O LORD God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier—we come into Your presence this day to hear Your holy word. We pray that You would open our ears so that we might hear Your truths. We pray that You would open our hearts so that we might receive Your mercy. We pray that You would open our lips so that we might sing Your praise. Be with us and bless our worship. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!" The apostle Paul uses himself as a testimony to this truth, pointing out that Jesus was patient and longsuffering in His dealings with him. Jesus changed Paul from a blaspheming persecutor of the faith into a powerful confessor of the same. Just as Jesus saved Paul, so He has saved us, so that we too might confess His saving name!
When Jesus and His disciples were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus revealed His divine power by saving them all. His disciples marveled, wondering who Jesus could possibly be, seeing that He even controlled the wind and the waves. Our eyes have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit who has used the word of God to move us to believe in Jesus as our precious Savior!
Text: Daniel 3
In Christ Jesus, our blessed Savior, dear fellow redeemed:
Last Sunday in our opening devotion leading up to Sunday School and Bible Class I asked those individuals in attendance how they might summarize the message of the Bible were they to do it in the briefest possible way. The first response was “good news,” which is the meaning of the word “gospel.” One of our children responded with an even briefer summary—“love!” Both are wonderful summary statements of the chief message of the Bible. Another two-word phrase that we might use in summary of the Bible’s chief message is one, which I am sure you have all heard and which at times appears as a slogan on church signs and bumper stickers—JESUS SAVES! Our sermon today has one very simple goal—to comfort and encourage you with the knowledge that JESUS SAVES! He saved the three men from the fiery furnace, andHe will save you!
The story of Daniel 3 is a familiar one. King Nebuchadnezzar was a grand and glorious king in ancient Babylon. Ancient Babylon lies in modern day Iraq just south of present day Baghdad. The LORD had blessed him in many ways, but King Nebuchadnezzar was a proud man and an idolater. He did not acknowledge the glory of the LORD. Years before the incident in our text, King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered the tiny country of Judah and taken many of its young men into captivity in Babylon. Among those young captives were three men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had determined always to remain faithful to the LORD God of Israel and had been blessed by the LORD with wisdom and very high positions with Nebuchadnezzar’s imperial government.
Everything seemed to be going fine until one day when King Nebuchadnezzar made a terrible decree. In his pride King Nebuchadnezzar had made “an image of gold” nearly one hundred feet tall and almost ten feet wide. He ordered all of the officials from throughout his empire to come to Babylon, to assembly in the large plain in which the image had been erected, and to bow down in worship upon hearing the music of a symphony of instruments. When the time came and the music played, everyone bowed down to the ground in obedient worship—everyone, that is, except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. They refused to bow down and remained standing. “Certain Chaldeans,” we are told, “came forward and accused the Jews” before the king. Nebuchadnezzar became furious when he learned someone had dared defy his authority and refused to follow his orders to worship his gods. He brought Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego before him and demanded that they obey him or face certain death in his “burning fiery furnace.” He concluded his tirade with this blasphemous challenge, “Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”
Now Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were no fools. They knew the king. They knew Nebuchadnezzar was serious. He meant what he said and would certainly carry out his threat. But these three men also knew their Savior God. They knew He had all power in heaven and on earth and, consequently, they knew they could put their trust in Him in all matters. Therefore, they responded to King Nebuchadnezzar with these words: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have to need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” What exactly were these three men claiming? They were saying that the LORD God could save their bodies even from the flames of the burning furnace, if He so chose. However, even should He choose not to deliver their bodies from the flames, He would certainly deliver their souls from the king through the flames taking them directly to heaven! Now that is faith—not just a groundless hope, but the certain understanding that comes from knowing the LORD God and His powerful works throughout the ages.
As you might well imagine, King Nebuchadnezzar was now even angrier. He order his furnace stoked up to seven times its previous temperature and then commanded the mightiest men of his army to through Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego into the flames. This they did at the cost of their own lives, for the flames were so hot the soldiers died of the heat immediately as the three men “fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”
Then something wonderful happened. Rather than being consumed by the flames the three men got up and began walking around in the furnace. With them appeared a fourth figure—someone whom the astonished Nebuchadnezzar correctly identified as “like the Son of God.” The pre-incarnate Jesus came to the side of these three men and rescued them from certain death! Nebuchadnezzar, absolutely amazed but still not at a loss of words, cried out, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” The three men walked out of the furnace. Their bodies were not burned, their hair was not singed, and their clothing had no smell of fire. Nebuchadnezzar, who had been their most angry enemy, now began their most vocal ally. He told all of his officials, whom he had forced to watch this planned execution: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the kind’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap, because there is no other God who can deliver like this!”
My dear friends, Jesus saved the three men from the fiery furnace, and He will save you too!That is the bottom line. “But,” you say, “Pastor is that really true? After all, that was then, and this is now. Jesus doesn’t do things like that anymore, does He?” Let me offer you three reasons why you and I can have as much confidence in our Savior Jesus today, as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had in Him twenty-five hundred years ago.
First of all, Jesus is able to deliver from anything. Remember His familiar words, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). As true God, Jesus has possessed and continues to possess all power throughout eternity, but as true Man His heavenly Father bestowed upon Him the authority to use that power on our behalf and He will use it. He already is! Let us remember that our very existence as well as the continuance of our existence depends upon Jesus. The apostle Paul told the Colossians: “By Him (Jesus) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (1:16-17). In addition, remember that among those things Jesus created were His heavenly host. In the familiar story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den, we hear Daniel say to King Darius after spending a night in the den, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me” (6:22). Remember as well that our Jesus has a plan for our futures not just here in this life, but also throughout eternity. He may not choose to deliver us from all troubles in this life, but may in fact deliver us through those troubles to heaven. The apostle Paul, who was delivered time and time again during his earthly ministry but who ultimately was martyred in Rome, stated near the end of His life: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Secondly, Jesus is always with you! Jesus promised you and me, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). There is never a time that you are separated from Jesus. Consequently, you are never alone! Again, He has promised us, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). That means that Jesus is right here—right now! Jesus is with your family at home as you gather for your family devotions. If He deems it necessary, He could and would appear, even as He has in the past. Think about Stephen who, as he was being stoned to death, looked to heaven and saw “Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
Finally, let us recognize that no one saves like Jesus, for He has already saved us from sin, death, Satan, and hell and has promised to deliver us unto Himself in heaven! Think about it—Jesus, who as the Son of God possesses all the glory and honor heaven can bestow, came down to this earth to save us by serving us. He told His disciples, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). The Son of God saved us through service! How did He serve us? The apostle Paul tells us that in his Epistle to the Colossians: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (1:13-14,19-20). Jesus has delivered us from the power of Satan by defeating Satan at His own game. Satan wants to destroy us through death, but by dying Jesus as overcome death and washes us clean with His blood. Consequently, Paul was able to go on to tell the Colossians: “In Him (Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (2:9-10). Yes, Jesus is a Savior unlike any other, for He did not come simply to save some people, or even an entire nation of people. No, Jesus came to save the world of sinners.
Are you uncertain that everything I have been telling you applies to you? Listen once again to what is perhaps the most well-known Bible passage of all, a passage which emphasizes the simple truth that JESUS SAVES—John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!” Yes,JESUS SAVES, my dear brethren—He saved the three men from the fiery furnace, and He will save you! Amen!
Soli Dei Gloria!
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting