Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 18, 1963

Three Men And God

Jesse M. Kelly

Text: Daniel 3:8-12. Discuss briefly chapters one and two, then relate the establishment of the golden image by Nebuchadnezzar, 3:1. The command that it must be worshipped, vss. 4,5. The penalty for failure to worship, vs. 6.

The report that certain Jews refused to worship, vs. 12. Nebuchadnezzar's rage, vs. 13. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before Nebuchadnezzar, vss. 14, 15. Their refusal, vss. 18-18.

The refusal of these three young men was noble. In the face of apparent certain death they refused to bow down to the god of man. Indeed the pressure of circumstances would dictate their obedience. Their noble resolution has immortalized them. Let us observe how much they had to overcome in adhering to it.

I. They Could Plead Authority.

1. They could have said: "This is the command of our sovereign, and good men are to be good subjects." But they knew and respected the difference between civil and spiritual claims.

2. The Christian must "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," but he must also "render unto God the things that are God's." If any being requires us to do what is opposed to the will of God, we are prevented by an authority from which there is no appeal; and we must obey God rather than men. Cf. Peter and John, Acts 4:8-20.

a. Thus did the mid-wives of Israel. Ex. 1:15-17.

3. The Christian cannot plead the civil authority he is under to justify disobedience.

II. They Could Plead Obligation.

1. Nebuchadnezzar was not only their sovereign, but their friend and benefactor. He had educated them, then advanced them to honorable positions in his kingdom. Dan. 3:12.

a. One of the most painful things is to refuse the wishes of one who has done so much for you. But the principle of truth and right must govern.

2. Many let respect for friends or relatives keep them from obeying the truth. These cannot be disciples of Christ. Matthew 10:34-38.

III. They Could Plead Universality Of Compliance.

1. "Everyone else is doing it, why must we stand alone and effect to be better than everyone else?" They could have said this.

a. How often you hear people make this objection today! Exodus 23:3.

b. "The people wanted to do it." 1 Samuel 15.

2. Christians are required to "be not conformed to this world." Romans 12:2.

a. Jesus died to redeem and purify himself a peculiar people, and peculiar they must be while the multitudes do evil. Titus 2:14; Ephesians 5:25-27.

b. These three said, "If all yield, we will not, whatever be the consequences."

IV. They Could Plead The Dreadfulness Of The Penalty:

1. We are often ready to justify or excuse our conduct by the pressure of circumstances.

a. Someone has said: "Circumstances and situations make cowards of us." We are often too ready to yield to temptation, if in doing so we ease the pressure.

b. Contrast the sufferings of the present Christians with that of the first century Christians. They gave their lives. Have you given that much?

Conclusion: The result of their steadfastness: God kept them from harm, and the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was glorified that day. Daniel 3:28, 29.

Exhort to the same steadfastness and constancy in Christian service and worship.

— Box 72, Newbern, Tennessee