Scripture reading – Daniel 3

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Scholars suggest a twenty-year gap exists between Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great image (Daniel 2) and his elevation of one “in the plain of Dura,” outside the massive walls of the city of Babylon (Daniel 3:1). Assuming the passing of two decades, Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were then in their mid to late 30’s, in the prime of manhood, and serving as administrators in Nebuchadnezzar’s government (Daniel 2:48-49).


The King’s Idol (Daniel 3:1-3)

Despite confessing Daniel’s God was “the God of gods, the Lord of kings” (Daniel 2:47), Nebuchadnezzar returned to idolatry and worshipping and offering sacrifices to idols. Yet, the king remembered the image of his dreams and Daniel’s interpretation that the golden head of the image represented his realm as king (Daniel 2:38). The proud king, not content with an image bearing only a head of gold, determined to raise an entire image of gold. Standing 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, the golden image towered above men. Though knowing the diversity of nations and religions under his rule, Nebuchadnezzar demanded that all men worship his idol (Daniel 3:2-3).


A Crisis of Integrity (Daniel 3:4-18)

With a day of dedication determined, a herald called “all people, nations, and languages” (Daniel 3:4) to bow and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image (Daniel 3:4-5). With the warning, Bow or Burn, all men and women were expected to give homage to “the golden image” (Daniel 3:7).  A sea of humanity gathered before the great image, and when the music was heard, all bowed before the image, except three men. Tragically, the assimilation of the children of Israel into Babylonian culture was universal, except for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel’s absence was perhaps due to his travels on behalf of the king).

A Crisis of Integrity

Some Chaldeans of Babylon used the three Hebrew men’s refusal as an occasion to accuse them of disobedience, prompting an inquisition by the king (Daniel 3:13-15). Although angered by their refusal and perhaps out of respect for Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego a second opportunity to bow before his idol. Again, he repeated the consequences should they refuse (Daniel 3:15). 

Though far from their home and the godly influences of their youth, the three men proved steadfast in their convictions (Exodus 20:3-5) and acknowledged two outcomes for their fidelity: “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. 8But 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“ (Daniel 3:17-18).

Application – How about you? Do you value the LORD’s commands above man’s directive? Before confronted by the king’s “Bow or Burn” challenge, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego embraced the LORD’s Laws and Commandments as principles they would not violate.


The Fire of the King’s Indignation (Daniel 3:19-26)

Overcome with “rage and fury,” Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual (Daniel 3:13, 19). He then commanded his “most mighty men” (perhaps his guard) to bind and cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the flames (Daniel 3:19-21). The fire and heat of the furnace were so intense that the king’s mighty men were instantly slain (Daniel 3:21-23).

Nebuchadnezzar, sitting down to observe the execution of the three Hebrew men, was suddenly shaken by the sight of not three but four men walking in the furnace unscathed by its heat and flames (Daniel 3: 24). The king observed that the fourth man was a heavenly figure, whom he described as “like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:26).

The King’s Invocation

A Divine Intervention (Daniel 3:26-27)

Humbled by the miraculous preservation of the three men and the sight of the divine image of the fourth, the king summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by name. He called them the “servants of the most high God” (Daniel 3:26). Those men emerged from the furnace as their accusers gathered. They were amazed that “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” (Daniel 3:26-27).


The King’s Invocation (Daniel 3:28-30)

Realizing only the ropes that bound them were singed by the flames (Daniel 3:27), Nebuchadnezzar confessed that “the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” had sent His angel to save them (Daniel 3:28). The king confessed that the LORD had overruled his edict, and spared their lives “that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God” (Daniel 3:28). 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s conviction to worship no other God inspired Nebuchadnezzar to dare any to speak ill of their God and to declare “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (Daniel3:29). The LORD not only preserved those men from death, but the king promoted them (Daniel 3:30).


Closing thoughts

Believer, you may never face a fiery furnace, but you will undoubtedly face fiery troubles and trials. I urge you to follow Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s example before you face the challenge to bow your will to that which violates God’s Word. Determine in your heart that you will trust the God of heaven and only worship and serve Him.

Romans 8:35–3935Who shall separate [come between] us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation [trouble], or distress [hardships; anguish], or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life…nor things present, nor things to come…shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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