John Lennox “Against the Flow”
“In chapter 1 and 3 Daniel draws our attention to two parallel yet opposite trends that he had come to observe during his long life at the pinnacle of power. Even though there is a drive to relativize absolutes, men and women cannot live without them. So they eventually take something of relative value and absolutize it. That is, they regard it as the core value that determines their attitude to everything else. From time immemorial the obvious candidates have been the state, power, wealth, and sex. Daniel chooses here to record an incident regarding the first two of these issues that involves not himself but his three friends.”
John Lennox asks the question:
“Imagine being one of these men and having to explain the situation to your family and friends? It is easy to see how they might try to talk you out of opposing Nebuchadnezzar.”
“We all know that this idolatry is bogus – there is nothing real in it except the emperor wishing us to acknowledge his authority? What does it matter if we outwardly bow down to him? It doesn’t mean that he controls our heads and our hearts. And if good men like you three – men of proven ability and integrity – refuse to bow down and get killed, that will make the situation even worse. You are top people; if you are not there to continue your powerful influence for good at the very highest levels of the state, what hope is there for the rest of us? And think of your wife and your children. What are they going to do if you throw your life away like this – needlessly? No, you must take part in the ceremony like everyone else for our sakes. We need you there in the corridors of power.”
In 1995, Erwin Lutzer published the book “Hitler’s Cross”
“Dein Reich komme”, Hitler prayed publicly – “Thy Kingdom Come”. But to whose kingdom was he referring?
When Germany truly needed a savior, Adolf Hitler falsely stepped in. He directed his countrymen to a cross, but he bent and hammered the true cross into a horrific substitute; a swastika.
Where was the church through all of this? With a few exceptions, the German church looked away while Hitler inflicted his final solution upon the Jews.
It is a chilling historical account of what happens when evil meets a silent, shrinking church, and an intriguing and convicting expose of modern America’s own hidden crosses.”
“God is sovereign, whether the result is triumph or tragedy. Unfortunately, we have the idea that when we are protected or divinely delivered, then the sovereignty of God is upheld, but when we suffer incredible defeat or loss, then we have to hide our faces and hope nobody asks us what kind of God we serve. Well, the answer is that He is a sovereign God – even when we suffer.
Believing in a sovereign God does not mean that things always turn out our way, and though He tells us that He causes everything to work together for good (Romans 8:28), He doesn’t say that everything IS good. Yet He is sovereign, whether in triumph or tragedy, and we are called to remain His faithful people.
John Lennox comments on this text:
“In a statement of breathtaking courage and confidence in God, they told the emperor that they had taken into consideration the possibility that God might not deliver them. They were not prepared to prescribe what God would do. That was for God to decide. But, no matter whether God delivered them or not, they were not going to bow to the statue. THE ISSUE WAS ONE OF PRINCIPLED MORALTY.
Nebuchadnezzar had never in his life before encountered such studied defiance. As it began to dawn upon him that there was a very real sense in which he was powerless against these men, his anger knew no bounds. Of course he could kill them, but that was not the point. What he could not do was to force them to bow.
Up to now he had thought that human beings would do anything to save their lives. His whole scheme of getting his nobles to bow depended on the assumption that, for each person, life was of absolute value.
To his utter amazement he discovered that this was not always the case.
Even in his own very administration there were men, men of proven ability and high office, who regarded their lives as a relative value compared with the absolute value of God. Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction was a fury of impotent frustration.
Arthur Cochrane in his book “The Church’s Confession Under Hitler” quotes Albert Einstein:
“Being a lover of freedom, when the Nazi revolution came I looked to the devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks.
Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.”
Are you willing to disobey the command to worship anyone or anything BUT GOD ALMIGHTY AND HIM ALONE?