One of the main themes in the book of Daniel is our allegiance to Christ being put to the test. It’s part of the overall theme of Christians remaining godly in an ungodly world.
Daniel 3:1-30 is a long narrative that preaches theology as Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, face intense pressure to commit idolatry. I outlined it this way:
1. The pressure to join in on idol worship (vv. 1-7)
2. The threat if we don’t (vv. 8-15)
3. The faith to say “No!” (vv. 16-18)
4. The deliverance our God provides (vv. 19-30)
This famous escape story is a picture of how every Christian is tested in this world. One of the key observations is in vv. 2-3 when seven kinds of professionals, plus “all the officials of the provinces” attend the official dedication of an idol. Fewell wrote, “conformity is normative, disobedience is unthinkable.”
Christians follow the trio’s example. It’s a “go and do likewise” sermon. They remain loyal to God despite the enormous threat that could cost them their lives.
That means spending some time in the sermon defining idolatry. You might also want to show how sin, at its root, is connected to idolatry. It helps to recite or show a list of typical American idols (see Keller’s, Counterfeit Gods).
And then, for those of you who want to practice a consistent Christo-centric interpretation, you’ll be quick to highlight the fourth Person in the fiery furnace that looked like “a son of the gods” (v. 25). On the cross, Jesus stayed in the fire for us so we could pass through the fire having God with us. We can’t always promise we won’t die due to persecution, but God promises to save those who worship Him alone.
(an aside) Before Sunday, check your outline to see if it contains the unity of your preaching portion. If you’re preaching a narrative this weekend, see if your main idea reflects the plot. The plot drives the theology.
Preach a good sermon for the sake of God’s reputation in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).