Godly Conduct Under Persecution

Daniel Chapter 3


In Daniel chapter 3 we learn some of the things that were going on in
the lives of Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We will learn that the
Lord does not always deliver from the trial, but that He will be with us in it, and that
we must be prepared to trust him when the heat is unbearable, knowing that He will see us
through. Let us examine some of the lessons of this chapter.


In chapter 2 Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of the dream of the
Great Image, and he told him, " Thou art this head of gold." When we come into
Chapter 3, we discover that Nebuchadnezzar makes a great idol of gold, 90 feet high and 9
feet wide and sets it up in the plain of Dura as an object of worship. Nebuchadnezzar was
indeed that head of gold, but he had now completely distorted this truth, exaggerated it,
and made it an idol to be worshipped.

We see an example of this during the Lord’s time here on earth.
The Pharisees had taken the Law, which was given by God, and they had exaggerated it,
expanded it, distorted it, and idolized it. The truth had become an end in itself and
taken to extremes that violated the spirit of the letter, inflicting unnecessary suffering
upon men. For example, the observance of the Sabbath was more important to them than the
healing of a man whose hand was withered. Sadly, this same spirit can invade our
assemblies. We must stand for truth and right, but it is possible to take truth to
extremes and to exaggerate and distort things to the point where violence is done to other
principles, and for truth to become an idol in itself. May the Lord enable us to avoid
distortion, exaggeration, and idolization of one truth at the expense of another.


The Babylonian Empire had embraced peoples with a variety of cultural,
political and religious backgrounds. Nebuchadnezzar had the wisdom to see that a common
religion would be a great political force to bind all into one, and this was the idea
behind this image he made. Of course, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could not comply with
his dictate to worship the image, and they were branded as opponents to the government,
etc., and threatened with a horrifying death in a fiery furnace.

In today’s world, the greatest headaches to the political leaders
can be mentioned in one word—Religion!! Most of the conflicts around the globe find
their roots in religious tensions. We can well imagine the political benefits in terms of
world peace if all were brought under the banner of one religion. Of course, Scripture
makes it very clear that this is indeed what will happen in the world system, and we
already see the makings of it beginning to appear. Unfortunately, the Christian cannot
comply with the dreams of the politicians, and before the Lord returns to remove us at the
Rapture, we can expect to see a wave of persecution for non–compliance and bigotry
being directed to those " fundamentalist" Christians. We are about to face the
same situation that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced. How will we stand?


The subtlety of the religious intrigue being exercised by
Nebuchadnezzar reaches new heights when music was used as the lead–in to the new
idolatry. Nebuchadnezzar recognized that music is a powerful tool for good or bad, and he
was determined to use it for his godless purpose.

I believe that good music has been given to us by God, and can be
enjoyed with great benefit. David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, recognized the value of
music, and he used its powerful effects to calm the agitated, paranoid mind of Saul on a
number of occasions. The little that is revealed to us about Heaven shows it to be filled
with songs of praise to the Lamb in the midst of the Throne.

However, we are living in a world where music has become the powerful
lead–in to idolatry. Modern day "rock" musicians, with their smoking altars
and unearthly lighting effects, spit out their angry, filthy, violent, godless lyrics to
the accompaniment of mind–bending, ear–splitting noise and confusion. Let me
say, categorically, that I do not believe that there is such a thing as Christian Rock
music, and we should strongly advise our young people to avoid it. It is a real danger to
spiritual well–being. Parents should not allow children who are under their authority
to listen to the world’s idolatrous music.Young people, now beyond your parent’s
authority and striking out on your own, please do not listen to " rock" music,
so–called Christian or otherwise, because it will destroy your Christian life and
cause you to follow other gods. It is true what Paul taught the Corinthians, "Ye
cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." (1 Cor. 10:21)


Nebuchadnezzar was furious at the non–compliance of these three
men of God. But, at this stage, Nebuchadnezzar made a fatal mistake when he said to them
" Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" He challenged
God’s ability to deliver them. Notice the answer that the three men gave: " 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." (Daniel 3:17–18) If God wanted to deliver them, and he could, then that was
good, but if he would not deliver them that was acceptable to them as well.

Many people believe that faith in Christ will introduce one to a life
of plenty and prosperity, and that God will protect from any illness or misfortune in this
life. This is just not true.The Lord Jesus Himself suffered more than any of us can
imagine. Most of the apostles suffered death by martyrdom, and countless thousand of
Christians down through the ages, from the Coliseum in Rome, to the burnings and drownings
of the days of the Covenanters in Scotland, to the recent burning of a missionary and his
family in India, have shed their blood for their faith in Christ. May the Lord give us a
faith that does not depend upon what God is giving to us, but a faith that trusts Him
implicitly even in the midst of adversity.


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were cast into the furnace, and wonder
of wonders, they were seen by Nebuchadnezzar to be walking around with their bonds loosed,
and one like unto the Son of God was with them in the midst of the flames. This had a
salutary effect on Nebuchadnezzar, and he changed position completely and called the three
martyrs "the Servants of the Most High God." He then gave complete freedom of
worship to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and threatened his own people with death and
destruction if they dare speak a word against these men or their God. He makes the amazing
statement " There is no God that can deliver after his sort."

Many of God’s dear people are called upon to pass through the fire
from time to time in their lives, and it is in the fire that they come to know the
intimate presence of the Lord in a way that they have never known before. They find that
the fire only removes what is a trouble to them— their bondage. The Lord will never
leave us in the fire alone. Think of the precious promise that Jehovah brought to us, His
redeemed people, through the prophet Isaiah. "Fear not: …for I have called thee
by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and
through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire. thou
shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." (Isa. 43:1–2)
Remember that he has said, " I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." and
that, in the final analysis, the fire will only consume the dross, and bring forth fine
gold to the Glory of our God.