Commentary on Daniel: Chapter 3
In this chapter, we discover what it means to take a stand for the Lord and to refuse to compromise with the gods of this world.
We also meet three men who are truly ‘profiles in courage.’
One of the central themes of this book is the absolute sovereignty of God and his love for his people.
The apocalyptic sections of Daniel portray these attributes of God with signs and symbols.
In this chapter (as well as in chapters 5 and 6) we have historical demonstrations of these attributes.
Like Revelation, the book of Daniel is a book of assurance. God is telling his people that despite what they might think, they have not been forgotten. We must see the book in this context if we are to understand it properly.
1 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.
The king makes a giant golden image and sets it up before the people.
Notice that it did not take long for Nebuchadnezzar to forget his newly found religious insights.
Of course, like all polytheists, he probably felt that the Jews would be capable of having multiple loyalties.
The polytheistic perspective is very strange to us. But we need to see that the monotheistic view was just as strange to them. The idea of “one true God” was not something they understood.
The similarity between this image and the one in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream seems to be more than a coincidence.
Recall that Daniel said that Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold in his dream. (He wasn’t satisfied with being just the head, he wanted to be the whole image!)
Out of all that Daniel told him, Nebuchadnezzar seems to have only remembered the statement “You are the head of gold.” (We also have our favorite verses…)
Perhaps the king was saying to Daniel’s God, “OK. Here is the image. Now where is your big stone?” (Daniel’s prediction that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would be replaced had probably not set to well with him.)
Nebuchadnezzar’s plan was a very common one:
He intended to boost his own political power through the use of religion.
We see this happen today when politicians espouse religious views when running for office that are quickly forgotten once that office is obtained.
A characteristic of idolatry is that the idol serves the worshipper to achieve the worshipper’s aims.
How large was the image?
It was 60 cubits tall and 6 cubits wide. At 18 inches per cubit, that means the image was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide.
The height is about the same as the date-palms that still grow in the plains of Iraq (90 feet), and it was almost as slender.
It was more of an obelisk than a statue.
Archaeologists have found ruins about six miles southeast of the city of Babylon that may be the foundation of this image.
Why 60 by 6?
The Babylonian number system was sexagesimal (base 6) instead of decimal (base 10) like ours (and Egypt’s in that day).
Some see this Babylonian influence elsewhere in scripture, such as in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 40:5 And behold, there was a wall all around the outside of the temple area, and the length of the measuring reed in the man's hand was six long cubits, each being a cubit and a handbreadth in length; so he measured the thickness of the wall, one reed; and the height, one reed.
It is interesting that the sexagesimal system has survived in our division of time and in our division of the circle into degrees.
From our study of Revelation, we know that 6 has a symbolic meaning. The number 7 denotes perfection and completion and the number 6 denotes something that is hopelessly short of perfection.
In Revelation, the beast of Rome (a new Babylon) was given the number 666. Rome, like Babylon, thought it was great and powerful, but it was hopelessly short of perfection.
The numbers here are not symbolic. They are actual measurements. But the symbolism applies nevertheless.
Liberal critics see the size of the image as a problem, claiming that the disproportionate proportions would have made the image look preposterous.
Too tall? The colossus at Rhodes was taller. (70 cubits compared to 60 cubits)
Perhaps the image was on top of a large pedestal.
They also complain that there would not have been enough gold in all of Babylon to make such a large image, but where does it say that the image was solid gold?
Like smaller statues that have survived, this one was no doubt gold plated.
Compare the following description from Isaiah:
Isaiah 40:19 The idol! a workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts for it silver chains.
What was the religious significance of this image?
The construction of this large image is yet another facet of this book that points to an early date.
Archaeological discoveries have shown that Nebuchadnezzar’s building projects extended to some of the ancient Sumerian cities such as Ur of the Chaldees.
Most feel that Dura (meaning ‘walled place’) was a suburb of Babylon.
In these areas, Nebuchadnezzar was a religious reformer. Excavations have shown that when Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt religious temples, he removed the special rooms where the priests conducted their secret ceremonies and replaced them with areas where all could come and view the procedures.
Nebuchadnezzar’s reforms thus centered around permitting the public to participate in the religious ceremonies that had formerly been secret.
This seems to be what occurred in here in Daniel 3. Sir Leonard Wooley said the following:
What was there new in the king’s act? Not the setting up of a statue, because each king in turn had done the same; the novelty was the command for general worship by the public: for a ritual performed by priests the king is substituting a form of congregational worship which all his subjects are obliged to attend.
How did the author of Daniel know about this new phase of worship that began under Nebuchadnezzar if Daniel were written 400 years later?
2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to assemble 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 which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, were assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
From Nebuchadnezzar’s viewpoint, it was inconceivable that any reasonable person could refuse this simple demonstration of loyalty to the king.
The titles used in this section point to a well organized bureaucracy.
Satrap: Persian term for “realm protector.”
Prefect: lieutenant governors.
Governors: lord of an administrative district.
Malachi 1:8 says that the province of Judea was administered by a “governor.”
Advisers or Counselors: Persian term for “counsel-giver.”
This term is unique to Daniel in all known Aramaic literature.
Treasurers: Persian term for “treasure bearer”
Judges: Persian term for “law bearer”
Magistrate: Persian term for “over chief.”
The terms for ‘judges’ and ‘magistrates’ occur so far only in Daniel and in Aramaic documents of the 6th and 5th century.
Provincial officials: general term for government officials.
Note that five of these terms are Persian.
This is seen by some as a problem since this episode from early in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign predates the Persian conquest by nearly 70 years.
However, we have already been told that Daniel lived to see the Persian conquest.
Thus, it seems most likely that Daniel wrote the book during the Persian rule and substituted the then current Persian titles for the older Aramaic terms.
The use of these words points to an early date for the book of Daniel.
By the second century B.C. some of these Persian loan terms had become obsolete and could no longer be correctly translated by the Alexandrian Jews.
The satirical effect of this section is clear. As one commentator wrote:
Here are all the great ones of the empire falling flat on their faces before a lifeless obelisk at the sound of a musical medley, controlled by the baton of King Nebuchadnezzar.
4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 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; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” 7 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 which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
This command applied to all people of every nation and language. It was apparently Nebuchadnezzar’s intention to unite his kingdom under one religion.
When the music started every person was to fall down and worship the image.
‘Horn’ is the only musical term found here that is also found elsewhere in the Old Testament.
‘Pipe’ may come from the Hebrew word meaning to hiss or whistle.
‘Lyre’ is a loan word from the Greek ‘kithara’.
The term ‘Trigon’ comes from the Greek word used in the Septuagint meaning a triangular harp.
‘Harp’ is the Greek ‘psalterion’ and also refers to a stringed instrument.
The term translated ‘Bagpipe’ by the Revised Standard Version may not be an instrument at all, but may simply mean ‘in unison.’ Some think it refers to a percussion instrument.
Can these words be used to date the book as some suggest? One commentator has said:
In view of the tentative state of present knowledge of these words it is precarious to base any theory of the date of the book on the evidence of these instruments.
Those who did not fall down would be cast into the fiery furnace.
The furnaces in Babylon were used to fire the bricks that were used to build the city.
As we mentioned before, each brick bore the name and image of Nebuchadnezzar, and many can be seen today in the British museum. These may have been fired in the very furnace spoken of here.
The fuel was charcoal, and it burned at a very high temperature. Many large brick kilns have been excavated outside Babylon.
The furnace would have been enclosed, since the technology of raising heat by forcing a draught requires it.
Here is how one commentator has described the furnace:
It resembles a railway tunnel blocked at one end but with an entrance at the other. Uprights at frequent intervals support the dome and serve as ventilation shafts also. Charcoal provides the heat, and it is estimated that the temperature would have been 900 to 1000 °C.
Death by burning at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar is not unique to this story. Jeremiah also speaks of it.
Jeremiah 29:22 Because of them this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: "The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire."
This has always been the world’s message to God’s people: Comply or face the consequences! The world still has its fiery furnaces, and it still loves to frighten God’s people with them.
A literal translation of verse 7 is that ‘as soon as they were hearing they were falling down.’ Nebuchadnezzar got them to fall down on command, but he could not make them worship. Worship cannot be done on command. It must come from within a person.
8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live for ever! 10 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; 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 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 heed to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
The term ‘Chaldeans’ in verse 8 is an ethnic use of the term, despite the poor NIV translation (astrologers). They were the ‘master race’ and it is clear they resented the ‘certain Jews’ who had been given power over them.
They quote the king’s edict word for word and then inform him that these three have paid no heed to him or his decree.
Except for the work of these informers, Nebuchadnezzar would never have known about the defiance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The world is full of people who love to create trouble and then sit back and watch the fun.
God has a simple message for such troublemakers:
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things which the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers.
Does God mind if we run around and stir up trouble, when we sit around devising wicked plans, and when we run to do evil? Not only does he mind, he hates it.
The phrase ‘maliciously accused’ in verse 8 is a translation of the idiom ‘eat the pieces of flesh torn off from someone’s body.’
Remember what Paul said:
Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.
What was the motive of these troublemakers?
First, as we have suggested, they probably enjoyed watching trouble they had created. Like an arsonist they set fires and then watched them burn from a distance.
Second, they were jealous. These foreigners had been set up over them by King Nebuchadnezzar and they had no doubt been looking for a way to get rid of them.
Recall that Abraham had come from Ur of the Chaldees. This may have contributed to the racial animosity.
Again, we are reminded that human nature has not changed one bit since the fall.
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 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 which 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 that will deliver you out of my hands?”
Nebuchadnezzar’s response was exactly what these troublemakers wanted. He was in a furious rage.
These Chaldeans had pulled his strings and he had dutifully danced to their tune. We need to be on our guard when some troublemaker tries to pull our strings.
Justice would not, however, allow these men to be condemned on hearsay evidence alone, so the king gave them an opportunity to recant.
Remember that all of this was occurring in front of the international array of delegates that Nebuchadnezzar had assembled to see his statue. This may explain the king’s ‘furious rage.’
The king was incredulous. How could these men do this to him after all he had done for them?
In fact, it was probably harder for them because the king had done a lot for them.
Goethe: Most men can oppose their enemies but it takes a special person to oppose his friends. (Another good reason not to get too friendly with the world.)
Notice the arrogance in verse 15.
‘Who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?’
The king seems to have forgotten what he said about the God of Daniel in 2:47.
Daniel 2:47 The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
We have a parallel with Pharaoh’s statement to Moses in Exodus 5:2 (Who is Jehovah that I should obey him?)
McGuiggan: “You recall that Moses signed him up for a ten-lesson correspondence course!”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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 your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
Well, it looks like these three had a really big decision to make.
Not at all! The decision had been made long ago.
They knew that God had said “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” and they had decided long ago to do what God commanded no matter what.
The Aramaic word order in verse 16 places the emphasis on the word ‘we.’ That is, God himself would provide the king the answer to his question.
Here we have an incredible statement of faith:
Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.
This is a difficult passage to translate.
If you cast us in the furnace, then our God is able to deliver us…
If it fits in with the purpose of God to deliver us then he will do just that…
Either way, these men had no doubt about God’s ability to rescue them.
And an incredible statement of courage: ‘But if not…’
Some people are willing to serve God so long as God always does what they want him to do. (Who is serving whom???)
These three were going to serve God no matter what he did.
Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”
These young men knew the true meaning of the Shema that they had quoted all their life:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; 5 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might..”
Paul also knew this when in Acts 20:24 he said:
Acts 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
What did these three stand to lose by their refusal to bow down before the image?
They would lose their royal favor with the king.
They would lose their high government positions.
They would lose their new found fortunes.
They would lose their lives.
From a worldly perspective, they were the worst sort of fools. Yet, they were not operating on a worldly level. They had their priorities right.
How would we have responded? How do we respond in similar situations? Wouldn’t it be easy to rationalize this away?
No one will see us in this big crowd.
Everyone else is bowing down.
There are only three of us and we are a long way from home. What does God expect us to do?
We know that the idol really isn’t a god. We could just cross our fingers when we bow down.
We can do so much more for God if we remain alive and keep all of our money…
Beware when you hear someone say “I could do so much more for God if….” Most of us can do a lot more for God without any change at all in our present circumstances. We just need to get busy.
Why was everyone so upset with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
Because they refused to compromise and bow down, and the world hates those who refuse to join the crowd.
People who wallow in sin typically aren’t satisfied unless they can drag others down into the mire with them.
The world wants us to go along with it fashions and its customs. It wants to make us just like everyone else. (And if we are just like everyone else, then I guess the world must have been successful.)
Romans 12:2 in the Phillips translation reads “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” (Be not conformed to this world.)
The world gets very angry with people who don’t go along with its plans.
In fact, the world has its own furnaces.
Furnace of scorn and laughter.
Furnace of criticism.
Furnace of isolation.
Furnace of intimidation.
But if we are on God’s side then doesn’t that mean we won’t be persecuted and have to face such trials?
2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.
Remember what God told Jeremiah when he was being persecuted. (Cheer up! It’s going to get worse!)
Jeremiah 12:5 If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you fall down, how will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?
And we also read:
Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
Malachi 3:3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
How did God feel about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
Of the thousands who were present at the dedication of this idol, how many do we know by name? Other than the king, just these three.
In fact, their names are mentioned 13 times in this chapter!
God seems to have been proud of them.
Were they seeking the praise of God or the praise of men? If they sought the praise of men they would have bowed down. Instead they sought the praise of God and refused to bow down.
Remember what Paul said:
Galatians 1:10 Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.
Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we have a choice. Who are we going to follow? Man or God?
Notice again the respect that these men continued to show to the king.
This is the same sort of respect that Peter and Paul told us we must show to earthly rulers, who have all been given their power by God.
They verbally acknowledge Nebuchadnezzar as king, while committing their ultimate allegiance to the King of kings.
Where was Daniel During This Episode?
1. He may have been absent from Babylon at the time, perhaps on government business in some other part of the kingdom.
This is perhaps the most popular theory, but there is no evidence to support it.
Daniel was governor of the capital of Babylon, so it seems unlikely that he would be away for any length of time.
2. He may have been too ill to attend the public ceremony. Compare Daniel 8:27.
Daniel 8:27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I rose and went about the king's business; but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.
3. As chief of the ‘wise men’ Daniel may not have been required to bow down. His loyalty to the king may have been beyond question.
Presumably, Nebuchadnezzar himself did not bow down. He may have extended this privilege to others as well.
4. Daniel’s reputation may have been such that even the Chaldeans did not dare to attack him in front of the king.
Daniel 2:48 says that Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel ruler (civil governor) over the whole province of Babylon.
Thus, Daniel was very powerful and the informers may have been unwilling to risk informing on him.
(The lion den episode occurred much later in his life and with a different king and a different governing power.)
Thus, perhaps Daniel was there and refused to bow down but the king was not told about it. Our lesson if this was the case: We shouldn’t invite trouble on ourselves.
5. All of the action in this chapter takes place outside of the city of Babylon. Some have suggested that Daniel may have been asked to stay behind in the city to take care of business in the king’s absence. This is a simple theory that seems to fit in well with the available evidence.
Daniel’s omission is additional proof of the book’s authenticity.
“Had the story been the invention that many have suggested; had it originated in the days of the Maccabees to nerve the faithful against Gentile oppression, it is unlikely that the chief hero would have been omitted. Reality transcends fiction, and the very ‘incompleteness’ of this account testifies to its fidelity.”
“There is no psychological reason for an idealizing romancer to leave Daniel out of this exciting episode. The only way to account for this omission is that in point of fact he was not personally in attendance at this important function.”
Aside: The truthfulness of the Bible is self-evident. For example, the resurrection accounts in the gospels all have women being the first to discover the empty tomb. If the apostles had made up the story as some claim, they would never have made women their prime witnesses. Their testimony was considered worthless by the Jews. In fact, many later uninspired 2nd century accounts of the resurrection have men being the first to discover the empty tomb.
One thing we know for sure, if Daniel had been with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they stood before the king then there would have been four people tossed into the furnace instead of only three.
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of 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 wont to be heated. 20 And he ordered certain mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their mantles, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were cast into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was strict and the furnace very hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
It is worth noting that even though God delivered them, he still allowed them to endure the ordeal of being thrown into the fire.
Why? Because it brought more glory to God to have Nebuchadnezzar and his men see those they tried to kill walking around unharmed in the flames.
We should thank God for every opportunity he gives us for his glory to be seen at work in us. We should pray that we be given opportunities to stand up and announce that we are on his side.
Question: Were these three men happy or unhappy that they had been brought before Nebuchadnezzar on this charge? I believe that they were thrilled to be able to say this to the king.
The events here remind us of God’s promise in Isaiah 43:2.
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
The phrase ‘heated seven times more’ is a common idiom and should not be understood literally. It simply means to make it as hot as possible, which is what they did.
The list of clothing in verse 21 has long been a source of trouble to translators.
The Septuagint tried to make sense of the terms but reduced three words to two in the process.
The liberals would have us believe that the writer of Daniel lived within 50 years of the Septuagint, yet in that time these words for court clothing had been completely forgotten by the translators.
Nebuchadnezzar’s absurd commands were intended to leave no room for escape.
The already deadly furnace was made even hotter. (It killed those who threw the men in!)
The men were fully dressed, even with their hats on, so the flames would envelop them.
They were tied up and thrown like logs in the fire.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He said to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered, “But I see four men loose, 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.”
Nebuchadnezzar was dumfounded! Instead of seeing three burning bodies, he saw four people walking around in the flames!
“I see four men loose.” Men bind, but God loosens.
Even today it is only through fire that we find freedom from our bonds.
Remember John 12:24-25.
John 12:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
“How we long for holiness without pain; sanctification without a cross, and growth without tears.”
Who was the fourth person?
The king described him as looking like ‘a son of the gods.’
The King James Version has “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.”
It seems odd that the pagan Nebuchadnezzar would be able to recognize Jesus in the furnace (and perhaps even stranger that Jesus would personally be there). It seems much more likely that upon seeing an angel he would think the angel looked like ‘a son of the gods.’
Some commentators believe that this fourth person was a Christophany (a preincarnate appearance of Christ). They could be correct, but the evidence will not let us know for sure. (We know that Jesus was with them in any event! – just perhaps not bodily.)
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 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 mantles were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.
Still giving commands, the king commands that the three come out of the furnace. (Apparently, Nebuchadnezzar was not too anxious for the fourth person to come out!)
All of the king’s illustrious visitors gather with the king and look at the men. Not only are they unharmed but their is no smell of smoke or fire about them. Only their bonds were gone.
By the way, this was a miracle.
Our liberal friends go to great lengths to remove the miraculous from the Bible, but of course they cannot. Their attempts are in vain.
Without the miraculous, Jesus would not have been raised and as Paul said, our faith would then be in vain. (This is the logical consequence of naturalism.)
The Bible begins with a miracle (In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.) and they recur again and again.
Remember 2 Peter 3:3-4.
2 Peter 3:3-4 First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.”
The ‘last days’ that Peter spoke of ended long ago, but the scoffers remain.
28 Nebuchadnezzar 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 at nought the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 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 deliver in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
What else could the king do but acknowledge his defeat?
His challenge in verse 15 (What god will be able to rescue him?) has been resoundingly answered by the one true God.
As in chapter 2, the king again acknowledges the power of God. But as we will see in chapter 4 this second change of heart doesn’t last very long either.
The king makes another decree.
His first decree had not turned out very well.
The king pronounces death on anyone who said anything against God, “for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”
Notice that the king does not renounce his polytheism, but simply says that God is the greatest god among many.
Paul had this event in mind when he wrote Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11:33-34 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
(The author of Hebrews apparently believed in the authenticity of the book of Daniel.)
Finally, the king promotes these three, which no doubt really thrilled their accusers.
I am reminded of one of my favorite verses. After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that he might at last seek his revenge. But Joseph told them:
Genesis 50:19-20 But Joseph said to them, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)