Pages

Pages

Daniel 3 study

Daniel Chapter 3
Da3.1 ¶ 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.
Da3.2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
Da3.3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, 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.
Da3.4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
Da3.5 [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:
Da3.6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Da3.7 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.
Da3.8 ¶ Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
Da3.9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
Da3.10 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:
Da3.11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, [that] he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Da3.12 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.
Da3.13 ¶ Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
Da3.14 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?
Da3.15 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 musick, 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?
Da3.16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter.
Da3.17 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.
Da3.18 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.
Da3.19 ¶ 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.
Da3.20 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.
Da3.21 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.
Da3.22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Da3.23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Da3.24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
Da3.25 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.
Da3.26 ¶ 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.
Da3.27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, 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.
Da3.28 [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.
Da3.29 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.
Da3.30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
Overview
Nebuchadnezzar was given the dream of the statue representing the rise and fall of earthly empires so that he could understand the part he was to act in world history and acknowledge the power of the God of heaven and earth.
The desire to exalt himself, however, trumped his recollection of the only God who could interpret his dream. To glorify his empire, Nebuchadnezzar had a 90 foot image [of himself?] consecrated as an object of worship. At the command to bow to the image or be burned alive in a fiery furnace, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego resolutely stood in defiance of the king’s command. Their God was King of kings and Lord of lords and they would bow to no other. Nebuchadnezzar forgot that our God is the God of fire and ice, heat and cold, fully able to deliver His faithful children from the king’s wrath (Isaiah 43:1-3).
Today people everywhere are looking for significance in the chaotic events happening all around us. When we remain as faithful to God as did the three worthies, He will demonstrate His sovereignty and love through us as well. The crisis ahead regarding worship will challenge us also to respect the authority of God over and above that of human governments. We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Lessons from Daniel 3
In Daniel 2 we encountered a visual image that describes the future history of the world as a sequence of kingdoms. Daniel 3 also focuses on an image, but this time it is not an image revealed by God but an image erected by Nebuchadnezzar. This image brings about a crisis.
The Image and Worship
Daniel 2 indicated that Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom was the golden head. However, it seems that the king was not content to be the golden head. The entire image had to be made of gold to suggest that his kingdom would be glorious, perpetual, and would not be followed by an inferior empire. In light of his statement in Daniel 2:47, his action in Daniel 3 must be understood as rebellion against God and excessive pride and self-confidence.
Daniel Chapter 3: When things get hot!
Daniel Chapter 3 is a well known and a well loved Chapter in the Bible. It contains all the things that we like … 90 foot idols, furious kings, fiery furnaces hot enough to kill people who are just passing by… that sort of thing. When we left Daniel’s three friends at the end of Chapter 2 everything was going along very nicely. Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were exalted to a position of privilege and power in Babylon. But unfortunately things have a habit of changing in this life. And so they did, for King Nebuchadnezzar decided to setup a golden image that was ninety foot high and nine foot wide! Everyone was commanded to bow down and worship this image! A passage such as this can be taken personally as well as prophetically.
Although Daniel Chapter 3 is the familiar message of the fiery furnace, we need to glean some lessons from it for when we go through difficult times of trial in our lives.
Background
Nebuchadnezzar has conquered the people of God and taken many of them back to Babylon. Daniel was one of these, but the focus is on his three friends – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Although living in exile in a foreign land, they were determined to be true to God, even though they worked for the government. And this wasn’t easy, especially with the beliefs and practices of the people of Babylon.
Chapter 3
1 Nebuchadnezzar dedicateth a golden image in Dura. 8 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are accused for not worshipping the image. 13 They, being threatened, make a good confession. 19 God delivereth them out of the furnace. 26 Nebuchadnezzar seeing the miracle blesseth God.
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.
No date is given for Chapter 3 events – certainly after events of 2nd Chapter and before the king’s madness (cf. 3:28-29 and 4:34-37). A 570/569 BC court almanac, listing the highest state officials in office that year, makes no mention of Daniel and his 3 friends. Daniel may have been away on king’s business (or sick).
1. Nebuchadnezzar. No date is given for the events of this Chapter. The name of the king is the only indication as to when these events occurred. The LXX and Theodotion’s Greek translation date the events in Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year. Some scholars regard this as an interpolation. They reason that the translators believed that the colossal statue was erected to mark the final capture of Jerusalem. However, that city was not destroyed in Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year, but rather in his 19th (2Kings 25:8–10). The date 580 BC, long given in the margin of the KJV, is derived from Ussher’s chronology (see Vol. I, pp. 179, 195) and has no adequate historical basis. Some commentators have even placed the narrative in the period following Nebuchadnezzar’s madness described in Chapter 4, but this position is untenable, as will be shown.
This much is certain, the events narrated in this Chapter occurred later than those of Chapter 2, because Chapter 3:12, 30 refers to Chapter 2:49. Further, a comparison of Nebuchadnezzar’s addresses of praise in Chapter 3:28, 29 and Chapter 4:34–37 indicates that the king’s madness was a later event. Secular history is of no help in dating this event, since extra-Biblical records of that time nowhere mention the incident. However, a court almanac written in the year 570/569 BC excludes that year from consideration as a possible date and makes it highly improbable that the event had taken place recently. This almanac gives a list of all the highest state officials in office during that year. Neither Daniel nor his three friends are mentioned. Since the event described in Daniel 3 resulted in a promotion of the three Hebrews, and since it is unlikely that they were removed from office soon after their promotion – at least all three of them – a considerable time may have elapsed between the experience narrated in Chapter 3 and the date of the court almanac. The influence of the dream of Chapter 2 on the events of Chapter 3 (see PK 504, 505) strongly suggests that the events of Chapter 3 cannot be dated in the latter part of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Some have suggested the date 594/593 BC, for the following reasons: This date coincides with the 4th year of Zedekiah, who in that year made a journey to Babylon (Jeremiah 51:59). It is possible that the journey was undertaken in reply to the summons of Nebuchadnezzar that all his governors and vassal “rulers of the provinces” (Daniel 3:2) appear in Babylon to give homage to the image the king had erected. Zedekiah, a weak and vacillating character, would hardly be expected to have religious scruples such as made it impossible for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the king’s command. However, the dating of this event in the time of Zedekiah is no more than a possibility. See further SL 27.
Why Daniel is not mentioned in the narrative is a question that cannot be answered. Whether he was ill or absent on an important mission cannot be known. Some have conjectured that because of embarrassment at having rejected the message of the dream, the king arranged to have Daniel away on important business for the crown. However, of one thing we may be certain: had the test come to him, Daniel would have stood as loyal as his three companions.
Image of gold. The image of Chapter 2 represented Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom by a golden head (verse 38). Not satisfied with this symbol, the king devised an image made of gold from the head to the feet, by which he desired to symbolize the perpetual and universal glory of his empire, and a kingdom that would not be followed by one of inferior quality.
Threescore cubits. The figures giving the measurements of the image witness to the use of the sexagesimal system (a system founded on the number 60) in Babylonia, a use attested also by cuneiform sources. The sexagesimal system of reckoning was an invention of the Babylonians. The system has certain advantages over the decimal system. For example, 60 is divisible evenly by 12 factors, whereas 100 is divisible evenly by only 9 factors. The system is still in use for certain measurements, such as of seconds, minutes, hours. It was therefore natural for the Babylonians to construct this image according to measurements of the sexagesimal system. The mentioning of this detail gives a true Babylonian color to the narrative.
Critics have pointed to the proportions of the image, 60 x 6 cubits, about 90 3/4 by 9 ft. (27.7 by 2.8 m.), as evidence of the legendary character, because the proportions of the human figure are less than 5 to 1. However, we do not know the appearance of the image. It is quite possible that the human portion itself was less than half of the total height and stood on a pedestal 30 or more cubits high, so that the whole structure, pedestal and image, was 60 cubits high. The modern Statue of Liberty has a total height of 305 feet, but more than half of this is the pedestal; the human figure is only 111 ft. from heel to top of head. J. A. Montgomery observes that the Aramaic word ?elem, here translated “image”, is used in a 7th century BC Aramaic inscription from Nerab, near Aleppo, to describe a stele that is but partly sculptured. Only the top is decorated with the relief of the bust of a human body. Hence ?elem, “image”, is not limited to a description of a human figure or other likeness but may include a pedestal as well. Parallels to this enormous image are easily found in history. Pausanias describes the Amyclean Apollo, a slender column provided with head, arms, and feet, in the human form. The so-called Colossi of Memnon at ancient Thebes in Upper Egypt, in reality representations of King Amenhotep III, were built of stone. The ruins still stand, one being 65 feet (19.8 m.) high. The best ancient parallel is perhaps the Colossus at Rhodes representing the god Helios. It was built from the war material left behind when Demetrius Poliorcetes raised his unsuccessful siege of the island in 305–04 BC. The Colossus was 12 years in building. It was built of metal sheets covering a supporting framework, and reached a height of 70 cubits, 10 cubits higher than Nebuchadnezzar’s image. About 225 BC an earthquake demolished the Colossus. It then lay in ruins for nearly 900 years, until the Saracens sold it for scrap metal. The Jew who purchased it broke it up and probably turned the metal back into war weapons.
Plain of Dura. The name of this plain survives in the name of a tributary of the Euphrates called Nahr Dura, which enters the Euphrates 5 miles (8 kilometers) below Hilla. Some neighboring hills also bear the name Dura. According to a tradition current among the inhabitants of Iraq today, the events described in Chapter 3 took place at Kirkuk, which is now the center of the Iraqian oil fields. The tradition may have originated because burning gases formerly escaped from fissures in the ground at several places in the area, also because great amounts of combustible material like oil and asphalt were found there. The tradition, of course, must be rejected. The incident occurred near Babylon. Dura lay “in the province of Babylon”.
In Daniel 2, “the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel” after just being told “Thou [art] this head of gold” and then made him “a great man, and gave him many great gifts, . . “. (Daniel 2: 46, 38, 48). The king, as requested by Daniel, also “set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon” (49).
A quick scan of this Chapter shows Daniel’s three friends to be the main characters with nothing said about Daniel himself. It is also well to remember this Chapter, as well as the previous and the succeeding four Chapters, are all in the Aramaic language, suggesting they were originally intended to be read by a Babylonian audience, in contrast to Chapters 1, and 8-12.
The 602 BC date for the incident of Chapter 2 is well established as three years after the initial siege of Jerusalem. A 580 BC date, some 22 years later, has been suggested [1] for this Chapter. Whether or not the date is exact, inspiration tells us that “In time [Nebuchadnezzar] ceased to honor God, and resumed his idol worship with increased zeal and bigotry“. [2]. So, we can assume a significant period of time had elapsed after Daniel had told the king “Thou [art] this head of gold” (Daniel 2:38).
• [1] “The date 580 BC, long given in the margin of the KJV, is derived from Ussher’s chronology and has no adequate historical basis”. SDA Bible Commentary Vol.4 page 779 (beginning of right column).
• [2] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White page 504.
But, regardless of his resumption of heathen worship and rejection of his assertion that Daniel’s “God [is] a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47) he found it impossible to forget about the “great image, whose brightness [was] excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof [was] terrible” (Daniel 2:31). Consequently, in spite of it being explained and  interpreted, it continued to haunt him.
Several things had been happening in the interval between the events of Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. For one thing, the remnant of the Judean kingdom, who had been left behind after the first siege of Jerusalem, were deep into nationalism with the pro-Egyptian party strongly agitating in favor of rebellion against their Babylonian conquerors. Jehoiakim, who had sworn allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar and remained loyal for “three years . . . turned and rebelled against him” (2Kings 24:1). From that point onward, Judea was headed for extinction at the hand of the Babylonians. Ultimately, all of its inhabitants were taken into captivity by the year 586 BC. So, the 19 years between 605 and 586 BC was proof in Nebuchadnezzar’s mind that the God who had revealed the secret of his dream, was really powerless and unable to protect his professed people. Besides that, in contrast to Daniel’s integrity, the kings that he depended upon to preside over the affairs of Judea, proved, weak, treacherous and unreliable.
So the king, who being an idolater from birth, began to think his god Bel, was stronger than Daniel’s and he began to lapse back into his customary manner of worship.
There is another side to these events that propelled the king deeper into his personal apostasy. In spite of the fact that Nebuchadnezzar, some years before, had become “angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise [men] of Babylon” (Daniel 2:12), it appears his anger toward them had cooled and he had retained their services [3]. Likewise the terror aroused in the hearts of the wise men must have subsided, and they sought to re-ingratiate themselves into favor with the king. They, noting the recent change in the king’s habit of worship, yet referring frequently to his dream of the multi-element image, “proposed that he make an image similar to the one seen in his dream, and set it up where all might behold the head of gold, which had been interpreted as representing his kingdom” [4].
• [3] see Prophets and Kings by E.G. White page 504 first paragraph where “the wise men of his realm” is spoken of.
• [4] Ibid.
Quite likely, the wise men, who were consummate schemers, had a secret agenda in mind. They were jealous over the fact that “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” had been “set . . over the affairs of the province of Babylon” (Daniel 2:49). Besides, the Hebrews “. . . were beautiful singers, and the Chaldean wanted them to forget their God, and accept the worship of the Babylonian idols” [5] which they refused to do. Here was an opportunity to force compliance and they enthusiastically encouraged the king to move forward with his project. It may have been at this time that the wise men appointed “certain Chaldeans” (Daniel 3:8) to keep the three Hebrews under surveillance.
• [5] The Youth’s Instructor 04-07-08 paragraph 4.
The dimensions of the proposed image being “threescore cubits” by “six cubits” [6] suggest some parallel to the mysterious number “Six hundred threescore and six” of Revelation 13:18. Even though only two dimensions are specified in the size of the image, the symbolic “image to the beast” of Revelation 13 is strikingly similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s literal image, for in both settings, worship is compelled.
• [6] or 103 feet by 10 feet according [if based upon the 20.6 inch cubit] to Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4, page 780.
But, just a “head of gold” wasn’t good enough and “he determined to carry it out, and to go even father . . . His image should not deteriorate in value . . . but should be entirely of gold . . “. [7]. So, in spite of the lapse of time, and the events militating against Daniel’s God being “a God of gods, and a Lord of kings . . “. (Daniel 2:47) he could not erase the memory of his dream. Consequently he decided to modify it to suit his egocentric fantasy. However, the destroying “stone . . . cut out of the mountain without hands . . “. (Daniel 2:45), which was equally impressive, had to be totally ignored. But, as we shall see, God was soon to destroy Nebuchadnezzar’s image anyway in a very impressive, unanticipated manner!
• [7] Ibid.
So, the symbol in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that was “designed of Heaven to unfold to the minds of men important events of the future” was now being “used to hinder the spread of the knowledge that God desired the world to receive” [8]. But, Satan’s effort was about to be frustrated through the witness of only three men out of the thousands who went along with the scheme.
• [8] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White page 505.
History will be repeated. False religion will be exalted. The first day of the week, a common working day, possessing no sanctity whatever, will be set up as was the image at Babylon. All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to worship this spurious sabbath. This is Satan’s plan to make of no account the day instituted by God, and given to the world as a memorial of creation” [9]. But, God’s name will again be vindicated by those who “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” (Revelation 14:4) even to the point of being numbered with “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands“; (Revelation 20:4). Their testimony, like that of the three Hebrews who were instrumental in nullifying Nebuchadnezzar’s decree, will forever destroy the great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that symbolized the rule of Satan for thousands of years.
• [9] Signs of the Times Vol.3, 381; Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Volume 7, page 976.
Now, the time had come for the dedication of Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
(1) The image is made and set up.
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height [was] threescore [sixty] cubits, [and] the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. A really big image – 90.72 feet high and 9.07 feet wide – if based upon the 18.144″ Egyptian Royal Cubit.
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold: There is considerable debate regarding when this happened. Some think it was a short time after the events of Daniel 2, but others think it happened many years later.
• There is a discernible link between Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 and the image he made in Daniel 3. It seems that Nebuchadnezzar deliberately made an entire statue of gold, to say that the day of his reign and authority would never end – in contradiction to God’s declared plan.
An image of gold: The image was like a normal statue, just over 90 feet (27.65 meters) high and 9 feet (2.76 meters) wide. Being so large, it is safe to say that it was not made of solid gold but probably wood overlaid with gold. This was a common method of construction in the ancient world.
• On the plains of Dura there stands today, a rectilinear mound, about twenty feet high, an exact square of about forty-six feet at the base, resembling the pedestal of a colossal statue.
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height [was] threescore [sixty] cubits, [and] the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
One of the first things we notice about Daniel Chapter 3 is the heavy prophetic fore-shadowings that it contains. The diligent student of the prophecies of the Bible will find all manner of gems in this Chapter.
For example, we immediately notice that dimensions of the gold “image” set up by Nebuchadnezzar are filled with the number six: a number associated with sinful man and with the beast of Revelation 13.
It is tempting to assume that the “image of gold” set up by King Nebuchadnezzar was similar to the one envisioned in his dream in Chapter 2 (especially considering that the same word “tselem” is used for the “statue” in Chapter 2). Indeed, the dimensions of this image (60 cubits H x 6 cubits W) are remarkably similar to that of an obelisk, which was an extremely common pagan symbol used in ancient religious rites and ceremonies. Compare, for example, the dimensions of Nebuchadnezzar’s golden “image” of sixty cubits high and six cubits wide to the near exact proportion of the Washington Monument (555.5 feet high and 55.5 feet wide according to measurements by the National Park Service). Assuming the traditional view that one cubit represents eighteen inches, this 10:1 ratio would have made Nebuchadnezzar’s image approximately 90 feet tall by 9 feet wide.
So too, here in this first verse of Chapter 3, we see the actions of King Nebuchadnezzar foreshadowing the actions that will be later taken by the beast described in Revelation 13, whose “image” must be worshipped with something of a loyalty oath. In this way, the “image” set up by Nebuchadnezzar is similar to the “image of the beast” that all men must worship under threat of punishment. Those who refused to bow down in obeisance to Nebuchadnezzar’s image were threatened with the death penalty. The fiery furnace is a picture of the torment of the great tribulation. The three Hebrew youths represent those tribulation saints who overcome the beast by refusing to worship his image despite the most severe consequences.
He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
This massive gold statue was set up in the “plain of Dura“, which modern archaeologists have identified just outside the ancient city of Babylon.
 
The head of the image that Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream (Daniel 2:38) was of gold. This image, built on orders from the king, was, externally, all of gold.
Daniel had said to Nebuchadnezzar that Thou [art] this head of gold (Daniel 2:38) but that his kingdom would be followed by another kingdom inferior to thee (Daniel 2:39) made of silver (Daniel 2:32). But Nebuchadnezzar rejected the idea that his kingdom would fall and showed the permanency of his kingdom by having the entire image made with gold.
This image stood threescore cubits [about 90 feet – 27.2 metres] high and six cubits [9 feet – 2.72 metres] wide. By comparison, the Colossus of Rhodes stood 70 cubits (105 feet) high. Note that the dimensions of this statue, 60 cubits and 6 cubits, contain the number 6, and that 666 is the Mark of the Beast.
This slender image was in the form of a human, but with roughly twice the height to width ratio. Therefore it probably had a substantial base. Archaeologists have discovered Babylonian images in the form of an animal, or a combination of human and animal. These images are also sometimes quite narrow in proportion to their height. Customarily these were wooden statues overlaid with gold (cf. Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 41:7; Jeremiah 10:3-9). Herodotus described a statue of Bel made of 800 talents (22 tons) of gold, but Nebuchadnezzar’s image would have been much heavier and more costly.
The image may have been a likeness of Nebuchadnezzar, although there is no evidence that the Mesopotamians ever worshipped statues of their rulers at that time. It is more likely that the image represented Nebuchadnezzar’s patron god, Nebo. The Babylonians were a polytheistic people and worshipped many gods.
The most probable site of the Dura Plain seems to be five miles south-east of Babylon. The Aramaic word dura (“fortification”) is common and refers to a place enclosed by a wall or perhaps mountains.
The image from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Chapter 2 foretold Babylon’s fall to the interior kingdoms of silver, brass and iron. Not willing for his empire to cease, the king made this image entirely of gold, proclaiming that Babylon would never end. This was a direct challenge to the God of heaven who is in control of the nations of this world.
A defiant image
(1–3)  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. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, 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.
So king Nebuchadnezzar makes an image of gold and it is about 28m high! So the first question is from where do you think they got this idea? While the Bible doesn’t say exactly what the image was of, many commentators believe that the king would have been inspired by the vision that he had had in Chapter 2 and created an image of a man. It could even have been in his own image. The Bible states it was all in gold. You will remember from Chapter 2 that in the dream of the statue, he was the head of gold but he also learned that this head of gold would come to an end. It is possible that king Nebuchadnezzar had this image set entirely in gold to indicate that his Babylonian empire would never perish or be conquered.
Chapter 3:1-5. A Last Day Image. – By many, the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is made void, being treated as a thing of naught; while the spurious sabbath, the child of the papacy, is exalted. In the place of God’s laws, are elevated the laws of the man of sin, – laws that are to be received and regarded as the wonderful golden image of Nebuchadnezzar was by the Babylonians. Forming this great image, Nebuchadnezzar commanded that it should receive universal homage from all, both great and small, high and low, rich and poor. (MS 24, 1891).  [4BC 1169.5]
Note the differences between the image in Daniel 2 and the image in Daniel 3:
Daniel 2
• Shown in a dream
• Revelation of God
• Prediction about the future
• Made of different materials
• God as highest authority
• Not related to worship
Daniel 3
• Real image
• Initiative of the king
• Wishful thinking about the future
• Made of pure gold
• The king as highest authority
• Worship of the image
3:2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
princes – An Aramaic word of Hurrian origin; used from Sargon II time (722-705 BC). Designated officials at the head of satrapies – the largest divisions of the empire.
governors (or prefects) – these officials administered provinces – each a part of a satrap.
2. Princes. The Aramaic ’achashdarpan, “prince”, or “satrap”, was formerly considered as being of Persian origin. This view has now been abandoned, for cuneiform sources show that under the form satarpanu the word was used as early as the time of Sargon II (722–705 BC). A Hurrian origin has now been suggested. The Persians evidently took over this official title from the west. Hence the use of this title in the time of Nebuchadnezzar is by no means out of place. See further on Esther 3:12. In Persian times this title designated officials at the head of satrapies, the largest divisions of the empire.
Governors. The Aramaic word segan is correctly translated “governors”, but also means “perfects”. It comes from the Akkadian shaknu, which has the same meaning. These officials administered provinces, the sections into which the satrapies were divided.
Captains. Aramic pechah, a synonym of signin (see the preceding comment under “governors”).
Judges. The Aramaic word ’adargazar, “judge”, has so far been found only in the middle-Persian from andarzaghar, meaning “counsellor”. That it has not been attested in earlier texts does not prove that it was not in existence before the Persian period, because practically every discovery of a new inscription reveals words previously not known to have existed so early.
Treasurers. The origin of the Aramaic word gedabar has not as yet been determined.
Counsellors. The Aramaic dethabar literally means “lawbearer”, hence, “judge”. The word is found in cuneiform sources in the cognate form databari.
Sheriffs. Aramaic tiphtay, “sheriff”, or “police officer”. The word is found in the same form and with the same meaning in Aramaic papyri from Elephantine.
Rulers. The Aramaic shilton, “ruler”, from which the title sultan is derived. The term designates all the lower officials of any importance.
This was not just an occasion to show off the beauty of the image, it amounted to a direct challenge to the God he had formerly declared to be the “God of gods, and a Lord of kings“. He was boasting, by the fact the image was all “gold“, that his kingdom was permanent. It would last forever, the fond hope of every ruler of every kingdom who has followed.
Among this throng of nobles, of course, were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who, for all we know, were still presiding “over the affairs of the province of Babylon” (Daniel 2:49) and were therefore required to attend this august [respected and impressive] assembly and manifest proper reverence for the king’s golden image. So, for them, this occasion was much like “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10) during the last days of history. Like them we will be required to bow before “the image of the beast” (Revelation 13:15) if we wish to preserve our lives.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces
After having this enormous image of gold constructed in the plain of Dura, the king then summoned all of his royal representatives from across the Babylonian empire to attend the grand dedication of this image. The king summoned the “satraps” (a word derived from the Persian language meaning the protector of the realm, a prince, or a lieutenant), the “prefects” (meaning a provincial ruler or superintendent), the “governors“, the “counsellors” (meaning those who were chief diviners or astrologers), the “treasurers“, the “judges” (derived from a Persian word referring to those skilled in the law), the “magistrates” (those who served as judicial overseers, or sheriffs), and “all the rulers of the provinces“.
The text does not imply that the common people were summoned by the king to this dedication event. Instead, Nebuchadnezzar only calls those who serve at his pleasure to attend.
In other words, the king has summoned all of those who served under his authority throughout his entire kingdom.
To come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
All of Babylon’s elite citizens are summoned to the plain of Dura for the “dedication” of the image of gold. The word translated as “dedication” is a familiar word “chanukkah”, from which we derive the word “Hanukkah”. This word (the Hebrew version), which refers to an act of consecration or dedication is used eight times throughout the Old Testament, usually in reference to the dedication of the offering at the altar under the Mosaic Law. (Numbers 7:10,11,84,88)
Through the use of this reverent word for “dedication“, we can truly see the religious aspect of Nebuchadnezzar’s dedication event, which likely included sacrifices, processions, and a feast, in addition to music. However, the dedication of this gold image is not made in God’s honor, but in man’s honor. Specifically, the glory is directed to the “image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up“.
 
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes – It is difficult now, if not impossible, to determine the exact meaning of the words used here with reference to the various officers designated; and it is not material that it should be done. The general sense is, that he assembled the great officers of the realm to do honor to the image. The object was doubtless to make the occasion as magnificent as possible. Of course, if these high officers were assembled, an immense multitude of the people would congregate also. That this was contemplated, and that it in fact occurred, is apparent from Daniel 3:4, Daniel 3:7. The word rendered “princes” occurs only in Daniel, in Ezra, and in Esther. In Daniel 3:2-3, Daniel 3:27; Daniel 6:1-4, Daniel 6:6-7, it is uniformly rendered “princes“; in Ezra 8:36; Esther 3:12; Esther 8:9; Esther 9:3, it is uniformly rendered “lieutenants“. The word means satraps – the governors or viceroys of the large provinces among the ancient Persians, possessing both civil and military power, and being in the provinces the representatives of the sovereign, whose state and splendor they also rivaled. The etymology of the word is not certainly known. The Persian word “satrap” seems to have been the foundation of this word, with some slight modifications adapting it to the Chaldee mode of pronunciation.
The governors – This word is rendered “governors” in Daniel 2:48 and in Daniel 3:3, Daniel 3:27; Daniel 6:7. It does not elsewhere occur. The Hebrew word corresponding to this occurs frequently, and is rendered “rulers” in every place except Isaiah 41:25, where it is rendered “princes” Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 2:16; Nehemiah 4:14; Nehemiah 5:7, Nehemiah 5:17; Nehemiah 7:5; Jeremiah 51:23, Jeremiah 51:28, Jeremiah 51:57; Ezekiel 23:6, Ezekiel 23:12, Ezekiel 23:23, et al.. The office was evidently one that was inferior to that of the “satrap“, or governor of a whole province.
And the captains – This word, wherever it occurs in Daniel, is rendered “captains“, Daniel 3:2-3, Daniel 3:27; Daniel 6:7; wherever else it occurs it is rendered governor, Ezra 5:3, Ezra 5:6, Ezra 5:14; Ezra 6:6-7, Ezra 6:13. The Hebrew word corresponding to this occurs frequently, and is also rendered indifferently, “governor” or “captain” 1Kings 10:15; 2Chronicles 9:14; Ezra 8:36; 1Kings 20:24; Jeremiah 51:23, Jeremiah 51:28, Jeremiah 51:57, et al. It refers to the governor of a province less than satrapy, and is applied to officers in the Assyrian empire, 2Kings 18:24; Isaiah 36:9; in the Chaldean, Ezekiel 23:6, Ezekiel 23:23; Jeremiah 51:23; and in the Persian, Esther 8:9; Esther 9:3. The word “captains” does not now very accurately express the sense. The office was not exclusively military, and was of a higher grade than would be denoted by the word “captain“, with us.
The judges – This word occurs only here, and in Daniel 3:3. It means properly great or “chief judges” – compounded of two words signifying “greatness“, and “judges“.
The treasurers – This word occurs nowhere else. The word however, the same word with a slight change in the pronunciation, occurs in Ezra 1:8; Ezra 7:21, and denotes “treasurer“. It is derived from a word meaning to hide, to hoard, to lay up in store.
The counsellors – This word occurs nowhere else, except in Daniel 3:3. It means one skilled in the law; a judge. The office was evidently inferior to the one denoted by the word “judges“.
The sheriffs – A sheriff with us is a county officer, to whom is entrusted the administration of the laws. In England the office is judicial as well as ministerial. With us it is merely ministerial. The duty of the sheriff is to execute the civil and criminal processes throughout the county. He has charge of the jail and prisoners, and attends courts, and keeps the peace. It is not to be supposed that the officer here referred to in Daniel corresponds precisely with this. The word used occurs nowhere else and means persons learned in the law; lawyers. The office had a close relation to that of “Mufti” among the Arabs, the term being derived from the same word, and properly means “a wise man; one whose response is equivalent to law”.
And all the rulers of the provinces – The term here used is a general term, and would apply to any kind of officers or rulers, and is probably designed to embrace all which had not been specified. The object was to assemble the chief officers of the realm. Jacchiades has compared the officers here enumerated with the principal officers of the Turkish empire, and supposes that a counterpart to them may be found in that empire. Grotius supposes that the officers last denoted under the title of “rulers of the provinces” were similar to the Turkish “Zangiahos” or “viziers”. Grotius also supposes that the term refers to the rulers of cities and places adjacent to cities – a dominion of less extent and importance than that of the rulers of provinces.
To come to the dedication of the image … – The public setting it apart to the purposes for which it was erected. This was to be done with solemn music, and in the presence of the principal officers of the kingdom. Until it was dedicated to the god in whose honor it was erected, it would not be regarded as an object of worship. It is easy to conceive that such an occasion would bring together an immense concourse of people, and that it would be one of peculiar magnificence.
Nebuchadnezzar probably summoned his officials to the image to show solidarity to the gods of the Babylonian Empire. These kingdom gods were deemed of greater importance than personal gods. Therefore, the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego would be seen as opposition to Nebuchadnezzar’s political kingdom.
(2-3) All Babylonia’s dignitaries gathered at the dedication of the image.
And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counsellors, 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. So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counsellors, 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.
Gather together the satraps: Satrap is a Persian loan word that means protector of the realm. It refers to a specific category of public officials.
All the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image: The demand that all come to the dedication ceremony means that Nebuchadnezzar meant to use the worship of this image as a test of allegiance.
The dignitaries of the kingdom are summoned. Daniel and his friends belonged to the government officials (Daniel 3:12), but Daniel himself was not present when the events took place. He may have been on some kind of mission for the king.
3:3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, 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.
3. Then the princes. The repetition of all the titles, so characteristic of Semitic rhetoric, like the subsequent fourfold listing of the orchestral instruments (verses 5, 7, 10, 15), is not found in the original LXX translation, possibly because such repetitions were objectionable to the classical taste. However, the later Greek translation of Theodotion preserves the repetition.
Up to this time, the occasion presented no problems for the three Hebrews. They were cooperating as far as they could even to the point of standing “before the image” like all the others. None of them protested that their rights were being violated but went along with it as far as conscience allowed. So, like them “When the practices of the people do not come into conflict with the law of God, you may conform to them. If the workers fail to do this, they will not only hinder their own work, but they will place stumbling blocks in the way of those for whom they labor, and hinder them from accepting the Truth. . . While laboring to introduce the truth, we must accommodate ourselves as much as possible to the field, and the circumstances of those for whom we labor” [10].
• [10] Spaulding and Magan Collection pages 20, 21.
Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, 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.
This verse explains that all of those who were summoned by King Nebuchadnezzar indeed come and are gathered together (“assembled”) to faithfully appear at this dedication event. Many of those in attendance likely had long journeys as they came from various regions of the vast Babylonian empire.
And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Once they arrived, all of those invested with power by the king stood in front of the massive gold image set up by the king.
 
And they stood before the image – In the presence of the image. They were drawn up, doubtless, so as at the same time to have the best view of the statue, and to make the most imposing appearance.
Some of the titles of the officials named in the text are Persian and some are Babylonian. Daniel may have updated some of these Babylonian titles with modern Persian equivalents when he wrote the Book in its final form. Or perhaps they were already common when the events of this Chapter happened.
The “satraps” were the highest political officials in each province.
The “prefects” (princes) were military chiefs.
The “governors” (captains) were heads of sections of the provinces.
The “counsellors” (advisers, judges) were high-ranking judges.
The “treasurers” were superintendents of the treasury.
The “judges” (counsellors) were secondary judges, and
The “magistrates” (sheriffs) were lower level legal officials.
The “rulers” (officials) were subordinates of the satraps.
These groups represented all the administrative government officials of the wide-ranging empire, and they spoke many different languages (Daniel 3:7).
3:4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
Only after all had gathered came the command to worship the image.
4. Herald. Aramic karoz, generally considered to be of Greek origin (cf. the Greek kerux). Years ago critics offered this as one of the proofs for the late origin of the Book of Daniel. H. H. Schaeder, however, has shown that the word is of Iranian origin (Iranische Beiträge I [Halle, 1930], p. 56).
At the time of this incident, Babylon was in control of all parts of the “then-known” world while vast sections lay outside of what was known. For example, Asia, China, Japan, North and South America and even the major portion of Africa were yet to be discovered.
In the imminent future, “all that dwell upon the earth [as a whole] shall worship [the beast except] those whose names are . . . written in the Book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). These brave Hebrew men are worthy examples of those whose “names” are written in that Book. “Situation ethics” was not a part of their thinking.
Then an herald cried aloud,
Once all of the king’s men are in position before the gold image, the “herald” (the one who issues public proclamations) issued a loud command directly from the king.
To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
The herald informs the assembled Babylonian elites that the king has given them a directive. Because the Babylonian empire covered a vast territory, which included many lands of conquered peoples, it is understandable that this command is given to “people, nations, and languages“. In other words, the forthcoming royal command will apply to all who have gathered in the plain of Dura.
 
Then an herald cried aloud – Margin, as in Chaldee, “with might”. He made a loud proclamation. A “herald” here means a public crier.
To you it is commanded – Margin, “they commanded”. Literally, “to you commanding” (plural); that is, the king has commanded.
O people, nations, and languages – The empire of Babylon was made up of different nations, speaking quite different languages. The representatives of these nations were assembled on this occasion, and the command would extend to all. There was evidently no exception made in favor of the scruples of any, and the order would include the Hebrews as well as others. It should be observed, however, that no others but the Hebrews would have any scruples on the subject. They were all accustomed to worship idols, and the worship of one god did not prevent their doing homage also to another. It accorded with the prevailing views of idolaters that there were many gods; that there were guardian divinities presiding over particular people; and that it was not improper to render homage to the god of any people or country. Though, therefore, they might themselves worship other gods in their own countries, they would have no scruples about worshipping also the one that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. In this respect the Jews were an exception. They acknowledged but one God; they believed that all others were false gods, and it was a violation of the fundamental principles of their religion to render homage to any other.
(4-6) The command to worship the image.
Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, [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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery: Some of these musical instruments are difficult to define precisely but the idea is still clear. This was an impressive orchestra.
• The use of the Aramaic words for lyre, psaltery and symphony has led some critics to say that the Book of Daniel was written hundreds of years after the time of Daniel. They say this because these particular words are Aramaic words borrowed from Greek words and supposedly Daniel did not have these words at his disposal in the sixth century BC, and they supposedly did not come into the Hebrew vocabulary until the third century BC.
• Nevertheless, ancient records tell us there were Greeks in the region of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia as far back as the eighth century BC. Archaeology also proves beyond all doubt that Greek mercenaries fought and made military settlements in and around Judea before the time of Daniel.
Whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace: The command was backed up by a powerful threat. Nebuchadnezzar regarded the refusal to worship the image as treason, not only as a religious offence.
• In this, Nebuchadnezzar was just like many politicians who often seem willing to use religion to strengthen their grip on political power. Politicians are happy to blend together spiritual allegiance and national allegiance. An example of this was displayed in 1936 when Herr Baldur von Schirach, head of the youth program for Nazi Germany, said: “If we act as true Germans we act according to the laws of God. Whoever serves Adolf Hitler, the führer, serves Germany, and whoever serves Germany serves God”.
• Another example comes from 1960 when the President of Ghana had a slightly larger than life-size statue of himself erected in front of the national house of Parliament. An inscription on the side of the statue read, “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all other things shall be added unto you”. The statue was destroyed after a bloodless coup in 1966.
A burning fiery furnace: Nebuchadnezzar was not a man who allowed lawbreakers to go unpunished. In an ancient cuneiform writing, Nebuchadnezzar was described as so devoted to justice that “he did not rest night or day“. The document also tells of a criminal guilty of a second offense who was decapitated, and afterwards a stone image of his head was displayed as a warning.
What would worship of the image express?
• Recognition of the king as supreme lord and submission to him
• Recognition of the king as a kind of god
• Denial of the true God
• Rejection of the first and second Commandments of the Decalogue
• Recognition of the Babylonian gods as superior to other gods and the true God
‘The times, they are a changin’
4-7 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, [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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 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.
This passage and event constitutes a change for the lives of all Jews exiled in Babylon. They had faced indoctrination before but not persecution for their religious beliefs [11]. That is now beginning. Note also the extent of this decree – whatever is happening here with the proclamation and decree is going to affect all peoples and men of every language. Everyone is going to be put on the spot – do you obey the king? Do you go with these new laws of the land? What about if you are Jewish and to bow down and worship this image would break the first two of the Ten Commandments? But what of the alternative? To not do so could cost you your life.
• [11] A parallel is coming for the church. Things seem to be moving from being influenced to being persecuted. We are moving from Daniel 1 to Daniel 3. Maybe not in the same extent because we would consider ourselves slightly more ‘civilized’ but the times “They are a changin’” and the picture given in Daniel 3 is where things will end up under a coming world ruler.
Christians in persecuted countries have faced these questions since the time of Christ. In the West however it is a recent development where the laws of the land are coming into conflict with the Laws of God. But this has been increasing and changing fast. Christians in employment associated with marriage (such as florists, cake makers, signing marriage licenses or officiating in the ceremony) now have to decide whether they will participate in homosexual marriages. Many have declined and been fined heavily and faced public persecution and ridicule for not doing so. Some have lost their business. An officer in the US army was recently court marshalled for refusing to remove a Scripture that he had put up. Students also face ridicule and persecution for standing up for their beliefs.
There are many areas where the laws of the land are now coming into conflict with the ways of God:
• Attempting to force pastors to officiate at gay weddings.
• Coercing Christian colleges to accept homosexual behavior or lose government aid.
• Telling ministries to open their hiring to non-adherents to their faith, including practising LGBT people
• Effectively forcing religious and pro-life groups based in Washington, DC, to hire people who are pro-abortion and provide them the insurance coverage that includes abortions
• Eventually we will all, more and more, be put on the spot about what values and beliefs we hold to and whether they will influence the decisions we make… or whether we ‘go with the flow’ of the world’s opinions.
(4-7) The musical instruments referred to (Daniel 3:5; Daniel 3:7) have Persian names. Some of these instruments were Greek as well. The Greeks had an influence on Babylonia earlier than Daniel’s time. These were various wind and stringed instruments. The Babylonians had a musical culture (cf. Psalms 137:3; Isaiah 14:11).
The occurrence of the three young men who were thrown into the fire because they would not worship the image (Daniel 3), brings to mind the great brick-kilns outside the city, where the bricks required for certain purposes in the vast building projects of Nebuchadnezzar were baked. Some of these great ovens have been found in the archaeological excavations.
In Revelation, we are told that the Antichrist will command everyone to worship him and his image (Revelation 13:3-18).
4-26. Daniel’s three friends were forced to decide between true and false worship. It is a fitting illustration of the cosmic battle between good and evil which is taking place throughout the world. This theme runs through both the Books of Daniel and Revelation.
The three Hebrews showed strong faith when they chose to trust God regardless of whether or not He would deliver them.
God may not deliver us from trouble, but He will be with us as we go through adversity. See Deuteronomy 4:30, 31; 31:6, 8.
3:5 [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:
A Babylonian orchestra is described.
harp – not of Babylonian origin but possibly introduced by Greeks.
5. Cornet. Here a Babylonian orchestra is described, in which several instruments vary from those in use among the ancient Hebrews.
Flute. Aramaic mashroqi, which designates the flute or pipe, as does the same word in Syriac and Mandaean.
Harp. Aramic qithros, “harp”. Qithros is generally considered to have come from the Greek kitharis, or kithara, “zither”. Thus far there is no known evidence from the inscriptions for an Akkadian or Iranian derivation. However, it would not be strange to find certain Greek loan words in a Book written in Babylonia. We know from cuneiform texts of Nebuchadnezzar’s time that Ionians and Lydians were among the many foreigners employed on royal building projects. These carpenters and artisans may have introduced into Babylonia certain musical instruments formerly unknown there. It would be only natural that, with their acceptance by the Babylonians, the Greek names for these instruments would be taken over. In this way the existence of Greek names for certain musical instruments can easily be explained.
Sackbut. A mis-trans-literation of the Aramaic sabbeka’ (in verses 7, 10, 15), probably through a similarity of sounds. The English word denotes an early form of slide trombone. The sabbeka’ was a triangular instrument with four strings and a bright tone. Although the name appears in Greek as sambuk? and in Latin as sambuca, it is not of Western origin, as Lidzbarski has shown. The Greeks and Romans took over the name, along with the musical instruments, from the Phoenicians, a fact also attested by Strabo, who says (Geography x. 3. 17) that the word is of “barbarian” origin.
Psaltery. Aramaic pesanterin, which the LXX renders psalterion. The English “psaltery” is derived from the Greek through the Latin. The psalterion was a stringed instrument of triangular shape, with the sounding board above the strings.
Dulcimer. Aramaic sumponeyah. The word appears in Greek (sumphonia) as a musical term and as the name of a musical instrument, a bagpipe. The first reference to this instrument in literature outside of Daniel is found in Polybius (xxvi. 10; xxxi. 4), who describes the sumphonia as an instrument playing a role in anecdotes connected with King Antiochus IV. However, the instrument is depicted on a Hittite relief of Eyuk, a town about 20 miles north of Boghazkoy in central Anatolia, as early as the middle of the second millennium BC. The relief seems to indicate that, as in later times, the bagpipe was made of the skin of a dog.
Worship the golden image. So far the narrative has said nothing concerning the fact that worship of the image would be demanded. The invitation sent to all leading officials in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom to gather in the plain of Dura, as far as the record goes, spoke only of the dedication of the image (verse 2), although people accustomed to the idolatrous practices of the time may have had no doubt as to the reason for the erection of the image. The payment of homage to the image would give proof of subjection to the power of the king, but at the same time show a recognition that the gods of Babylonia – the gods of the empire – were supreme over all local gods.
[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:
Although the three Hebrews probably anticipated this requirement, still we are not told if they had been given information on that point before hand and decide what they would do. Doubtless, they spent a great deal of time praying that God would be with them and help them make the right decision.
As it was, a musical signal had been decided upon to notify the vast congregation of the requirement to bow down before the image “and worship“. At that point, the second commandment of the Decalogue flashed into their minds: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, . . . ” (Exodus 20:4,5).
Note that “all kinds of musick” was played by an orchestra composed of many instruments. Why did they use such and elaborate organization just to give the signal?
It seems that the Babylonians understood the effect of music. It can be used to by-pass judgment and common sense. Just take a look at the ridiculous behavior of people who, with reckless abandon, dance and gyrate, things they would never do without the sound and repetitive rhythm of some kinds of music. If the music were to cease suddenly, so would their behavior. So, music can be hypnotic. Evidently that was its purpose here.
This parallels our day for “the Lord has shown . . . [what] would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, musick, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions” [13].
• [13] Manuscript Releases Vol.21 page 128.
[That] at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick,
All of the assembled leaders are standing before the gold image are instructed to listen for Nebuchadnezzar’s orchestra to play. Specifically, the assembled leaders are to listen for the sound of the “horn” (a wind instrument, likely a horn from an animal), “flute” (a whistling instrument), “lyre” (or harp), “trigon” (an ancient triangular-shaped Oriental harp that had four strings), “psaltery” (a stringed instrument of triangular shape), “bagpipe” (this could be an ancient dulcimer, a piped instrument, or even a drum) “and all kinds of musick“.
Ultimately, the exact instruments that were used are difficult to discern as many of the words used for each of the instruments that appear in this verse appear nowhere else in their exact form within the Hebrew Bible. We can, however, be sure that the command was for the assembly to listen for the music from “Nebuchadnezzar’s orchestra” to commence.
Ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
Nebuchadnezzar’s wicked edict is made plain in the latter half of this verse. Once the music began to play, the assembled rulers are commanded to “fall down and worship the golden image“. That is, the assembled rulers were to show their obedience to Babylon’s king and kingdom by bowing down (prostrating oneself) in an act, not just of homage, but of outright worship directed towards the golden image that “Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up“.
That is, when the sound Nebuchadnezzar’s orchestra began to play, all of the elites of Babylonian society who had assembled in the plain of Dura at the king’s command were to fall to the ground and to bow down while worshipping the golden image constructed and established by the command of King Nebuchadnezzar.
 
That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet – It would not be practicable to determine with precision what kind of instruments of music are denoted by the words used in this verse. They were, doubtless, in many respects different from those which are in use now, though they may have belonged to the same general class, and may have been constructed on substantially the same principles. The Chaldee word rendered “cornet” – the same as the Hebrew word qeren – means a “horn”, as e.g., of an ox, stag, ram. Then it means a wind instrument of music resembling a horn, or perhaps horns were at first literally used. Similar instruments are now used, as the “French horn”, etc..
Flute – Greek, suringos. Vulgate, fistula, pipe. The Chaldee words occurs nowhere else but in this Chapter, Daniel 3:5, Daniel 3:7, Daniel 3:10, Daniel 3:15, and is in each instance rendered “flute“. It probably denoted all the instruments of the pipe or flute class in use among the Babylonians.
Harp – The harp was one of the earliest instruments of music that was invented, Genesis 4:21. The Chaldee word here used is not the common Hebrew word to denote the harp and is a word which does not occur in Hebrew. This word occurs nowhere else in the Chaldee, and it is manifestly the same as the Greek and the Latin words denoting a harp. Whether the Chaldees derived it from the Greeks, or the Greeks from the Chaldees, however, cannot be determined with certainty. It has been made an objection to the genuineness of the Book of Daniel, that the instruments here referred to were instruments bearing Greek names.
Sackbut – Vulgate, Sambuca. Greek, like the Vulgate, sambuke. The word occurs nowhere else except in this Chapter. It seems to have denoted a stringed instrument similar to the lyre or harp. The Hebrew word from which this word is not improperly derived means, “to interweave, to entwine, to plait”, as e.g., branches; and it is possible that this instrument may have derived its name from the “intertwining” of the strings. The Classical writers mention it as very ancient, and ascribe its invention to the Syrians.
Psaltery – The Chaldee, Greek, and Vulgate words manifestly have the same origin, and it hat been on the ground that this word, among others, is of Greek origin, that the genuineness of this Book has been called in question. The word occurs nowhere else but in this Chapter, Daniel 3:5, Daniel 3:7, Daniel 3:10, Daniel 3:15. The Greek translators often use the word meaning psaltery, for nebel, and kinnor; and the instrument here referred to was doubtless of the harp kind.
Dulcimer – This word occurs only here, and in Daniel 3:10, Daniel 3:15. In the margin it is rendered “symphony” or “singing”. It is the same as the Greek word meaning “symphony”, and in Italy the same instrument of music is now called by a name of the same origin, zampogna, and in Asia Minor zambonja. It answered probably to the Hebrew word rendered “organ”, in Genesis 4:21; Job 21:12; Job 30:31; Psalms 150:4. The word seems to have had a Greek origin, and is one of those on which an objection has been founded against the genuineness of the Book. The word “dulcimer” means “sweet”, and would denote some instrument of music that was characterized by the sweetness of its tones.
And all kinds of musick – All other kinds. It is not probable that all the instruments employed on that occasionwere actually enumerated. Only the principal instruments are mention ed, and among them those which showed that such as were of foreign origin were employed on the occasion.
Ye shall fall down and worship – That is, you shall render “religious homage”. See Daniel 2:46. This shows, that whether this image was erected in honor of Belus, or of Nabopolassar, it was designed that he in whose honor it was erected should be worshipped as a god.
3:6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
fiery furnace – not many ancient examples of this kind of death penalty are on record (Jeremiah 29:22).
6. Whoso falleth not down. The king and his counsellors, apparently expecting instances of refusal, threatened with the most cruel punishment any who refused to obey the command. Exclusive of the Jews, whose religious convictions prohibited their bowing down before any image (Exodus 20:5), ancient peoples did not object to worshiping idols. Hence the refusal to bow down before Nebuchadnezzar’s image would be regarded as proof of hostility toward Nebuchadnezzar and his government. Whether the king had anticipated the difficult position into which he forced his loyal Jewish servants, we do not know. It may be that he sent Daniel on a journey, to spare him the embarrassment (see verse 1). From his contacts with Daniel the king must have known that a faithful Jew would refuse to worship the image, and that such a refusal could not be interpreted as a sign of disloyalty.
Fiery furnace. Although there are not many ancient examples of this kind of death penalty on record, a few are attested. One comes from the 2nd millennium BC, in which servants are threatened with this punishment. It is noteworthy that the same word that Daniel used for furnace (’attun) is also found in the Babylonian cuneiform text. The second example comes from Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law Nergal-sharusur. In one of his royal inscriptions he claims to have “burned to death adversaries and disobedient ones”. Compare Jeremiah 29:22.
The fiery furnace was probably a brick-kiln. Since all buildings were constructed of bricks, many of them of burned bricks, kilns were numerous in the vicinity of ancient Babylon. Excavations show that ancient brickkilns were similar to modern ones, which are found in that area in great numbers. These kilns are ordinarily cone-shaped structures built of bricks. The unbaked bricks to be fired line the inner walls. An opening on one side of the wall permits fuel to be thrown into the interior. Fuel consists of a mixture of crude oil and chaff. A tremendous heat is thus produced, and through the opening the observer can see the fired bricks heated to a white glow.
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Apparently, the sound of a fierce fire in the nearby furnace was, even at that time, resounding in the ear. One wonders why the king made such a point of this. While bowing down before an image was far from an unusual thing to ask of this heathen crowd, but to make obeisance to Nebuchadnezzar’s unusual image may have been very offensive to a number of the other “nations, and languages” represented there who worshipped other gods. So, a “little” compulsion was necessary to insure compliance.
Evidently, the king knew this was going to push some of his subjects too far. Whether or not he was concerned about the three Hebrews, many of his other officials were captives from many other nations just like the Hebrews. He knew that bowing down to his image would not only offend the Hebrews, but the Egyptians, Syrians, etc. as well. While oriental music sounds discordant to the western ear, a variety of music played in a manner pleasing to an oriental audience was apparently intended to placate the senses and make compliance easier.
This order of magnitude, with a little bowing being sufficient to avoid maximum punishment, is equivalent to the future scenario when merely receiving a “mark” either on the “right hand, or in the forehead” will be sufficient evidence of compliance to allow buying and selling and even avoid being “killed“! (Revelation 13:15 – 17).
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth
The king’s demand is bold. After gathering all of the top political rulers and leaders from the surrounding regions under Babylonian control, Nebuchadnezzar commands them to fall down (“nephal”) and prostrate themselves on the ground in the ultimate act of homage (“segid”) to his solid gold image.
Shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Not only is Nebuchadnezzar’s demand to worship his golden image extremely bold, but the penalty for those who failed to comply with his wicked edict is also even bolder. Namely, the king directly threatens all of the gathered elites with an immediate and excruciating death if they fail to fall to the ground and worship the king’s golden image at the sound of his orchestra.
If this threat of being cast into a fiery furnace sounds familiar, it should. After all, this is the same fate that awaits those who fail to obey and follow Christ. According to Matthew 13:49,50: “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
So too, the New Testament warns that those who worship the beast and his image will be cast into the fire, as described in the Book of Revelation: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name“. (Revelation 14:9b-11)
There is an interesting irony here as King Nebuchadnezzar (who in his madness will literally roam the earth as a beast himself as described in Daniel 4) threatens all who fail to worship his authority by paying homage to his “image” will face a fiery furnace. Inversely, God warns anyone who worships the “beast” or “his image” with a similar threat.
This conflict brings to memory Christ’s wisdom when He said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.“. (Matthew 10:28)
 
Why is the death penalty for the case of disobedience to the king’s command announced right away?
• Disobedience is a sign of disloyalty and rebellion and is suppressed immediately in totalitarian regimes.
• Toleration of disobedience would endanger the absolute authority of the king.
• The unity of the empire would be jeopardized.
Nebuchadnezzar’s order to everyone present: “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” As most people worshipped many gods, and the idols that represented them, this was just one more.
But for strict Jews this was absolutely forbidden. The second of the ten Commandments in Exodus 20:4-5 says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image  . . . THOU SHALT NOT BOW DOWN THYSELF TO THEM, NOR SERVE THEM“. So they had a choice – obey or disobey God.
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth – The order in this verse seems to be tyrannical, and it is contrary to all our notions of freedom of religious opinion and worship. But it was much in the spirit of that age, and indeed of almost every age. It was an act to enforce uniformity in religion by the authority of the civil magistrate, and to secure it by threatened penalties. It should be observed, however, that the command at that time would not be regarded as harsh and oppressive by “pagan” worshippers, and might be complied with consistently with their views, without infringing on their notions of religious liberty. The homage rendered to one god did not, according to their views, conflict with any honor that was due to another, and though they were required to worship this divinity, that would not be a prohibition against worshipping any other. It was also in accordance with all the views of paganism that all proper honor should be rendered to the particular god or gods which any people adored.
The nations assembled here would regard it as no dishonor shown to the particular deity whom they worshipped to render homage to the god worshipped by Nebuchadnezzar, as this command implied no prohibition against worshipping any other god. It was only in respect to those who held that there is but one God, and that all homage rendered to any other is morally wrong, that this command would be oppressive. Accordingly, the contemplated vengeance fell only on the Jews – all, of every other nation, who were assembled, complying with the command without hesitation.
Shall the same hour – This accords with the general character of an Oriental despot accustomed to enjoin implicit obedience by the most summary process, and it is entirely conformable to the whole character of Nebuchadnezzar. It would seem from this, that there was an apprehension that some among the multitudes assembled would refuse to obey the command. Whether there was any “design” to make this bear hard on the Jews, it is impossible now to determine. The word which is here rendered “hour” is probably from – “to look”; and properly denotes a look, a glance of the eye, and then the “time” of such a glance – a moment, an instant. It does not refer to “an hour”, as understood by us, but means “instantly, immediately” – as quick as the glance of an eye. The word is not found in Hebrew, and occurs in Chaldee only in Daniel 3:6, Daniel 3:15; Daniel 4:19, Daniel 4:33 (Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:30); Daniel 5:5, in each case rendered “hour“. Nothing can be inferred from it, however, in regard to the division of time among the Chaldeans into “hours” – though Herodotus says that the Greeks received the division of the day into twelve parts from them.
Be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace – The word here rendered “furnace” is derived from “to smoke”; and may be applied to any species of furnace, or large oven. It does not denote the use to which the furnace was commonly applied, or the form of its construction. Any furnace for burning lime – if lime was then burned – or for burning bricks, if they were burned, or for smelting ore, would correspond with the meaning of the word. Nor is it said whether the furnace referred to would be one that would be constructed for the occasion, or one in common use for some other purpose. The furnace was a closed place, in which the intensity of the fire could be greatly increased. Such a mode of punishment is not uncommon in the East.
3:7 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.
Note in this verse and the following verses, nothing is said about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing up while everybody else “fell down and worshipped . . “. But, judging from the accusation levelled against them that “they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image . . “. (verse 12) it is clear that they did not fall down.
This draws attention to another parallel to “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10) when, at the end of time the question is asked in heaven: “who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17) when everybody else has fallen.
The crowd obeys Nebuchadnezzar’s command.
When all the people heard the sound: Nebuchadnezzar’s grand idolatry was accompanied by music – elaborate and well-produced music. This reminds us of the great inherent power in music, both for good and for evil.
Fell down and worshiped the gold image: According to Baldwin, this literally reads as soon as they were hearing they were falling down. There was total and immediate obedience to Nebuchadnezzar’s command.
Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick,
After the king’s bold threat, the orchestra begins to play. The king’s subjects have their orders. Will they comply?
All the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down [and] worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
Indeed, “All” of the gathered rulers and elites from all nations and languages bowed themselves down to the ground and did acts of worship to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. It must have been an incredible scene as all under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule prostrated themselves at the orders of the king.
It should be stressed that there few other instances where a political ruler had so much power and authority that he could realistically threaten every elite ruler in his domain with a horrific death for failing to bow down to a mere object upon his orders. Obviously, Nebuchadnezzar was “the head of gold” as described in Daniel Chapter 2 as his power and authority appear to be virtually unchallenged. But as we will discover soon, that is about to change.
 
The multitudes worship the image. However, truth is not necessarily found with the majority. It requires courage and strength of character to not join the questionable or wrong decisions of the masses and go against the tide.
All the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down … – All excepting the Jews. An express exception is made in regard to them in the following verses, and it does not appear that any of them were present on this occasion. It would seem that only the “officers” had been summoned to be present, and it is not improbable that all the rest of the Jewish nation absented themselves.
When the world puts you on the spot!
(7-15) 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. Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, [that] he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 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. Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 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? 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 musick, 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?
So what do you do? You’ve been led into captivity to a foreign country and suddenly the king, whose favourite saying is that he will ‘tear you limb from limb and turn your house into rubble’, is commanding that you fall down and worship this golden oversized monstrosity. You know that to do so will break the first two Commandments in that you should not have any other ‘gods’ or idols. There are times when Christians have to disobey the law of the land when it goes against what is being commanded by God. There are times, in the words of the apostle Peter, that ‘we must obey God and not men’ (see Acts 4:18-20, 5:27-29). The interesting thing about this Chapter is that it is not just historical. It is actually prophetic of what conditions will be like in the last days. Please read the following footnote to see this important point.  [14] 
• [14] Daniel is a prophetic Book. But apart from the overtly prophetic portions of scripture in Daniel, there are also some glimpses of the end times through the stories that occurred in the life of Daniel and his friends. Chapter 3 is one of those end time messages. Here is what we have… a wicked King, with absolute power, setting up an image that must be worshipped. Disobey and you’ll lose your life. A global decree has gone out: ‘All the people, the nations, and the languages had to bow down!’ What exactly is happening here? What is Nebuchadnezzar doing? Is he not trying to unite world religion? He would have known that the kingdom that was struck and smashed in Chapter 2:41 was a divided kingdom. That’s what made it weak. So the king’s thought is to unite religious belief in the worship of his image! Note also that this new image is 60 cubits by 6 cubits! (Remembering that the number 6 is the number of man). In the last days, this shall happen again as we read in Revelation 13:11-18. A king will rule the entire earth and will unite worship unto himself. This false prophet shall setup an image that the entire earth has to worship. One religion once again! And he will give that image power to speak and cause those that will not bow down in worship to be killed. Although, like in the days of Daniel, there will be some that it cannot touch. That is where things are heading. As it was in the days of Daniel 3, so shall it be again.
The king has just challenged them, and everyone else; you worship it, or you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? So it seems that the king has already forgotten about the God of Daniel and his friends that knew in Chapter 2. So here is the moment of choice for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
3:8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
The accusing party were members of the same caste as the Jews.
Racial and nationalistic antagonisms were not involved, rather professional envy and jealousy.
8. Certain Chaldeans. Obviously members of the caste of magician-scientists and astrologer-astronomers, rather than members of the Chaldean nation as contrasted with citizens of the Jewish nation (see Chapter 1:4). Racial and nationalistic antagonisms were not involved so much as professional envy and jealousy. The accusers were members of the same caste to which the three loyal Jews belonged.
Accused. Aramaic ’akalu qarsehon, a colorful expression, prosaically rendered by the English “accused”. A literal translation would be “they ate the pieces of”, or “they gnawed at”, hence, figuratively, “they calumniated”, “they slandered”, or “they accused”. The Aramaic expression, with a similar meaning, is found also in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and other Semitic languages.
Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
So, the king’s plan to insure compliance worked except for “certain Jews” (verse 12) who were accused by these “certain Chaldeans“.
These particular “Chaldeans” may or may not have been native Babylonians. In view of the fact that the king chose men who composed his cabinet, called “Chaldeans” [15], from the “children of Israel” (Daniel 1:3, 4), it stands to reason he selected choice men from other nations as well. Therefore, the accusation may not have stemmed from racial or nationalistic antagonism, but from professional jealousy. These may even have been saved by Daniel’s testimony from the king’s decree to have them killed two decades ago! It is also possible they may have been other captives from “the children of Israel” who were bested by Daniel’s three companions when the king “found them ten times better than all the [other] magicians and astrologers . . .” (Daniel 1:21).
• [15] reference to the “Chaldeans” is found eleven times in the Book of Daniel. It refers, not only to those of the nation of Chalea, but to those who understood and learned their language and philosophy, and became members of what we might call the king’s “cabinet” or his counsellors.
So it will be.Already preparations are advancing, and movements are in progress, which will result in making an image to the beast. Events will be brought about in the earth’s history that will fulfill the predictions of prophecy for these last days. . . Satan will have control of all who finally refuse to be controlled by the law of God. He will inspire parents to war against their children, and children to war against their parents, – to betray and deliver those of their own household to enemies. Coming events are casting their shadows upon our pathway” [16].
• [16] Review and Herald 4-23-89.
Wherefore at that time
Presumably, at the time that the king’s orchestra began to play.
Certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
The Chaldeans were fiercely intelligent in the arts and sciences including mathematics, astronomy, and religious philosophy. (For more about the Chaldeans, Daniel 1:4). As high-ranking officials in Nebuchadnezzar’s government, the Chaldeans had influence over the king. Therefore, they used this influence to accuse the Jews of not complying with the king’s commands to bow down and worship the king’s golden image, as we will see further as the Chapter unfolds.
 
Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. – It does not appear that they accused the Jews in general, but particularly Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel 3:12. They were present on the occasion, being summoned with the other officers of the realm Daniel 3:2, but they could not unite in the idolatrous worship.
(8-11) The Chaldeans who brought charges against Daniel’s three friends were nobles, not just astrologers. The Aramaic term gubrin kasda’in makes this clear. They were in a position to profit personally from the execution of the three Jews, perhaps even to step into the government positions they occupied.
Three Hebrew men refuse the demand.
(8-12) Certain Chaldeans accuse the three Hebrew men.
Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, [that] he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 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.
Certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews: These Chaldeans had an obvious political motivation against these Jews who were promoted to high office along with Daniel in the events recorded in the previous Chapter.
They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image: Apparently their failure to worship the image was not discovered until these certain Chaldeans made it known. With so many thousands of government officials in attendance, it would be easy to overlook these three. Additionally, we see from this that the three Jewish men did not lodge a formal protest; they simply refrained from sharing in the sin of idolatry themselves.
• Their actions were not public but neither were they hidden. These three Hebrew men must have known they would be discovered, yet they obeyed God rather than man.
The Accusation
(8–12) Daniel’s friends are accused of disloyalty. There seems to be some sort of jealousy among their accusers and even an indirect criticism of the king’s former action to put foreigners, prisoners of war, into governmental positions. The issue is brought directly to the king, and it is before the king that the three friends have to answer and defend themselves.
How are they described by their enemies?
• They are Jews, foreigners of a different religion, and therefore people of suspicion.
• In spite of their position (Daniel 2:49) they refuse to obey orders and are disloyal. They are also ungrateful to their royal benefactor.
• They are opposed to the king and his gods.
3:9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
A similar greeting to Daniel 2:4.
O king, live for ever. See Daniel 2:4.
This is the second and last time the Chaldeans are noted to express this phrase to the king. They preceded their request, that the king tell them his dream before given their “interpretation” some twenty years ago (Daniel 2:4) with the same phrase. Interestingly, Daniel himself, when replying to king Darius’ question at the mouth of the lion’s den, also said “O king, live for ever” (Daniel 6:21). So this was a term of respect, not necessarily of worship. “He who obeys the divine law will most truly respect and obey the laws of his country. He who fears God will honor the king in the exercise of all just and legitimate authority” [17]. Note in the next few verses, the three Hebrews did not precede their replies to the king with this phrase. Nevertheless, we should not conclude they were being disrespectful or arrogant.
• [17] Great Controversy by E.G. White, page 277.
They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar,
These “certain Chaldeans” successfully gain access to the king’s court.
O king, live for ever.
Their initial greeting before the king was common to the age and is one that often appears in the Old Testament (1Kings 1:31; Daniel 2:4, 5:10, 6:6,21)
 
O king, live for ever – A customary form of address to a monarch, implying that long life was regarded as an eminent blessing. See Daniel 2:4.
3:10 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:
Thou, O king, hast made a decree,
As these “certain Chaldeans” prepare to make their accusations, they appeal to the king’s own words and remind him that he has issued 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:
As if the king has forgotten his own decree, the Chaldeans remind him of all of its specific details as they prepare to lay their trap for the Jews.
 
Thou, O king, hast made a decree … – See Daniel 3:4-5. As the decree included “every man” who heard the sound of the music, it of course embraced the Jews, whatever religious scruples they might have. Whether their scruples, however, were known at the time is not certain; or whether they would have been regarded if known, is no more certain.
(10–11) 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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Recounting all this seems unnecessary unless we take the context into consideration. Obviously, the king did not need to be reminded of all these things. So, why did these “certain Chaldeans” think it expedient to go into all this detail? Probably, it was to add as much force to their forth-coming accusation as possible. Quite likely, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who had been “set . . . over the affairs of the province of Babylon” (Daniel 2:49), had been very faithful in the exercise of their duties and were highly valued for their services. Therefore, realizing that the king would likely be sympathetic to them in this matter, they felt it necessary to make it as difficult as possible for the king to exercise mercy.
3:11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Here, the accusers specifically remind the king of his bold threat towards anyone who dares to defy his edict. Specifically, that if anyone failed to “fall down and worship” the king’s golden image when the music began to play, he should be “cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace“.
 
12. We ought to obey God rather than men Acts 5:29. These three Hebrew youths, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole nation their faith; that he whom they worshipped was the only true and living God. … These lessons have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days.
3:12 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.
12. Thou hast set. A clear reference to the promotion recorded at the close of the preceding Chapter (Daniel 2:49). The mention of the exalted official rank of these Jews was designed to emphasize the dangerous feature connected with the disobedience of such men, also to direct attention to the seriousness of their ingratitude toward their royal benefactor. On the other hand, the fact that the Chaldeans gave prominence to the official position to which these Jews had been raised by the king suggests that their denunciation arose from jealousy. Their words also contained hidden insinuations against the king, and virtually blamed him for a lack of political foresight by appointing to high administrative offices foreign prisoners of war from whom naturally no loyalty toward the Babylonian king and his gods could be expected. This, they implied, the king should have foreseen.
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.
So, verses 10 and 11 depict the “set up”. This verse depicts the “trap”. It seems likely the “certain Chaleans” had far less respect for the king’s command than those they were accusing.
Those who did bow down to the image were supposed to “worship the golden image” and not be looking around to see what the others were doing. Consequently, these accusers were using the king’s command for their own purpose: probably to exterminate the men they had hated for the last twenty years! Note, upon giving the actual names of the offenders, they knew who they were as individuals, not merely as “Jews“.
When they saw them standing up instead of bowing, they were jubilant and made haste to come “near and accuse the Jews“, obviously after the “musick” had ceased!
There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego;
These “certain Chaldeans” now come to their charge against these “certain Jews“. Specifically, three Jewish men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego who had been placed in charge to manage affairs in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. We were first introduced to these three Hebrews in our Daniel 1 study when they are given new names. According to Daniel 1:7, a Babylonian chief official gave them (and Daniel) new Babylonian names fitting of their new roles: “unto Daniel [the name] of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego“. As well, these three Hebrews were appointed by the king as we recall from Daniel 2:49: “Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel [sat] in the gate of the king“. See Daniel 2:49.
These men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
According to the accusers, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego failed to comply with the king’s new edict to fall prostrate and pay homage to the king’s golden image when the orchestra began to play. As we will see, this ancient act of civil disobedience by these three brave Jewish men is instructive to God’s people. After all, God’s people are called to obey the civil authorities and to not rebel against them. (Proverbs 24:21; Jeremiah 29:7; John 19:11; Romans 13:1,2,5; 1 Timothy 2:1,2; Titus 3:1; 1Peter 2:13,17) However, there is no command in scripture to obey the civil authorities if and when they require us to violate God’s commands or to worship anyone or anything aside from the God of heaven. Like the Apostle Peter, when instructed by the Jewish authorities to stop publicly preaching the name of Jesus, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29) See also: Exodus 1:17 and Acts 4:19.
 
They were true to God
When the King had gathered together all his officials to dedicate this golden image and fall down before it, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not bow down. They made the right choice, even knowing the danger it posed to their lives.
And sure enough the report came to the king. In verse 12 they speak, “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“. There must have been a lot of competition between these officials to get ahead and some saw this as “a golden opportunity” to get rid of some of the competition.
There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego – Daniel 2:49. It is quite remarkable that the name of Daniel does not occur in the record of this transaction, and that he does not appear to have been involved in the difficulty. Why he was not cannot now be certainly known. We may be sure that he would not join in the worship of the idol, and yet it would seem, as Nebuchadnezzar had summoned all the high officers of the realm to be present Daniel 3:2, that he must have been summoned also. It should be remembered that perhaps some eighteen years had elapsed since the transaction referred to in Daniel 2 occurred (see Daniel 3:1), and Daniel may have been employed in some remote part of the empire on public business.
These men, O king, have not regarded thee – Margin, “set no regard upon”. Literally, “they have not placed toward thee the decree”; that is, they have not made any account of it; they have paid no attention to it.
They serve not thy gods – Perhaps it was inferred from the fact that they would not pay religious homage to “this” idol, that they did not serve the gods at all that were acknowledged by the king; or possibly this may have been known from what had occurred before. It may have been well understood in Babylon, that the Hebrews worshipped Jehovah only. Now, however, a case had occurred which was a “test” case, whether they would on any account render homage to the idols that were worshipped in Babylon. In their refusal to worship the idol, it seemed much to aggravate the offence, and made the charge much more serious, that they did not acknowledge “any” of the gods that were worshipped in Babylon. It was easy, therefore, to persuade the king that they had arrayed themselves against the fundamental laws of the realm.
The charge was disregarding the king’s command concerning pledging allegiance by bowing before the image. This constituted proof that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego did not worship the king’s gods and were, therefore, not loyal to Nebuchadnezzar.
Many Israelites worshipped idols in Palestine, and Moses had predicted that they would worship them in exile (Deuteronomy 4:27-28), but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were as scrupulous about their observance of the Mosaic Law as Daniel. For them, death was preferable to disobedience. Nebuchadnezzar’s gods were responsible for his success, according to Mesopotamian thinking, and to disregard them was tantamount to repudiating Nebuchadnezzar.
Possibly, those who had proven themselves loyal at the royal court in Babylon would have been exempt from the ceremony. Hence Daniel would not have had to appear at the gathering because he had been with Nebuchadnezzar at the royal court.
3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
Hearing the names of the offenders, may have been a shock to the king. Up to this point they had given no evidence of malfeasance to king or kingdom. In other words, they were law abiders. So, shock added to his anger which mounted to “rage and fury“. Note that the three men came only when compelled. Knowing the feelings against them, possibly by those who had been reprimanded by these men for past misdeeds, it is likely they were fully aware of what would happen, still they had no intention of unnecessarily calling attention to themselves by remaining erect during the ceremony.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego illustrated God’s plan of salvation, not by any aggressive action on their part, but by passive non-compliance. They simply stood erect while the vast multitude bowed down. The report of their daring enraged the king and he demanded they be brought forward.
The same applies to the daring of the future non-compliant. Their daring, in the face of economic sanctions ( when “no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark” Revelation 13:17) even life itself, will come to the notice of “all the world [who] wondered after the beast . . . saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:3, 4).
Then Nebuchadnezzar, in his rage and fury – The word rendered “fury” means “wrath”. Everything that we learn of this monarch shows that he was a man of violent passions, and that he was easily excited, though he was susceptible also of deep impressions on religious subjects. There was much here to rouse his rage. His command to worship the image was positive. It extended to all who were summoned to its dedication. Their refusal was an act of positive disobedience, and it seemed necessary that the laws should be vindicated. As a man and a monarch, therefore, it was not unnatural that the anger of the sovereign should be thus enkindled.
Commanded to bring Shadrach … – It is remarkable that he did not order them at once to be slain, as he did the magicians who could not interpret his dream, Daniel 2:12. This shows that he had some respect still for these men, and that he was willing to hear what they could say in their defense. It is proper, also, to recognize the providence of God in inclining him to this course, that their noble reply to his question might be put on record, and that the full power of religious principle might be developed.
(13-14) Nebuchadnezzar reacted to the news of the three Jews’ response angrily (cf. Daniel 2:12; Daniel 3:19). He evidently took their disobedience personally as well as an act of insubordination. Nevertheless he controlled himself sufficiently to give them a second chance to obey and restated the punishment for disobedience. The king distinguished between serving his gods and worshipping his golden image (Daniel 3:14). This confirms that the worship of the image was primarily political rather than religious. However, failure to worship reflected disbelief in the king’s gods, which was evidence of these Jews’ lack of cooperation in things Babylonian.
(13-15) Nebuchadnezzar interviews the disobedient Hebrew men.
Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 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? 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 musick, 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?
Is it true: To his credit, Nebuchadnezzar did not accept the accusation on hearsay. He made sure of it with a personal interview. This was an even greater test for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. It is one thing to make a stand for God; it is a greater thing to stick to your stand when pointedly asked, “Is it true?” Peter followed Jesus after His arrest, but he wilted and denied Jesus when asked, “Is it true?
But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace: Nebuchadnezzar would not tolerate losing face on such an important occasion. His pride made him declare, “You shall have no other gods than me”.
• We can imagine the enormous pressure on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to compromise. Everything in front of them – the king, the furnace, the music, their compatriots, their competitors – all of it conspired to convince them to compromise. Yet God was more real to them than any of those things.
Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands? Nebuchadnezzar thought nothing of insulting all gods with this statement. He is more of a secularist or a humanist than a theist. The god he really believes in is himself, not the gods of Babylon.
Verses 13–15 – How is the King described?
Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 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? 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 musick, 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?
• Extreme furiousness
• Serious intimidations
• Nevertheless willingness to grant a second chance
• Pride and a feeling of superiority with regard to the God of the Hebrews
• Challenging the true God
• Disbelief that God would be able to save the three friends. It seems that in his opinion his gods are more powerful than Yahweh.
• Lust for power: immediate death penalty for alleged rebellion
Even with all these threats and the rage of their king, they remained faithful to God.
14. This act of bowing the knees to the great image was understood to be an act of worship. But such an act was homage to be rendered to God alone––the Sovereign of the world, the Ruler of the universe; and these three Hebrews refused to give such honour to any idol even though composed of pure gold. In doing so, they would, to all intents and purposes, be bowing to the king of Babylon.
3:14 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?
14. Do not yet serve? Nebuchadnezzar’s opening question was based on the first part of the accusation of the Chaldeans. It must have been generally known that these Jewish officials did not worship the Babylonian idols. But because the king himself had recognized the God they served as “a God of gods, and a Lord of kings” (Chapter 2:47), there had previously been no valid reason to accuse these men of subversive acts. Now, however, a direct command had been neglected, even despised, and the bold refusal to comply with the royal order to worship the image was probably interpreted as though the king’s tolerance toward these deviators was leading to defiance and rebellion. This would account for Nebuchadnezzar’s rage and fury.
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?
The question “Is it true“, in spite of his “rage and fury“, once again indicates the king’s fair mindedness. He did not depend on hearsay. He wanted to know from the men themselves if the accusation against them could be verified. If these men, whom the king himself had “set . . . over the affairs of the province of Babylon” had denied the accusation, the “certain Chaleans” who accused them would have quickly found themselves thrust into the furnace! Certainly, the three Hebrews were fully aware of this. But to do so would be a violation of the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). While many of their forefathers would not have considered the Chaldeans to be their “neighbor“, obviously they did not follow suite. For them, lying against the Chaldeans would be just as sinful as lying against another Jew! For them, keeping God’s law was more important then saving their own lives!
The king, who was enraged at first and possibly forgot the exact identity of the “certain Jews“, may have been surprised that they were Daniel’s companions. So, not accepting the word of the “certain Chaldeans” whom he knew to be schemers of first order, the king asked them directly by name “is the report true?” In other words, he wanted a confession from their own mouths before executing sentence.
Their call to give answer to the king is much like the call many will be obliged to give in the last days. “Many will have to stand in the legislative courts; some will have to stand before kings and before the learned of the earth, to answer for their faith” [18]. “Those who have only a superficial understanding of truth will not be able clearly to expound the Scriptures, and give definite reasons for their faith. They will become confused, and will not be workmen that need not to be ashamed. Let no one imagine that he has no need to study, because he is not to preach in the sacred desk. You know not what God may require of you” [19].
• [18] Review and Herald 12-14-93.
• [19] Our High Calling page 355.
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them,
The three Hebrews are brought in before the furious king. When they appear before them, he tests 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?
There is almost a tinge of disbelief in Nebuchadnezzar’s tone, indicating that he seeks to avoid an embarrassing encounter where his own government appointees are flagrantly disobedient to his most recent command. Nebuchadnezzar’s “gods” include Marduk, Nabu and others.
 
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true – Margin, “of purpose”; that is, have you done this intentionally? Wintle renders this, “Is it insultingly?” Jacchiades says that the word is used to denote admiration or wonder, as if the king could not believe that it was possible that they could disregard so plain a command, when disobedience was accompanied with such a threat. The Chaldee word occurs nowhere else. It is rendered as “purpose, design”. That is, “Is it on purpose?” The corresponding Hebrew word means “to lie in wait, to waylay”, Exodus 21:13; 1Samuel 24:11. Compare Numbers 35:20, Numbers 35:22. The true meaning seems to be, “Is it your “determined purpose” not to worship my gods? Have you deliberately made up your minds to this, and do you mean to abide by this resolution?” That this is the meaning is apparent from the fact that he immediately proposes to try them on the point, giving them still an opportunity to comply with his command to worship the image if they would, or to show whether they were finally resolved not to do it.
Do not ye serve my gods? – It was one of the charges against them that they did not do it, Daniel 3:12.
3:15 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 musick, 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?
15. Who is that God? This need not be considered direct blasphemy against the God of the Jews. Nevertheless it was a challenge addressed to Jehovah in a presumptuous spirit and with a haughty sense of superior power. Some have compared these words with those spoken by the Assyrian king Sennacherib, “Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee” (Isaiah 37:10). But Nebuchadnezzar’s case was somewhat different. Sennacherib elevated his gods above Jehovah, the God of the Jews, but Nebuchadnezzar declared only that deliverance out of the fiery furnace was a work that no god could accomplish. In this acknowledgment he did no more than indirectly liken the God of the Jews to his own gods, with whose impotence in such matters he was sufficiently acquainted.
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 musick, 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?
Just as those “certain Chaldeans” anticipated, the king wanted to be merciful. He would offer the Jews a second chance. But his last question “who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” showed he had just about reached the limit of his patience. But, the question was far more profound than that. It was a direct challenge against God Himself.
Perhaps the three Hebrews recalled at this time the challenge lodged by Sennacherib, king of Assyria back in 710 BC, who declared much the same thing. He tried to intimidate the Jews into surrendering the city of Jerusalem saying “who shall be able to deliver you out of [my] hand?” (2Kings 18:28-36). Long before that, king Pharaoh also challenged “Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey his voice . . .? (Exodus 5:2). In both occasions, God answered the challenge very decisively and both kings lost their lives. Now, except for sparing the life of the king, God was again, about to vindicate His power.
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 musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; [well]:
Here, we see the king, though furious, makes accommodation for the three Hebrews, condoning their previous actions while commanding them to fall into line at their next opportunity. It is likely that this dedication ceremony of the king’s golden image spanned several days. Therefore, there will certainly be another opportunity for these three Hebrews to show their allegiance to the empire they represent. When the music plays (again), the Hebrews are commanded to “fall down and worship the image“.
But if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace;
However, if Nebuchadnezzar’s offer of a second chance to prove their loyalty is refused by these three Hebrews, the king makes their fate crystal clear. They will not be spared and “shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace“. Put simply, the three men have two choices: 1) Fall into line by bowing down to a false god or 2) fail to comply with the king’s command and face an immediate fiery death!
And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
Nebuchadnezzar concludes his threat with a particularly stinging statement that reveals the extent of his madness by placing his temporal authority above that, not only of his own gods but also above that of the God of the Hebrews. The clear presumption here is that no god (even the Creator God of heaven) is unable to overrule Nebuchadnezzar’s edicts and judgments. Ironically, Nebuchadnezzar’s proud statement will soon boomerang on him as the Hebrew God will indeed arise and defend His people from this pagan monstrosity. And He will do this not only before the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar himself but also before the watching eyes of all of Babylon’s government officials assembled at this ceremony.
 
Now, if ye be ready, that at what time … – At the very time; on the very instant. It would seem probable from this that the ceremonies of the consecration of the image were prolonged for a considerable period, so that there was still an opportunity for them to unite in the service if they would. The supposition that such services would be continued through several days is altogether probable, and accords with what was usual on festival occasions. It is remarkable that the king was willing to give them another trial, to see whether they were disposed or not to worship the golden image. To this he might have been led by the apprehension that they had not understood the order, or that they had not duly considered the subject; and possibly by respect for them as faithful officers, and for their countryman Daniel. There seems, moreover, to have been in the bosom of this monarch, with all his pride and passion, a readiness to do justice, and to furnish an opportunity of a fair trial before he proceeded to extremities. See Daniel 2:16, Daniel 2:26, Daniel 2:46-47,
And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? – That is, he either supposed that the God whom they worshipped would not be “able” to deliver them, or that he would not be “disposed” to do it. It was a boast of Sennacherib, when he warred against the Jews, that none of the gods of the nations which he had conquered had been able to rescue the lands over which they presided, and he argued from these premises that the God whom the Hebrews worshipped would not be able to defend their country: “Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” Isaiah 36:18-20. Nebuchadnezzar seems to have reasoned in a similar manner, and with a degree of vain boasting that strongly resembled this, calling their attention to the certain destruction which awaited them if they did not comply with his demand.
Even though Nebuchadnezzar had witnessed and testified to the sovereignty of God previously (Daniel 2:47), he clearly did not believe that even he could save the accused (Daniel 3:15). Perhaps he figured that giving information was one thing, but saving people from a fiery death was something requiring greater supernatural power (cf. 2Kings 18:33; Isaiah 36:13-20). Similarly, many people today believe that God inspired the Bible, but they do not believe that He can deliver them from their serious personal problems, much less world problems. The king set himself above all gods; none of these gods could deliver the three Hebrews from him. He claimed absolute authority in political and religious realms.
3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
careful – to be in need of.
Defendants response (RSV) – We have no need to answer you in this matter.
16. Careful. From the Aramaic chashach, “to be in need of”. The response of the defendants may be translated, “We have no need to answer you in this matter” (RSV). Some have interpreted this reply as highly arrogant, and have pointed to martyrs reacting similarly toward their persecutors. Yet J. A. Montgomery has shown that the term “to answer” is to be interpreted in a legal sense. Analogies from cognate and other languages show that the sense is to “make defense”, or “apology”. Since the defendants did not deny the truth of the indictment, they saw no need to make a defense. Their case rested in the hands of their God (see verse 17), and they made their answer in complete submission to His will, whatever might be the outcome of their trial. That they were not sure of coming through this experience alive can be seen from their further statement (verse 18). Had they been sure of deliverance, their reply could be interpreted as revealing spiritual arrogance. As the case stood, their attitude showed their firm conviction that their course of action was the only feasible one, which needed no defense, or even further explanation.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
The king’s arrogant challenge “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” appears to be answered in a somewhat arrogant manner, although the answer could be rendered “it is not necessary for us to attempt a defence in this matter”. Consider that these men had already tasted of God’s power having witnessed the marvellous manner in which He saved them from the king’s death decree twenty years before. Undoubtedly, many other incidents in their lives while being Jewish captives placed in high position and protected time-after-time among jealous, envious subordinates, served to solidify their faith so that they could not be moved. In effect, they were truly “sealed in their foreheads“.
The three Hebrews did not become confused. Their answer even seems arrogant when they declared “we are not careful to answer thee in this matter“. But, it really was not egotistical, for arrogance would imply they were depending on a favorable outcome. Such was not the case. They declared that God may or may not “deliver us from the . . . furnace” and, even if He did not “we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (verse 18).
So, instead of arrogance, they were simply admitting the truth of the accusation, declaring themselves guilty as charged. It would be pointless to plea innocence.
So it is with all of God’s people today. Whether we know it or not, our faith is being weakened or strengthened every day depending on how we face the big or little trials of everyday life. “There is a spirit of desperation, of war and bloodshed, and that spirit will increase until the very close of time. Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads,–it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved,–just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming” [20]. “In our character building we must build on Christ. He is the sure foundation–a foundation which can never be moved. The tempest of temptation and trial cannot move the building which is riveted to the Eternal Rock” [21].
• [20] Manuscript Releases Vol.1, page 249; Vol.10 page 252.
• [21] Child Guidance by E.G. White page 166.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king,
The three Hebrews stand boldly before the king and issue their courageous reply with the full knowledge that it could cost them their lives.
O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
Their reply implies no hesitation to obey God’s commands over those of the king. In fact, they begin by recognizing that there is no need for them to actually give a reply to the king in this matter.
 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king – They appear to have answered promptly, and without hesitation, showing that they had carefully considered the subject, and that with them it was a matter of settled and intelligent principle. But they did it in a respectful manner, though they were firm. They neither reviled the monarch nor his gods. They used no reproachful words respecting the image which he had set up, or any of the idols which he worshipped. Nor did they complain of his injustice or severity. They calmly looked at their own duty, and resolved to do it, leaving the consequences with the God whom they worshipped.
We are not careful to answer thee in this matter – The word rendered “careful” means “to be needed” or “necessary”; then, “to have need”. The Vulgate renders it – it does not behove us; it is not needful for us. So the Greek – we have no need. So Luther – there is no necessity. The meaning therefore is, that it was not “necessary” that they should reply to the king on that point; they would not give themselves trouble or solicitude to do it. They had made up their minds, and, whatever was the result, they could not worship the image which he had set up, or the gods whom he adored. They felt that there was no necessity for stating the reasons why they could not do this.
(16-18) The three Hebrew men insist they will never worship the image.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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.
We have no need to answer you: They had no need to defend themselves. Their guilt in the matter was clear – they clearly would not bow down to this image.
Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us: In this, the Jewish men showed a good understanding and appreciation of God’s great power. In fact, they knew that God was able to save them from both the burning fiery furnace and from the hand of Nebuchadnezzar himself.
But if not: In this, the Jewish men show they had a good understanding and appreciation of submission to God. They knew God’s power, but they also knew that they must do what was right even if God did not do what they expect or hope Him to do.
• We often complain about our rights and what is fair. Often it is better to make a stand and endure our difficulty, leaving our fate in God’s hands.
• They did not doubt God’s ability, but neither did they presume to know God’s will. In this they agreed with Job: Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him (Job 13:15). They recognized that God’s plan might be different than their desires. I have my own desires and dreams and I pray that God fulfils them. But if He doesn’t, I can’t turn my back on Him.
• These were men who did not love too much. Remember that early Christians were not thrown to the lions because they worshipped Jesus, but because they would not worship the emperor.
• In our day, many do love Jesus and think highly of Him – yet they are far from God because they also love and worship the world, sin, and self. Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).
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: It took great faith to say this. God brought them to this place of great faith by preparing them with tests in less dramatic areas.
• These men stood firm when challenged to eat impure foods and they saw God bless their obedience. That gave them the courage to obey now, when the stakes were much higher.
• Many fail in their obedience because they wait for something “big” to test their faith before they really start to obey God. Some fill their life with many small compromises; yet tell themselves that they will stand firm when it really matters. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego show us that obedience to God in small things really matters.
Let it be known to you, O king: The statement of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego is also remarkable for what it does not have – any hint of an excuse. In a time of testing like this it is easy to think of a thousand excuses that seem to justify compromise.
(16–18) – What about Daniel‘s friends impresses us?
• Calmness and equanimity
• Courage and boldness
• Faithfulness to their God
• Readiness to die for their convictions
• Faith in the omnipotence of God
• Submission to God’s will, no matter what it may mean
• Their understanding of God does not claim that believers are exempt of evil and challenges, or that God is obligated to save them from all danger. They do not believe they should let go of God in case He does not intervene. They do not believe in a kind of contract between God and them in the sense of “What you will do to me, I will do to you”, or “I am giving so that you will give”. Rather they have a personal relationship of trust and love with the Lord.
True faith in the face of the fire
(16-18) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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.
What amazing faith Daniel’s three friends had! Having committed themselves to the God of Israel [22], God now commits Himself to them and supplies the boldness and strength to stand and defy the king! What an amazing testimony they gave [23]. You would think that they would fall somewhat silent as they contemplated how to respond to such a threat but they spoke immediately with grace yet firm resolve and faith. It is one thing to ‘think’ that we will be strong in such a time but another to actually do it. Peter told Jesus that even if all deserted Him, he never would. Yet at the moment of testing, he even had to lie to a small girl saying he didn’t know Jesus! (Matthew 26:69) The moral of this message is that we should never have such great pride and confidence in ourselves but rely on God to give what is needed in such times. That is the answer to the confidence that Daniel’s three friends exhibited.
• [22] Commitment is becoming a rare quality in this age. Especially this type of commitment that places no conditions on God whatsoever. We tend to give in and give up. This happens in jobs, marriages, faith and even our lives. Even Christians can sometimes believe that God primarily exists for their benefit. Daniel’s three friends placed no such conditions on God – deliverance or not, God is good and worth obeying!
• [23] What they did in the midst of this fiery ordeal is what Peter tells us to do.
So how do you think the king would respond? What’s going to happen to these three people that don’t want to go along with this new one world religion?
They entrusted themselves into God’s hands
They already knew they would be thrown in the fire. But they have strong faith in God. In response the king’s taunt, “and who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (verse 15) they confess that the true God is more than able to deliver them if he wants to. But even if God doesn’t choose to do this, they will still be faithful to him.
3:17 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.
If – this introduction particle should not be taken as an indication of doubt in God’s plan to save; LXX has no introduction particle.
17. If it be so. The introductory particle translated “if” has been the subject of much debate among commentators. Both ancient and modern versions reflect some uncertainty as to its correct meaning. Two interpretations predominate: (1) that of the KJV, RV, ASV, RSV, and others, which reflect the meaning, “If it be so, our God … is able to deliver us, … but if not”, etc.; and (2) that of modern commentators who interpret the passage, “If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery burning furnace and from thy hand, O king, he will save (us); but if not”, etc. The latter translation is inconsistent with the faith of the three Jewish defendants elsewhere revealed. The first translation seems the more fair reflection of the firm faith of these worthies in God’s omnipotence and unsearchable wisdom. God could save them if it was best for them and for the glory of His name and cause. The “if” should not be taken as an indication of doubt in God’s power to save, but as an indication of uncertainty as to whether it was God’s will to save.
The LXX has no introductory particle “if” and has the whole statement (verses 16–18) a positive declaration: “O king, we have no need to answer thee concerning this command. For God in the heavens is our one Lord, whom we fear, and who is able to deliver us out of the furnace of fire; and out of your hands, O king, he will deliver us; and then it shall be manifest to thee that we will serve neither thy idol, nor worship thy golden image”. However, scholars generally prefer the Masoretic reading (see verse 16).
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.
As their response to the king continues, the three Hebrews make their total and complete allegiance to their God crystal clear. Not even a hint of fear is evident in their reply as they inform the king that their God “is able to deliver” them both out of the fiery furnace and, ultimately, out of the king’s hand. Their confidence in the God of heaven, however, becomes even more evident as their reply continues in the following verse.
 
If it be so – Chaldee – “so it is”. That is, “this is true, that the God whom we serve can save us”. The idea is not, as would seem in our translation, “if we are to be cast into the furnace”, but the mind is turned on the fact that the God whom they served could save them.
Our God, whom we serve – Greek, “our God in the heavens, whom we serve”. This was a distinct avowal that they were the servants of the true God, and they were not ashamed to avow it, whatever might be the consequences.
Is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace – This was evidently said in reply to the question asked by the king Daniel 3:15, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” They were sure that the God whom they worshipped was able, if he should choose to do it, to save them from death. In what way they supposed he could save them is not expressed. Probably it did not occur to them that he would save them in the manner in which he actually did, but they felt that it was entirely within his power to keep them from so horrid a death if he pleased. The state of mind indicated in this verse is that of “entire confidence in God”.
(17–18) 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. 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.
In other words, there was no trace of doubt in their minds that God was fully able to deliver them out of the king’s hand if He so chose. Notice the twice use of the word “deliver”. They did not allow the indeterminate, the uncertainty of the outcome to intimidate them. Their attitude was much like Job’s who declared in the midst of his incredible troubles: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15).
So, even though they had, up to this point, served the king faithfully, they had not nor would they ever “serve [the king’s] gods” let alone, “worship the golden image“. They were forced to chose loyalty to the God of heaven or a god of the earth. They chose the former.
The prophet John was shown a host of people in the last days of this earth’s history who will not be spared the death penalty for refusing worship. In fact, they will be “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4). What a deal that will be! Exchanging a few paltry years on the earth for a “thousand” in heaven! That was the kind of exchange Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were more than willing to make. They were wise indeed!
(17-18) They said they believed the Lord could deliver them from any fiery furnace and that He would deliver them. However, they also acknowledged the possibility that it might be God’s will not to deliver them. God does not always save the lives of His children when they face martyrdom. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego knew this, but they had no question about God’s ability to save them (cf. Matthew 10:28). Whether God would deliver them or not, they refused to serve idols or to bow before the king’s image (Exodus 20:3-5).
The quiet, modest, yet withal very positive attitude of faith that these three men display is one of the noblest examples in the Scriptures of faith fully resigned to the will of God. These men ask for no miracle; they expect none. Theirs is the faith that says: ’Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,’ Job 13:15.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego loved God more than life itself. Not only had they learned to recite the Shema – Hear, O Israel: THE LORD OUR GOD [IS] ONE LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD THY GOD with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) – but they made it the center of their lives. For them the will and glory of God meant more than fame, position, or security. Cf. Acts 20:24.
The courteous but determined refusal of the Hebrews should be carefully observed. They had obeyed ’the powers that be’ as far as conscience permitted. They journeyed to the Plain of Dura. And right at the point where conscience shouted, ’No further!’ they rejected the temptation to be arrogant in their non-conformity. As Daniel before them had been courteous in his request to follow his convictions, so these three verbally acknowledge Nebuchadnezzar as king, while committing their ultimate allegiance to the King of kings alone. (cf. Acts 5:29; Matthew 22:21).
3:18 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.
But if not,
Here, the defiant Hebrews display a remarkable faith similar to that shown by suffering Job in the depths of his trials when he said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him“. (Job 13:15). Like Job, these Hebrews are willing to face physical death in the event that their God, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, chose not to deliver their physical bodies from the fiery furnace.
Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
The point here is clear. Faced with the king’s wrath and the threat of a quick, but gruesome, death, these Hebrews refuse to bow their knees to serve Nebuchadnezzar’s gods, including the “golden image” that the king has set up for all of his officials to worship. It is important to note that the absolute defiance to authority displayed by the Hebrews here is only due to the extreme nature of the king’s request. Under most other circumstances, these Hebrews have been compliant and willing to obey the king’s requests. After all, they serve as some of his top officials within the very heart of the Babylonian empire! However, when forced to choose between obedience to God or obedience to the king, they must choose God. This rare defiance of authority is found within the New Testament when the Apostles are ordered to stop preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:28) The Apostle Peter’s response mirrors that of these three Hebrews when he exclaims: “We ought to obey God rather than men“. (Acts 5:29) God’s people reserve their defiance to authority ONLY for when they are asked to directly disobey the specific commands of God. A command to bow down and worship a false god or to be silent about Jesus Christ both require defiance from God’s people.
 
But if not – That is, If he should “not” deliver us; if it should “not” occur that he would protect us, and save us from that heated oven: whatever may be the result in regard to us, our determination is settled.
Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods … – This answer is firm and noble. It showed that their minds were made up, and that it was with them a matter of “principle” not to worship false gods. The state of mind which is denoted by this verse is that of a determination to do their duty, whatever might be the consequences. The attention was fixed on what was “right”, not on what would be the result. The sole question which was asked was, what “ought” to be done in the case; and they had no concern about what would follow. True religion is a determined purpose to do right, and not to do wrong, whatever may be the consequences in either case. It matters not what follows – wealth or poverty; honor or dishonor; good report or evil report; life or death; the mind is firmly fixed on doing right, and not on doing wrong. This is “the religion of principle”.
19. Something Unusual Anticipated. – When the king saw that his will was not received as the will of God, he was “full of fury”, and the form of his visage was changed against these men. Satanic attributes made his countenance appear as the countenance of a demon; and with all the force he could command, he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than its wont, and commanded the most mighty men to bind the youth, and cast them into the furnace. He felt that it required more than ordinary power to deal with these noble men. His mind was strongly impressed that something unusual would interpose in their behalf, and his strongest men were ordered to deal with them (ST May 6, 1897).  [4BC 1169.6]
3:19 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.
Increase heat in furnace probably produced by an extraordinary supply of chaff and crude oil.
Oil – many open oil wells in Mesopotamia.
19. One seven times more. Aramaic chadshib‘ah, literally meaning, “one seven”, with the meaning “seven times”, is a rather strange construction, but the same form is used also in an Aramaic letter of the 5th century BC, from Elephantine. Some grammarians have thought that it is an abbreviation of a usual Aramaic idiom, while others, like Montgomery, think that “it may come from reminiscence of recitation of multiplication tables”. The increased heat in the furnace was probably produced by an extraordinary supply of chaff and crude oil. The oil would be obtained from the many open oil wells of Mesopotamia, which, from ancient times, have lavishly furnished this product, and with which modern brickkilns in the area are fired (see verse 6). The purpose of this extraordinary command was probably not to increase the punishment. An increase of heat in the furnace would not have increased the torture of the victims. The king intended to forestall any possible intervention.
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.
The king was not charmed with their frankness nor awed by their fearlessness. He had given them a second chance and this was the last straw. Their audacity seemed to him nothing more than brash disregard for his authority and for this reason he commanded the furnace to be made even hotter. This was an overreaction that would kill instantly and actually cause less suffering than a cooler fire. But his response was more than a temper tantrum for he was driven by fear coming from the heart of Satan himself who was far more frustrated with the Hebrews than his agent Nebuchadnezzar.
In verses 13 to 15, with the king already “in . . . rage and fury“, he still retained an element of good sense when he offered the men a second chance. Now, with his face contorted, he really losses it! His command to heat up the furnace “seven times more” makes no sense if his desire was to punish insubordination. A cooler fire would have been far more punishing!
Later, in Daniel’s life, he was shown another king who will “go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many” (Daniel 11:44) of God’s people who will challenge his authority just like Nebuchadnezzar in this situation.
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:
Enraged by the defiant response of the three Hebrews, the king’s countenance changed against them.
Therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
In his wrath, the king abruptly ends the dialogue with the three Hebrews as it was clear from their reply that they had no plan of bowing to the king’s golden image. But Nebuchadnezzar was not content to simply toss the three Hebrews into the fiery furnace. Instead, to indicate his extreme wrath, and perhaps to make an example of the “rebels”, the king orders his officials to increase the heat of the furnace sevenfold. While the specifics of how this was done are not revealed, it is likely that the king’s officials added seven times more fuel to the flame. So too, the number “seven” in scripture carries the figurative idea of “completion” or “perfection”. Of course, this sevenfold increase in the heat of the fiery furnace will actually make the miracle that God is about to perform even more incredible to the onlookers. Ironically, if the king’s desire was to prolong the agony of the three Hebrews it would have been more effective to lower the temperature in the fiery furnace. This act of raising the temperature reveals that the king had lost his temper and was acting in an irrational manner. As a side-note, death by fire was apparently a common form of capital punishment employed by the king of Babylon as evidenced by Jeremiah 29:22.
 
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury – Margin, “filled”. He was exceedingly enraged. He evidently was not prepared for a stand so firm and determined on their part, and he did not appreciate their motives, nor was he disposed to yield to them the privilege and right of following their honest convictions. He was deeply excited with anger when the complaint was made that they would not worship his gods Daniel 3:13, but he had hoped that possibly they had not understood his command, and that what they had done had not been by deliberate purpose (see Daniel 3:14); and he had therefore given them an opportunity to reconsider the subject, and, by complying with his will, to save themselves from the threatened punishment. He now saw, however, that what they had done was done deliberately. He saw that they firmly and intelligently refused to obey, and supposing now that they not only rebelled against his “commands”, but that they disregarded and despised even his “forbearance” Daniel 3:15, it is not wonderful that he was filled with wrath. What was with them fixed “principle”, he probably regarded as mere obstinacy, and he determined to punish them accordingly.
And the form of his visage was changed – As the face usually is when men become excited with anger. We may suppose that up to this point he had evinced self-control; “possibly” he may have shown something like tenderness or compassion. He was indisposed to punish them, and he hoped that they would save him from the necessity of it by complying with his commands. Now he saw that all hope of this was vain, and he gave unrestrained vent to his angry feelings.
He spake and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated – Chaldee, “Than it was sees to be heated”; that is, than it was ever seen. The word “seven” here is a perfect number, and the meaning is, that they should make it as hot as possible. He did not reflect probably that by this command he was contributing to shorten and abridge their sufferings. Wicked men, who are violently opposed to religion, often overdo the matter, and by their haste and impetuosity defeat the very end which they have in view, and even promote the very cause which they wish to destroy.
The determination of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to withhold the form of allegiance that Nebuchadnezzar required made the king very angry. He apparently ordered the furnace heated to seven times its normal heat to make an example of them. “Seven times more” is a proverbial expression for “much more” in some passages (cf. Proverbs 24:16; Proverbs 26:16), and it probably has that meaning here, too.
Execution of the Verdict
(19–22) In his wrath the king orders the execution of his verdict. In this process his best warriors die. His order to heat the furnace seven times hotter may have been given to prevent the God of the Hebrews from saving His people. The furnace may have been one of the many kilns used in Babylon.
The Hebrew men in the fiery furnace.
(19-23) The three men are cast violently into the furnace.
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. 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. 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. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury: No matter how brave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were, facing the fury of a king was still extremely intimidating. We get the feeling that prior to their statement Nebuchadnezzar spoke kindly, almost in a fatherly manner to these wayward boys. After hearing their bold challenge the expression on his face changed.
• Despite the intense intimidation, the men stayed courageous in their confession of faith.
Bound in their coats… the furnace exceedingly hot: Everything was done to make sure that the three Hebrew men were quickly and completely burned.
A furious fuehrer and a fierce flaming fire
How did Nebuchadnezzar respond? He requested that the furnace be heated up seven times hotter and decrees that Daniel’s three friends will be thrown in alive. It is about now that we should be reminded that God’s ways are not our ways! You can probably imagine the prayer groups leaping into action as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are lead away.
If you think about it, probably 95% of your prayer life is spent telling God what He should do. But God didn’t take the fire away. He can, and sometimes does, but He usually has a purpose in letting people go through the fire.
God was with them in their trials
In Daniel 3:19-23 we learn that:
 • The king was furious and his countenance changed
 • The furnace was heated seven times hotter
 • It was so hot it killed the men who threw them in.
3:20 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.
20. The most mighty men. Better, “some strong men”, or “certain mighty men” (RSV). The choice of military men of outstanding strength was probably to forestall the possibility of intervention on the part of the gods.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
Amid his fury, the king ordered some of his most mighty soldiers to bind up the three Hebrews in preparation for their public execution. The text reveals that these “valiant warriors” were under the king’s power and part of his vast army. That the king gives this task into the hands of some of his most elite military officials perhaps suggests two things: 1) That the king feared divine reprisal from his action and wanted his most proficient warriors at hand and 2) that he trusted them to be able to carry out this execution despite the extreme (sevenfold) heat that was emitting from the furnace.
And to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Once these warriors had bound the three Hebrews, they were to hurl them into the fiery furnace.
 
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army – Margin, “mighty of strength”. Chaldee, “And to mighty men, mighty men of strength who were in his army, he said”. He employed the strongest men that could be found for this purpose.
(20–22) 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. 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. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Consider the two groups of “men” being depicted in these verses: Nebucadnezzar’s “most mighty men . . . in his army“, and the three Hebrews who were “bound” up by the king’s soldiers.
Both groups exhibited extraordinary obedience. Both were focused on complying with the commands of their ruler regardless of consequences. Neither group were assured of the outcome. Both suffered terribly. One perished, the other survived. The opposite was expected. The commands they were guided by were given in order to demonstrate which ruler was the most powerful.
The command obeyed by the soldiers was from an earthly king they could see. The command obeyed by the three Hebrews was from the heavenly King that they could not see, except by faith.
The soldiers were forced into a rigorous training program for an extended period of time being taught the importance of implicit, unquestioning, automatic obedience. They were expected to behave like robots.
But, the three Hebrew men, like Daniel, had “purposed in” their heart to serve God by choice, unlike that of the soldiers whose power of choice had long since been subverted to the authority of another human who had just been seized with a fit of temporary insanity.
The three Hebrews had just said “we will not” while the soldiers silently carried out their orders then were slain by “the flame of the fire” because it was “exceeding hot“.
(20-23) The fact that they were fully clothed when thrown into the furnace (Daniel 3:21) will feature soon. The Medo-Persian nobles later tried to have Daniel executed by getting King Darius to throw him to the lions (Daniel 6:7; cf. Revelation 12:10). That the men who threw them into the fire perished is testimony to the faithfulness of God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3). God cursed those who cursed His chosen people. Compare the fate of Haman (Esther 7:10). Their fate should have warned the king.
Judging from bas-reliefs, it would seem that Mesopotamian smelting furnaces tended to be like an old-fashioned glass milk-bottle in shape, with a large opening for the insertion of the ore to be smelted and a smaller aperture at ground level for the admission of wood and charcoal to furnish the heat.
3:21 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.
21. Coats. The Aramaic words describing the “coats” and the “hosen” (Old English for “trousers”) are not yet fully understood. Lexicographers agree that the renderings offered in the KJV are approximately correct.
Hats. Aramaic karbelah, a word of Akkadian origin, as shown by the cuneiform texts, where it appears as karballatu, “cap”. In the Naqsh-i-Rustam inscription of Darius I the term designates the helmet, but in late Babylonian texts it stands for “hats”. The mention of the separate articles of clothing, consisting of easily inflammable material, was doubtless with reference to the miracle that followed (see verse 27).
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments,
Here, we see the three fully-clothed Hebrews are bound by their captors. Perhaps the emphasis upon their garments here is to suggest that they were seized in haste. Of course, the fact that their bodies are covered in flammable clothing, including undergarments, trousers, stockings and shoes, and even their hats also serves to intensify the miracle that is about to occur.
And were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Once these warriors had bound the three fully-clothed Hebrews, they were cast into the blazing fiery furnace.
 
Then these men were bound in their coats – They were seized just as they were. No time was given them for preparation; no change was made in their dress. In “autos-da-fe” of later times, it has been usual to array those who were to suffer in a peculiar dress, indicative of the fact that they were heretics, and that they deserved the flame. Here, however, the anger of the king was so great, that no delay was allowed for any such purpose, and they proceeded to execute the sentence upon them just as they were. The fact that they were thus thrown into the furnace, however, only made the miracle the more conspicuous, since not even their garments were affected by the fire. The word rendered “coats“, is in the margin rendered “mantles”. The Chaldee word means the long and wide pantaloons which are worn by the Orientals, from a word meaning to cover. The Greek word used in the translation is derived from this – sarabara – and the word sarbarides is still used in modern Greek. The Chaldee word is used only in this Chapter. The Vulgate renders this, cum braccis suis – hence, the word “breeches”, and “brogues”. The garment referred to, therefore, seems rather to be what covered the lower part of their person than either a coat or mantle.
Their hosen – This word was evidently designed by our translators to denote drawers, or trousers – not stockings, for that was the common meaning of the word when the translation was made. It is not probable that the word is designed to denote “stockings”, as they are not commonly worn in the East.
And their hats – Margin, or “turbans”. The Chaldee word is rendered as mantle, pallium. There is certainly no reason for rendering the word “hats” – as hats were then unknown; nor is there any evidence that it refers to a turban. It could mean a garment, particularly an outer garment, a cloak, and this is probably the correct idea. We should then have in these three words the principal articles of dress in which the Orientals appear, as is shown by an engraving, and from the ruins of Persepolis – the large and loose trousers; the tunic, or inner garment; and the outer garment, or cloak, that was commonly thrown over all.
And their other garments – Whatever they had on, whether turban, belt, sandals, etc..
3:22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent,
As these events unfold, it is clear that the writer, Daniel, is making a strong point about the harsh (and even rash) nature of the king’s command towards these three Hebrews. The Aramaic word used here for “urgent” is the word “chatsaph”, which conveys the idea of showing insolence as well as acting in haste.
And the furnace exceeding hot,
So too, the extraordinary heat emitting from the blazing fiery furnace is a perfect picture of the king’s wrath towards the disobedient Hebrews. It should be clear from this passage that the king is acting less out of wisdom and forethought and more out of foolish haste.
The flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Here, we see that the king’s foolish haste is the direct cause of death, not of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, but instead of his own elite warriors. Those who seek to obey the king are slain. Their blood is on his hands. This must have been quite a sight as these warriors died while casting these three fully-clothed Hebrews into the blazing fiery furnace.
 
Therefore, because the king’s commandment was urgent – Margin, as in Chaldee, “word”. The meaning is, that the king would admit of no delay; he urged on the execution of his will, even at the imminent peril of those who were entrusted with the execution of his command.
And the furnace exceeding hot – Probably so as to send out the flame so far as to render the approach to it dangerous. The urgency of the king would not admit of any arrangements, even if there could have been any, by which the approach to it would be safe.
The flame of the fire slew those men – Margin, as in Chaldee, “spark”. The meaning is, what the fire threw out – the blaze, the heat. Nothing can be more probable than this. It was necessary to approach to the very mouth of the furnace in order to cast them in, and it is very conceivable that a heated furnace would belch forth such flames, or throw out such an amount of heat, that this could not be done but at the peril of life. The Chaldee word rendered “slew” here, means “killed”. It does not mean merely that they were overcome with the heat, but that they actually died. To expose these men thus to death was an act of great cruelty, but we are to remember how absolute is the character of an Oriental despot, and how much enraged this king was, and how regardless such a man would be of any effects on others in the execution of his own will.
23. But the Lord did not forget His own. As His witnesses were cast into the furnace, THE SAVIOUR REVEALED HIMSELF to them in person, and together they walked in the midst of the fire. In the presence of the Lord of heat and cold, the flames lost their power to consume. [PK 508.3]
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walketh through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. Isaiah 43:2.
From his royal seat the king looked on, expecting to see the men who had defied him utterly destroyed. But his feelings of triumph suddenly changed. The nobles standing near saw his face grow pale as he started from the throne and looked intently into the glowing flames. In alarm the king, turning to his lords, asked, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? . . . 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”. [PK 509.1]
These lessons have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days.
The Children of God today must not expect to meet less of persecution and trial than did these ancient worthies. Just as long as we are followers of Christ we must be witnesses for him. Tribulation will assuredly come; for Satan knows that Christ has purchased salvation for the whole world, and he is determined to wrest every soul possible out of his hand. [ST, September 2, 1897 par. 7]
3:23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
At this point the manuscripts of the oldest translations of Daniel, the LXX and Theodotion follow on with 68 (Apocryphal) verses of ‘The Song of the Three Holy Children’.
23. Burning fiery furnace. Following verse 23, manuscripts of the oldest translations of Daniel, the LXX and Theodotion, contain a long Apocryphal addition of 68 verses, called “The Song of the Three Holy Children”. The song consists of three parts: (1) Prayer of Azarias (Abednego), composed of both confession and supplication (verses 24–45); (2) a prose interlude, describing the heating of the fire and the descent of the angel of the Lord to cool the flames (verses 46–50); (3) the benediction of the three (verses 51–91). Although recognized by Jerome as spurious, this Apocryphal addition found its way into Roman Catholic Bibles as canonical. Scholars debate whether the song is of Christian or Jewish origin. A number of them believe the work was produced approximately 100 BC.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Evidently they had been pitched bodily into the furnace before the soldiers succumbed to the heat of the fire. Note that such demonstration of abject loyalty does not appear to have called forth any expression of appreciation from the king. Evidently, he took little note of what they had done.
Despite the deaths of their executors, the three Hebrews meet the fate intended for them by the hasty king as they fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Fell down bound
It is noteworthy that the scripture does not fail to leave out this detail. As if the blazing inferno were not enough to destroy the three Hebrews, the writer includes the fact that they were still bound as they fell down bound into the fire. This, of course, will further serve to highlight the miracle that is about to take place.
 
And these three men – fell down bound … – That is, the flame did not loosen the cords by which they had been fastened. The fact that they were seen to fall into the furnace “bound“, made the miracle the more remarkable that they should be seen walking loose in the midst of the fire.
In the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, and Latin Vulgate, there follow in this place sixty-eight verses, containing “The Song of the Three Holy Children”. This is not in the Chaldee, and its origin is unknown. It is with entire propriety placed in the Apocrypha, as being no part of the inspired canon. With some things that are improbable and absurd, the “song” contains many things that are beautiful, and that would be highly appropriate if a song had been uttered at all in the furnace.
The Phenomenon in the Fiery Furnace
(23–25) – A phenomenon happens: although the soldiers outside the furnace are burnt, the three men inside the furnace do not die but freely walk around in the fire, and a fourth person joins them. His appearance is described as a son of the gods or the Son of God (verses 28, 29 and the Spirit of Prophecy confirm the second option). God intervenes and saves His faithful servants. Early church fathers already understood this fourth person as Jesus Christ. The king is stunned.
3:24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
24. Rose up in haste. The king had evidently gone to the place of execution, undoubtedly to make sure that his command would be properly carried out. He was probably seated so that he could observe the victims as they were thrown into the fire.
25. Like the Son of God. Commentators have variously interpreted the exclamation of the astonished Nebuchadnezzar concerning the fourth individual in the fiery furnace. Early Christian interpreters (Hippolytus, Chrysostom, and others), on the other hand, saw in this fourth personage the second person of the Godhead. The rendering of the KJV reflects this interpretation. The majority of conservative Christians hold to this view.
The problem is one of Aramaic grammar and interpretation. The Aramaic ’elahin, “gods”, is the plural of ’elah, “god”. In some cases where ’elahin is used, reference is made to pagan gods (chs. 2:11, 47; 5:4, 23). However, there are two passages besides the one under discussion where ’elahin can be interpreted to refer to the true God of Daniel (Chapter 5:11, 14; see RSV footnote). Hence the translation “God” for ’elahin is justifiable if it can be established that Nebuchadnezzar was employing the term as a proper name. Grammatically, both translations, “like the Son of God”, and, “like a son of the gods”, are correct.
The context reveals that Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the superiority of the most high God of Israel (see Daniel 3:26, 28, 29; 4:2). In these statements the king was not referring to gods in general but to the God in particular. For this reason conservative interpreters prefer the translation of the KJV and can linguistically defend their preference (see PK 509).
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste,
After the three Hebrews fall into the blazing fiery furnace, the king is so startled by something that he sees in the furnace that he actually stands up “in haste“. Once again, note this singular emotion of “haste” that the Bible explains as driving the king’s actions.
And spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?
With the three Hebrews already in the blazing fiery furnace, there should be no further need for alarm or concern. Even Nebuchadnezzar’s own elite warriors could not survive being near the blazing inferno. Why then should it not be expected that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego should have survived after falling into the flames? And yet, the alarmed king, after peering into the fiery furnace, asks his high court ministers to reaffirm the number of men that he himself had just condemned to death. “Did not we cast three men“? he asks.
So the king is working on his basic mathematical skills and finds a problem – there was an extra person in the furnace. Who was the fourth man? Was it an angel, who are called sons of god? Or was this the Son of God? Spirit of Prophecy confirms that it was Jesus Himself who was with them in the midst of their trial. God didn’t let them go through it alone, but was there with them right in the fiery furnace, walking with them.
They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
The king’s faithful court ministers confirm to Nebuchadnezzar that indeed he had ordered exactly three men to be cast into the blazing fiery furnace. Clearly, something has gone awry with the king’s “hasty” plans as we will discover in the next verse.
 
Then, Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied – The word “astonied”, which occurs several times in translation, Ezra 9:3; Job 17:8; Job 18:20; Ezekiel 4:17; Daniel 3:24; Daniel 4:19; Daniel 5:9, is but another form for “astonished”, and expresses wonder or amazement. The reasons of the wonder here were that the men who were bound when cast into the furnace were seen alive, and walking unbound; that to them a fourth person was added, walking with them; and that the fourth had the appearance of a Divine personage. It would seem from this, that the furnace was so made that one could conveniently see into it, and also that the king remained near to it to witness the result of the execution of his own order.
And rose up in haste – He would naturally express his surprise to his counsellors, and ask an explanation of the remarkable occurrence which he witnessed. “And spake, and said unto his counsellors” Margin, “governors”. The word used here occurs only here and in Daniel 3:27; Daniel 4:36; Daniel 6:7. It is rendered “counsellors” in each case. The Vulgate renders it “optimatibus”; the Septuagint, megistasin – his nobles, or distinguished men. The word would seem to mean those who were authorized to “speak”; that is, those authorized to give counsel; ministers of state, viziers, cabinet counsellors.
Did not we cast three men bound … – The emphasis here is on the words “three“, and “bound“. It was now a matter of astonishment that there were “four“, and that they were all “loose“. It is not to be supposed that Nebuchadnezzar had any doubt on this subject, or that his recollection had so soon failed him, but this manner of introducing the subject is adopted in order to fix the attention strongly on the fact to which he was about to call their attention, and which was to him so much a matter of surprise.
(24–25) Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 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.
So, the king could hardly believe his eyes and had to ask his assistants if what he saw was real. After they assented, he concluded “the fourth” to be “like the Son of God“.
Ellen White asks “How did that heathen king know what the Son of God was like?” She answers: “The Hebrew captives . . . had in life and character represented before him the truth” [25]. So, the king knew what He was like character wise, rather than being familiar with his exact appearance. Her answer also suggests his polytheism had nothing to do with his perception.
• [25] Prophets and Kings page 509.
(24-25) Nebuchadnezzar sees four alive and well in the furnace.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 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.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied: It is astonishing that anyone survived for a moment inside the furnace when others perished at the door.
• The Septuagint says in Daniel 3:24 that Nebuchadnezzar’s attention was caught when he heard the men singing praises in the furnace. We can imagine that the king had them cast into the furnace and didn’t intend to look twice, believing they would be immediately consumed. As he walked away with a satisfied look on his face, he was immediately stopped by the sound of singing coming from the furnace. At a safe distance from the raging heat, he peered inside – and saw four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire. Daniel 3:24
• If this singing in the furnace is true, it reminds us of Paul and Silas singing in the Philippian jail (Acts 16:25).
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: Nebuchadnezzar tells us who the fourth person was – the Son of God. Jesus was literally with them in the worst of their trial.
• We don’t know if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew that the Son of God was with them in their fiery trial. Sometimes we are aware of Jesus’ presence in our trials and sometimes we are not – but He is there nonetheless.
• God’s people are often in the furnace, and though there are different kinds of furnaces, they serve similar purposes in our life.
• There is the furnace that man prepares.
• There is the furnace that Satan prepares.
• There is the furnace that God prepares.
• God can deliver us from a trial, or He can miraculously sustain and strengthen us in a trial. In 1532 an English martyr, James Baynham, when chained to the stake he embraced the fagots, and said, “Oh, ye papists, behold! ye look for miracles; here now may you see a miracle; for in this fire I feel no more pain than if I were in bed; for it is as sweet to me as a bed of roses.” Thus he resigned his soul into the hands of his Redeemer.
I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire: Nebuchadnezzar also observed that the four men were free in the fire. The fire only burnt the ropes that bound them.
The purpose for the flames
In direct fulfilment of Isaiah 43:2 the flames didn’t even touch them! In fact, the only thing burnt by the flames were the ropes that the king had used to bind Daniel’s three friends! God can even use a nasty trial to free us from the things that would seek to bind us. And notice why it was that they were able to come through this fiery trial (quite literally!) intact – because one “like the Son of God” was with them. That is Jesus, who is with His people through their trials. So what was God’s purpose for the flames?
It was for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego themselves. They were able to experience God! They were able to experience His protection, fellowship and peace when circumstances would state otherwise! Think about your own life. I would suspect that the times when you have experienced God the most have come in the midst of fiery ordeals.
It was for Nebuchadnezzar and those looking on – They got to see that with God you could go through the fire and not be burned. They got to see that they were upheld, loosed and free. They got to see that someone (‘like the Son of God‘) was with them. Never underestimate God’s desire to witness to others when you go through a trial.
(24-25) As Nebuchadnezzar watched what was happening inside the furnace, he marvelled to see that the three Jews did not instantly perish. Rising from his seat, he saw them loosed from their bonds and walking around inside the furnace. What startled him even more was the presence of a fourth person with them. The fourth person had an unusual appearance, like the Son of God. The king probably meant that this fourth person appeared to be super-human or divine from his viewpoint as a pagan polytheist. Evidently the fourth person was Jesus Christ Himself (cf. Genesis 16:13; et al.). He was with the three men in their affliction and protected them from harm in it (cf. Exodus 3:12; Psalms 23:4-5; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 43:1-3; Isaiah 63:9; Matthew 28:20). He did not deliver them from the fire but protected them while in the fire (cf. Romans 8:37).
25. Christ Revealed by Captives. – How did Nebuchadnezzar know that the form of the fourth was like the Son of God? He had heard of the Son of God from the Hebrew captives that were in his kingdom. They had brought the knowledge of the living God who ruleth all things (RH May 3, 1892).  [4BC 1169.7]
3:25 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.
like the Son of God – Christ Himself joined them in their trial.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt;
Suddenly, events shift in a dramatic way as the shocked king sees not three men, but four! These four men are not bound but “loose” and, to the king’s amazement, they appear to be “walking” about in the middle of the blazing inferno without harm or injury. The moment must have been incredible, not only for the king but also for the other onlookers witnessing an incredible miracle. Many questions must have plagued those looking on, including: How are these men still alive? How are they walking around unharmed in the “midst” (or center) of the blazing furnace? And who exactly is this fourth man when only three men were thrown into the flames?
And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Here, the king continues his epic description of what his mortal eyes are beholding in this seemingly impossible moment. He exclaims that the form (or appearance) of this mysterious fourth person walking about in the blazing furnace “is like the Son of God“. In other words, he appears to be superhuman and no mere mortal.
 
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose – From the fact that he saw these men now loose, and that this filled him with so much surprise, it may be presumed that they had been bound with something that was not combustible – with some sort of fetters or chains. In that case it would be a matter of surprise that they should be “loose“, even though they could survive the action of the fire. The “fourth” personage now so mysteriously added to their number, it is evident, assumed the appearance of a “man”, and not the appearance of a celestial being, though it was the aspect of a man so noble and majestic that he deserved to be called the Son of God.
Walking in the midst of the fire – The furnace, therefore, was large, so that those who were in it could walk about. The vision must have been sublime; and it is a beautiful image of the children of God often walking unhurt amidst dangers, safe beneath the Divine protection.
And they have no hurt – Margin, “There is no hurt in them”. They walk unharmed amidst the flames. Of course, the king judged in this only from appearances, but the result Daniel 3:27 showed that it was really so.
And the form of the fourth – Chaldee – “his appearance” (from – “to see”); that is, he “seemed” to be a son of God; he “looked” “like the Son of God“. The word does not refer to anything special or peculiar in his “form” or “figure”, but it may be supposed to denote something that was noble or majestic in his mien; something in his countenance and demeanour that declared him to be of heavenly origin.
Was it “the Son of God“? That this was the Son of God – who afterward became incarnate, has been quite a common opinion of expositors. It was held by Tertullian, by Augustine, and by Hilary, among the fathers; and so it has been held by Gill, Clarius, and others, among the moderns. Of those who have maintained that it was Christ, some have supposed that Nebuchadnezzar had been made acquainted with the belief of the Hebrews in regard to the Messiah; others, that he spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit, without being fully aware of what his words imported, as Caiaphas, Saul, Pilate, and others have done.
3:26 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.
Notwithstanding his polytheiestic concepts, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the God of these Hebrews as ‘the most high God‘.
26. Most high God. Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgment that the God of the three Hebrews was the “most high God” does not necessarily imply that the king had abandoned his polytheistic concepts. To him the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was not the only true God, but simply the most high God, the chief of all gods, in the same way as the Greeks called their Zeus ho hupsistos theos, “the highest god”. The term is also attested in this sense in Phoenicia, and later in the inscriptions of Palmyra.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace,
Obviously in shock, the king approached the entrance to the blazing furnace to get a better look in case his eyes were deceiving him. This seems like the most obvious reaction anyone would have given the same circumstances.
[And] spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come [hither].
Once he had approached the entrance to the furnace, he cried out to the three Hebrews to “come forth” and to “come hither“. Interestingly, the king’s tone has now changed as he refers to them by name and appropriately refers to them as the “servants of the most high God“. This phrase is derived from the original word, “Illay”, meaning “highest”, which is a name of God. His admittance that the God of the three Hebrews was the “most high” or supreme God of gods reveals the work that God was doing in his heart through this incredible moment. Though Nebuchadnezzar had acted foolishly, in haste, he clearly knew that a miracle had taken place before his eyes and was quick to give credit not to men or to his own pantheon of gods, but instead to the “most high God” of the Hebrew people.
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
Here, the three Hebrews respond in obedience to the king’s command to “come forth” of the blazing inferno. Though the king had called them “out” of the fire, this command was only issued after he had ordered them to be cast “into” the fire. Indeed, as Nebuchadnezzar knew, it was the “most high God” that had delivered the Hebrews out of the fire, just as he had done in times past: “But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, [even] out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as [ye are] this day“. (Deuteronomy 4:20)
 
God came through for them
We have already seen that the fire didn’t kill them, but they were walking around in the furnace. Verse 26 goes on to say, 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.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth … – Margin, “door”. The Chaldee word means door, gate, entrance. The “form” of the furnace is unknown. There was a place, however, through which the fuel was cast into it, and this is doubtless intended by the word “door” or “mouth” here used.
Ye servants of the most high God – They had professed to be his servants; he now saw that they were acknowledged as such. The phrase “most high God” implies that he regarded him as supreme over all other gods, though it is probable that he still retained his belief in the existence of inferior divinities. It was much, however, to secure the acknowledgment of the monarch of the capital of the pagan world, that the God whom they adored was supreme. The phrase “most high God” is not often employed in the Scriptures, but in every instance it is used as an appellation of the true God.
Come forth, and come [hither] – The “reasons” which seem to have influenced this singular monarch to recal the sentence passed on them, and to attempt to punish them no further, seem to have been, that he had some remains of conscience; that he was accustomed to pay respect to what “he” regarded as God; and that he now saw evidence that a “true” God was there.
(26–27) 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. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, 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.
The king forgot himself and shouted above the roar of the fire to the three men plus one, who were supposed to be dead. Note he did not say “servants of his [polytheistic] gods”. The “God” he was referring to was the “God” he had just challenged by saying “who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (verse 15). Now he had his answer. He believed what he saw, exclaiming, in verse 29 “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort“. That statement confirms he was exalting “the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” far above any of his other “gods“.
At this very moment, the king lost all interest in the golden image. The miraculous deliverance not only captured the king’s attention but all “the princes, governors, and captain, and the kings counsellors” crowded around the three Hebrew men as they emerged unscathed from the fiery inferno.
In effect, therefore, the one item left out of the king’s plans to recreate his dream, which was the “stone” that destroyed it, was now fulfilled. Possibly, the king could well have had the image dismantled and may even have had the gold melted down in the very same furnace.
Will there be a parallel to that extraordinary event in the future? Consider the scenario in Revelation where “heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come;. . “. (Revelation 6:14-17).
In this context, the “stone” is represented by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who destroyed, as it were, Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. In other words, as we noted in Daniel 2, God used these men because He approved of their character and behavior.
They are representative of the “remnant” of the woman’s “seed” in Revelation 12:16, 17 who will “keep the Commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” during the final moments of earth’s history. Their courage and faithfulness in “the face of the serpent” who will desperately “cast out of his mouth water as a flood” to exterminate their witness will give God the opportunity to swallow “up the flood“.
In the context of Daniel’s three friends, the faithfulness of God’s people in the time of crises, will “brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold” of the great image representing the serpent’s oppressive rule throughout history. Then, “the God of heaven [will] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed . . . but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).
• (26-27) The Hebrew men leave the furnace unharmed.
Servants of the Most High God: Before they were out of the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar recognized that these men served the true God, the God Most High.
These men on whose bodies the fire had no power: The trial had no power over these men because they were thoroughly submitted to the power and will of God. Before the time of Jesus, they knew the truth of Jesus’ promise: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).
The smell of fire was not on them: This demonstrates how complete their deliverance was:
• This whole account illustrates – perhaps serving as a type of – the future of Israel during the Great Tribulation.
• Nebuchadnezzar is like the Antichrist, who forces the whole world into one religion of idolatry.
• Nebuchadnezzar’s image is like the image described in Revelation 13, that the whole world will be commanded to worship.
• The fiery furnace is like the great tribulation, which will be great affliction for the Jews.
• The three Hebrew men are like Israel, who will be preserved through the tribulation.
• The executioners who perished are like those in league with the Antichrist, who Jesus will slay at His return.
• The mysteriously absent Daniel is like the church, not even present for this time of great tribulation.
(26-27) Nebuchadnezzar then drew as close to the large door of the furnace as he could. It stood open to provide a view inside. He called to the three victims to come out of the furnace, and they responded obediently this time. The fourth person disappeared just as He had appeared. The king described Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego as servants of the “Most High God” (Daniel 3:26). This title for God appears 13 times in Daniel, more than in any other book except Psalms. Seven times, either Nebuchadnezzar used it to describe God (Daniel 3:36; Daniel 4:2; Daniel 4:17; Daniel 4:34), or Daniel used it in speaking of God to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:24-25; Daniel 4:32). Daniel used it twice when speaking to Belshazzar about Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5:18; Daniel 5:21). It occurs four times in Chapter 7, Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, three times in the words of the interpreting angel (Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:25; Daniel 7:27), and once in Daniel’s words in that Chapter (Daniel 7:22). With this title the king ascribed greater power to their God than to any other. He had obviously delivered them, as they said He could (Daniel 3:17), and the leaders of the Babylonian Empire had witnessed the miracle.
The three Jews had escaped every form of destruction, even the smell of smoke. The ropes that bound them, symbolic of Nebuchadnezzar’s power over them, were gone, undoubtedly burned up by the fire.
Just as the reign of Nebuchadnezzar is symbolic of the entire period of the times of the Gentiles, so the deliverance of Daniel’s three companions is typical of the deliverance of Israel during the period of Gentile domination. Particularly at the end of the Gentile period Israel will be in fiery affliction, but as Isaiah prophesied, ’But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee’ (Isaiah 43:1-2).
The three Hebrew young men quenched the fury of flames with their faith in their faithful God (Hebrews 11:34; cf. 1Maccabees 2:59).
Nebuchadnezzar’s Reaction
(26–30) – What were the consequences of this miracle?
• The three men were released from their “prison”.
• The king no longer finds fault with their refusal to worship the image.
• He appreciates the faithfulness of the three men, including their unwillingness to compromise.
• Recognizing God as the only true God who can save in such a marvelous way, he issues a command against blasphemy. His knowledge of God increases.
• The three men are promoted.
3:27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, 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.
27. The princes. Concerning the officials mentioned here see verse 2.
Coats. See verse 21.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men,
Not only does the king witness this miraculous event. So too, all of the king’s men, including the “princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors” (see Daniel 3:2) assembled around the three Hebrews that had emerged from the blazing fiery furnace.
Upon whose bodies the fire had no power,
The scene must have initially been one of disbelief. After all, the three Hebrews, that had been cast into the fire – the same fire that had killed the king’s elite officials who were tasked with executing the Hebrews – emerged apparently unscathed: “the fire had no power” on their bodies.
Nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Miraculously, after being inside the blazing inferno, likely for several minutes, not even their hair, or their clothes, showed any evidence of damage. The observers did not even smell fire coming from what should have been their roasted bodies.
Indeed, God, in his incredible faithfulness, had once again saved His people in a dramatic and mighty way. The God of the Hebrews made a public display of His power in front of the mightiest king in the world, and before all of his officials. This divine act of grace and mercy is recalled in Hebrews 11:34 in reference to those faithful men who “Quenched the violence of fire“.
So too, the prophet Isaiah beautifully portrays God’s act of mercy when he reminds His readers of God’s promises: “When thou passest through the waters, I [will be] with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee“. (Isaiah 43:2)
 
Verse 27 tells us that the fire had no power over them:
• Their hair was not singed
• Their clothes were not burned and
• They didn’t even smell of smoke.
And the princes, governors, and captains – See Daniel 3:3.
And the king’s counsellors – See Daniel 3:24.
Being gathered together, saw these men – There could be no mistake about the reality of the miracle. They came out as they were cast in. There could have been no trick, no art, no legerdemain, by which they could have been preserved and restored. If the facts occurred as they are stated here, then there can be no doubt that this was a real miracle.
Upon whose bodies the fire had no power – That is, the usual power of fire on the human body was prevented.
Nor was a hair of their head singed – That which would be most likely to have burned. The design is to show that the fire had produced absolutely no effect on them.
Neither were their coats changed – On the word “coats“, see Daniel 3:21. The word “changed” means that there was no change caused by the fire either in their color or their texture.
Nor the smell of fire had passed on them – Not the slightest effect had been produced by the fire; not even so much as to occasion the smell caused by fire when cloth is singed or burned. Perhaps, however, sulphur or pitch had been used in heating the furnace; and the idea may be, that their preservation had been so entire, that not even the smell of the smoke caused by those combustibles could be perceived.
Nebuchadnezzar was obviously, and rightfully, blown away! Probably couldn’t believe his eyes but one thing he knew for sure is that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was unlike any other ‘god’ he had come across before! And so, Daniel’s three friends received a job promotion. Straight from the depths of the fire and into a new job ruling over the provinces of Babylon! The king is obviously very impressed, once again, with the God of Israel. Would this last? Unfortunately, as we shall see in the next Chapter, he still isn’t as impressed with the God of Israel as he is with himself!
1Peter 1:3-9 Blessed [be] the GOD and Father of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.
 
1Peter 4:12,19 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: … Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Now, as a prophetic side note, this passage also reminds us of the another set of God’s people who will not bow down in the end times. But they also will not be harmed. In the last days, 144,000 will be set aside by God and will have His seal in their forehead. This will mean that they will not be able to be harmed by the different trials that will come upon the earth. (See Revelation 7:1-8). No doubt, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stand as a type of this group that in the last days will be similarly protected. Just as Daniel, who is completely absent from this whole scene, represents the Church that is removed before the tribulation comes upon the earth.
The 144,000 are very special to God, for they are redeemed from the earth, they sing a new song, and serve Him that is on the throne day and night in His temple. As such they act as priests, but they are NOT all from earthly males as some believe:
Revelation 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, [being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
This Scripture represents the character of the people of God for these last days. To assume that only males make-up the 144,000 is misinterpreting God’s Word. The redeemed of God’s people [male and female], will keep the Commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Both Brethren and Sistren were used in Middle English (12th to 15th centuries) simply as the plural forms of brother and sister.
To believe and preach that the 144,000 are only males, is akin to believing that Brethren or Beloved, in this day, only refer to males. Such belief demotes all females, who are also made in the image of God, to a soul-less person having no eternal future.
Also, in Manuscript 2 dated January 17 , 1849 , E. G. White signs off her The Sealing document by saying “In hope of being one of the 144,000”. Clearly, she believed that females would form part of the 144,000.
Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
28. Associates Understood Faith. – These faithful Hebrews possessed great natural ability and intellectual culture, and they occupied a high position of honor; but all these advantages did not lead them to forget God. All their powers were yielded to the sanctifying influence of divine grace. By their godly example, their steadfast integrity, they showed forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. In their wonderful deliverance was displayed, before that vast assembly, the power and majesty of God. JESUS PLACED HIMSELF by their side in the fiery furnace, and by the glory of HIS PRESENCE convinced the proud king of Babylon that it could be no other than the Son of God. The light of heaven had been shining forth from Daniel and his companions, until all their associates understood the faith which ennobled their lives and beautified their characters. (RH Feb. 1, 1881).  [4BC 1170.1]
3:28 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.
28. Blessed be the God. The miraculous deliverance of the three men made a deep impression on the king and altered his earlier and erroneous opinion (verse 15) about the God of the Hebrews. Nebuchadnezzar now spoke in praise of the might of this God, announcing publicly that this God had saved His worshipers, and decreeing that anyone who dishonored this God would be punished by death (verse 29). His acknowledgment revealed progression in his concept of God (see Chapter 2:47; p. 751).
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.
We might think Nebuchadnezzar had no other choice but to “believe what he saw”, but he could have ignored the evidence. He could have chosen to believe his “gods” performed the miracle rather than the “God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego“. But, this king was different. Although “an idolater by birth and training, and at the head of an idolatrous people, he had nevertheless an innate sense of justice and right, and God was able to use him . . . for the fulfillment of the divine purpose” [26]. “On that eventful day the powers of darkness seemed to be gaining a signal triumph; the worship of the golden image bade fair to become connected permanently with the established forms of idolatry recognized as the state religion of the land. Satan [also] hoped thereby to defeat God’s purpose of making the presence of captive Israel in Babylon a means of blessing to all the nations of heathendom” [27]. If the king did not have “an innate sense of justice and right”, Satan could, in spite of the evidence, have defeated “God’s purpose“. In this case, because Nebuchadnezzar was a man willing to be convinced by evidence, not ideology, God could use him.
• [26] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White pages 514, 515.
• [27] Ibid 506.
(28) Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges the greatness of the God of the three Hebrews.
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: Nebuchadnezzar gave glory to God, but he recognized that this great God is not his God. He was still the God of these three brave men.
Who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in Him: In Daniel 3:15 Nebuchadnezzar asked, “who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Now Nebuchadnezzar knew a great deal about this God.
• He is the God of the Hebrews (the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego).
• He is the God who sends His Son.
• He is the God of great power (delivered His servants).
• He is the God worthy of trust (who trusted in Him).
• He is the God worthy of full surrender (frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies).
• He is the God who demands exclusive allegiance (that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God).
• Nebuchadnezzar knew a lot about God – but he did not yet know Him personally.
Yielded their bodies: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego surrendered themselves completely to God – body, soul, and spirit. It was the kind of submission Paul wrote of in Romans 12:1: that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.
• This whole account is a powerful illustration of the principle of Romans 12:1. We see Satan trying to make the believer bow down to his idealized image of what men and women should be. Christians must resist this with everything they have and pursue God’s ideal. In this, we will fulfill Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
Upon witnessing the miraculous deliverance of the three Hebrews, King Nebuchadnezzar responds with vocal praise to the Hebrew God. “Blessed” is translated from the Aramaic word “berak”, literally meaning to kneel and bless. Whereas the king had previously insisted that others bow (or kneel) to his golden image, Nebuchadnezzar now uses a similar word in application to “the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego“.
Who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in Him,
Note that Nebuchadnezzar connects the dots on why God delivered the three Hebrews. Specifically, because they “trusted in Him” instead of placing their trust in the false god erected by the king.
And have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
This is perhaps one of the most important phrases uttered by Nebuchadnezzar for our own edification today. Notice that the trust in God shared by Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego led them to violate the king’s command. (In the Aramaic, this word is “shena” and usually means to change or to alter.) This is one of just a handful of examples we have from the Bible of God’s people defying the command of a supreme authority. Under almost all circumstances, God’s people are directed to “fear“, “submit to“, “pray for“, “obey” and “honor” the king. (Proverbs 24:21; Matthew 22:21, Romans 13:1-7; 1Timothy 2:2; Titus 3:1; 1Peter 2:13,17) This is because they are empowered by God Himself. (Proverbs 8:15; Daniel 2:21, 4:17; John 19:11; Romans 13:2)
However, in this extremely rare case, the appropriate action was to “violate the king’s command”. Why? Because the king’s command directly clashed with God’s own command of reserving worship for Him alone.
So too, when the Apostles were instructed by the Jewish authorities to no longer teach in the name of Jesus, they had to “violate” that command because they “ought to obey God rather than men“. Acts 5:29.
However, it should be noted that rebellion to the king in ALL other circumstances is prohibited by the Scriptures as it is no different than rebellion to heaven’s divine agenda. (See Romans 13:1-7, especially 1,2)
In more recent times, misguided Christians have attempted to use all manner of reasons for rebelling against the king. Most notably, the early Americans revolted against British monarchical rule while blaming high tax rates and violations of “natural rights”. These accusations, however, do not pass the muster of Scripture. Rebellion to kings and other authorities is not a virtue, though sometimes it is required. However, the only Biblical precedent for civil disobedience is when we are asked to bow or pledge allegiance to a false god (Daniel 3) or when we are asked to cease our work of the Great Commission (Acts 5:29). Any other reason for rebellion should be carefully weighed against Scripture and considered suspect. After all, fallen man’s heart is naturally rebellious towards authority. Christians should not cater to such rebellion but instead, “that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business” as the Apostle Paul commands. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
But God not only delivered them, he glorified His Name. In verse 28, the king acknowledges the greatness of the true God. “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“.
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach … – On the characteristic of mind thus evinced by this monarch, see Daniel 2:46-47.
Who hath sent his angel – This proves that the king regarded this mysterious fourth personage as an angel, and that he used the phrase Daniel 3:25 “is like the Son of God” only in that sense. That an angel should be employed on an embassage of this kind, we have seen, is in accordance with the current statements of the Scriptures. See Luke 1:11-20, Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:20-21; Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:19-20; Matthew 4:11; Matthew 18:10; Act 12:7-15; Genesis 32:1-2; 2Kings 6:17; Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:20; Exodus 33:2; Numbers 20:16; Joshua 5:13; Isaiah 63:9; Daniel 10:5-13, Daniel 10:20-21; Daniel 12:1.
And have changed the king’s word – That is, his purpose or command. Their conduct, and the Divine protection in consequence of their conduct, had had the effect wholly to change his purpose toward them. He had resolved to destroy them; he now resolved to honor them. This is referred to by the monarch himself as a remarkable result, as indeed it was – that an Eastern despot, who had resolved on the signal punishment of any of his subjects, should be so entirety changed in his purposes toward them.
And yielded their bodies – The Greek adds – “to the fire”. So does the Arabic. This is doubtless the sense of the passage. The meaning is, that rather than bow clown to worship gods which they regarded as no gods; rather than violate their consciences, and do wrong, they had preferred to be cast into the flames, committing themselves to the protection of God. It is implied here that they had done this voluntarily, and that they might easily have avoided it if they had chosen to obey the king. He had given them time to deliberate on the subject Daniel 3:14-15, and he knew that they had resolved to pursue the course which they did from principle, no matter what might be the results Daniel 3:16-18. This strength of principle – this obedience to the dictates of conscience – this determination not to do wrong at any hazard – he could not but respect; and this is a remarkable instance to show that a firm and steady course in doing what is right will command the respect of even wicked men. This monarch, with all his pride, and haughtiness, and tyranny, had not a few generous qualities, and some of the finest illustrations of human nature were furnished by him.
That they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God – They gave up their bodies to the flame rather than worship.
(28-29) Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgment of God’s superior power was an advance upon his earlier tribute to God’s ability to reveal mysteries (Daniel 2:47). The pagans believed that the gods used messengers to carry out their will. Evidently the king viewed the fourth person in the furnace as a messenger from God. This deliverance made Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s God superior to all others in Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes. He had to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over his own god, Nebo, in this respect. Therefore he issued a decree ordering everyone to respect God and to say nothing against Him.
Nebuchadnezzar’s ability to cancel one of his laws and replace it with another is an evidence of the might of his personal power. Rulers of the Medo-Persian Empire, which replaced the Babylonian Empire (cf. Daniel 2:38-39), could not do this; it was impossible for them to override a previously written law (cf. Daniel 6:8; Daniel 6:12; Daniel 6:15; Esther 1:19). Nebuchadnezzar made Judaism a recognized religion with rights to toleration and respect. His edict may have been responsible in part for the fairly comfortable conditions under which the Israelites lived in Babylonian exile.
This Chapter began with Nebuchadnezzar intending to unite his kingdom under one religion (Daniel 3:5), but it ends with him acknowledging God’s sovereignty and permitting His worship. This does not necessarily mean, of course, that Nebuchadnezzar abandoned his pagan polytheism and cast himself wholly on God in saving faith, though some interpreters have concluded that he did come into a saving relationship with God.
3:29 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.
Nebuchadnezzar exceeded his rights when he sought by force to compel men to honour the God of the Hebrews (PK511).
dunghill – refuse heap – ruin.
29. I make a decree. In this unusual way many peoples who would otherwise never have heard of the God of the Hebrews would be introduced to Him. Nevertheless, Nebuchadnezzar exceeded his rights when he sought by force to compel men to honor the God of the Hebrews (PK 511).
Cut in pieces. On the penalties here threatened see Chapter 2:5.
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.
And God was pleased with the effort of the king to show Him reverence, and to make the royal confession of allegiance as widespread as was the Babylonian realm . . . to make public confession, and to seek to exalt the God of heaven above all other gods; but in endeavoring to force his subjects to make a similar confession of faith and to show similar reverence, Nebuchadnezzar was exceeding his right as a temporal sovereign. He had no more right, either civil or moral, to threaten men with death for not worshiping God, than he had to make the decree consigning to the flames all who refused to worship the  golden image. God never compels the obedience of man. He leaves all free to choose whom they will serve” [28].
• [28] Ibid 510, 511.
So, out of the thousands who attended the dedication of the king’s image, only three men who chose to remain faithful in spite of consequences, undid all of Satan’s plan to install himself as the “god of gods” in Babylon.
So it will be at the end of time. God will use the witness of only a few faithful people represented by the “stone . . . cut out of the mountain” (Daniel 2:45) of an intimidated multitude and bring to naught the intended effect of the “image to the beast” (Revelation 13:15). That beast image will also represent the effort of Satan to change the meaning of God’s prophecies about the future of the world. Whereas men have always planned and predicted permanence for their earthly kingdoms, God, through the “stone . . . which smote the image upon his feet” and ground it into “chaff“, shows clearly that God has other plans. Things will not always continue as they were.
If you are called to go through the fiery furnace for His sake, Jesus will be by your side even as He was with the faithful three in Babylon. Those who love their Redeemer will rejoice at every opportunity of sharing with Him humiliation and reproach. The love they bear their Lord makes suffering for His sake sweet” [29]. “’The wrath of man shall praise Thee,’ says the psalmist; ‘the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.’ God means that testing truth shall be brought to the front and become a subject of examination and discussion, even if it is through the contempt placed upon it. The minds of the people must be agitated. Every controversy, every reproach, every slander, will be God’s means of provoking inquiry and awakening minds that otherwise would slumber” [30].
• [29] Mount of Blessings by E.G. White page 30.
• [30] Testimonies for the Church Vol. 5 page 453.
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
The king responds to the miraculous event he has witnessed with a new decree, or command, that will apply to any people or tribe of any language that speaks any word of offense, even in negligence, against the God of these three Hebrews.
Shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill:
Anyone who violates the king’s command to refrain from speaking evil of the Hebrew God will face severe judgment. Specifically, they shall be “cut in pieces” (likely by being tossed to the lions) and their house(s) shall be leveled (“made a dunghill“). Here again, we are witness to another hasty proclamation by Nebuchadnezzar. Initially, he ordered any who failed to worship his golden image to be executed in the fiery furnace. Now, anyone who speaks evil of the Hebrew God will also be annihilated in the most gruesome fashion.
Because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
The king’s reasoning for his new decree is rooted in the obvious reality of the Hebrew God. After all, the king had never witnessed any other so-called god deliver his adherents in the way that the Hebrew God had been able to deliver his own people. Nebuchadnezzar was awestruck by the power of deliverance displayed by the Hebrew God and sought to prevent anyone from provoking Him again, as he himself had among Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.
Therefore I make a decree – Margin, “A decree is made by me”. Chaldee, “And from me a decree is laid down”, or enacted. This Chaldee word means properly, “taste, flavor”; then “judgment”, the power of “discerning” – apparently as of one who can judge of “wine”, etc., by the taste; then the sentence, the decree which is consequent on an act of judging – always retaining the idea that the determination or decree is based on a conception of the true merits of the case. The decree in this case was not designed to be regarded as arbitrary, but as being founded on what was right and proper. He had seen evidence that the God whom these three youths worshipped was a true God, and was able to protect those who trusted in him; and regarding him as a real God, he made this proclamation, that respect should be shown to him throughout his extended realm.
That every people, nation, and language – This decree is in accordance with the usual style of an Oriental monarch. It was, however, a fact that the empire of Nebuchadnezzar extended over nearly all of the then known world.
Which speak any thing amiss – Margin, “error”. The Chaldee word means “error, wrong”, and it refers here to anything that would be fitted to lead the minds of men astray in regard to the true character of the God whom these persons worshipped. The Vulgate renders it “blasphemy”. So also it is rendered in the Greek, blasphemian. The intention was, that their God was to be acknowledged as a God of eminent power and rank. It does not appear that Nebuchadnezzar meant that he should be regarded as the “only” true God, but he was willing, in accordance with the prevailing notions of idolatry, that he should take his place among the gods, and a most honored place.
Shall be cut in pieces – Margin, “made”. This was a species of punishment that was common in many ancient nations.
And their houses shall be made a dunghill – Compare 2Kings 10:27. The idea is, that the utmost possible dishonor and contempt should be placed on their houses, by devoting them to the most vile and offensive uses.
Because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort – He does not say that there was no other god at all, for his mind had not yet reached this conclusion, but there was no other one who had equal power with the God of the Hebrews. He had seen a manifestation of his power in the preservation of the three Hebrews such as no other god had ever exhibited, and he was willing to admit that in this respect he surpassed all other divinities.
(29-30) Nebuchadnezzar makes a proclamation that nothing evil should be said against the God of the Hebrews.
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. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
Therefore I make a decree: The three Hebrew men did not ask for Nebuchadnezzar to make this decree, and probably wasn’t wanted. Coerced worship isn’t good, either towards an idol or towards the true God.
There is no other God who can deliver like this: Seeing God at work in the life of His people was an extremely effective testimony to Nebuchadnezzar.
• Paul expressed the same idea in 2Corinthians 3:2-3: Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of THE LIVING GOD; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.
3:30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
promoted – to cause to prosper / to promote – such as by money, province administration or by more elevated title.
30. Promoted. The verb form thus translated means primarily “to cause to prosper”, and in a wider sense “to promote”. How this promotion was effected is not stated. The three worthies may have received money, or more influence and power in the administration of the province, or more elevated titles. By faithfulness in the face of death the three Hebrew worthies had demonstrated qualities of character that made it evident that they could be trusted with even greater responsibilities than they had previously borne.
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
This is the last we hear of these three men in the Book of Daniel. Undoubtedly, however, they must have been around, at least until the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Whether or not they were given positions of trust in the Persian empire after Babylon was captured, we will never know until heaven.
Even though their deliverance was extraordinarily marvelous, that was no guarantee they would remain faithful even though we certainly hope they did! Often, however, worldly greatness that was heaped upon these men, even more than before their promotion, could have caused their eventual downfall. And, that could account for Daniel’s silence about them from this point on.
In order to defeat the purpose of Satan to permanently establish the golden image in all the nations of heathendom and to make the presence of captive Israel in Babylon a means of blessing, God was dependant on the cooperation of His people, namely Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It took enormous faith and courage on their part to say to the king “We [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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“.
Shaddrach, Meshach, and Abednego” were only three men out of all the other Israelite captives. They were “cut out, selected out, chosen out” of the other members of God’s professed people to bring defeat to the golden image of Satan’s plan. So, all the captives, including the heroes of this message, could be seen to be represented by the first “mountain” [31] out of which the “stone” was selected while the “stone” itself, in the case of this message, symbolizes such people as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego whom God used to bring down the golden image during Nebuchadnezzar’s time. But during the end time of the “feet“, it represents people of our age who will bring ultimate defeat to Satan’s hope of establishing his form of world government which today is known by such terms as “globalism” or “new world order”.
• [31] Daniel 2:45 Remember, there are two mountains at the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The “first” mountain, even though depicted in verse 45, comes before the second “mountain” even though it is mentioned in verse 35. It is the second “mountain” that becomes “great” and fills “the whole earth“, and by implication, displaces the first “mountain“.
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
In an incredible turn of events, God’s intervention on the behalf of his chosen people turns the heart of the king of Babylon. So much so that the same three Hebrews he had previously condemned to death are now permitted to live and “prosper” (i.e. to enjoy success and to advance in their calling).
In the province of Babylon.
The three Hebrews are not sent away to live in exile due to their extreme act of civil disobedience. Instead, they are allowed to remain in Babylon and to live out their callings right in the heart of the most powerful kingdom on earth at the time. In this way, God maintains a witness to His power, even in Babylon during the time of Jewish exile.
Then the king promoted Shadrach … – Margin, “made to prosper”. The Chaldee means no more than “made to prosper”. Whether he restored them to their former places, or to higher honors, does not appear. There would be, however, nothing inconsistent with his usual course in supposing that he raised them to more exalted stations.
In the province of Babylon – See Daniel 2:49. The Greek and the Arabic add here, “And he counted them worthy to preside over all the Jews that were in his kingdom”. But nothing of this is found in the Chaldee, and it is not known by whom this addition was made.
In the Vulgate and the Greek versions, and in some of the critical editions of the Hebrew Scriptures (Walton, Hahn, etc.), the three first verses of the following Chapter are subjoined to this. It is well known that the divisions of the Chapters are of no authority, but it is clear that these verses belong more appropriately to the following Chapter than to this, as the reason there assigned by the monarch for the proclamation is what occurred to himself Daniel 3:2, rather than what he had witnessed in others. The division, therefore, which is made in our common version of the Bible, and in the Syriac and the Arabic, is the correct one.
Summary of Chapter 3: Approximately two decades of time separated the events of Chapter 2 from those of this Chapter. During those twenty or so years, many things took place of which Daniel says nothing. But, it is plain to see that the king who expressed great admiration to Daniel’s God at the end of Chapter 2, has, by this time, lapsed into his old ways of thinking that his kingdom would last forever in spite of the knowledge he received when Daniel, through the providence of God, interpreted his dream. As if to prove the interpretation false, he appointed the construction of an image made entirely of gold and set a time for all to render it homage. Everybody, even his captured enemies acquiesced except for the three Hebrews. Their rectitude, in effect, represented what the king could not, and did not desire to duplicate…the stone that struck the dream image on its feet. Therefore, there lies within this narrative deep meaning and relevance to the great dream image of Chapter 2, and most importantly to the “image” of Revelation 13, 14, 15, 16, 19 and 20. It is a graphic representation of the great test that will come to God’s people in the final hours of earth’s history when His name will be vindicated through their loyalty to His law.
Conclusion
There is salvation. There is hope beyond death (see Daniel 12:13). Even if the entire world is ruined and destroyed, this is not the end. There is hope beyond the “end”.
No Other God – that assertion is at the core of this Chapter as it is in the entire Book of Daniel.
Our religious culture has commonly appropriated the Book of Daniel in one of two ways:
• (1) Heroic examples of faith that we are to emulate.
• (2) Predictions that we are to decode and observe.
In Chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar intensifies his tyrannical demands. From a statue in a horrifying dream in the prior Chapter, we move to a statue of the king’s own making (3:1). He commands everyone to worship his statue (3:3-6) and thus the contest between divine pretension and God is set in motion. True, this directly challenges the faithfulness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and they are threatened with death (3:13-15). Their faithfulness to God is exemplary, but that is not the final point of the Chapter.
The deepest source of amazement is God’s faithfulness to them. Nebuchadnezzar confesses, “No other God that can deliver after this sort” (3:29). Nebuchadnezzar is amazed by God, not merely by the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The latter are promoted, but not deified. Looking into the fire, Nebuchadnezzar is undone. He had sought total control. He unleashed all his destructive powers but at that very point he lost control. In addition, the officials who gathered before the king’s statue (3) now gather to observe the failure of the king’s fire (27). God succeeds; Nebuchadnezzar fails.
By the end of the Book of Daniel it is clear that not all of the faithful are spared from death. Our handling of Daniel 3 should not be in isolation from the end of the Book. Daniel 3 does not commend a transactional relationship, a manual on how to survive in tough times. Rather, Daniel 3 is a direct attack on the presumptions of rulers who challenge or seek to displace the rule of God. Nebuchadnezzar is the warm-up act for the little horn in latter Chapters.
Why Nebuchadnezzar set up the golden images is not explicitly stated and no reference is made to the name of the god his statue is to represent. What is stressed, rather, is that Nebuchadnezzar himself inspired it and set it up (3:1, 2, 3 [twice], 5, 7, 12, 14, 18). Nebuchadnezzar has placed himself beyond God. At the end of Daniel 2 he had fallen to the ground and confessed that the God of Daniel is “God of gods and Lord of kings“, but that posture recedes quickly in Chapter 3. In the form of a question he boasts that there is no god capable of freeing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. His power, he presumes, is beyond challenge. He can even set up gods.
Perhaps we should not be entirely surprised that Nebuchadnezzar has it all wrong. At the end of Chapter 2 there was a show of humility – he “falls on his face” – but something is already incorrect when his worship is directed to Daniel, not to God (2:46). (Why Daniel does not object is unknown, as is Daniel’s whereabouts in Chapter 3.) Now, at the beginning of Chapter 3 others must bow (3:5, 6, 11, 15). In addition, Nebuchadnezzar never acknowledges what Daniel asserted in the opening verses of the Book: And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand [God gave him the victory over Judah and Jerusalem] (1:1-2). Whatever strength he had, especially over against Judean exiles, was God-given. In contrast to being a recipient, Nebuchadnezzar places himself at the center. God disrupts Nebuchadnezzar’s centering.
Daniel presents the events in Chapter 3 in a style that may itself undercut Nebuchadnezzar’s presumption. The repeated long lists of officials (3:2 and 3:3) and musical instruments (3:5, 7, 10, 15) mock the pomposity and hubris [excessive pride or self-confidence] of the king. His actions and royal ambition are out of control, underscored with the twofold mention of his rage (3:13, 19) and the sevenfold increase in the temperature of the furnace. The situation remains potentially lethal for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but the king also looks foolish in his exaggerated conduct.
Interpreters should not rush to conclude that the statement in 3:18 (“But if not“) is an expression of doubt about God’s deliverance. “If not” is a very real possibility, especially in the short term. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surrender their future to God, not to Nebuchadnezzar. In the process they do not tie God’s hands. Death does not limit or end God’s capacity to create a future. The “If not” of verse 18 places the interpreter and all other readers at the same point imagined in “A Might Fortress Is Our God”. “Though life be wrenched away…The Kingdom’s ours forever”! We relinquish the creation of that kingdom – its contours and content – to God
If the three had known in advance that they would be spared from death in the furnace, they would be following a mere routine or formula; the results would be in their control. God is not a vending machine into which we insert our faithfulness and out comes the reward we are seeking. In the midst of persecution, the persecuted don’t have a formula. As with their prayer in 2:17-18, they trust God but do not presume upon God. Trusting God ought not to be reduced to a formula for success and prosperity. The latter, however, is a very tempting move to make with this Chapter (and Chapter 6 as well). To turn this text into formula (i.e., deliverance, promotion, etc. is all there, if only we…) is to sidestep the end of the Book where clearly the faithful are martyred. The theme “God Can Deliver” moves to “Only God Can Deliver” as we move from Chapter 3 through to the end of the Book.
Lessons for us
Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego we too live in exile in a foreign land. Peter calls all Christians “strangers and pilgrims” in this world – 1Peter 2:11. And Paul, the author of Hebrews, talks about the saints as those who have “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth“. Hebrews 11:13.
And in our time of exile we too will go through trials of various kinds. The world tries to get us to live by its will instead of God’s will. This often puts us at a point where we have to choose. And the evil one, the god of this world, is always seeking to corrupt us. As 1Peter 1:7 says, we are “tried with fire“.
So when we go through fiery trials remember to stay true to God. Just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who made the right choice and stuck with it despite the rage of many and the threat to their lives, so we need to make right choices. We must not let difficult circumstances lead us to be unfaithful to God.
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not be weary in well doing“. In a time of testing it is easy to grow weary in doing what is right, but we must remain steadfast. James 1:2 says, “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations“. We too must make right choices and stick with them, even when it is terribly difficult.
• Remember to entrust yourself into God’s hands. Just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in full faith, gave their lives into God’s hands in their trial, so should we because God is more than able to take care of us too.
Hebrews 13:6 is a strong confession of faith, “The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me“. Whether God delivers us from our trial or not, we know that God will take care of us and bless us.
• Remember God will be with you. Just as he was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, so he will walk with you through your fiery trials.
Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee“. And as Isaiah 43:2 says, “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee“. God doesn’t leave us alone.
• Remember that God will come through for you. Just as he came through for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, so he will come through for you. Like them, we don’t know how he will do this – through a miracle or strengthening us to endure and overcome in the midst, or in the world to come. But God is faithful and he will come through.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]“.
When you go through difficulties, remember you are not the first to do so. There are many examples in the Scriptures that can help us. Let us learn from the experiences of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and be strengthened to endure and overcome just as they did.
Spirit of Prophecy on Daniel 3
To meet the appeals of the king and his counselors that they could comply with the royal edict, they had a store of arguments set forth most eloquently. The demand appeared contemptible to them. With Daniel as they companion, they had prayed and fasted that they might understand the dream which God gave the king. The Lord had heard their cries, and had given to Daniel wisdom to interpret the dream; thus their own lives and the lives of the astrologers and soothsayers had been saved. Now the very men who had escaped death through the mercy of God to His servants were led by envy and jealousy to secure the decree in regard to the WORSHIPING of the GOLDEN IMAGE. {Ms16-1896}
Those faithful youth were cast into the fire, but God manifested His power for the deliverance of His servants. One like unto the Son of God walked with them in the midst of the flame, and when they were brought forth, not even the smell of fire had passed on them. “Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR spake and said, Blessed be the God of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, 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”. {Ms16-1896}
Thus these youth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole nation their faith, that He whom they WORSHIPED was the only true and living God. This demonstration of their own faith was the most eloquent presentation of their principles. In order to impress idolaters with the power and greatness of the living God, His servants must reveal their own reverence for God. They must make it manifest that He is the only object of their honor and WORSHIP, and that no consideration, not even the preservation of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to idolatry. {Ms16-1896}
This movement [US Parliament], demanding that all observe as sacred an idol sabbath, resembles the act of NEBUCHADNEZZAR in making a GOLDEN IMAGE, and setting it up for all to WORSHIP. In the interpretation of the king’s dream, Daniel had told him, “Thou art this head of GOLD”. The dream was given the king to show him that earthly kingdoms were not enduring, but would pass away and be followed by the kingdom of the Prince of heaven, which should fill the whole earth. But NEBUCHADNEZZAR determined to make an IMAGE like that which he had seen, only it was to be made all of GOLD. This idol of GOLD was to be a most imposing spectacle, and was to take the place of God, and be WORSHIPED as God. {Lt90-1897}
The Sunday idol is set up as was this IMAGE. Human laws demand that it be WORSHIPED as sacred and holy, thus putting it where God’s holy Sabbath should be. Men speak great swelling words, and exalt their power, placing themselves where God should be. Sitting in the temple of God, they strive to make themselves as God, showing themselves to be God. When Pilate said of Christ, “I find no fault in him”, the priests and elders declared, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die”. As the advisers of NEBUCHADNEZZAR hit upon the scheme of ensnaring the Hebrew captives, and causing them to bow to the idol by leading the king to proclaim that every knee should bow to the IMAGE, so men will strive today to turn God’s people from their allegiance. But the men who sought to destroy SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, were themselves destroyed. Those who make cruel enactments, seeking to destroy, are destroyed by the recoil of their actions. {Lt90-1897}
The great men of Babylon are filled with envy, jealousy, and hatred because the three Hebrew captives had been exalted above the heathen servants of the king. This led them to long for revenge. When these three Hebrews, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, refused to fall down and WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE that had been set up, the report was brought to the king that the Hebrews had affronted him by their disregard for his command. The king sent for them, and with apparent surprise asked them if they had ventured to disregard his command by refusing to WORSHIP the IMAGE. He seemed to be ignorant of the fact that men could have a conscience stronger even than a king’s command. He did not think that they could refuse to obey when the alternative was so dreadful, and when to obey would bring them honor. But the Hebrew children calmly but decidedly refused to obey, declaring that they could not WORSHIP the IMAGE. They would not violate their conscience, even to obey the word of a great king. {Lt90-1897}
Conscience in regard to the things of God, is a sacred treasure, which no human beings, whatever be their position, have a right to meddle with. NEBUCHADNEZZAR offered the Hebrews another chance, and when they refused it, he was exceedingly angry, and commanded the burning FIERY FURNACE to be heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated. He told the captives that he would cast them into this FURNACE. Full of faith and trust the answer came, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us; if he does not, well: we commit ourselves to a faithful God. {Lt90-1897}
At this the king was exceedingly angry, and his actions were violent and furious. He ordered SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO to be cast bound into the burning FIERY FURNACE. But thank the Lord, He forgets not His own. As the faithful men were cast into the FURNACE, THE LORD REVEALED HIMSELF IN PERSON. CHRIST STOOD BY THEIR SIDE, AND ALL FOUR WALKED IN THEFURNACE. The flames recognized the presence of Him who is mighty in power and efficiency. The Lord of heat and cold required obedience from nature, and the flames lost their power to consume. In Hebrews we read of those who by their faith quenched the violence of fire. {Lt90-1897}
The fury of the king was changed as he saw that the men who had cast SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO into the FURNACE were themselves consumed, while the three Hebrew children were unhurt. The Hebrew youth had faith in God. The memory of the promises given by God through Isaiah about one hundred years before was revived in their minds: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”. {Lt90-1897}
The nobles saw the king’s countenance grow pale as he looked toward the FURNACE with an intense gaze. He was astonished, “and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 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. 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. {Lt90-1897}
“Then SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO came forth out of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, 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. {Lt90-1897}
NEBUCHADNEZZAR set up in the plain of Dura an IMAGE of GOLD to represent himself and the kingdom of Babylon, and an herald cried aloud, “To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE that NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king hath set up; and whoso falleth not down and WORSHIPPETH shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning FIERY FURNACE”. {Lt132-1901}
SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, three Hebrew captives, refused to obey the command to bow before the IMAGE. They steadfastly adhered to their loyalty to Jehovah. They were brought to the king, and he reasoned with them, but they answered, “O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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”. In this confession of faith the Hebrew youth were guided by duty and conscience. They had unquestioning faith in God, and they were determined to honor Him at all cost. Standing before the angry king, with the IMAGE in sight and the sound of the entrancing music in their ears, they thought of the promise made to the prophet Isaiah more than one hundred years before: “Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name: thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”. {Lt132-1901}
When the king saw that his words had no effect on them, he was beside himself with rage. In his fury he commanded “that they should heat the FURNACE one seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated. 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”. {Lt132-1901}
But there was a God above the human king, and while the men who executed the command were consumed by the heat of the FURNACE, the Lord preserved His faithful ones. They were seen by NEBUCHADNEZZAR and his lords walking unhurt in the fire, the flames consuming only the cords which bound them. {Lt132-1901}
But NEBUCHADNEZZAR saw four men walking in the fire, and he said to his lords, “Lo, I see four men walking in the midst of the fire, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God”. The Hebrew captives had borne faithful witness regarding the Son of God, who was to come to this world as the Prince of life. And when NEBUCHADNEZZAR saw some one walking in the flames with the youth, he recognized Him as the Son of God. {Lt132-1901}
Too amazed to think of his greatness or his dignity, the king stepped hastily from his throne and went near to the FURNACE. In a clear, determined voice he cried, “SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither”. And they came forth, to be honored by the king of Babylon because they had honored the God of heaven. Their deliverance was a grand testimonial to God’s power. True to duty, they had been proof against the flames. Only their fetters had been burned. “The princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, 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”. And 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 God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything 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. Then the king promoted SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, in the province of Babylon”. {Lt132-1901}
Once again God humbled NEBUCHADNEZZAR; for we read, “NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation”. He then recounts the history of the great display he had made for his own glory, and how God humbled him; and ends with the words, “Now I NEBUCHADNEZZAR praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase”. {Lt132-1901}
But to return to the record of Daniel’s experience: “Among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, and AZARIAH: unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to HANANIAH, of SHADRACH; and to MISHAEL, of MESHACH; and to AZARIAH, of ABED-NEGO”. {Ms110-1904}
The names of Daniel and his fellows are changed. This act on the part of the king is another underhanded attempt to lead these youth to WORSHIP idols. The names given children by Hebrew parents were always regarded as of high value, as they had a peculiar significance and often stood for some trait of character. The Babylonians reasoned that by giving Daniel and his companions names referring to the WORSHIP of heathen deities, these WORSHIPERS of the true God would more quickly become familiar with the gods of Babylon. {Ms110-1904}
The words, “Thou art this head of GOLD”, made the deepest impression upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S mind. He determined to make an IMAGE that should excel the original. This IMAGE was not to deteriorate in value from the head to the feet, like the one he had been shown, but was to be composed throughout of the most precious metal. Thus the whole IMAGE would represent the greatness of Babylon, and he determined that by the splendor of this IMAGE the prophecy concerning the kingdoms which were to follow should be effaced from his mind and from the minds of others who had heard the dream and its interpretation. From the treasures obtained in war, NEBUCHADNEZZAR “made an IMAGE of GOLD, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plan of Dura”, and issued a proclamation, calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of this IMAGE and, at the sound of musical instruments, to BOW DOWN and WORSHIP it. Should any fail of doing this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning FIERY FURNACE. {Ms110-1904}
The appointed day came, and at the sound of entrancing music, the vast company “fell down, and WORSHIPED the GOLDEN IMAGE”. But the three Hebrew youth, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO (we have no record of Daniel’s being present), did not dishonor the God of heaven by paying homage to this idol. Their action was reported to the king. Angered, he called them before him and by threats endeavored to induce them to unite with the multitude in WORSHIPING the IMAGE. Courteously, yet firmly, they declared their allegiance to the God of heaven and their faith in His power to deliver them in the hour of trial. {Ms110-1904}
The king’s wrath knew no bounds. He commanded that the FURNACE be heated seven times hotter than was its wont. And without delay the Hebrew exiles were cast in. So furious were the flames that the men who cast the Hebrews in were burned to death. {Ms110-1904}
The Hebrew captives had told NEBUCHADNEZZAR of Christ, the Redeemer that was to come; and from the description thus given, the king recognized the form of the fourth in the FIERY FURNACE as the Son of God. {Ms110-1904}
Hastening to the FURNACE, NEBUCHADNEZZAR cried, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth”. And they obeyed, before that vast multitude showing themselves unhurt, not even the smell of fire being on their garments. True to duty, they had been proof against the flames. Only their fetters had been burned. {Ms110-1904}
Tests will come to every one of us. We know not how many will be placed in peculiar positions, where we shall have opportunity of showing forth the glory of God. We are to keep in view the honor of our heavenly Father. Wherever we are, we are to let nothing earthly deter us from glorifying His name. Are we prepared for the tests that will come? {Ms110-1904}
The vain glory and oppression seen in the course pursued by the heathen king NEBUCHADNEZZAR are being and will continue to be manifested in our day. History will repeat itself. In this age the great test will be upon the point of Sabbath observance. The heavenly universe beholds men trampling upon the law of Jehovah, making the memorial of God—the sign between Him and His commandment-keeping people—a thing of naught, something to be despised, while a rival sabbath is exalted, as was the great GOLDEN IMAGE in the plain of Dura. Men claiming to be Christians will call upon the world to observe this spurious sabbath that they have made. All who refuse will be put under oppressive laws. This is the mystery of iniquity, the devising of satanic agencies, carried into effect by the man of sin. {Ms110-1904}
In the third chapter of Daniel, we can read the record of God’s mighty work in behalf of the youth who would not bow to the IMAGE that the king had set up; and we may know that the same God is near to us as we stand in His power to honor His name in our experience. The form of the Fourth walked beside the Hebrews in the midst of the FIERY FURNACE, because they refused to BOW DOWN to the IMAGE and to WORSHIP the work of men’s hands. {Ms73-1909}
Going to the mouth of the FURNACE, NEBUCHADNEZZAR calls the youth to come forth. “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither”, he says. “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire and no power, nor was any hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR spake and said, Blessed by 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. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything 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 God that can deliver after this sort”. {Ms73-1909}
The God of the Hebrews is our God. Let us seek to stand in right relation to Him. We have souls to save or to lose, and it depends upon our individual selves whether we save or lose. If we lose, we carry others with us to destruction. All heaven is looking upon us to see what course we will pursue—whether we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb or be careless and indifferent, going on as we please, filling our days with the pleasures of the world and our minds with the foolish novel, while God’s work is neglected and His Word cast aside. {Ms73-1909}
“Therefore, because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the FURNACE exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO. And these three men, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, fell down bound into the midst of the burning FIERY FURNACE. {Lt126-1910}
“Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 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. {Lt126-1910}
“Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR came near unto 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 from the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, 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”. {Lt126-1910}
Then comes the king’s testimony: “Blessed be the God of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and hath changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor WORSHIP any God, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, shall be cut in pieces…. Because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort”. {Lt126-1910}
Light direct from Heaven had been permitted to shine upon King NEBUCHADNEZZAR, and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of God. But a few years of prosperity filled his heart with pride, and he forgot his acknowledgment of the living God. He resumed his idol WORSHIP with increased zeal and bigotry. {SL 36.3}
From the treasures obtained in war he made a GOLDEN IMAGE to represent the one that he had seen in his dream, setting it up in the plain of Dura, and commanding all the rulers and the people to WORSHIP it, on pain of death. This statue was about ninety feet in height and nine in breadth, and in the eyes of that idolatrous people it presented a most imposing and majestic appearance. A proclamation was issued calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of the IMAGE, and at the sound of the musical instruments, to BOW DOWN and WORSHIP it. Should any fail to do this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning FIERY FURNACE. {SL 36.4}
The appointed day has come, and the vast company is assembled, when word is brought to the king that the three Hebrews whom he has set over the province of Babylon have refused to WORSHIP the IMAGE. These are Daniel’s three companions, who had been called by the king, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO. Full of rage, the monarch calls them before him, and pointing to the angry FURNACE, tells them the punishment that will be theirs if they refuse obedience to his will. {SL 37.1}
In vain were the king’s threats. He could not turn these noble men from their allegiance to the great Ruler of nations. They had learned from the history of their fathers that disobedience to God is dishonor, disaster, and ruin; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom but the foundation of all true prosperity. They look with calmness upon the FIERY FURNACE and the idolatrous throng. They had been obedient to the laws of Babylon so far as these did not conflict with the claims of God; but they would not be swayed a hair’s breadth from the duty they owed their Creator. They have trusted in God, and He will not fail them now. Their answer is respectful, but decided: “Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:18). {SL 37.2} {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 10}
The proud monarch is surrounded by his great men, the officers of the government, and the army that has conquered nations; and all unite in applauding him as having the wisdom and power of the gods. In the midst of this imposing display stand the three youthful Hebrews, steadily persisting in their refusal to obey the king’s decree. They had been obedient to the laws of Babylon so far as these did not conflict with the claims of God, but they would not be swayed a hair’s breadth from the duty they owed to their Creator. {SL 37.3}
The king’s wrath knew no limits. In the very height of his power and glory, to be thus defied by the representatives of a despised and captive race was an insult which his proud spirit could not endure. The FIERY FURNACE had been heated seven times more than it was wont, and into it were cast the Hebrew exiles. So furious were the flames, that the men who cast them in were burned to death. {SL 38.1}
With feelings of remorse and shame, the king exclaimed, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth” (verse 26). And they obeyed, showing themselves unhurt before that vast multitude, not even the smell of fire being upon their garments. This miracle produced a striking change in the minds of the people. The great GOLDEN IMAGE, set up with such display, was forgotten. The king published a decree that any one speaking against the God of these men should be put to death, “because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (verse 29). {SL 39.1}
These three Hebrews possessed genuine sanctification. True Christian principle will not stop to weigh consequences. It does not ask, What will people think of me if I do this? or, How will it affect my worldly prospects if I do that? With the most intense longing the children of God desire to know what He would have them do, that their works may glorify Him. The Lord has made ample provision that the hearts and lives of all His followers may be controlled by divine grace, that they may be as burning and shining lights in the world. {SL 39.2}
These faithful Hebrews possessed great natural ability, they had enjoyed the highest intellectual culture, and now occupied a position of honor; but all this did not lead them to forget God. Their powers were yielded to the sanctifying influence of divine grace. By their steadfast integrity they showed forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. In their wonderful deliverance were displayed, before that vast assembly, the power and majesty of God. JESUS PLACED HIMSELF BY THEIR SIDE IN THE FIERY FURNACE, and by the glory of HIS PRESENCE convinced the proud king of Babylon that it could be no other than the Son of God. The light of Heaven had been shining forth from Daniel and his companions, until all their associates understood the faith which ennobled their lives and beautified their characters. By the deliverance of His faithful servants, the Lord declares that He will take His stand with the oppressed and overthrow all earthly powers that would trample upon the authority of the God of heaven. {SL 39.3}
As in the days of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABEDNEGO, so in the closing period of earth’s history the Lord will work mightily in behalf of those who stand steadfastly for the right. HE WHO WALKED WITH THE HEBREW WORTHIES IN THE FIERY FURNACE WILL BE WITH HIS FOLLOWERS WHEREVER THEY ARE. HIS ABIDING PRESENCE WILL COMFORT AND SUSTAIN. IN THE MIDST OF THE TIME OF TROUBLE–trouble such as has not been since there was a nation–HIS CHOSEN ONES WILL STAND UNMOVED. Satan with all the hosts of evil cannot destroy the weakest of God’s saints. Angels that excel in strength will protect them, and in their behalf Jehovah will reveal Himself as a “God of gods”, able to save to the uttermost those who have put their trust in Him.– Prophets and Kings, p. 513. {SL 41.2}
Daniel and his companions had a conscience void of offense toward God. But this is not preserved without a struggle. What a test was brought on the three associates of Daniel when they were required to WORSHIP the great IMAGE set up by king NEBUCHADNEZZAR in the plains of Dura! Their principles forbade them to pay homage to the idol; for it was a rival to the God of heaven. They knew that they owed to God every faculty they possessed, and while their hearts were full of generous sympathy toward all men, they had a lofty aspiration to prove themselves entirely loyal to their God. To meet the appeals of the king and his counselors that they should comply with the royal edict, they had a store of arguments set forth most eloquently. The demand appeared contemptible to them. With Daniel as their companion, they had prayed and fasted, that they might understand the dream which God gave the king. The Lord had heard their cries, and had given to Daniel wisdom to interpret the dream; thus their own lives and the lives of the astrologers and soothsayers had been saved. Now the very men who had escaped death through the mercy of God to his servants, were led by envy and jealousy to secure the decree in regard to the WORSHIPING of the GOLDEN IMAGE. {SpTEd 208.2}
The king declared to the three Hebrew youth, if “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 hand?” The youth said to the king, “O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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. Then was NEBUCHADNEZZAR full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the FURNACE one seven times more than it was wont to be heated”. These faithful youth were cast into the fire, but God manifested his power for the deliverance of his servants. One like unto the Son of God walked with them in the midst of the flame, and when they were brought forth, not even the smell of fire had passed on them. “Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR spake, and said, Blessed be the God of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, 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”. {SpTEd 209.1}
Those who study the Bible, counsel with God, and rely upon Christ will be enabled to act wisely at all times and under all circumstances. Good principles will be illustrated in actual life. Only let the truth for this time be cordially received and become the basis of character, and it will produce steadfastness of purpose, which the allurements of pleasure, the fickleness of custom, the contempt of the world-loving, and the heart’s own clamors for self-indulgence are powerless to influence. Conscience must be first enlightened, the will must be brought into subjection. The love of truth and righteousness must reign in the soul, and a character will appear which heaven can approve. {5T 43.1}
We have marked illustrations of the sustaining power of firm, religious principle. Even the fear of death could not make the fainting David drink of the water of Bethlehem, to obtain which, valiant men had risked their lives. The gaping lions’ den could not keep Daniel from his daily prayers, nor could the FIERY FURNACE induce SHADRACH and his companions to fall down before the idol which NEBUCHADNEZZAR set up. Young men who have firm principles will eschew pleasure, defy pain, and brave even the lions’ den and the heated FIERY FURNACE rather than be found untrue to God. Mark the character of Joseph. Virtue was severely tested, but its triumph was complete. At every point the noble youth endured the test. The same lofty, unbending principle appeared at every trial. The Lord was with him, and His word was law. {5T 43.2}
It was the God of heaven that gave Daniel and his fellows wisdom, so that they could stand true to principle before kings and nobles. When NEBUCHADNEZZAR had set up the great GOLDEN IMAGE in the plain of Dura, he sent forth the herald to command all to BOW DOWN before it, declaring that those who should dare to disobey were to be cast into the FIERY FURNACE. But the three Hebrew captives, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, would not BOW DOWN: they said, “O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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”. {BEcho, January 15, 1893 par. 5}
Heaven was very near to these faithful men; they were cast into the FIERY FURNACE, but He in whom they had trusted did not forsake them. NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king exclaimed in amazement, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” “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”. How did he know who the fourth was like? The captives had not kept their lips sealed; they had told the Babylonians of their God. Whenever they had an opportunity, they honoured God. They were not ashamed to give Him glory; and from the very description they had given, the king understood that the One with the three captives was the Son of God. “Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR came near to the mouth of the burning FIERY FURNACE, and spake, and said, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither”. Then they came forth from the midst of the fire, and it was found that not even the smell of fire had passed upon them. {BEcho, January 15, 1893 par. 6}
A proclamation was issued, calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of the IMAGE, and at the sound of the musical instruments, to BOW DOWN and WORSHIP it. Should any fail to do this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning FIERY FURNACE. {RH, February 1, 1881 par. 12}
But all the crowned monarchs of earth could not turn these men from their allegiance to the great Ruler of nations. They had learned from the history of their fathers that disobedience to God is dishonor, disaster, and ruin; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom, but the foundation of all true prosperity. They look with calmness upon the FIERY FURNACE and the idolatrous throng. They have trusted in God, and he will not fail them now. Their answer is respectful, but decided,–“Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which thou hast set up”. {RH, February 1, 1881 par. 14}
Suddenly the countenance of the king paled with terror. His eyes were fixed upon the glowing flames, and turning to his lords he said, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” The answer was, “True, O king”. And now, his terror and amazement increased, the monarch exclaimed, “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”. {RH, February 1, 1881 par. 17}
When the Son of God manifests himself to men, an unseen power speaks to the soul that this is God. And before his majesty, kings and nobles tremble, and acknowledge the superiority of the living God over every earthly power. {RH, February 1, 1881 par. 18}
When NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S GOLDEN IMAGE was set up on the plains of Dura, Daniel’s three companions were commanded to fall down and WORSHIP it; but their principles forbade them to pay homage to the idol, for it was a rival to the God of heaven. They knew that they owed every faculty they possessed to God, and while their hearts were full of generous sympathy toward all men, they had a lofty aspiration to prove themselves entirely loyal to their God. {ST, November 5, 1896 par. 5}
These faithful witnesses were cast into the fire for refusing to obey the command of the king, but God manifested his power for the deliverance of his servants. One like unto the Son of man walked with them in the midst of the flame, and when they were brought forth, not even the smell of fire had passed upon them. “Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR spake and said, Blessed be the God of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him”. “Then the king promoted SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, in the province of Babylon”. {ST, November 5, 1896 par. 6}
“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. Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR, the king, sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, . . . unto the dedication of the IMAGE which NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king had set up”. “Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE that NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king hath set up”. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 1}
“At that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, O king, live forever. . . . There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO; these men, O king, have not regarded thee; they serve not thy gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which thou hast set up”. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 2}
These men who thus accused the Hebrews had been saved from death by Daniel’s appeal to the king in their behalf, but they were envious of the three Hebrews, and were desirous of hurting their influence; they therefore carried the complaint to the king that these men had dared to disobey his commands. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 3}
The thought that his slightest wish should not be respected at the dedication of the IMAGE, filled the king with rage, and he commanded that the men be brought before him. “Is it true, O SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, do not ye serve my gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which I have set up?” How short-lived is the exaltation bestowed by men! How little dependence can be placed in them! These three men, once honored, and intrusted with great responsibilities, are now the objects of the wrath of a king whose will is law. Truly we can not trust in princes. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 4}
As the three Hebrews stood before the king in their moral dignity, innocence, and purity, he was convinced that they were superior to the men in his kingdom. They had always been faithful in the performance of their duties, and he decided that he would be gracious, and give them a second trial. “If ye be ready”, he said, “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 then, with hand stretched upward in defiance, he asked, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 5}
His senses were perverted by the prospect of his own greatness, and he seemed to lose all knowledge of a monarch above all earthly kings. When his dream was shown him by Daniel, he had acknowledged, “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings”; but he now took all this back, and sought to demonstrate before the representatives of the different nations, who had assembled at the dedication of this IMAGE, that he, the king of Babylon, was the greatest king in the universe, and that all must bow low to his supremacy, and submit as slaves to his will. And all went well in the carrying out of this arrangement till the disobedience of the Hebrew captives. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 6}
With the FURNACE in sight, the captives answered the king’s horrible threat, saying: “O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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”. Their faith rose with the knowledge that God would be glorified in this transaction, and with a firm, triumphant ring of implicit trust and confidence in their voices, they said, “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”. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 7}
When the king saw that his will was not received as the will of God, he was “full of fury”, and the form of his visage was changed against these men. Satanic attributes made his countenance appear as the countenance of a demon; and with all the force he could command, he ordered that the FURNACE be heated seven times hotter than its wont, and commanded the most mighty men to bind the youth, and cast them into the FURNACE. He felt that it required more than ordinary power to deal with these noble men. His mind was strongly impressed that something unusual would interpose in their behalf, and his strongest men were ordered to deal with them. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 8}
The king’s command was urgent. He was anxious to punish the men who had dared to exercise their will in opposition to his will; and without delay, with all their clothing upon them, they were cast into the fire. “Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the FURNACE exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO”. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 9}
Surrounded by the officers of his government, by the Chaldeans, and by distinguished and great men from many countries, the king, filled with Satanic fury, looked on the scene, waiting to see how soon the men who had defied him would be utterly consumed. But his triumph suddenly came to an end. He saw something that he thought must be an illusion. He turned pale, and, shading his eyes with his hand, he directed his gaze to the FURNACE, watching it with intense interest. All did not discern as quickly as did the king the result of his cruel project. With alarm he asked his great men, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” “True, O king”, was the reply. With a voice trembling with excitement, he cried, “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”. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 10}
How did this heathen king know what the Son of God was like? Through their steadfast adherence to right principles, the Hebrew captives had been called to fill positions of trust in the courts of Babylon. They were tempted by others to be untrue, in order to gain advantages; but they were faithful in all their business transactions. In life and character they represented the truth; and when they were asked a reason for their course of action, they gave it without hesitation. Plainly and in simplicity they presented the living principles of the truth, and thus those around them were made acquainted with the Source of their strength. In this way the king of Babylon became acquainted with the form of the Son of God. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 11}
With feelings of deep humiliation and remorse, the king stood as near the blazing FURNACE as he dared, and in a clear, loud voice called out, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither”. They obeyed the voice of the king, and came forth unhurt, without even the smell of fire upon them. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 12}
The fact that these youth came forth from the fire having received no harm, save only that their fetters had been burned away, was beyond the comprehension of the wise men, and made a decided change in the sentiments of the people. The tidings of this wonderful deliverance were carried to many countries by the representatives of the different nations. Thus God was glorified by the faithfulness of his children. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 13}
HISTORY WILL BE REPEATED. False religion will be exalted. The first day of the week, a common working day, possessing no sanctity whatever, will be set up as was the IMAGE at Babylon. All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to WORSHIP this spurious sabbath. This is Satan’s plan to make of no account the day instituted by God, and given to the world as a memorial of creation. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 14}
The decree enforcing the WORSHIP of this day is to go forth to all the world. In a limited degree, it has already gone forth. In several places the civil power is speaking with the voice of a dragon, just as the heathen king spoke to the Hebrew captives. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 15}
Trial and persecution will come to all who, in obedience to the Word of God, refuse to WORSHIP this false sabbath. Force is the last resort of every false religion. At first it tries attraction, as the king of Babylon tried the power of music and outward show. If these attractions, invented by men inspired by Satan, failed to make men WORSHIP the IMAGE, the hungry flames of the FURNACE were ready to consume them. So it will be now. The Papacy has exercised her power to compel men to obey her, and she will continue to do so. We need the same spirit that was manifested by God’s servants in the conflict with paganism. Giving an account of the treatment of the Christians by the emperor of Rome, Tertullian says, “We are thrown to the wild beasts to make us recant; we are burned in the flames; we are condemned to prisons and to mines; we are banished to islands,–such as Patmos,–and all have failed”. So it was in the case of the three Hebrew worthies; their eye was single to the glory of God; their souls were steadfast; the power of the truth held them firmly to their allegiance to God. It is in the power of God alone that we shall be enabled to be loyal to him. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 16}
“If ye love me”, said Christ, “keep my Commandments”. “He that hath my Commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him”. And has not CHRIST manifested HIMSELF to his faithful children? Did HE not walk in the FURNACE with the captives who refused to yield to the GOLDEN IMAGE one tittle of the reverence which belonged to God? Did HE not manifest HIMSELF to John, banished to the Isle of Patmos for his faithfulness? Have not those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, who, tho they have been compelled to suffer, have refused to WORSHIP the institution of the Papacy, realized the PRESENCE OF THE DIVINE COMFORTER in their lonely prisons? {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 17}
The Commandments of finite, sinful men are to sink into insignificance beside the Word of the eternal God. Truth is to be obeyed at any cost, even tho gaping prisons, chain-gangs, and banishment stare us in the face. If you are loyal and true, that GOD who walked with the three Hebrew children in the FIERY FURNACE, who protected Daniel in the lions’ den, who manifested HIMSELF to John on the lonely island, will go with you wherever you go. HIS ABIDING PRESENCE will comfort and sustain you; and you will realize the fulfilment of the promise, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him”. {ST, May 6, 1897 par. 18}
The WORSHIP of the IMAGE which the king had set up, was made the established religion of the country. But the Hebrew children were determined not to dishonor the God of heaven, who made the world, and all things that are therein. Their God was the King of kings and Lord of lords, and they would serve him, at whatever cost. {ST, September 2, 1897 par. 3}
“Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king NEBUCHADNEZZAR , O king, live forever. 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 music, shall fall down and WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE; and whoso falleth not down and WORSHIPETH, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning FIERY FURNACE. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO; these men, O king, have not regarded thee; they serve not thy gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which thou hast set up”. Hitherto the king had shown great regard for these youth. Their faithfulness in all their duties could not but increase his confidence in them, and he had exalted them to positions of high honor. But he was filled with rage that his word had been disregarded, and commanded that they be brought into his presence. {ST, September 2, 1897 par. 4}
“NEBUCHADNEZZAR spake and said unto them, Is it true, O SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, do not ye serve my gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which I have set up? 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? SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, answered and said to the king, O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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”. The sentence of death did not change their decision. The martyrs knew what would lessen the fierceness of the fire kindling upon nerve and muscle. In beholding Christ, in the manifestation of his presence, the most cruel death was made bearable. {ST, September 2, 1897 par. 5}
The last resort of the king of Babylon was force, and he put his terrible threat into execution. Filled with fury against these men for thus defying him, he commanded that the FURNACE should be heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated. “And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, and to cast them into the burning FIERY FURNACE. 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”. “Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king was astonied, 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. 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. Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR came near to the mouth of the burning FIERY FURNACE, and spake, and said, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, came forth of the midst of the fire. 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”. {ST, September 2, 1897 par. 6}
When CHRIST manifests HIMSELF to the children of men, an UNSEEN POWER speaks to their souls. They realize that they are IN THE PRESENCE OF THE INFINITE ONE. Before his majesty, kings and nobles tremble, and acknowledge the living God as above every earthly power. The Hebrew captives had told NEBUCHADNEZZAR of Christ, the Redeemer that was to come, and from the description thus given, the king recognized the form of the fourth in the FIERY FURNACE as the Son of God. {YI, April 26, 1904 par. 4}
His own greatness and dignity forgotten, NEBUCHADNEZZAR descended from his throne, and hastened to the FURNACE. With remorse and shame he cried, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth”. And they obeyed, before that vast multitude showing themselves unhurt, not even the smell of fire being upon their garments. True to duty, they had been proof against the flames. Only their fetters had been burned. {YI, April 26, 1904 par. 5}
“Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR spake, and said, Blessed be the God of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO, 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”. {YI, April 26, 1904 par. 6}
A change passed over the multitude. The great GOLDEN IMAGE, set up with such display, was forgotten. Men feared and trembled before the living God. The king published a decree that any one speaking against the God of the Hebrews should be put to death; “because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort”. {YI, April 26, 1904 par. 7}
The three Hebrews were called upon to confess Christ in the face of the burning FIERY FURNACE. It cost them something to do this, for their lives were at stake. These youth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole kingdom of Babylon their faith,–that He whom they WORSHIPED was the only true and living God. The demonstration of their faith on the plain of Dura was a most eloquent presentation of their principles. {YI, July 12, 1904 par. 2}
The lessons we may learn from the loyalty of the Hebrew captives toward God and his law, have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days. We have a confession to make different from that which we have made; and we shall have to make it under trying circumstances. In order to impress idolaters with the power and greatness of the living God, we, as his servants, must reveal our own reverence for God. We must make it manifest that he is the only object of our adoration and WORSHIP, and that no consideration, not even the preservation of life, can induce us to make the least concession to idolatry. {YI, July 12, 1904 par. 3}
The vainglory and oppression seen in the course pursued by the heathen king, NEBUCHADNEZZAR, is being and will continue to be manifested in our day. HISTORY WILL REPEAT ITSELF. In this age the test will be on the point of Sabbath observance. The heavenly universe behold men trampling upon the law of Jehovah, making the memorial of God, the sign between him and his commandment-keeping people, a thing of naught, something to be despised, while a rival sabbath is exalted as was the great GOLDEN IMAGE in the plain of Dura. Men claiming to be Christians will call upon the world to observe this spurious sabbath that they have made. All who refuse will be placed under oppressive laws. This is the mystery of iniquity, the devising of satanic agencies, carried into effect by the man of sin. {YI, July 12, 1904 par. 4}
The people of God will enter into no controversy with the world over this matter. They will simply take God’s Word for their guide, and maintain their allegiance to him whose Commandments they keep. They will obey the words of Jehovah: “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore . . . for a perpetual covenant”. {YI, July 12, 1904 par. 5}
When the Sabbath becomes the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state, ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. This argument will appear conclusive; and against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will finally be issued a decree, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment, and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World, and apostate Protestantism in the New, will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts. {YI, July 12, 1904 par. 6}
My dear young friends, if you are called to go through a FIERY FURNACE for Christ’s sake, Jesus will be by your side. To you he declares: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”. {YI, July 12, 1904 par. 9}
The threats of men sink into insignificance beside the word of the living God. Be loyal and true, and the GOD who walked with the three Hebrew children in the FIERY FURNACE, who manifested HIMSELF to John on the lonely island, WILL BE WITH YOU. HIS ABIDING PRESENCE will comfort and sustain you, and you will realize the fulfilment of the promise, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him”. {YI, July 12, 1904 par. 10}
The vision of the great IMAGE, in which Babylon was represented as the head of GOLD, was given NEBUCHADNEZZAR in order that he might have a clear understanding in regard to the end of all things earthly, and also in regard to the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom. Although in the interpretation he was declared to be “a king of kings”, this was because “the God of heaven” had given him “a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory”. His kingdom was universal, extending “wheresoever the children of men dwell”, yet it was to be followed by three other universal kingdoms, after which “the God of heaven” would “set up a kingdom”, which should “never be destroyed”. {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 5}
In the providence of God, NEBUCHADNEZZAR was given ample opportunity to ascribe to the Lord the glory for the splendor of his reign. And for a time after the vision of the great IMAGE, he acknowledged God as supreme. Falling back into idolatrous habits, he was again, by the miraculous deliverance of the three Hebrews from the FIERY FURNACE, led to acknowledge that God’s “kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation”. But once more the king perverted the warnings God had given him, and turned aside from the path of humility to follow the imaginations of his naturally proud heart. Thinking that his kingdom should be more extensive and powerful than any that would follow, he made great additions to the city of Babylon, and gave himself up to a life of pleasure and self-glorification. Of this time he himself says: “I NEBUCHADNEZZAR was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace”. {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 6}
A faithful study of Daniel and his three friends will teach the principles that underlie a strong, true character. These young men had first learned to serve God in their homes. They had there learned the meaning of true religion and what God would do for them if they remained loyal to him. When they were carried to the court of Babylon, they determined to yield up life itself rather than be untrue to God. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 3}
A severe test came to three of these youth when NEBUCHADNEZZAR issued a proclamation, calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of the great IMAGE, and at the sound of the musical instruments, to BOW DOWN and WORSHIP it. Should any fail of doing this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning FIERY FURNACE. The WORSHIP of this IMAGE had been brought about by the wise men of Babylon in order to make the Hebrew youth join in their idolatrous WORSHIP. They were beautiful singers, and the Chaldean wanted them to forget their God, and accept the WORSHIP of the Babylonian idols. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 4}
The appointed day came, and at the sound of the music, the vast company that had assembled at the king’s command “fell down and WORSHIPED the GOLDEN IMAGE”. But these faithful young men would not BOW DOWN. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 5}
When the men of Babylon saw that the youth would not join in the songs or bend the knee, they went to NEBUCHADNEZZAR, saying, “O king, live forever. . . . There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO: these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which thou hast set up”. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 6}
The king was filled with rage, and commanded that the men be brought before him. “Is it true”, he inquired, “do not ye serve my gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which I have set up?” Pointing to the FIERY FURNACE, he reminded them of the punishment that would be theirs if they refused to obey his will. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 7}
The king decided to give them a second trial. “If ye be ready”, he said, “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”. Then, with hand stretched upward in defiance, he asked, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 8}
The fearless youth replied, “O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning FIERY FURNACE, . . . 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”. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 9}
Then the king commanded the FURNACE to be heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated; and when this was done, the three Hebrews were cast in. So furious were the flames, that the men who cast the Hebrews in were burned to death. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 11}
Suddenly the countenance of the king paled with terror. He looked intently into the glowing flames, and turning to his lords, in tones of alarm, he inquired, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” The answer was, “True, O king”. His voice trembling with excitement, the monarch exclaimed, “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”. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 12}
NEBUCHADNEZZAR knew enough of the true God through Daniel to know whose was the form of the fourth in the flames. With remorse and shame, the king cried, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth”. And as they obeyed and came forth, there was not even the smell of fire upon their garments. {YI, April 7, 1908 par. 13}
Daniel and his companions had a conscience void of offense toward God. But this is not preserved without a struggle. What a test was brought on the three associates of Daniel, when they were required to WORSHIP the great IMAGE set up by king NEBUCHADNEZZAR in the plain of Dura. Their principles forbade them to pay homage to the idol; for it was a rival of the God of Heaven. They knew that they owed to God every faculty they possessed; and while their hearts were full of generous sympathy toward all men, they had a lofty aspiration to prove themselves entirely loyal to their God. To meet the appeals of the king and his counselors that they should comply with the royal edict, they had a store of arguments set forth most eloquently. The demand appeared contemptible to them. With Daniel as their companion, they had prayed and fasted, that they might understand the dream which God gave the king. The Lord had heard their cries, and he had given to Daniel wisdom to interpret the dream. Thus their own lives and the lives of the astrologers and soothsayers had been saved. Now the very men who had escaped death through the mercy of God to his servants, were led by envy and jealousy to secure the decree in regard to the WORSHIPING of the GOLDEN IMAGE. {PH154 55.2}
These lessons have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days. My soul is deeply stirred at the things that have been presented to me. I feel indignation of spirit, that in our institutions so little honor has been given to the living God, and so much honor to what is supposed to be human talent, but with which the Holy Spirit has no connection. The Spirit of God is not acknowledged and respected; men have passed judgment upon it, its operations have been condemned as fanaticism, enthusiasm, undue excitement. {PH154 57.2}
ALL FALSE RELIGIONS RUN COUNTER TO THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. Those who accept these religions have no inward purity and beauty. They depend on their position of authority to compel those who acknowledge God as their Creator and their Sovereign to bow to human enactments without a question. They depend upon outward display, upon outward beauty, trusting to its subtle influence upon the senses. When a church depends on parade, ceremonies, and display, be sure that inward holiness is wanting. To make up for the absence of the Spirit of God, to conceal spiritual poverty and apostasy, the outside is made attractive. Thus the protestant churches are following the footsteps of Rome, depending not on Christ, the divine Teacher, but upon their ornaments and shrines. Embroidered altars and magnificent architecture attract and hold the senses. Thus men become entrapped by the enemy. So the great GOLDEN IMAGE, impressive and attractive, with beautiful music to charm the senses, did honor to the prince of darkness. {Lt90-1897}
The Fiery Furnace
The GOLDEN IMAGE set up in the plain of Dura, an image ninety feet in height and nine in breadth, presented an imposing and majestic appearance. NEBUCHADNEZZAR issued a proclamation, calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of this IMAGE, and, at the sound of musical instruments, to BOW DOWN and WORSHIP it. Should any fail of doing this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning FIERY FURNACE. {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 1}
The appointed day came, and at the sound of the music the vast company that was assembled at the king’s command, “FELL DOWN, and WORSHIPED the GOLDEN IMAGE”. “At that time certain Chaldeans came near, . . . and said to the king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, O king, live forever. . . . There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which thou hast set up”. {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 2}
Filled with rage, the king commanded that the men be brought before him. “Is it true”, he inquired, “do ye not serve my gods, nor WORSHIP the GOLDEN IMAGE which I have set up?” Pointing to the angry FURNACE, he reminded them of the punishment that would be theirs if they refused to obey his will. {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 3}
The king decided to give them a second trial. “If ye be ready”, he said, “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”. Then, with hand stretched upward in defiance, he asked, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 4}
In vain were the king’s threats. He could not turn these noble men from their allegiance to the great Ruler of nations. From the history of their fathers, they had learned that disobedience to God results in dishonor, disaster, and death; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom, but the foundation of all true prosperity. They knew that they owed to God every faculty they possessed; and while their hearts were full of generous sympathy toward all men, they had a lofty aspiration to prove themselves loyal to God. {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 5}
When the king was troubled in regard to his dream, these men, with Daniel, had fasted and prayed, that they might understand the dream. The Lord had heard their cries, and he had given to Daniel wisdom to interpret the dream to the king. Thus their own lives and the lives of the astrologers and soothsayers had been saved. Now the very men who had escaped death through the mercy of God to his servants, had been the prime movers in securing the decree in regard to the WORSHIP of the GOLDEN IMAGE. But the three Hebrews made no mention of these things; they knew that a controversy with the king would only increase his fury. {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 6}
Standing before the angry monarch, with the IMAGE in sight, and the sound of the entrancing music in their ears, these young men thought of the promise made to the prophet Isaiah more than one hundred years before: “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”. {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 7}
The answer of SHADRACH, MESHACH, and ABED-NEGO was respectful, but decided. Looking with calmness upon the FIERY FURNACE and the idolatrous throng, they said: “O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so [if this be your decision], our God whom we serve will deliver us out of thine hand, O king”. These Hebrew youth had unquestioning faith in God, and they were determined to honor him at any cost. Their faith strengthened with the declaration that God would be glorified by delivering them, and with a triumphant ring of trust in their voices, they added: “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”. {YI, March 8, 1904 par. 8}