In our study of Daniel chapter three we will look at the spiritual gift of faith and its power. In chapter two, we saw what should have been a humbling dream for the king of Babylon as he saw a vision of his kingdom being defeated.
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King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
Instead of being humbled by the dream described in chapter two, the king has a giant statue of himself made and placed where everyone from miles around could see it. This was done out of a spirit of pride in self which is the same spirit that led to the fall of Satan. This idol was placed on level ground about six miles southwest of the city of Babylon. The number six, throughout the Bible, is associated with the number of man's labor and we see that in the dimensions of the statue. This was also a picture of what is to come in the last days as we see in Revelation 13.
He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
All of the government officials were required to attend the dedication of this idol. This is a picture of the unholy marriage that will occur in the last days as the political and religious systems work together.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, 'This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.'
It was commanded that at the sound of any music everyone must fall down and worship this idol. It is interesting to note that Satan was the worship leader (in charge of the music) in heaven before his fall. Those that would not commit this idolatry were to be thrown into a fiery furnace which is much like the lake of fire that is the destiny of the devil and all those who reject Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
All of the peoples went along and complied with this order.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, 'O king, live forever! You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon - Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.'
The wise men of Babylon (Iraq) were jealous of the favor that was shown to Daniel's friends and so they went to the king to accuse them of treason. Their goal was to have them killed and out of the way. The same type of thing can happen with us, today, as children of God. Many times, people around us can see the favor that God has shown us and get jealous because they do not realize that the same kind of favor is available to them through Jesus Christ.
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, 'Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?'
The king summoned the guys and, because he liked them, he gave them another chance to bow down and commit idolatry. Satan does not change his tactics and so he is using this music to call the people to idolatry. That does not mean that all music instruments are bad and should not be in the church as some would say and practice.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebudchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.'
The answer that the guys give the king has three basic parts and we remember that, throughout the Bible, the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will. First, they tell him that they do not feel the need to answer to him as they know that God is the ultimate judge. Secondly, they tell him that, if he throws them into the furnace, God has the power to deliver them and they trust Him for that deliverance. Finally, they let the king know that, even if God would not save them from the flames, they would rather die than worship his idol (they did not fear death). God's will for each and every one of His children is that we do not walk in fear of anything in this world but walk in the victory that we have through His Son Jesus Christ.
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
The king was furious and carried out his threat to the guys. We see that his attitude towards them changed because they would not take part in the sin of him and his country. It seems that, today more than ever, we have the chance to take a stand like these three faithful young men. As the world gets darker and darker due to the growing presence of sin and the antichrist, Christians have the opportunity to stand up and say "We do not fear the things of this world and death has no power over me!" Our fire may not involve a huge furnace but the answer is still our faith in our Lord Jesus.
The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Because the fire was so hot, the soldiers that had to throw the guys into the furnace were killed by the flames. Nevertheless, the three guys were put into the furnace. This is a reminder for us that just because you are in the fire does not mean you are out of God's will. There are many that will do like Job's friends did and try to say it is because of sin but, as we have seen with these guys, they are in the furnace because they would not be a part of the sin of idolatry as ordered by the king.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, 'Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?' They replied, 'Certainly, O king.' He said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.'
The KJV translation is misleading as it makes it seem like the king recognized Jesus as the Son of God but he did not. The king was shocked to see not only the men that they threw into the furnace alive and well but also one "like a son of the gods". When people see Jesus walking and working in our lives, many will not recognize Him but some will want to draw near to us and we will have the opportunity to tell them about Him.
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!' So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
The king called the guys out of the furnace and acknowledged that they were servants of God. All of the royal officials could see that they had not been affected by the fire. Just as the king and officials were watching the guys in the fire, there are always people watching us. They want to see if we hold onto the faith that we proclaim when things get tough. When we hold on to Jesus and let Him bring us through the fires, those people that are watching will be amazed and see the glory of God at work. Many times, this will give us the opportunity to be a witness to them of the power of Jesus Christ.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.'
We see that, by this demonstration of their faith, the king ended up praising God. This is amazing and brings up the question of why this is not happening very much in our world today. We find the answer in the king's own words. God sent Jesus to take care of His people as they walked in faith. They did not look or act like those around them and try to blend in as much of the "church" is doing today. They were not afraid to lose their life if that is what was going to happen. Today, it seems like everyone wants to go to heaven as long as it is a long time in the future. The simple fact is that, if we trust in God as these three men did, then we will be able to say "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." just as Paul did (see Philippians 1:21). When we walk in faith instead of fear, Jesus will walk with us! Just like the king, when people see Jesus walking with us, they will want to know Him and praise Him.
'Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.' Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
The king ordered that anyone who commits blasphemy would be killed and their homes destroyed. This happened because he saw the demonstration of God's power through the faith of these men while they were in the fire. We also see that their faith in God also brought them favor with men as they got a promotion from the king. We, too, can expect favor from people that God places in our path as we walk in faith with Him.