The Distinction of Faith; Hall of Fame of Faith Series #22
Dear Visionary Leader:
I am going to bring a message on how to stand alone for the Lord Jesus Christ. Not a greater lesson needs to be learned today than this one: standing alone; because we’re twice-born men in a world of once-born men; and, we’re going to be going against the tide, most of the time.
Now, the noose is tightening; the war is getting hotter. My friend, you’re going to have to learn to stand alone; and, above all things, you’re going to have to be able to teach your children to stand alone, because, if our Lord tarries, they’re going to face a world even more difficult than the one you’re living in.
Let me tell you about an ancient Christian. This man’s name was Athanasius. And, Athanasius was a bold, strong Christian; and, he would take stands, and other people would say, “He is arrogant,” or, “He is stubborn,” or, “He is narrow-minded.” The emperor’s name was Theodosius. And, Theodosius said to Athanasius, “Athanasius, the whole world is against you.” Athanasius said to Theodosius, “Then Athanasius is against the whole world.”
It takes courage to stand alone, but you’re going to find that is necessary to learn to stand alone in the day and the age in which we live. And, if it is necessary now-in your office, in your school, on your team, in your neighborhood-if it is necessary now, as the days get darker, how much more necessary will it be for your children? So, I want you to learn to stand alone. I want you to teach your children to stand alone-not out of stubbornness, not out of arrogance, not out of narrow-mindedness, but to stand up for Jesus. We need to learn how stand on the principles of God’s Word, to stand for those things that are true, and righteous, and just, and the things that will last throughout time and eternity.
In Daniel 3:1-7 we read,
“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather 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.
Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up…Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 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: and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore, at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image the Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”
This story of the three Hebrew men and the fiery furnace is not just simply what has been done; it is a record of what God is doing. And, it is not merely a record of what God has said; it is a record of what God is saying. You’re going to find yourself, very soon, in a fiery furnace-some incendiary circumstance. Before long, you’re going to find out that your faith will be in the fire, and it will be necessary for you, like these young men of old, to stand alone.
Nebuchadnezzar was an egomaniac, a megalomaniac. He was stuffed full of a sense of his own importance. So great was his ego, so great was his self-worship, that he had an image made of himself, and demanded that everyone bow down and worship that image. I want you to envision that gigantic image as it stood out there, on the plains of Dura, like some missile on a pad, waiting to be launched. I want you to hear the command given that everybody is to bow down and worship that image, or else you’ll be thrown in a fiery furnace. When the band struck up, there were thousands who hit the dust and fell down in obeisance before that golden image. Did I say all? There were three there that day who would not bow; and they were, indeed, because they stood alone, thrown into a fiery furnace.
This story has great relevance for you and me in this age in which we live. Daniel is a book of prophecy, and Nebuchadnezzar is a type, a picture, an illustration of the Antichrist. Did you hear that? There is coming a man who will one day rule the world, as Babylon was ruled by Nebuchadnezzar. He will be the devil’s messiah. He’s called, in the Bible, the Beast, the man of sin, the lawless one, the wicked one, the antichrist. All of these are different appellatives, names, descriptions of one incredibly wicked human being who may now be living, who will one day rule the world, during a period the Bible tells of as the Great Tribulation.
Now, the evolutionists believe that man sprung from the beast. Man, we are headed to the Beast! That Beast is the Antichrist. Now, you say, “Well, what does that have to do with me? I don’t have to worry about the Antichrist. Don’t I understand the Scripture to say that, when the Christians are taken out of the world, then the Antichrist will come?” That is true. I believe that.
We read in 1 John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists…”-did you get it?-“many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” That is, the more you see antichrists, the spirit of antichrist that’s in the world, you realize that you’re living in the last times.
The Fury We Will Face
We see the story of these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to bow down to the king’s image. First, as we learn to stand alone, I want you to see the very fury these young men faced- the pressures that were upon them.
Let me show you that Nebuchadnezzar does picture and stand for the Antichrist. Let me give you some interesting things. For example, Nebuchadnezzar made an image of himself, and told everybody to worship that.
In Revelation 13:13-15, we read, “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven this on earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make and image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”
Nebuchadnezzar says, “I’ve got an image here. If you don’t worship it, you’re going to be killed.” The Antichrist is coming; he’s going to make an image more incredible than the one Nebuchadnezzar made. And, if those people of that time will not worship that image, they will be killed.
An interesting use of the number six is here. In Daniel 3:1: “The king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits.” How many is threescore? Well, that’s 60. And, the breadth of it was what? Six cubits. And, how many pieces of orchestration were in the orchestra? Look, in verse 5: “At what time ye hear the sound of the cornet,”-that’s one-“flute,”-that’s two-“harp,”-that’s three- “sackbut,”-that’s four-“psaltery,”-that’s five-“dulcimer”-that’s six (Daniel 3:5). All through this thing, you find 666. Well, what is the number of the Beast, the Antichrist, that’s going to come? Revelation chapter 13;18: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” -666.
There was a man named Nebuchadnezzar. He is a type, a picture, a prophecy, and an illustration of the Antichrist that will come. The Antichrist will come. One day, he will set up an image. One day, he will use the number 666 to cause universal worship. But, in this day and in this age in which we now live, the spirit of Antichrist is already in the world. There are many antichrists. And, if people in that day must stand alone, so must we, in this day, stand alone; and, there will be incredible pressure. I want you to see what Nebuchadnezzar did, so long ago, to try to get people to conform, because these Christians will face these same pressures. May I give you four? Here they are:
A. Emotional Pleasure
In verse 5: “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.” The Babylonian orchestra began to play; there was incredible music. You see, what does music do? Music touches the emotions. Music is a gift of God. But the devil also knows the power of music. And, Satan is using music today, like never before, to enforce his diabolical plans upon the world. Satan is a master musician. The Bible even speaks of Satan as having tabrets of pipes in him (Ezekiel 28:13). When he speaks, it’s like majestic music. Now, his music can be hideously beautiful, or it can have a demonic beat, but it is Satan’s tool as never before.
B. Social Pressure
But, wait a minute-not only emotional enticement; secondly, there is social inducement. The Bible mentions, in verses 2 and 3, that everybody was doing this (Daniel 3:2-3). And, in verse 4, the herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages” (Daniel 3:4). Everybody is going to be doing it. And, if you do not fall in line, if you do not step in time, if you do not do what you’re told to do, in this day and in this age, you’re going to be looked upon as an oddball. We’re moving quickly to a one-world government. The America that we have known is being diluted and being absorbed into a generation and into a globalism spurred on by the global gullibility of those who will not stand alone and stand for what is right.
C. Government Penalties
Next, there is government enforcement. Look, if you will, in verse 6: “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:6). Now, the government, in that day, and the government, more and more in our day, is trying to squeeze everybody into a mold, and say that you cannot stand for this thing, or you cannot stand for that thing. “We will arrest you for contempt of court, or we will take away your tax-exempt status. We will do this; we will do that, because you are in the way of the progress of peace.” Jesus said, “In the last days, there’s coming a time when those who kill you will think they do God a service” (John 16:2).
D. Spiritual Pain
And so, not only was there this governmental enforcement; there’s going to be spiritual defilement. The devil was behind all of this. In verse 6: “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth…” (Daniel 3:6). Learn this about the devil: The devil does not want casualties; he wants converts. The devil wants to be worshiped; and the Antichrist that comes-he wants to be worshiped.
Revelation 13:7-8: “And it was given unto him”-that is, the Antichrist-“to make war with the saints, and to overcome them:”-that’s governmental enforcement-“and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” And, that’s the power we are up against, emotional enticement. We’re up against social inducement, governmental enforcement. We’re up against spiritual defilement. And, it is in the world everywhere.
The Faith We Will Have To Follow
I want you to see what it was that helped these three young men to stand alone, because these are the things that you’re going to have to have, and you’re going to have to have them in the hearts and lives of your children.
In Daniel 3:13-18 we read, “Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready at what time ye hear the sound of the coronet, flute, hark harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, 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 the burning fiery furnace;”-now, notice-notice-the spirit of antichrist here. Notice the contempt he has for God-“and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Now, folks, here’s where it gets good: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” Now, when he says, “We’re not careful,” that is, “We don’t have to hesitate. We don’t have to study about it. We’re not worried about it. We don’t have to ponder about it. We’re 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.”
Suppose we’re there, and we say, “Now, boys, let’s give you some advice. You’re in a tough spot. I mean, your faith is about to be in the fire. Now, fellows, let me just tell you what to do.” Now, here’s the average carnal Christian speaking: “When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians do. Go along to get along. I mean, after all, it’d be a whole lot better for you to compromise a little bit here, and live a little longer, so you can do some more good, than just simply to be stubborn, and to stand up. And, after all, Christians are supposed to get along with everybody and everything-including the devil himself. So, just don’t stand alone.” But, these men did, and how did they do it? By the faith that they had.
A. A Settled Faith
They had a settled faith. In verse 16 they said, “We’re not careful to answer you, O king. We don’t have to get in huddle. We don’t have to ponder it. We don’t have to say, ‘Now, king, give us a night to sleep on it.’ We don’t have to have a committee meeting.” You know what I believe these young men had done? I believe these men had already been in a revival meeting. There’d been a revival in the preaching of Jeremiah. They had God’s Word hidden down in their heart. They already knew what was right. They already knew what was wrong. There are too many of Christians spending too much time trying to make up their minds what they are going to do about this thing, and this thing, and this thing, and this thing. One of the greatest things I have learned in life is one big decision will keep you from a lot of little ones. Just make one big one.
B. A Strong Faith
I’ll tell you something else about it: It was a strong faith. Look, in verse 17-they said, “Our God…is able.” You’d better believe it! I’m telling you; you’d better believe it. You’d better believe, when he says, “Who is that God that shall deliver thee?” (Daniel 3:15). You’d better believe there is a God who said, “Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee. I will” (Psalm 50:15). My dear friend, that’s the word of a holy God. He will deliver us. If He doesn’t deliver us through the fire, He’ll deliver us in the fire.
Have faith in God, He’s on His throne,
Have faith in God, He watches over His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail,
Have faith in God, Have faith in God. (B.B. McKinney)
C. A Steadfast Faith
These three young had a settled faith-we don’t have to worry about it; we don’t have to consult about it. That faith which was a strong faith: “Our God…is able” (Daniel 3:17). Furthermore, It was a steadfast faith. Now, here’s something very interesting: In verse 18. They say, “But if not…”-look at it-“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” (Daniel 3:18).
“Now, God is able to deliver us. We don’t have any doubt about that. And, He will deliver us-no doubt about that. But, if not, we’re not going to serve your gods. We’re not going to worship your image.” Now, what does if not mean? Does that mean, “if God is not able?” Not at all. Does that mean, “if God does not deliver us?” No, that’s not what it means. It means, “if, in this situation, we be turned to bacon; if, when you throw us like chips of wood into a fiery furnace, we’re consumed, if that’s the way it works out, fine. We’re still not going to worship your god, Nebuchadnezzar.”
They don’t have any doubt as to God’s power. They just simply might… It may happen that God, in His sovereignty, may want these boys to die in the flames. You can die in the flames. Now, let me ask you a question: Does your faith have an if not clause in it? “Our God…is able to deliver us” (Daniel 3:17). We all like that; we all believe that. But, if He doesn’t, are you still going to serve Him? Now folks, right now, we’re getting down to the gritty part of the nitty, right here.
In Hebrews chapter 11:32-39 we read, “What shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.” And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith…”
You say, “Well, if they’d just had enough faith, they’d been delivered. Oh, no. They got an “A” on the report card, through faith, and they were not delivered in the way that you and I would call deliverance. They said, “Our God is able, and He’s going to deliver us. But He may not keep us out of your fiery furnace, and He may not keep us alive in the furnace. That’s okay. We’re still not going to bow. We’re not going to budge” (Daniel 3:17-18).
It is one thing to have faith to escape; it’s another thing to have faith to endure. It’s one thing to be sick and have faith to be healed; it’s another thing to be sick, and not be healed, and still praise God. And, that takes greater faith. All these, by faith, received an “A+” on their report card. They received a good report. It is one thing to be delivered; it’s another thing to die, and all by faith.
Let me tell you what faith is: Faith is not, primarily, receiving from God what you want. It is accepting from God what He gives. And, these boys-they have what kind of a faith? It was a settled faith-“We don’t have to worry about it.” Friend, it was a strong faith-“Our God is able.” And, it was a steadfast faith-“Even if He doesn’t deliver us, we’re not going to bow; we’re not going to budge; we’re not going to bend. We may burn, but our God will deliver us out of your hand, Nebuchadnezzar.”
The Fellowship We Will Find
What happened? They’re bound. They’re thrown into this fiery furnace. This furnace is heated seven times hotter than it’s ever been heated. Why, the men that threw them in are burned with such burns that they cannot survive. There are these three boys down there, in the fiery furnace. There they are, walking around in the furnace. After a while, Nebuchadnezzar decides he’ll go down, and have a look. He’ll see how these three rebellious young men who would not bow or budge are doing. When he looks down there, he says, “Hey, wait a minute-didn’t we put three men in the fire? Why,” he said, “I see four walking around down there, and the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:24-25). What happened, when they got down there?
A. The Cleansing of the Saint
The Bible says that the bonds-the ropes-that were put on them were all burned off. There was not even the smell of smoke in their clothes (Daniel 3:27). The only thing the fire burned off of them was what the world had put on them. You go through the fire-God’s just cleansing you. He knows how to cleanse you. The times you’ll grow the most are when your faith’s in the fire.
B. The Companionship of the Savior
Next, there was the companionship of the Savior. Jesus will never ever, ever, ever, ever be closer to you than when you take a stand for Him, and say, “No matter what anybody else is going to do, dear Jesus, I’m going to please You. Lord, if I’m cast in the fire; Lord, if I’m hated, castigated, refused, spurned, ignored, killed; Jesus, I’m going to stand for You.” Jesus will move in, and lock arms with you, and walk through that fire with you. If you want Jesus Christ to be real, you stop being a candle-legged Christian, a Sunday-morning benchwarmer. Start to stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ. There’ll be the companionship of the Savior.
C. The Conviction of the Sinner
Last, there’ll be the conviction of the sinner. Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fiery furnace and said, “What’s happening here? Why aren’t they burned up? Because their God delivered them?” Those Babylonians worshiped the fire god. That’s what it’s all about. His name was Izbar. Izbar wasn’t like Jehovah. Nebuchadnezzar had to admit it: There’s no God like our God (Daniel 3:29). Do you know when this world is going to start having respect for the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible? When you and I, by the grace of God, stand alone. You’d better teach your children, friend, because the spirit of antichrist is already in the world (1 John 4:3).
Never make the mistake of saying, “Well, if I were God I would do this and such.” How ridiculous. And then notice how He concludes this verse. “Blessed are all they that wait for Him.” Do you want to be blessed? Wait for the Lord. Wait on the Lord. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Wait, I say, on the Lord. God is waiting for you to wait on Him. The Bible says, “Be not weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” In Hebrews chapter 10:36 we read: “For ye have need of patience that after ye have done the will of God ye might receive the promise.” May God help us to trust in Him and to obey Him and to keep on keeping on.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking