FAITH AND THE POWER OF GOD
A. As we study ‘faith and the power of God’, we will learn the following:
B. In our conventional definition, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
C. But in the real sense, faith is absolute belief and trust in God and His word.
D. Faith recognizes the omnipotence of God and His ability to do anything, at any time.
E. God has the ability to protect from danger, provide for our need under all circumstances, and also direct and guide us in every aspect of our lives.
F. God is so powerful, His power is incontestable; whoever contests with Him is bound to fail.
G. The understanding of God’s power should encourage us, under all circumstances, to weather every storm we come across in life, knowing that He will help us if we are faithful.
H. We should avoid those who counsel us to go against God, because they are counseling us to do the unthinkable.
I. Faith in God requires consistency. We should not be ‘fair weather friends’ in our relationship with God.
J. It is better to die serving God than to prosper serving the devil.
2. THE COMMAND TO WORSHIP KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S IMAGE: DAN. 3:1-7.
A. King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, constructed a gigantic image in Dura, and gathered all the important personalities in the nation who had power and influence: the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, justices, magistrates; to the place where he did the dedication of the image.
B. As they all assembled for the dedication, the parade officer announced loudly, “The king has commanded that all peoples, nations, and languages, as soon as you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, harp, and every kind of musical instruments, you must immediately fall down and worship the golden image which the king has set up, or risk being cast into a burning fiery furnace.”
C. As the king had ordered, as the people heard the sound of those mixed musical instruments, they unanimously fell down and worshiped the golden image which the king had set up.
3. REFUSAL OF SHEDRACK, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO TO WORSHIP THE KING’S IMAGE – DAN. 3:8-12.
A. While all the other people fell down to worship the golden image the king had set up, these three Hebrew men refused to obey the king’s orders.
B. Having defied the king’s orders, some Chaldeans made it their business to maliciously accuse them to the king. They told him about their refusal to obey his orders, and reminded him about the punishment of casting anyone who refused to fall down and worship the golden image into a burning fiery furnace.
C. They further reminded the king who these persons were: they are Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province. They told the king that ”these men pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
D. On hearing those accusations, the king was infuriated, and proceeded to punish them.
4. PUNISHMENT FOR THEIR REFUSAL AND GOD’S DELIVERANCE – DAN. 3:13–25.
A. King Nebuchadnezzar was furiously enraged, he commanded Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought. He wanted them to make their refusal in his presence or go ahead and obey; so he ordered them to be brought before him.
B. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t waste time, he asked them, “Is it true that you refused to serve my gods or worship the golden image I have set up?” He ordered them, “I give you a second chance, as soon as you hear the sound of the various musical instruments, go ahead, fall down and worship the image. But if you refuse, you shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace; and let me see that god who will deliver you out of my hands,” Nebuchadnezzar boasted.
C. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego wasted no time in replying him. Without courtsy, they flared up and said, “O Nebuchadnezzar (calling him by name), we are not going mind how we answer you in this case. If that is the way you want it, our God whom we serve is capable of delivering us from your burning fiery furnace; and we are so sure, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But in case He chooses not to, let us make it clear to you, O king, we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.”
D. In official quarters, the attitude of these Hebrew men is called insurbordination.
E. The king became furious, and his fury altered the expression on his face. He was angry toward these young men, and he ordered them to increase the heat of the furnace seven times more than it was normal to heat it.
F. He equally ordered some mighty men in his army to bind them, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. And so they were bound with their clothes and everything they wore, and were cast into the burning fiery furnace.
G. Nebuchadnezzar’s orders was so sternly given and the furnace so hot that those who threw .them into the fire were consumed by the fire. But the three men fell down bound into the burning fiery furnace unhurt.
H. The king was watching, he was astonished and rose up in a hurry, and said to those who stood around him, “Did we not throw only three men tied into the fire?” They answered him in the affirmative. He continued, “But I see four men loosed and walking in the midst of the fire without being hurt; and the fourth person looks like the son of god.”
I. That was how these three Hebrew men were delivered, irrespective of the king’s determination to have them punished for flouting his orders.
5. DANIEL IN THE LIONS DEN – DAN. 6:1-24.
A. Apart from the three Hebrew men, Daniel was another Jewish citizen in captivity in Babylon at the time. He equally had his own share of persecution.
B. A new king had come into power at the time, Darius by name. He had some cabinet reshuffle. So he set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty government officials throughout the kingdom. Three presidents were to superintendent over them, and Daniel was one of these three presidents, and he was to be the one to whom other official should give account, including the presidents, in order that things ran smoothly.
C. Daniel was distinguished above all the other presidents and officials, because an excellent spirit was found in him; and the king set him over the whole kingdom.
D. The other presidents and officials decided to look for excuses to incriminate and accuse Daniel with regard to the kingdom; but unfortunately they couldn’t find any ground for complaint, neither did they find any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.
E. So they concluded, “We cannot find any ground against Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” Those presidents and officials agreed together and came to the king and said, “O King, all the presidents and officials have agreed that you should make a law and enforce it, that whoever makes any prayer to any other god or power for the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” So they told him to establish the edict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the laws of the land.
F. The king agreed and signed the document into law.
G. As soon as Daniel knew that the document had been signed into law, he went to his house and opened his windows towards Jerusalem, got down on his knees three times daily and prayed, giving thanks to his God, as he had always done.
H. Others ganged-up and found Daniel praying and making petition and supplication before his God. Taboo! They went to the king, and reminded him about the edict and the conclusions reached. Upon the king’s reply, they reported to him that Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, does not obey the king’s command, especially as it concerns the edict on praying and making petition to any other gods except to you, O king. “Daniel continues to make his prayers and petition three times a day to his God”, they said.
I. On hearing this, the king was disappointed, but didn’t know what to do. He spent the whole day thinking of how he could deliver Daniel. But the other officials urged him that the laws of the Medes and Persians once signed could not be changed.
J. At the king’s command, Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And they brought a stone, laid it upon the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and the signet of his lords, making it impossible for anyone to change the punishment that had been determined against Daniel.
K. The king went home after that and spent the whole night fasting, refusing to be distracted, and sleep left him completely. At day break, he went to the den of lions, and called out to Daniel angrily, saying, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
L. He never expected to hear any answer, but then, the impossible happened, Daniel spoke out, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and it has shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.”
M. The king was excited, and commanded them to bring out Daniel from the den of lions. So Daniel was brought out, and he had no kind of hurt on him, because he had so much trust in his God. Immediately, the king commanded that those men who had accused Daniel of unfaithfulness be brought and all of them should be cast into the den of lions: they, their wives, their children; and they had barely reached the den, when the lions overpowered them, breaking all their bones in pieces.
6. EFFECTS OF THEIR FAITH AND COURAGE ON THE PEOPLE – BABYLONIANS AND JEWS – DAN. 3:26-30; 6:25-28.
A. We have discussed faith and the power of God, looking at the lives of two sets of personalities, and we will look at the effects on those two personalities, and if need be, generally.
B. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, king Nebuchadnezzar was compelled to acknowledge that they were indeed “servants of the Most High God.” Before you can get some stubborn personalities, like Nebuchadnezzar, to acknowledge the power of God, a miracle would have taken place.
C. The three Hebrew boys were not consumed by the burning fiery furnace, which was what they had intended. When we have faith in God, He saves us by cancelling the evil plans of our wicked enemies.
D. All the government officials and the king’s advisers gathered together to watch them: they had become a spectacle; men to be wondered at. The fire had not had any power over them: their hair, clothes, everything was intact; there was not even a smell of fire on their bodies.
E. King Nebuchadnezzar began to eulogise their God for saving them, and even for not letting them bow to other gods except their own God.
F. Nebuchadnezzar immediately made a decree, compelling every people, nation and language under his control, forbidding anyone from speaking any ill against their God: whosoever does would be killed and his house destroyed.
G. The king confessed that “there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”
H. Finally, he promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in Babylon.
I. As for Daniel, King Darius made a decree to all peoples, nations and languages within his domain, asking men to tremble and fear the God of Daniel.
J. He acknowledged that He is the living God, that He lives forever, that His kingdom shall never be destroyed, and that His dominion endures forever.
K. Furthermore he acknowledged His ability to deliver; that He works signs and wonders everywhere; and His saving grace upon Daniel in the den of lions.
K. Daniel had unhindered prosperity throughout his reign and even those of succeeding kings.
7. CONCLUSION: What have we learned in this teaching on “FAITH AND THE POWER OF GOD?” Obviously we have learned many things, which have been itemized in no. 6 above.
A. We can serve God unhindered, anywhere, no matter who is in power.
B. God’s rulership extends to everywhere all over the visible and invisible world: He is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords.
C. If we fear God, we don’t need to fear anyone else. The fear of man brings a snare (Pro 29:25).
D. Faith requires a lot of courage. Faith does not imply that we will not be persecuted. But in the midst of the persecution, we must be prepared to stand for God or perish.
E. If we are able to stand for God, our faith will draw others to Him, and we will be promoted.