image; 11 and whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, have not respected you. They don’t serve your gods, and don’t worship the golden image which you have set up.”
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and fury commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. Then these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered them, “Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, good; but if you don’t worship, you shall be cast the same hour into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. Who is that god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If it happens, 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. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his appearance was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He spoke, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 He commanded certain mighty men who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their pants, their tunics, and their mantles, and their other clothes, and were cast into the middle of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the middle of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste. He spoke and said to his counselors, “Didn’t we cast three men bound into the middle of the fire?”
They answered the king, “True, O king.”
25 He answered, “Look, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are unharmed. The appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace. He spoke and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!”
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the middle of the fire. 27 The local governors, the deputies, and the governors, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, that the fire had no power on their bodies. The hair of their head wasn’t singed. Their pants weren’t changed, the smell of fire wasn’t even on them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything evil against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Today our Pastor gave a profound teaching on this chapter. There are two eternal lessons we can all take from Daniel 3:
When you are in an impossible situation, do not play along, hold true to your values. Further, when they throw you into the fire, know that it is the fire that frees you.
When you are in the fire, don’t miss the fourth man who is there with you. Jews believe it to be the Archangel Michael, Christians believe it to be Jesus, and in both cases it is the Living God who is with us in the trial.
This past weekend our Pastor, Fred Cason of True Life Fellowship in Beaverton, delivered a profound message. As are many great metaphors in the modern west, it was came disguised as a vehicle metaphor.
What’s up with all the guard rails?
As each of us careen down the highways and canyons in life, from time to time we will observe to our left or right, a man made construction which, at a glance, appears to have little practical purpose.
In fact, it seems like a hindrance, an unnecessary distraction or limitation on an otherwise scenic drive. If one dwells on it too long, its very existence may become quite bothersome indeed.
Yet guard rails serve an extremely important purpose. For, if well placed, they can save a life. They have the power to turn what would have been a deadly accident into a mere fender bender. Fender benders are unpleasant, but they are much easier to repair and recover from than a fatality.
In some cases, guard rails are erected by those who have planned and built the road. In other cases, they have been erected only after those whom have traveled down the road numerous times came to a tacit or explicit agreement as to where they are necessary. While there may have been discussion as to exactly where to place them, their necessity was, at one point, obvious to all.
Regardless of how they got there, guardrails are set at places where the yellow painted lines were simply not enough to keep people from running off the road.
For guard rails which are carefully thought out are placed locations along the road where, were the driver to suffer a brief lapse in judgment or some sort of mechanical failure, the consequences for running off the road are the gravest. Conversely, at places in the road where no such danger exists, it would be foolish to erect guard rails for the sake of erecting them.
A curiosity about guard rails, especially along the most scenic and well-traveled roads, is that they are often placed where the view is the best, which can make their existence extremely frustrating.
Yet they are there precisely because the very places where the view is spectacular are often where there is an extreme correlation between the level of distraction of the driver and the catastrophic consequences of running off the road into an abyss.
Do you see where this is going?
It is probably clear to most that a peculiar set of rules, commonly known as religion, determines the placement of the guard rails (the rules themselves in this metaphor) in one’s life.
The road is one’s life, their chosen path, the road where they have either intentionally traveled or via some obligatory detour, find themselves on.
Some roads are more dangerous than others, and require a careful placement of rules along the way in order to avoid hurtling one’s life towards disaster. In this lies the benefit of religion.
Yet no one, save perhaps the guard rail contractor, chooses their road based solely on the guard rails placed along the way.
So, then, it is clear that the guard rail is not an end in and of itself. In fact, when one is in control, focused on the road, and their vehicle is in good operating condition, they may not even notice the guard rails in their midst.
Guard rails will never provide one with focus or control of their vehicle, as rules will never provide one with focus or control of their life. Only the Living God can provide this.
Ironically, the guardrail serves absolutely no purpose for the coherent, sober, focused driver. It is the driver who, from time to time, gets distracted or willing takes their hands off the wheel (read, everyone on the planet) which to benefit the most from the guard rails’ (rules’) existence.
A final note, if you happen to find yourself on a road without any guard rails, it may be time to look for a different road.