Bow or ElseSeries: THRIVING IN BABYLON. James Dewhurst September 15, 2019
Thriving In Babylon
Bow or Else
Today, we are jumping back into what I believe is going to be a defining series for us as a church, and for you as a Christian. Throughout this three weeks series, we are discussing some of the most challenging moral and cultural issues facing our faith today. We know that Daniel and a few of his Hebrew friends, 2,700 years ago, faced similar cultural pressure from Nebuchadnezzar, after being taken captive in Babylon!
Last week, we discussed the fact that Daniel refused to allow the world around him to change the world within him. He stood on God’s Word in spite of the cultural pressure
The 19th and 20th centuries, known as the period of modernism, were characterized by philosophy, enlightenment, logic, reason, and science. The modernist movement relied deeply on scientific research and facts. They believe that if something could be proven then it was true. Since science was considered the paradigm of all knowledge, science was used by modernists as a weapon against Christianity. For nearly two centuries there was an attempt to attack and destroy faith through scientific reason. Faith was considered weak and foolish! The only problem is, over time, all objective science did was prove, more and more, the reality of biblical events and the possibility of creation. Since science and absolute truth failed to do silence faith, a new movement has arisen in the 21st century, known as Post-modernism. Conveniently, this man-centered Religion considers human reason and scientific conclusions as myths. Postmodernism in our world today is teaching that there is absolutely NO means of any pre-determined or absolute truth. That all truth is personal, situational and based upon one’s own life experiences. Since their truth is fluid, all pre-determined morals or absolute truths are to be rejected. The highest virtue of the post-modern gospel is tolerance, or so they say!
Last week, I compared some similarities between ancient Babylon and modern-day America. The resemblance is rather chilling! After Jerusalem was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C., all of Judah was taken captive and transplanted over to Babylon. 4 of the finest Hebrews were selected to enter a Babylonian school where they were forced to learn a new language, a new world view, and be placed on a new diet. Daniel rose up and refused to eat the King’s food that was sacrificed to false idols. Two chapters later, Daniel’s friends were challenged as well. Nebuchadnezzar built a golden statue 90’ tall and declared that when the music started playing, everyone was to bow down and worship it. Daniel’s 3 Hebrew friends found themselves being forced to celebrate something that was against their convictions. Here’s how they responded:
15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 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. 18 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.” 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 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. (ESV)
+Notice, they didn’t go pick a fight, but they did take a stand!
(Don’t go start trouble!)
+The cultural pressure surrounding Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego gave them an ultimatum – Bow or Burn!
(These men decided that their faith was worth the risk!)
+Since these three Hebrews boys chose to stand up when the world around them was bowing down, the world became worshippers of their God. (Standing saves souls!)
+If we aren’t careful, we will find ourselves bowing with the mood of the majority!
As Christians, the Bible is our authority, and the only truth we bow to is God’s Word!
People are not to judge, but God’s Word is our judge!
(Truth is not hatred, it is LOVE!)
God’s Word addresses moral and social issues in two distinct ways:
⁃Directly! (Specifically names the issue and takes a position)
⁃In Principle! (Specifically addresses the principle and takes a position)
What does the Bible say regarding some of the moral issues we are facing today?
4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (ESV)
13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (ESV)
25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (ESV)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (ESV)
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (ESV)
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (ESV)
As Christians we cannot live by situational ethics, we live by godly standards!
God is love! God loves sinners! God has called the church to love sinners!
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (ESV)
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