Nebuchadnezzar’s Golden Image
3 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
The Fiery Furnace
Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Daniel 3 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“…but even if He does not…”
What would it be like to live with such thought in everything we do? Every way we live? How would such a statement translate into the decisions we make and move in? What new level of faith and trust in the God of all creation would be built? What everyday miracles would happen? What would our own faith speak to this current generation?
My mind ran with these questions as I consider the story in Daniel 3 as well as my own current situations and responses. Regardless of what goes down around me, the most unexpected, unforeseen things, how would my life look different if I lived with ‘even if He does not’?
Nebuchadnezzar’s declaration that God was the God of all gods was short lived. In his pride, he decided to erect a statue for the people to worship. When the celebration or unveiling of this took place, the band would come to a crescendo and all people were to fall on their faces in worship of this statue. When the moment came, the people gathered and as the band played, everyone fell down before him. Everyone except for 3: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They stood out like a sore thumb among the sea of people on their faces.
Infuriated, the king ordered them before him, giving a chance to think twice as to their actions.
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Daniel 3:16-18
Enraged, he ordered the furnace fired up seven times the norm and had them tossed in. Their belligerence would not be tolerated. And then it happened.
Standing in the middle of the fire, Nebuchadnezzar saw not 3 men standing but 4; the fourth looking like ‘the son of the gods’. Stepping out from the flames, not a single hair had been singed. Their clothes not burned, they didn’t even smell of smoke.
God had delivered them. He stood with them even in the hottest heat of the fire. They lived in the ‘even if He does not’ and He did.
There is no reason to believe that these 3 suddenly decided to put God to the test when the trial came. The previous 2 chapters show they were men completely dedicated to Jehovah Jireh, their Provider. From the very beginning, they’d held true to Him as exiles. They had seen His provision before and trusted it in this situation. They were men committed to prayer as they’d joined Daniel during the revealing of the dream the king had. They lived and breathed the reverence and goodness of God despite what may be handed down. They dwelled in the ‘even if He does not’ because they trusted him regardless.
For each of us, the faith we have is personal. It is also one of action. It’s not something we conjure up for those moments of doubt or crisis. It’s not something we live off of others belief and trust. It’s something we work upon each and every day. It’s a relationship we hold in every moment and hour as we never know what will come our way, what sudden thing will come against. It’s a freeing faith that enables us to live in the ‘even if He does not’ regardless of what takes place.
Whatever situation you may currently be facing, where does your faith stand? Where do you stand even among the sea of people? The big and small decisions made are based upon where our faith rests. Do you trust Him, ‘even if He does not’?
Daniel 3 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
I want to present three challenging points to consider within the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
Would we really do what they did?
Be honest. Most (or all) of us have never really been in a situation quite like this. We talk a big game. We say we wouldn’t deny Christ. We like to believe we have strong faith, but, what if your decision to take a stand places your family in danger? What if your decision to stand with Christ costs you money, property, your reputation, or worse? What if it places you in the crosshairs of physical harm? I don’t have the answers. I’m not even sure how I would react in a situation like this. What this really comes down to is how great your love is for Christ. Is it greater than family? Is it greater than financial stability? Is it greater than losing everything and being homeless?
We can’t know how we would respond with certainty. However, I believe we can train ourselves in the knowledge of Christ so that our hearts and minds are saturated with His truth. In the midst of chaotic situations such as this one with these three men, I believe we will be given insight by the Holy Spirit that will empower us to choose God’s way over man’s way.
But what about my rights?
I am grateful for the rights we have in this nation, but they are political rights. They may be based around spiritual principles but they don’t guide our lives like Scripture. It is clear throughout Scripture that those who choose to follow Jesus will face all kinds of persecution and trials. We should expect it. Often, we pray that God would just get us out of a situation quickly and easily. What if God would have shown up before these three men made this decision and rescued them in some other way? These three would not have had the opportunity to put their faith to the test and, more importantly, the glory of God would not have been on display for an entire nation to witness. Often, we whine about our rights when we should quietly take our stand and let the glory go to Jesus in the end.
Do you question God’s ability or presume to know His will?
It is difficult to stay balanced sometimes. We definitely don’t want to question God’s ability, but we wrestle with reality. In truth, we can talk ourselves into almost anything and justify it from a spiritual perspective. Does God want me to do nothing and trust Him, or, should I jump in and act because He created me with a brain? Some Christians claim to know exactly what God wants them to do in every situation while others are content to do nothing and let God’s sovereignty work everything out. How can we know which is right? OK, enough with the questions…
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego had the perfect balance of trusting God but staying humble. This is actually what I love most about this story. They believed wholeheartedly they could not worship that statue. They didn’t overthink the decision. However, when it came to facing their punishment, they really didn’t know what God was going to do. They could only control the decision that was within their ability as a fallible human believer. The rest was left to God. These guys were full of both faith and reverence. They didn’t question God’s ability but they also didn’t question His decision. What a perspective to have!