Dietrich Bonhoeffer defied the Nazi regime. He took a stand for God. He ultimately was hung and lost his life. He did this all through his life, even before the rise of Hitler. This is a person who lived his life for Jesus and this is as relevant today as it was then. We live in a day where the culture is trying to force all people to adhere to their values. But the Word of God goes right against that.
We are looking for standards that do not change, we are looking for truth. If we remember one thing when we walk out is this, we must stand up when others are bowing down. We need to stand up for what we believe in. Dietrich stood up when even the German church capitulated to Hitler. My fear is that at times we do the same thing in regard to our culture.
Sometimes we just move aside when we do not agree, but sometimes when we do not say anything we say a lot. Too often we are not ready to defend our faith or say what we believe in Scripture. How do we respond when we feel that we need to take a stand and others are bowing down for what is going on. We have Scripture to turn to when we need answers to whatever culture is saying.
Look at Daniel 3:1-30. Daniel is one of the prophets in the Bible as an example to learn how to live the Jesus’ Life. He feared God and many of the things he does are a great example for us as to how to live your life today. Daniel was a captive in Babylon and serving various kings there while remaining supremely loyal to God. In many ways Daniel thrived in Babylon. Our culture that we live in is like Babylon.
Daniel had three friends and we know them as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego but their real Jewish names were different. The culture wanted to change their identity and thus changed their names as well. This is what your culture is trying to do today. The culture is trying to change who we identify with, the culture is trying to change us into what they want us to change into.
And that is what the story of Nebuchadnezzar is all about. He took everything that these three men were about and try to change them. If you look in Daniel 1 they asked them to eat what their culture ate, but they said can we eat what we usually eat and you can test us afterwards and see whether we can survive? And what happened was that they came out better and stronger than the others.
Then in Daniel 2 we see Daniel speak boldly truth that he knows about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. His own people cannot interpret the dream, but Daniel says God has given him the meaning of that dream even though you don’t want to hear what I am going to tell you. We are in that culture now, they do not want to hear what God has to say. But we must remain like Daniel and boldly speak truth.
Daniel 3:1-2, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”
All the people were coming to do what the king wanted them to do. Daniel 3:3, “So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”
Daniel 3:4-6, “Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”
Daniel 3:7, “So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” That is what the culture wants you to do. No matter how untruth that is, no matter what you believe, they want you to do that immediately.
Don’t we have also 90’ statues in our own life? This is a personal question. We want to bow down to what we think we must look like, to bow down to the statue of kids, jobs, careers, sports because if you don’t, you don’t get to go where you want to go. We create that idol internally and we bow down to it time after time. If I don’t get this job, people won’t think I’m successful, etc.
The problem with that and the problem with culture is that usually it strikes back at us. Look at verse 8-10, “Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. 9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image.”
Daniel 3:11-12, “and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”
These Jews were in leadership positions. Have you noticed that there are people that are jealous of your leadership? They will do anything to get you out of there. We know that they are trying to catch these Jewish men in some fault so that they can take over their positions and to get them to do things against the God that they serve. Can the same things be said of you?
Daniel 3:13-15, “Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?” 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of all kinds of music,
And you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Nebuchadnezzar does not know the power of God. And is it also what culture says? Culture says if you don’t follow us, you won’t get the job you desire.
If you say no to these things in culture, that you know goes against the God that you serve, you never are going to get the right relationships that will get you to the right spot you need to be in. Culture operates based on fear, if you don’t do this, bad things will happen. But that is not what God says. What does it take for you to stand up when everybody else is bowing down?
Standing up takes courage. Look at Daniel 3:16-18, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to answer you. 17 Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand. 18 But if not, please know that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image.”
That is bold, there is a hot furnace, there are people bowing down, there is a king and all his leaders. But they did not bow down. Courage is not the absence of fear, but standing up in the face of it. These men were scared, but they trusted God. And they did it respectfully. We have lost that in our culture today. We tend to become angry and ungracious and say things we should not.
Standing up takes faith. Verse 18 says, even if this does not go the way we want it to go, even if God decides not to rescue us, even if it does not end well for us, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue. That is faith. Even if God does not save them from the fire, He is still the same God, yesterday, today and tomorrow. God is still faithful.
God works all things together, not for your good, but for His good. They knew that even if things did not go their way, God would still be glorified by their actions. And if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything. This culture wants to push one thing and then another into your stand. Culture wants us to follow science, right? Until science doesn’t agree with what they want it to say.
I read an article about church that said that church is emotionally repressive and bad for mental health. I was appalled. Data suggests otherwise, another article in the Washington Times, which were not written by church going people, said that regular church goers were the only segment of the population that improved mentally during the pandemic. Our culture suggests that Christians are not pro-life but pro-birth.
They just want to advocate for the unborn but they don’t do anything else beyond that. Data also suggests otherwise. A Christian household is more likely to adopt a child two and a half times more than a non-Christian household. Don’t fall for what culture is trying to tell you. Watch what happens with their faith. Look at verse 19-20, “Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury,
and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded his best soldiers in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their garments, and were cast into the midst of the fiery furnace.
Verse 22, “Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.” Do you know that culture is so wrapped up in their ideas that they will kill those who don’t fully do what is ideal? This group even though they like inclusivity, they are not inclusive enough.
They are cutting off their own people. Nebuchadnezzar did not care about his own people, he cares more for what he wanted to have happen, that his own men died so that he could continue to do what he wanted to do. Culture will strike back. Look at verse 23, “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”
Verse 24-25, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
We don’t know whether this was a Christophany, where Jesus Himself came down or whether it was an angel that God sent, but regardless what it actually was, it means this. No matter what happens, when we stand for the things of God, Jesus stands with us. We do not stand alone, God’s presence stands with us. This was a physical demonstration of His presence when we are in distress.
Although we know that that really happened, what these men experienced is that even if it doesn’t go our way, God will still be with us when we stand for the things of God. So look what happened, verse 26-27 “Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.”
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.” The king now says, servants of the Most High God.
When you stand with God, you won’t stink like culture does. Now know this, standing up influences others. Verses 28-30, “Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!
29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.”
Did you know that when you stand up for God it is inspirational for others? People in our culture are looking for people that are standing firm and are not afraid when things change. The 92 % of our state that are spiritually disconnected from Christ, they are tired of the narrative changing from one to another. They want to look at you who are standing firm on the Word of God.
They want consistency and continuity in their life. People are drawn to you when you take a stand for God. Be a voice, not an echo, as these three young men were. If you want to make an impact, do it in a nice truthful way, don’t be defensive or condescending. The Word of God stands forever. Culture will change and change. We must stand up when others are bowing down.
If we are not going to do it, who is? There are 5 ways to stand up in this culture. 1. Stand for prayer. This is what you can do anytime. Prayer is literary the work that every Christian should do. 2. Stand for diversity. Don’t just hang out with people who believe like you or are in your socio economic life style. Jesus hung out with people that did not believe. Have a real conversation with people who oppose you.
3. Stand for multiplication. God is a sending God. He send Jesus and we need to be a sending people as well. We should care more about our sending capacity than our seating capacity. Don’t worry about the music and the people, be more interested in meeting and sharing the gospel to everyone. Be a catalyst for multiplication. 4. Stand for purpose. Are you living out God’s purpose?
5. Stand for truth. What is your standard for truth? You will not know and do the purpose of the gospel until you have a personal relationship with Jesus. We have to believe that there is a God who created the heavens and the earth, who send His Son Jesus to die on the cross in place of our sins. He rose on the third day and if we ask Him to forgive our sins, we will have a relationship with Him forever in heaven. Let’s pray.