16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, 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. (KJV)
Today I’m going to try something a little different. Other pastors have done this sort of thing, so the idea is not new with me. But, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
Today’s sermon was first preached in 1980, at Trinity Church, in Montgomery, by my pastor, Dr. Robert J. Ostenson, whom we fondly called Dr. O. In “The Link” newsletter, back in March of this year, I wrote an article on Dr. O. If you want to take a look at the write-up again, on my website (rogermccay.org), you can find it among most of the other articles I’ve written for MPC over the past 3 years.
My parents first heard Dr. O preach in 1974, at Dr. O’s first Sunday at Trinity. It also happened to be their first time to visit the church. After hearing Dr. O’s sermon, Dad was hooked. He says he’d never heard preaching like that before, and he wanted more of it. So, they joined the church, which had just broken away from the old denomination as part of the new denomination, the PCA. Over the years, Dad collected many of Dr. O’s sermons on cassette tape, and he listened to them over and over, to where some of the tapes were pretty worn out. As a labor of love, a few years back, I digitized all the viable tapes (97 sermons) and posted them on my website.
A fascinating thing about these sermons (which date from March 1975 to January 1985) is how apt they are for us today. They speak to the things of that time, but their message is also valuable in our time. This is, of course like the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote in ch. 1, v. 9,
9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (ESV)
Today’s sermon is on happenings in Babylon in the 6th century B.C, with the events of the book of Daniel taking place from 605-536 B.C. It is remarkable how so many of the goings-on in 6th century B.C. Babylon are so timeless. They happen repeatedly throughout history in some form or another. Dr. O spoke on these things in his sermon series in 1980, which covered .
As I’ve listened to and studied his sermons, and as I’ve considered the state of things around us today, it has struck me how his insights are poignantly apt concerning the U.S. in 2020 (forty years, give or take, after they were first preached). Along those lines, I thought this sermon by Dr. O (about Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego in ), continues to have much to say to us, particularly with so many people bowing the knee to the idols of the culture, today, at times quite literally.
So, hear the words from the past, on the words from the ancient past, speaking to us today.
Dr. Robert J. Ostenson
“Tested by Fire”
Now, I want to open by asking you a question: What is your price? What is the price for which you would sell out your convictions, and your consecration, and your commitment? The world believes that every man, every woman, has his price, that if the bribe is high enough, the offer enticing enough, or the threat awful enough, every man, every woman, would be willing to sell his soul, and sell his convictions and his consecration. There are many who believe this is a universal truth. And yet, when we turn to the Word of God, we find revealed that there have been men and women down through biblical history that are not for sale—men and women of such commitment, of such devotion and determination to the living God that they would not sell out their convictions nor their consecration. We have this revealed here in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three young men who were devoted, who were determined, and as a consequence, were delivered.