A Christian Shift: Stop the Hate
by Pastor Ed Evans
Scripture: Daniel 3
1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
For as long as God has created people, there has been hate. It begins in the eighth verse of Genesis 4. We in this generation have seen an abundance of it. Now, it is time for a Christian shift in society, a shift in how we treat one another, how we deal with one another.
Let us recognize some given facts of which we are all aware. There are two kinds of people in the world, neither of which are going to change the others' minds. There are those who belong to God, and those who belong to Satan.
Any mention of God, of Christian ethics, of Biblical standards lights up the hate machine, and it roars. It was never more evident than in this latest dustup about the same-sex supporters' call for a boycott of the Chick-Fil-A chicken franchise, and they absolutely heaped the hate on those who refused to bow down to the false god of same-sex. But some of those who called themselves Christians reciprocated, and that is not of Christ.
We in America have many people, some even in the Christian church, who are using the world's values to make their decisions about spiritual matters, and that is always a mistake. God has a standard of conduct, He has had His say about those standards thousands of years ago. What He said remains the same. He is not going to change. It is up to us to change.
Change is actually what is badly needed right now; a dramatic change in America's political, economic and cultural integrity. Having integrity is a matter of being complete and undivided, having the quality of honesty with strong moral principles. We see the clash of hatred today because when those who follow Jesus Christ hold the line on what God has said, and refuse to compromise His standards, those who will not respect our commitment call that hatred. That is an attempt to bully others by controlling the language. We see the same thing at work when those who support same-sex ethics insist on being called "gay."
However, while that has its own effect, that is not where the battle must be fought.
The battle for a shift in integrity, morals and ethics in America must be fought on spiritual grounds even though the opponents of such a shift will deny it, and will claim a false moral and spiritual ground for themselves. They demand, on those false grounds, that Christians approve what God has said cannot be approved. Christian believers today occupy the same battleground as Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego when they were set up by the Chaldeans to incur the wrath of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.
But what is significant about this historic test of wills is that at no time were these three young men angry, disrespectful or revengeful against King Nebuchadnezzar, against those who set them up, or even against those who threw them into that fiery furnace. These were three young men who had been taken captive with the rest of the Jewish nation. They had been separated from their families, but they remained true to their faith in the face of opposition.
No one was ever convinced to change their mind by being nasty to them, calling them names, telling them they are going to hell, or hating them. Arguments don't change minds, they only build resistance.
Separated from all they knew, in a foreign land, under foreign laws, yet they lived out God's law of Leviticus 19:17-18, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart: you shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Jehovah."
They were set up before King Nebuchadnezzar by the Chaldeans for death, and yet they refused to respond in kind. They obeyed God, and He was faithful to them.
If the nation of the United States of America is to survive in this world beyond what we know, there must be a national shift which only Christians can bring about. But it will not be accomplished through pride or right or might. It will only be accomplished through the power and the actions of Almighty God. And in that environment, in those actions, there is no place for hate. For these three young men whose story is told in the book of Daniel, they knew from Genesis the story of Esau and Jacob, and the impact many generations later when God spoke through the prophet Obadiah to the men of prideful Edom, because of the sin of Esau, saying "For the violence done to thy brother Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever." For the slaughtered warriors were but a portion of the loss of life, loss of wealth, and loss of a future before God.
There must be a shift of dramatic proportions in how America sees success, but hate has no place in that. We have a chilling reminder in 1st John 3:15, " Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."
As Christians, if we want to recommend the way of Jesus Christ to others, we must be respectful, and not hateful, to those who hate us. We can be respectful to President Barack Hussein Obama without agreeing with his policies and decisions; we can be respectful to Muslims without worshiping their god; we can be respectful to politicians and others without agreeing to support their goals and programs.
That's what we must do.
What we also must do is hold the line on what God requires. Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego were respectful to King Nebuchadnezzar and his court, but they still said "We will not eat your pork and other foods unlawful to us," and "We will not bow down and worship your god, but will worship the Living God only."
As followers of Jesus Christ we can respect each person for the creation of God that they are, but we will still not agree to condone what God has said is wrong, we will not agree with worldly values and programs that support rebellion against God, with programs that harm the innocent, that do not support the orphan and the widow. With all respect and love of God, those things we cannot do.
Psalm 18:2 reminds us, "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
When Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego made their stand before King Nebuchadnezzar, they said to him in Daniel 3:17-18, "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. 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."
Like these three brave followers of the Living God, Christian followers today must respectfully and lovingly take the stand our God has placed before us, but stand we must, like the rock that is our Lord. Why would anyone follow Jesus Christ when all they see coming from His followers is drenching hate? He does not tell us to hate or to attack. Jesus did say to feed the sheep, not beat the sheep. This is His battle, and He will fight for us, but we must stand firm on who He is, and what He has decreed, for all of us. Amen.