Daniel Chapter 3
Not satisfied with being just the head of gold, Nebuchadnezzar commissions a ginormous golden image of himself! Sixty cubits (90 feet) tall and six cubits (9 feet) wide, his statue stands proudly and strategically in the plain of Dura for all to see!
2 And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Truly a VIP event! All of the political power of Babylon are in attendance! Certainly Nebuchadnezzar is looking for total buy-in with his latest show of selfish ambition and personal glory! It is interesting to note that those not invited or in attendance are the magicians, the astrologers, and the sorcerers. I wonder why?
4 Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”
It should not come as any surprise that this self-indulgent king would arrange for a symphony orchestra to announce the moment that all of his subjects should bow down and worship him or be killed! This whole scenario is but a foreshadow of one is to come over twenty six hundred years in Nebuchadnezzar’s future. This individual who shall be known as the Antichrist will also create an image of himself which he will command the whole world to worship or be killed!
14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed
According to Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, archaeologists have in recent years discovered a pedestal on the plain of Dura, believed to be the very pedestal in which Nebuchadnezzar’s great image of gold once stood, lending credibility to the Biblical account and that the event actually took place!
The image set up by Nebuchadnezzar represented himself the head of the first world power, of whom Daniel had said “thou art this head of gold.” Daniel was regarded by Nebuchadnezzar as divine, and so was not asked to worship it (Daniel 2:46). The 60 cubits’ height includes together the image, 27 cubits (40 1/2 ft.), and the pedestal, 33 cubits (50 ft.). Herodotus, i. 183, similarly mentions Belus’ image in the temple at Babylon as 40 ft. high. Oppert found in the Dura (Dowair) plain the pedestal of what must have been a colossal statue. Nebuchadnezzar is the forerunner of antichrist, to whose “image” whosoever will not offer worship shall be killed (Revelation 13:14).
(from Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998, 2003 by Biblesoft)
So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Is there anyone in the land who would dare to defy the king and not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image at the punctuated, magical and musical moment in time?
Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews.
Apparently there is!
9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar,”O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”
These guys aren’t messing around! Not only did these fine Jewish boys show them up and make fools of them during the whole king’s dream debacle, but they were then put in charge of the affairs of Babylon, thereby displacing the authority of the Chaldeans, and now they want these boys dead! However, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are not going to bow down to anybody’s god! They are completely loyal to their One True God, the God of Israel.
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?
Nebuchadnezzar can’t believe that these boys would defy his command. They have so much favor with the king that he wants to be absolutely sure that the report is true. Fortunately for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, they have much more favor with God than with Nebuchadnezzar! This just serves to prove that in the love and favor department, you just cannot out-give God!!
Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”
Second chances don’t come easy with this king! He is already in a rage and fury over their refusal to worship his image, but still willing to give them just one more chance!
The great news is that we serve a King that will give us unlimited chances, right up to the end of our life! We can avoid the fiery furnace of Hell by simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation, and we don’t have to wait for an orchestrated invitation!
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
The love and loyalty they have for their God is demonstrated by their obvious obedience to God’s command!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Not only is their loyalty demonstrated, but their love is clearly a foreshadow of the love shown by the coming Messiah!
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar clearly has anger issues! It seems that whenever he does not get his way, he orders his subjects killed! More evidence of an out of control tantrum is that he commands that the furnace be heated seven times hotter! That was as foolish a command as the king was foolish in his child-like fury! Surly his intent was to cause more suffering in a hotter flame, but the truth be known, or reasoned in a cool, calculating, controlled mind, a cooler flame would most certainly prolong their suffering. These are the actions of a man who in blind rage would strike his own wife (point intended)!
Now, to punctuate his folly, he employs his strongest and best soldiers to carry out his command. In my opinion, his action here would be like the President of the United States sending a group of Navy Seals to arrest a soldier who was intentionally late from leave!
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
The point is made that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are fully dressed going into the furnace, but this makes a better point as they come out of the furnace, as we shall see.
The king’s insane rage has now cost the lives of a number of lives, not to mention that the king has lost some of his best and most loyal servants!
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Nebuchadnezzar’s obvious astonishment must be on many levels. First he is astonished to see that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are no longer bound, but freely moving around in the flames! Secondly he is astonished that they are not writhing in burning pain! Thirdly he is astonished that there is another figure moving about with them. Finally, Nebuchadnezzar is astonished that this forth figure appears to be the Son of God! Some translators believe this is actually “son of the gods” because of the Aramaic word, elahin, which when used in the Aramaic section of Danial, usually is a plural reference. However, the word would be used in a singular sense when referring to the one true God. Nebuchadnezzar may not have grasped that unless he was given a prophetic understanding from God.
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said,”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
Nebuchadnezzar and all of his entourage of political, administrative, and personal attendees have witnessed a miracle of the greatest kind! Interestingly, these same officials of the king will later conspire against Daniel as he worships the same God they have just witnessed delivering Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from a fiery demise! I suppose that this sort of behavior is not so unusual when you take into account the behavior of the Children of Israel wondering in the wilderness for forty years, or even our own response to God’s miracles in our lives. One minute we are praising Him for His wonderful mercies, and a minute later we are once again complaining and grumbling against God for His apparent lack of concern for our lives!
Somehow, we must remember and claim God’s promise that He will never leave us, nor forsake us!
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!
At the conclusion of chapter two, Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel’s God as the God of gods. Here we see Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging that this God of gods has sent His Angel to deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the fiery furnace, but he is not quite ready to acknowledge that he has seen God in the form of the Son of God!
Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”
I think it’s great that a man like Nebuchadnezzar will acknowledge God as One who should be exalted however, people cut into pieces? Houses made into ash heaps? I don’t believe God desires to be represented with such violence! You could say that Nebuchadnezzar put the “A” in anger management!
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.
This certainly was the right thing to do after the way the king treated them! What else could he have done? The entire kingdom of Babylon surely knows all that has happened by now! The king’s ego driven system of worship he has instituted has fallen apart right before the eyes of his entire kingdom. Nevertheless, their promotion came as a result of God’s favor, not of Nebuchadnezzar’s benevolent spirit!