REASON FOR A GODLY STAND (3:1-7)
Is there ever a reason for you to take a godly stand? Seems like a silly question, but it is not. We live in a world that seeks to marginalize “people of faith,” and when there is conviction toward God and His word, that marginalization is all the more assertive. The Jewish people carted into Babylonian captivity were given a challenge of great proportion, but it was Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who were really threatened because of their governmental positions. They needed to decide whether or not they were going to take a stand for God in this particular situation.
REPORT AGAINST A GODLY STAND (3:8-14)
As soon as you decide to take a stand, if that stand actually has some measure of success at opposing something another regards as sacred or important, resistance will form. This is what happened to God’s three servants; when they took a stand others did not only oppose, but slandered in their opposition (literal meaning of “accused the Jew” in 3:8 of the NKJV). So, not only did Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah have to decide whether or not they were going to stand against the king’s decree, they now had to decide whether they would with this first level of resistance thrust against them.
REBUKE CAUSED BY A GODLY STAND (3:13-15)
Nebuchadnezzar is a perplexing man. He was a military leader, and now a rather effective king. He was considered the “head of gold”, and he certainly recognized Daniel’s standing with Him who is “God of gods and Lord of kings”. What did he think of Daniel’s three friends? Evidently, whatever he thought it was not the same as that which he thought with regard to Daniel. Perhaps, however, he recognizes the relationship and gives deferential treatment to them by giving them another opportunity to bow. To encourage them toward this he puts before them a serious threat: he asked them to seriously consider who it is that can deliver from his hands. The implied answer is that no one can.
RESOLVE OF A GODLY STAND (3:16-18)
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were in a tough spot, but not so tough that they could not answer rather quickly, forthrightly, and with resolve. He who is God of gods and Lord of lords can deliver them from the hands of anyone if He so chooses, they told the king. Whether He would choose to do that or not, the king needs to understand that they are taking a stand. The audacity of these words to him who has control over physical life (so he thought) was utterly fantastic.
RAGE PROVOKED BY A GODLY STAND Vss. 19-23
The king was humiliated and so he charges the administrators of the furnace crew to intensify the heat. The king is resolved, and so are the three friends of Daniel. This resolve the king had resulted in the loss of life of his own subjects. He was more determined, however, than anything their life represented to show these friends of Daniel just who is in control.
RESULTS OF A GODLY STAND (3:24-30)
Having been compelled to go to their death the king becomes amazed at what he saw. He saw the resolve of these three men superseded his own. It was not that the king had less of a resolve, but only this his resolve could not compare with theirs and who they served. People don’t walk around casually and have conversation in fire pits! Nebuchadnezzar was a perplexing man, but he was wise enough to know that when he was “outdone” it was best to recognize it and humble self before Him who is greater. This he did.
Taking a stand is not always easy, but if we take a stand on the Lord’s side, then we can know it is right. One man said that Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were able to stand before the king as they did because they lived their life for God, and not themselves. They did the “small things” in one’s spiritual life to help them properly tend to the “big things” in one’s spiritual life when it was demanded.
Let us also take a stand.
Borrowing an outline for some brief thoughts on Daniel 3 (sermonseeds.org)