Full text of Billy Graham’s sermon titled ‘How to Put God Above All Else’
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Billy Graham – Evangelist
Now, tonight I want you to turn with me to the third chapter of Daniel.
Now, at this time, Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, and he was the greatest of all the kings, probably, that ever lived. And he conquered Jerusalem. And he takes some Jewish captives among the young men, many of them in their middle or late teens. They were scientifically inclined. He takes them back to Babylon to train them, to help him as he builds his empire.
Very much like the Soviets and the Americans after World War II. They took German scientists. I remember one of them was Wernher von Braun, who made a great contribution to the American military power.
And I remember sitting with Wernher von Braun not long before he died. We were at a banquet in Los Angeles at the Century Plaza Hotel. And my wife and I happened to be at the table with him. And we’d known him quite a long time. And he told us how intellectually he had come to believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Not just by faith alone, but he became convinced that there was a God and that drove him to study the Bible and the New Testament. And he came to know Christ as his Savior.
Now, among the captives of Nebuchadnezzar, there were a number of top young Jewish men. Four of them are named in this passage: Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. And they were disciplined in all the ways of the Babylonians so that they could help as Nebuchadnezzar extended his empire to become the greatest empire in the world at that time.
Now, Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego knew assertive discipline early, because as we’ve already heard in the Scripture that was read to us by John Wesley White, they refused to eat of the king’s meat and drink of the king’s wine, because the king’s meat had been offered to idols, and they knew it was against the law of their God.
Now, they were 1500 miles from home. Who would know? Who would care?
But they knew God was watching. And as young men, they dedicated themselves and they committed themselves totally to God.
Now, [Nebuchadnezzar] had had a dream, and he called in the astrologers, and the soothsayers, and the scientists and all the other people, and he said, tell me what the dream is. Nebuchadnezzar had the dream.
And they said, ‘Well, tell us the dream.’
He said, ‘I can’t tell you the dream. I can’t remember it, but it troubles me. Tell it to me.’ ‘If you don’t tell it to me’, he said, ‘I’m going to have you hacked to pieces.’
O boy, that really made them study and work and try to come up with the answer.
But they said, ‘We can’t tell it to you unless you tell us the dream. We can’t interpret it.’
And so Daniel called one of the guards over to him and he said, ‘I can interpret the dream. God has revealed it to me; my God has.’
And he went to see Nebuchadnezzar, and he said, ‘don’t kill all the astrologers and the soothsayers and the wise men of Babylon. I’ll tell you the dream and I’ll interpret it.’ He said, ‘what you dreamed was the dream of a great statue. And it had a gold head and its breast and its arms were made of silver, and its thighs and stomach were made of brass. It had legs of iron, and it had feet of clay mixed with iron or iron mixed with clay.’
And Nebuchadnezzar said, that’s right. God has revealed it to you. Now, what is the interpretation?
And so Daniel interpreted and said, ‘You, sir, are the head of gold. You are the greatest empire, the greatest king that will ever live. And then it will decrease on down till the end of history. And then we’ll come the stone cut out without hands and will crush the image, and it will come tottering down.’
In other words, Daniel was being told by God that all the empires of the world will someday fail, and only the kingdom of God is going to survive. But that’s the second chapter.
Now we come to the third chapter. There’s another image. Nebuchadnezzar has become very powerful, very egotistical, as men of power often get. And so he decides he’ll build a statue to himself, a big image, 99ft high, made of gold. And he calls thousands of his subjects from many of the countries of the Middle East to come on the plain of Dura. And there he says, ‘I want… when you hear the trumpet sound and you hear the music play, and you see the flags coming in and you see the marching of the soldiers, I want all of you to bow down and worship the image. And if you don’t, I’m going to throw you into flames of fire and you’ll be burned up.’
You see, force. False religion does not hesitate to use force. The Bible teaches that Satan is the god of this world. He’s the prince and power of the air. He’s the prince of this world, and he uses force to get people to believe strange things. And we’re seeing force used by religious groups today all over the world as tensions are mounting on a scale so rapid that we cannot keep up with them.
And we’ve seen, even in the past few days, things happening that we never dreamed would happen, but they are happening. And it seems that the world is rushing madly toward World War III. And World War III will be Armageddon.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are already riding. I can hear their hoofbeats. And unless we repent and turn to God, they’re going to come with all of their war and their destruction and the starvation and the diseases, and the death and the hell that they bring with them.
He commands that they worship the image. But Christ also was asked to worship the image. He was asked to bow down and worship the devil in Matthew 4. But Jesus didn’t argue. He didn’t debate. He said, ‘It is written.’
All He did was to use the word of God. That’s the reason it’s important to memorize passages in the Bible, because He just used it as a weapon.
And He said, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ (Luke 4:8) God had said in the very first commandment of the Ten Commandments, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’ (Exodus 20:3)
Jesus said in Matthew 6, ‘No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and materialism at the same time.‘ (Matthew 6:24)
You have to choose. That’s a choice that every person in this room will have to make. It’s a choice that every person watching by television will have to make. It is a choice that every one of us has to make. Between bowing down to the things of this world that are evil and wrong, and bowing down before the true and the living God.