Stephen Caswell © 2005
Story of Eric Liddel
A famous runner prepared himself for the nineteen twenty-four Olympics, his name was Eric Little.
He trained hard for this competition and set his heart on winning the gold medal in the 100 yards race.
After the trials he was chosen to run in the 100 yard race and sailed for France, as the games were to be held in Paris.
Eric Little loved the Lord and he also loved to run.
But he found out that his 100 yard race was to be run on Sunday.
/What would he do?/
He had trained long and hard for this event and now it was to be run on the day that he held as sacred, the Lord's day.
/Who had first place in Eric's life running or Christ?/ /This was a conflict between the two, what would he do?/
The Prince of Wales tried to coerce him to run on Sunday, and put to King and country before God.
Eric Liddel reminded the Prince that God makes countries and is supreme.
He chose to put God first and the Lord opened up a way for him to run in the 400 yards event that was run on different day.
On the race day, the coach for the U.S. team gave him a note with a verse on it " /He who honours Me, him will I honour/."
Eric Liddel went on to win the race.
Last week we saw how Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king's food.
His three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah also remained true to God.
They stood firm on their convictions in a pagan society.
They proved that you don't have to compromise your faith to succeed in life.
They resisted the king's command in a way that glorified God.
Today Daniel's three friends are confronted with another trial.
Again they are commanded to compromise their religious convictions.
/What will they do?/ */Today we will see: /*
The First Decree
2. The Jews Decision
3. The Jews Deliverance
4. The Second Decree
The First Decree /- Serve My Gods/
*Daniel 3:1:* /Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits.
He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon./
In the second chapter of Daniel God revealed to the king how there would be five world kingdoms followed by God's everlasting kingdom.
It seems that he didn't like the prophecy about another kingdom succeeding his.
So he decided to strengthen his own kingdom.
He */set up/* this image to unite his government.
Chapter 3 says the king */set up/* */the image/* 9 times.
This was his plan and Daniel gave him full credit for setting it up.
He would make Babylon the religious and political center of his kingdom.
The image unlike the one God revealed was covered completely in gold.
Gold is precious and glorious in appearance.
This image would have been an impressive sight.
The king's great pride can be seen in all of this.
There wasn't any silver, bronze or iron in this image.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted his kingdom to last in spite of what God said.
*Daniel 3:2-3:* /And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. /
Nebuchadnezzar summoned the leaders of his government to the dedication of his image.
Those summoned didn't know what was involved in this gathering.
They came together in obedience to the royal decree.
This would have been a large gathering.
The king's top officials were called.
This great assembly stood before the image on the plain of Dura outside Babylon.
*Daniel 3:4-7:* /Then a herald cried aloud: To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 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; /
The royal decree was very simple.
When the musicians play everyone must fall down and worship the golden image.
Those who disobeyed would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
The word */worship/* means*/ to prostrate oneself, to do homage/*.
Something like the Muslims do today when they pray five times a day.
The idea is one of making yourself low in honor of your God.
King Nebuchadnezzar was demanding complete allegiance to himself and his gods.
This dedication service of his image was really a dedication of the people to the king religiously and politically.
He had set up the image and was assuming the position of religious head as well as political head.
The decree was clear and the result predictable, everyone fell down and worshipped the image.
The government officials feared for their lives so they obeyed.
Everyone got caught up by the music, the crowd and the warning of punishment.
All people, nations and languages describes the great multitude.
Everyone went along with the crowd.
/How did these young Jews handle the situation?
*Let's look at:*/
2. The Jews Decision -/ Stand Up For God/
Before The Crowds/
*Daniel 3:8-12:* /Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews.
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./
It seems that not everyone bowed down to the golden image.
*/Three Jews didn't stood up and were counted./*
Shadrach Meshach and Abed-Nego didn't compromise their faith.
/How did they resist such peer pressure?/
Everyone else was doing it!
*They knew if you stand for nothing you will fall for everything!
*They knew God's Law and chose to keep it!*
*Exodus 20:2-5:* /I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall *have no other gods before Me*.
You *shall not make for yourself a carved image*, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; *you shall not bow down to them nor serve them*.
It wasn't wrong for them to be there.
The king had summoned them and they didn't know the reason.
But now they could go no further.
These young men stood up for what they knew to be right while everyone else was falling around them.
They had stood firm before and would do it now.
/Weren't they noticed by the crowd?/
Yes they were.
The Chaldeans came forward and /accused them/.
The word */accused/* here means */to tear to pieces/*.
These Chaldeans were nobles in the Babylonian society.