3:1 In the last chapter Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue, the head of which was of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the middle portion of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet and toes of iron mixed with clay. As Daniel interpreted the dream, the head represented the great kingdom of Babylon, the silver representing the less valuable but stronger kingdom of the Medes and Persians followed by the still lesser in value brass but stronger kingdom of Alexander’s Greece, which was followed by the iron representing Rome which is the strongest but then in the feet the iron is mixed with clay which weakened the base of the entire image. At the end of history, a rock, representing Jesus, will strike the world’s kingdoms, destroy them, and then grow to fill the whole earth. It may be that Nebuchadnezzar after thinking about his dream over time may have thought since the head represented him that he thought to build an image like his dream only all of gold. It may be that he thought by building a statue of himself 90 feet tall all of gold that he could supplant the image and its interpretation, thus attempting to keep his kingdom from being supplanted. In doing so he was trying to defy God’s decree through Daniel that his empire will not endure. That is why this chapter really is about whose god is God? Who rules history? It is not just a question of bowing down or not bowing down to an idol—though it certainly was that. It was a matter of bowing before the will of God or rebelling against the will of God. This is a battle that all of us face every day.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Gold Statue and the furnace provide for us a picture of faith and Submission. We all have trials in life. When we do we need a strong and steadfast faith in the Lord. We need to surrender, submitting our lives to the Lord, trusting Him to deliver us. Nebuchadnezzar utilized the golden image to unify his huge kingdom consisting of many different ethnic groups. Religion is always one way that far flung empires find unity. This common state religion could be the unifying thread of the empire. It was the state that provided security, prosperity, and public services for the people. To achieve the unity he sought Nebuchadnezzar combined his dream and political expediency utilizing the gold image, probably of himself as an object of worship. Nebuchadnezzar equated religious fidelity to fidelity to the state. Throughout the empire, the faith of true believers was severely tested. The first three believers to face the test were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The huge statue was not built in the city of Babylon, but rather in Dura, which was about 15 to 16 miles outside the city.
vv 2-7 As soon as the image was finished, the king summoned all his officials to attend the dedication of the image (v.2). On the appointed day they stood before the statue and at the command of the king the kings officials were to instruct the people. The people at the sound of the royal musicians the people and their officials were to fall down before the huge gold statue to declare their loyalty to Babylon and their king. If any refused to obey the king’s command, he would be thrown into a blazing furnace. The furnace was sitting where everyone could see its flames. At the appointed time everyone bowed before the image except Daniel’s three brothers in faith, who stood tall above all who had bowed down before the golden image.
v 8-12 The consequences for not obeying the command of the king in worshipping the image was to be charged with treason. They either had to disobey the Lord or disobey the king. And their decision was a matter of life or death. It was easy for the other officials to declare their loyalty to the state since the Babylonians believed in many gods. The image was merely another god to be added to the others worshipped throughout the empire. But not to Daniel’s three brothers in faith. They believed in the Lord, the only living and true God revealed in Scripture. They knew Him in a very personal way, and they loved the Lord, and they knew what the Word of God demanded of them. They believed that their lives were not their own and that they were His witnesses of God’s truth revealed in His Word. God’s command to them is the same to us; to love Him with all our heart, soul and strength (Deut. 6:4-5). They were strangers in a strange land, just as we and they were ambassadors of the King and His Kingdom.
Their first loyalty was to the Lord. They could not worship any so-called god giving their primary loyalty to the king and state of Babylon. Their worship and loyalty belonged first to the Lord and Him alone. Their faith was being tested to the ultimate, would they believe that God could overcome this situation. Would they trust and obey or would they bow to the king fearing death. When our faith is tested we too must trust and obey the Lord. We must cast our lives into the Lord’s care. Generally, we’re not tested to this extent but we are daily called to obedience to God’s commands. Even if the test is a matter of life or death we are called to not deny the Lord. We are to take our stand and continue to acknowledge the Lord as our King and Lord. We must entrust our souls totally into God’s hands. No matter how strong the temptation or how difficult the trial, God expects us to continue to believe and trust Him. This kind of faith comes from God’s Word and walking in His Spirit (Mk.9:23; John 3:15-16; John 5:24; John 11:25; John 20:31; Rom. 10:9-10; Heb. 11:6; 33).
Some of the king’s wise men approached the king to attack his Jewish advisors, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Likely their attackers were jealous of Daniel and his three friends, resenting the fact that the King had promoted and showed favor to them. The truth is that those whom God loves the god of this world despises. This is true of faithful Christians and Jews because they are the object of God’s unearned favor (Rev. 12:13). In the minds of the Chaldeans, the three had betrayed Babylon and her king by being unwilling to bow down to the statue and obey the command of the king. They demanded that they be thrown into the furnace for their betrayal.
This incident is similar to the affirmation of Peter and John in Acts 5:29 when they said “We ought to obey God rather than men”. These verses record the accusation brought by Nebuchadnezzar’s officials. The style of narration conveys a principle that God’s children do not need to make a “big deal” out of their acts of obedience to God. The three simply act according to the Lord’s Word and allow their actions to speak without any drama. It was the Chaldeans who were being dramatic drawing Nebuchadnezzar’s attention to what happened. The wording in verse 12 suggests that they did so as the result of a well-prepared strategy. Their words are revealing, “There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon”. They seem to be attacking the influence Daniel and his brothers have. Their accusation is without compassion as they accuse them of not paying respect to the king.
In doing so they were undermining the influence of God’s kingdom that was being brought to them through Daniel and the three. This was a battle between light and darkness, the children of God vs the children of the Devil.
They knew that whatever Nebuchadnezzar recently experienced when Daniel told the dream and its interpretation that he was not a true covert to the God of Israel. All they needed to mention was the failure of the Hebrews to pay respect to his wishes (Daniel 3:12) and Nebuchadnezzar’s retaliation would be certain.
Daniel 3:13-15 -The king responded with rage and summoned the three young men to appear before him. Angrily questioning them, he asked if the charges were true. Had they refused to bow before the gold image that represented the state? Without waiting for a reply, the king demanded that they prove their innocence (Daniel 3:15). Nebuchadnezzar was offering them an opportunity to save their lives. Probably because they were held in high esteem by him. But his esteem would not exempt them from declaring their first loyalty to the state. He said he would have the musicians play again so that they could bow before the image. If they refused, they would die. What he says in v 15 demonstrates that his profession of faith in the last chapter was not a genuine conversion but just words. This is true of many professing Christians today.
Nebuchadnezzar was exalting himself above all so-called gods. He declared that no god, not even the Lord God of Israel, would be able to deliver these young men from his hand. No god had that kind of power. Even believers tend to forget the power of God unless their faith is strengthened through the Word of God. Their execution in the fiery furnace was certain unless the three obeyed the law of the set down by the king.
Daniel 3:16-18 The three refused to plead for their lives. Trusting and loving the Lord with all their hearts, they committed their lives into the hands of God. They told the king that they didn’t need to defend themselves, that their first loyalty belonged to the Lord alone. Moreover, they knew that their God was able to save them from the fiery furnace. They were casting themselves on the Lord to rescue them. But even if the Lord chose not to deliver them, they still would not deny Him. No matter what the king did to them, they could not worship the gods of Babylon or the gold image that represented the state. Their faith is a picture of total surrender to the Lord. They humbly submitted themselves to God’s will, knowing that He could deliver them if He so chose.
But they also knew it might be His will for them to perish in the furnace. They knew that God could rescue them, but He might choose to let them die as a testimony to their faith in the Lord. What a testimony of complete surrender and faith, this is the testimony that God calls us today and is not often present among professing believers here. It is the reason why Believers look no different than those who are not believers (Revelation 12:9-12).
Daniel 3:19-23 Their refusal to obey the king threw Nebuchadnezzar into another violent rage, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. He commanded that they be executed. He commanded some of his strongest soldiers to bind them and throw them into the blazing furnace. Their execution was to be a public example and warning to others against treason and rebellion against the king and the state.
The soldiers quickly carried out the king’s orders. They bound them and walked up to the furnace to throw them in. As soon as they approached the open furnace, fire leaped out and consumed the soldiers, burning them alive. The three men, securely tied, fell from their grip into the furnace.
These three young men could have easily compromised their faith. They could have done what we are so often tempted to do and keep control of their life by bowing before the image.
Throughout life, we face critical decisions just as these three did. If we choose to deny the Lord, we may escape the threats and the suffering for a brief time, but these tests are necessary for us to progress in our walk with the Lord and if we keep on denying the Lord and obeying Him the day of our death from this world will still come. The person who denies the Lord will face the judgment of God. For this reason, the Lord encourages us to place our faith in Him and to grow a strong and steadfast faith as we follow and serve Him. Matthew 10:32-33 everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Gal. 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Daniel 3:24-27 One of the most amazing miracles in all of history took place, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were rescued from the furnace by the power of the Lord. The Lord demonstrated His love for Nebuchadnezzar enabling him to witness His deliverance of them. Having seen the soldiers consumed by the flames and the three fall into furnace, the king was stunned by what he saw next.
To make sure he was seeing rightly, he asked his officials if they had thrown three bound men into the fire. When they confirmed it, he replied that there were now four men walking around in the furnace unharmed by the fire. Nebuchadnezzar described the fourth a divine being. The fourth person was a preincarnate appearance of Yeshua. The king called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out, confessing they were servants of the most high God. When they came out their bodies and clothes weren’t singed and there was no smell of fire or smoke on them. The Lord demonstrated to the King and his officials that He is the only living and true God. This is now the second time Nebuchadnezzar submitted himself to the Lord (Dan 2:46-49).
Daniel 3:28-30 – His response was praise to God because the angel of God had saved them, because they had trusted their God and refused to betray Him, and because they had defied the king and were willing to die for their God.
Secondly, he issued a decree that prohibited anyone from speaking against the God of the three. The consequences for any who would dishonor or speak against their God would be death by dismemberment and destruction of their property. Third, Nebuchadnezzar promoted the three friends. The lesson for us is the lesson that God has continually been teaching his people from the Exodus; that when we walk through the trials of life, the Lord promises to be with us and to walk with us, no matter how severe the trial or hardship. He will either strengthen us to bear the trial or deliver us from the trial.
If we truly follow Yeshua, obeying God’s commands and abiding in Him, God will give us the strength to be conquerors over all the crises of life, even over the crisis of death. God watches over us and is aware of even the most minute happenings in our lives. The Lord loves and cares for His obedient children. The Lord uses these crises as a witness to His saving power. His hope is that unbelievers will turn to Him because of the peace and strength He gives to those who trust and obey Him. This is why we should always walk faithfully before the Lord, even when the trials of life come our way. When we walk in faith, God promises us His wonderful deliverance. Consider His Word to us: (1 Corinthians 10:13;2 Corinthians 1:8-10;Hebrews 2:14-15; 13:5-6;Psalm 91:3;107:27-31;Isaiah 41:10;43:1-2;46:4).