THE FOURTH MAN
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Book of Daniel, part 5
Daniel 3: Four Moves
- Babylonian Idol (1-7)
- Wholl Save You Now? (8-18)
- Fourth Man (19-27)
- Dont Dis Their God! (28-30)
The idol that Nebuchanezzar sets up on the plain of Dura would have been a typical practice of kings in the ancient world. Kings built statues of their gods to represent their rule. Examples:
When Antiochus invaded Jerusalem, he looted the Temple. Later a Greek idol was placed in the Temple. Any Jew who refused to bow and sacrifice to the idol was killed.
In 168 BC, the temple was dedicated to the worship of the pagan god Zeus Olympius by order of Antiochus, who forbade the practice of Judaism. An altar to Zeus was set up on the high altar. Those who resisted Antiochus orders were killed.
- Ashurnasirpal (9th cent)
- Temple of Bel in Babylon (6th cent) - Herodotus speaks of a statue to the Babylonian Zeus (Marduk?) in Babylon (I, 183)
- Antiochus IV (2nd cent) - [Antiochus IV] directed them ... to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals... Whoever refused to act according to the command of the king was put to death. 1 Maccabees 1:44-50
Who Will Save You?
Jesus and Pilate (Matt 27)
Apostles and Sanhedrin (Acts 5)
Paul and Felix/Agrippa (Acts 24 -26)
Dedication to God despite threat of harm. This theme continues through the New Testament ...
See 1 Maccabees 2:51-64 for Matthias encouragement to his sons.
But If Not ...
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego do not know the outcome. They know they could die.
They demonstrate confidence in Gods power to save, but they also display dedication to God even if it results in their death.
Either way, they are victorious and Nebuchadnezzar loses authority over them.
The words But If Not have referenced this attitude thru history. It was reportedly sent in a telegram from a soldier at Dunkirk in 1940. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached a sermon with these words in 1967.
Werent There Just Three?
The fourth man has an appearance of a God
Why didnt God simply keep the Hebrews from being thrown into the furnace?
- God was in the furnace before Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. God does not abandon them in the place of fear and terror. He meets them there.
- He is showing Nebuchadnezar that He is the God who can save his people even from the consuming fire.
- I imagine that if Nubechadnezzar can stand the glare, he sees the fourth man staring back at him.
- So Nebuchanezzar calls them out and takes their God seriously.
Nebuchadnezzar is humbled
He makes his decree because he doesnt want anyone to offend the true God
There is no other god like God!
- A text that has inspired generations
- The connection between faithfulness and deliverance does not deny suffering
- Persecution continues ...
Cloud of Witnesses
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 10 June 2007
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