Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 25 November 19:
Daniel 3:1-7 – “King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold….”
King Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold was intended to enforce loyalty to the government and unity in a diverse society. The idea was that all personal beliefs and priorities should be subordinated to nationalism. Today, in America, Christians are often taught that we must subordinate God’s laws to a ‘greater collective good,’ one that accommodates offenses against God, because unity is considered more important than fidelity. This may seem noble to the ‘intellectual’ person, but God has always called His people to remain holy, set apart, and loyal ambassadors who proclaim Truth to the world, a ‘foreign land.’ As Daniel and his friends will demonstrate, we are to obey earthly authorities until they demand that we disobey God. Daniel will be put to the test as to whether he will subordinate God’s demands for the government’s and societies demands. Likely, you also have been put to that test whether you realize it or not, and you will be tested again and again.
– Acts 5:27-29 — And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
Daniel 3:8 – “Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews.”
Nationalism and other man-made ‘-isms’ will eventually refuse to tolerate a higher fidelity to God, though nationalism is often couched in religious terms. History is replete with examples of governments and other organizations coopting religion for political ends. Sooner or later, everyone will choose between the Kingdom of God or the kingdoms of men.
Daniel 3:16-18 — “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, 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. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’”
Christians, we could learn much from the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They boldly and confidently obeyed the True KING regardless the personal cost, without feeling the need to defend themselves before sinful men, even before a godless king. It is inevitable that God’s people will have to choose between loyalty to earthly kingdoms and the Kingdom of God. Obey God proudly and boldly. You don’t need to justify your obedience before mere men or even acknowledge their complaints. You serve ‘I AM’. We tend to underestimate how powerful uncompromised fidelity to God can be – “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37)
Daniel 3:28-29 – “Nebuchadnezzar answered 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 set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.’”
Shadrach’s, Meshack’s, and Abednego’s unyielding devotion to God transformed the mightiest nation on the planet. Though they did not engage in political activities or lead national movements, their actions led to changes in the law that protected their religious freedom.
God performs miracles in your life, not primarily for your benefit, but rather to bring glory to Himself before a watching world. Many people want to see miracles for personal reasons or to strengthen their faith, but God doesn’t usually operate that way but rather uses miracles for His greater purposes. Those who are fully committed and fully surrendered to God’s work will see miracles. “His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; His dominion endures from generation to generation…. acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men…. Renounce your sins by doing what is right (Daniel 4:3, 25, 27).”
The theme that runs across our readings from the Old Testament through the New Testament is that Jesus is the KING of Kings, and all power and authority has been given to him. Governments receive their authority from God whether they realize it or not, and “the kings of the earth belong to God (Psalm 47:9).” We are subjects of the KING of Kings, and His sovereignty demands our wholehearted fidelity and obedience. His Kingdom is both now and still yet to come in all glory. We serve the King now and are called to proclaim His Lordship across the planet with the boldness of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, regardless of the response of men. Of course Jesus provides the ultimate example of faithful fidelity – “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above (John 19:11).”
John 19:1-5 – “Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’”
The world will mock and hate the truth. Jesus warns you to be prepared for that but to continue your mission as His ambassador – “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
John 19:9 – “But Jesus gave him no answer.”
Again, notice like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Jesus also felt no requirement to justify Himself before men, nor did He place any hope in the world, “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God.” (John 13:3) You have no need to defend yourself before scoffers. Simply proclaim the truth, let the scoffers scoff, and take up your cross as you follow Jesus, fellowshipping with Him in persecution – “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
John 19:11 – “Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.’” Our fate is never really in the hands of men. God controls every situation.
John 19:15 – “The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’”
What a shocking statement coming from the chief priests. However, a church that remains silent before legalized abortion and other state endorsed abominations has essentially proclaimed the same thing.
John 19:19-20 – “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.” The Cross made clear in everyone’s language the truth of Jesus.
– 1 Timothy 6:13-16 — I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
– 1 Timothy 1:17 — To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
– Hebrews 1:8 — But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
– Revelation 19:15-16 — From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 November 19: Be willing to step in the fiery furnace with confidence today by publicly proclaiming Jesus. Be willing to take up your cross today by publicly proclaiming Jesus. Be willing to worship Jesus publicly today like Nicodemus. (see today’s notes above)