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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 4 & Daniel 6:0 by Robert Dean
As we begin to wrap up a side study on the issues of authority tied to our study in Acts 4, we gain more insight into how a Christian is to submit to authority and how to handle hostilities by applying spiritual wisdom in a pagan world. The book of Daniel gives us many illustrations on how we are to handle situations in our lives when the authorities over us may conflict with our beliefs. Should we obey God or man? As we see in this lesson, the real issue is to maintain our trust in God no matter what the outcome.
Duration:56 mins 53 secs

When Government Dictates Disobedience to God. Acts 4, Daniel 3, 6


In Daniel chapter three Daniel isn't present; the other three are, and they are going to face a hostility and antagonism test from certain people they work with—a form of anti-Semitism in fact. They have to deal with this and try to figure out how to solve the problem. They give us an example of how to handle a situation when living in a pagan, hostile environment in the midst of unjust laws that are mandating a disobedience to Scripture.

Daniel 3:1 NASB "Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which {was} sixty cubits {and} its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon." The image was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. That is a tremendous amount of gold, so there has to be a way of smelting the gold and that requires a furnace. This is why there is a furnace on site there. When the image has been built then Nebuchadnezzar, proud of what he has constructed, brings in all of the bureaucrats from all over the empire. [2] "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent {word} to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up." He has also brought the Babylon Symphony out so that when they play it would be the signal for everyone to bow down and worship the golden image.

Daniel 3:4 NASB "Then the herald loudly proclaimed: 'To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and {men of every} language, [5] that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. [6] But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.'"

This is a command to worship this idol which is in direct violation of the first commandment of the Ten Commandments, the preface to the Mosaic Law. Exodus 20:2-5. What we see in this is that the government is mandating a specific course of action that is specifically and directly prohibited by Scripture. Daniel 3:7 NASB "Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and {men of every} language fell down {and} worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up." It was a great day to be king! His ego had been blown up to its greatest level.

Daniel 3:8 NASB "For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews." It doesn't say they accused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. They accused the Jews; that is the emphasis here, it was a virile form of anti-Semitism. They are focusing on the fact that it was "these Jews." And then they remind Nebuchadnezzar that he had made a decree.

Daniel 3:10 NASB "You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. [11] But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire."

Then for the second time they identify Jews. Daniel 3:12 NASB "There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, {namely} Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up."

The verse with a little different emphasis. This is how Nebuchadnezzar heard it: "These men, O king, have not paid due regard to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up." Nebuchadnezzar has probably been pleased and proud of the choice that he made in elevating these men to such positions of authority. And they have performed well for him. It was through these four men that he got the answer to his dream. Daniel was able to interpret the dream. He was pleased with them. He knows who they are and he is pleased that he has made a good decision, but now his decision is being challenged by these smarmy bureaucrats. They have come in and blamed him for this. 

Daniel 3:13 NASB "Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king." He has lost all objectivity, is operating on pure emotion because his pride has been injured by his favorite bureaucrats. He begins to interrogate them. [14] "Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, 'Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?'" This tells us something about their integrity. They know what the consequences are, but they have the integrity to be honest with him and they make the issue the Word of God. 

Daniel 3:15 NASB "Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, {very well.} But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?"

Then we see their response. This is a great attitude that we need to have. Whenever we go through any kind of adversity God is either going to deliver us from it so that it is taken away, or He is going to strengthen us as we go through it so that we can endure it. Or He is going to take us home to be with Him in the midst of it. They understand that and they understand that God is in control, but they don't have a prophet there to tell them what is going to happen. God is not speaking to the Israelites at this point in Babylon. There is no revelation. They have no clue what God's sovereign will is in this moment. They do, however, know what God's prescriptive revealed will is; and that is: You will have no other gods before me." They have all the revelation they need, just as we in the church age have all the revelation we need. Daniel 3:16 NASB "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. [17] If it be {so,} our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. [18] But {even} if {He does} not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." In other words, we don't know what God is going to do. He may deliver us or He may not. But we are going to put the situation, the conflict into His hands; we are going to do what He says to do and we are willing to take the consequences.

This really angered Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 3:19 NASB "Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated." One of these types of kilns would probably reach somewhere around 1000 degrees Centigrade. [20] "He commanded certain valiant warriors who {were} in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast {them} into the furnace of blazing fire." He is going to sacrifice all of his best heroes by having them as the escorts of these three Jewish bureaucrats. [21] "Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their {other} clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire." They were fully dressed in their formal wear, which they would have worn as normal bureaucrats to this type of event.

Daniel 3:22 NASB "For this reason, because the king's command {was} urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. [23] But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire {still} tied up."

Daniel 3:24 NASB "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, 'Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?' They replied to the king, 'Certainly, O king.'" What happens in the Hebrew here is all of a sudden there are a lot of participles, which indicates a lot of action. He is beside himself.  [25] "He said, 'Look! I see four men loosed {and} walking {about} in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of {the} gods!'" The cords that wrapped and bound them were burned but their clothes aren't even singed.

In each of these chapters there is more revelation given to Nebuchadnezzar and it is believed that when he has his seven years of insanity and recovers from that and praises God—it is very similar to praise that is given in Psalms—that he does become a believer worshipping the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and Daniel.

He goes near the furnace, orders them to come out, and see what he calls them: "servants of the Most High God." He then turns around and takes all the men who had conspired against them and has them thrown into the fiery furnace. And he had a decree made that any people, nation or language that speaks amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego "shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way." So he is recognizing at this point the sovereignty of God and he penalizes those who are against Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

So what is the principle for authority? It is makes sure that the mandate directly contradicts the mandate of Scripture. Second, make an appeal to the one in authority (in private of you can).

God delivered them but that doesn't mean God is going to deliver us, though there are many times when He does. He does deliver in different ways, but we have to remember the principle of 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." These are not escapes that we can avoid it but escapes that we can endure it.

Daniel chapter three is a situation of what happens when the one in authority is not responsive to our appeals, and there is another situation in chapter six, the story of Daniel in the lion's den. This happens many years alter at the end of the period of the Chaldean empire, after the Persians had taken over. By this time Daniel has become a very old man—eighty-one years old at least. Daniel 6:1 NASB "It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, [2] and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss." Daniel is one of these commissioners. Daniel distinguished himself again (verse 3) and again we have a case of jealousy.

Instead of having a Persian as the number two person in the kingdom the man with the most influence is once again this Jew. So they conspired to find some way to bring a charge against Daniel. But Daniel was a man if integrity and they couldn't find anything, but they recognized that he was faithful to his God and that every day at the same time he would pray towards Jerusalem because that is where the temple had been. So they thought to trick the king into signing a law that would prohibit anyone from praying to anyone else other than the king on pain of being cast into a den of lions. Daniel 6:8 NASB "Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked."

Daniel 6:10 NASB "Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously." He didn't change his routine at all; he didn't make an issue out of it; he doesn't do anything out of the ordinary; he doesn't try to draw attention to what he is doing. Daniel understands that the problem is on God's hands, and of God is going to use this to take him home then that is the way it is going to be. If God doesn't use this that way then Daniel is not going to be guilty of disobedience. He is going to do what he has always done the way he has always done it.

These men are in hiding (v. 11) and they discover Daniel praying. So they go to the king and tattle on him because their whole objective is to catch Daniel violating the law.

Daniel 6:14 NASB "Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set {his} mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him." He is distressed but can't do anything about it. The men drive it home, verse 15.

Daniel 6:16 NASB "Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions' den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, 'Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.'" This is the great witness that Daniel has. Darius has almost as much faith as Daniel has, it seems. He is confident that God will deliver him. [17] "A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel."

Daniel 6:18 NASB "Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him." Fasting here means that basically he spends the night without his normal evening entertainment. [19] "Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions' den." He is not sure, but he is pretty sure because if he wasn't he wouldn't have run to the lion's den to see of he was still alive. He has a weak confidence but he does expect Daniel to be there.

Daniel 6:20 NASB "When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?' [21] Then Daniel spoke to the king, 'O king, live forever! [22] My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.'"

God shut the mouths of the lions; God can handle any problems. If He can keep those three Jewish lads from being burned in the fire then He can solve any problem that we have. We just have to trust Him. That doesn't mean He is obligated to solve the problem in that kind of manner, but we have to trust Him.

Daniel 6:24 NASB "The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions' den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones."

Then Darius honored God with a proclamation, vv. 25, 26. "Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and {men of every} language who were living in all the land: 'May your peace abound! I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion {will be} forever.'"

This gives us another great example. That is that when there is the conflict between a mandate of God and the mandates of man then we always obey the mandate of God. But we have to recognize that there are things that go on behind the scenes in terms of spiritual issues and we never know how our stand for God's Word is going to be used to turn a situation. When we seek to solve the problem with other human viewpoint means then we can just make the situation much worse.

In the New Testament we also see an example of the Man who is innocent before the law and yet He is condemned unjustly in trials that were illegal and He is crucified on the cross. Not once did Jesus say, you are breaking the law, don't you know that? Not once did He challenge anything that they were doing. That doesn't mean that we don't. Paul is another example. Later he is arrested and is about to be whipped and he says, "You are really not going to whip a Roman citizen are you?" It would have been a capital crime for a centurion to have whipped a Roman. So it doesn't mean that we don't appeal, but we appeal within the structure of the law and then when we become the victims of injustice we handle it on the basis of God's Word. We do what is right and we take the consequences.

Acts 4:19, 20 NASB "But Peter and John answered and said to them, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.'" The Sanhedrin was basically flummoxed and so they get angry. [21] "When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; [22] for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed." Everybody knew what had happened and there was no way they could punish them at this time because everything was pout in the open.