About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 3
Bible scholars believe that what takes place in chapter 3 took place about 18 to
20 years after chapter 2. It's
likely that the dream and what had transpired with Daniel and the God of heaven
had long faded from Nebuchadnezzarís mind.
time laps tells me something about how God relates to godly men and their
ministry. We don't know for sure,
but we have no record of Daniel functioning in his prophetic ministry during
these 18 to 20 years. It thus
appears, as we see with other men and ministries in the Bible, that the specific
task God has for us isn't always a daily thing.
The apostle Paul spent many years after his salvation before he began his
apostolic ministry. Patience is
important in the plan of God.
verses 1 to 3 we see that Nebuchadnezzar made an image and decreed that everyone
in the kingdom must worship this image. It
was 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. Ninety
feet would be close to a nine floor building.
This was a large statue. You
will see a list of government officials who were mandated to come to the
dedication of this stature.
image was made of gold. Although
this could have been 20 years after Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzarís dream,
and maybe it had faded from his mind, it might be significant that the stature
was made of gold. In the king's
dream, the head of the stature was made of gold and that represented
Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom.
place where this statue was erected was in a place called Dura, which is about 6
miles southeast of the city of Babylon.
text gives us no reason why the king built this statue and decreed that everyone
worship it, yet historical literature may give us a clue.
In 596 B. C. there was a revolt against Nebuchadnezzar that failed.
By building this image and forcing people to worship it might well have
been an attempt by the king to secure his position in the kingdom and put an end
to the revolt.
verses 4 to 6 the instructions were given. When
certain music was played everyone standing by the stature had to fall down and
worship it. It did not matter what
nation, language, or cultural background you came from, you had to worship the
statue. If anyone failed to do so he
would be thrown into a fiery furnace and burned to death.
In other words, the king who believed he was a god, was creating his own Lake
7 tells us that all the people present did as they were told when they heard the
music pay. They did fall in worship
before the statue. All this reminds
me of the book of Revelation. The
anti-Christ creates his own statue that must be worshipped.
Of course, as is with prophetic history, many prophecies of secondary
meanings to them. This might well be
verses 8 through 12 we note that everyone did bow to this idol except for three
men. The astrologers went to the
king and told him that the three Hebrew men that he had appointed as
administrators in his kingdom neither worshipped the Babylonian gods or king's
men that the astrologers referred to were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedgnego.
Earlier I gave you these menís Hebrew names and their meaning and now I
will give you the meaning to their Babylonian names.
Shadrach means illuminated by the sun gods.
Meshach means who is like the moon god.
Abednego means the shining fire.
verses 13 through 15 we see that Nebuchadnezzar is furious and calls these three
men into see him. He warned them and
gave them another chance to worship the image.
If they continued to refuse the king's decree, they'd be thrown into the
furnace of fire. Then, as the king
said, "what god will be able to rescue you from my hands".
The king is certainly exhibiting much arrogance here.
He has little clue that the God of Israel will rescue these men from his
fire. The king was mocking the God
of Israel, as the king's and men of the world do today.
That doesn't changed things. The
God of the Bible is just as much in control of kings and nations today as He was
in Daniel's day.
appears as time went on Nebuchadnezzar got more violent and did forget much of
how he felt when Daniel interpreted the dream for him.
At that time he seemed amazed at the Hebrewís God, the God of heaven.
Now he does not seem to think that their God is capable of protecting
them from him, making himself to be more important than the God of heaven he
earlier reverenced. This is one
serious mistake, but man does the same today.
my thinking verse 16 is one of the most important verses in the Bible.
How these three men responded to the king should be fundamental in our
lives as followers of Jesus. These
men had put their complete trust in their God.
This is certain because they replied by saying, "O Nebuchadnezzar,
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".
are the words of men who have laid their lives down before their God in complete
trust. Theyíve held nothing
back and now they are faced with death by a blazing fire.
Note that they donít even feel the need to defend themselves. This
reminds me of Jesus. He did not
defend Himself before Pilate either. The
fact that these men felt no compulsion to defend themselves and attempt to save
their lives shows us that their trust is not in their own argument or defense.
Most of us in this situation might well attempt to save our lives by
defending ourselves as vigorously as possible.
These three men, like Jesus, and like the first apostles, weren't out to
defend themselves. They were out to
defend their God.
men show their trust in their God by saying that He will rescue them from the
kingís hands. Theyíre sure that
God will not cause the fire to burn them alive.
What comes next, if spoken by any other person other than these three
men, would be seen as a lack of faith to those of the Ultra Faith persuasion.
men tell the king that even if their God does not rescue them, they still
wonít bow down to worship the Babylonian gods or the kingís statue.
They were willing to die in what would appear to those in the world a
death of defeat.
Ultra Faith teaching would suggest that these words are a lack of faith.
The simple insertion of the word "but" would demonstrate doubt
in the eyes of Ultra Faith people. I
know this would be the case because it has been said to me on more than one
occasion. If we are convinced that
God will deliver us from death, then why even suggest that God might not deliver
us. Ultra Faith people see this as
weakness of faith.
is not a weakness of faith. It is
rather the strongest faith one could have. These
men trusted God so much, that theyíd trust Him even if He did not rescue them.
Their trust was a trust unto death. Their
trust was not in whether God would or could rescue them.
Their trust was simply in God. Thatís
it. They did not trust God for what
He would or wouldnít do. They
trusted Him for who He was. This is
the true meaning of Biblical faith. I strongly suggest you stay clear of Ultra
Faith teaching as well as Prosperity teaching.
Both are unscriptural. This teaching only appeals to our own fallen
selfish nature. In other words,
let's get as much from God in this life that we can.
kind of trust, or faith, should be found in us as well.
We donít trust God for what He can or canít do in our lives.
We trust Him for who He is. As
Iíve said on many occasions, I did
not become a Christian for any benefit Iíd receive by doing so.
I became a Christian because I was convinced that Jesus is the ultimate
truth of the universe, and once knowing this, I had no other logical choice to
make, but to give myself to Him. This
giving is what faith is. So, I gave
my life to Jesus, not for what Iíd get, but because of who He is.
This is real faith. Ultra
faith is a present day fantasy, not a New Testament reality.
verses 19 to 24 we see that the response of these three men made the king very
angry. He was so angry that he
ordered their death immediately. He
demanded that the fire be seven times hotter than usual. The fire was so hot
that the men who took Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the fire burned to
have been made and some feel that this very furnace has been discovered.
If itís not this very furnace, it is one like it.
These were huge furnaces and the down draft itself could have easily
killed the men taking these three Hebrew men to the fire.
verses 24 to 26 we see that Nebuchadnezzar is astounded by what he sees as he
watches these men in the fire. He
suddenly sees four men in the fire, not three.
He confided with those around to make sure they actually threw three men
into the fire and not four. Everyone
agreed that only three men were thrown into the fire.
king is amazed and says that the fourth man "looks like a son of the
gods". These words have
confused many people over the years. Thereís
no doubt that the forth person is at least an angel, although most Bible
students believe this is Jesus Himself. Some
might say it is an appearance of God in a human body.
Iíd say that to be true, but who is God in a human body?
question arises of the use of the plural word "gods" and not the
singular "God" in this verse. In
Hebrew there are a number of names used to name God.
"Elohim" is one of the most basic words that are translated as
God in our English Bibles. We see
this in the Genesis account of creation. "Elohim"
is a plural word. Seeing God as a
plural identity is not heresy. The
doctrine of the Trinity is based on the plural nature of God.
Besides, Nebuchadnezzar did not believe in one god.
He believed in many gods, thus from his perspective what he saw was a son
of a god, that is to say, a god appearing as a man.
He was close to the truth in his thinking, but close isn't good enough.
the king saw was the Son of God, and thatís Jesus.
Bible scholars call this type of appearance by Jesus in Old Testament
times as a "theophony", meaning,
God appears as a human in order to be seen by men.
verse 26 the king commands the three men to come out of the furnace.
He calls them "servants of the most High God".
Heís now recognizing that the God these men serve is the God over all
other gods, much like he thought when Daniel interpreted his dream.
Once again, the king was close in his thinking, but still heís not
thinking right. The Hebrew menís
God was not the highest God of all gods. He
is the only God over no other god.
chapter ends with an about face by the king.
He praises the three Hebrew menís God and decrees that no one speak
against their God, and if they do, theyíll be put to death.
king also acknowledges the faith of these three men.
They trusted in their God in the face of death.
This was the witness that Nebuchadnezzar saw.
Many Bible scholars feel because of their witness and the appearance of
Jesus in the fire, the king became a believer.
I donít think we know that for sure but once again, the king was
astonished by the God of heaven.
a result of all of what took place the king ended up promoting Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego, to an even higher position that they already had. Of
course, God was behind this promotion. We
can never forget that God works behind the scenes of both men and nations to
accomplish His will. His will in
this instance was that His people would be in places of authority, so, when the
time came, He would use them to free His people.
came through for these men, yet they were willing to trust Him even if He
didnít come through for them in the way they expected.
Iím reminded of Stephen in Acts 7 who had the same trust in the same
God and how God responded to Stephenís faith.
God didnít rescue Stephen in the same way He rescued these men from the
fire. As the stones were hurled
towards Stephenís head, he saw the gates of heaven open and the Lord Jesus
standing and waiting for him to enter the gates.
The stones killed Stephen, yet in the same spirit of faith and trust, the
result was different than what we see here in Daniel.
In both cases, God's will was done. Just
because Stephen died does not mean he was outside of God's will as Ultra Faith
teaching might suggest. Our
circumstances do not determine God's will. We
must not judge others by what we see. Death,
poverty, or whatever, can't