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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-30

Chapter 3

Now in chapter 3 we find Nebuchadnezzar defying the revelation of God. Remember in his dream he saw the image with the head of gold, "thou art the head of gold," but it had a chest of silver for the Babylonian Empire was to be replaced by an inferior empire, the Medo-Persian Empire.

But Nebuchadnezzar [in defiance of God and the revelation of God] made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits [or sixty cubits], and the breath thereof was six cubits ( Daniel 3:1 ):

You're getting into the sixty-sixes here.

and he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all of the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, the captains, and all, gathered together. And a herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That whatever time you hear the sound of the cornet, the flute, the harp, the sackbut, the psaltery, the dulcimer, and all kinds of music, that you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up: And whoso will not fall down and worship the same hour will be cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace ( Daniel 3:1-6 ).

So Nebuchadnezzar's not to be messed with. You have your choice; either bow down to it, or be cast into the burning fiery furnace.

Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, in the nations, and languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up ( Daniel 3:7 ).

Now, Nebuchadnezzar becomes in scripture what we call a type of the antichrist, who we read in Revelation, chapter 13, makes an image. And he gives power unto this beast or this image to speak. And he demands that the whole world worship this image that is been given power to speak.

We've been reading a lot about the advancement of our science and especially of the capacities of computers. There is even talk of creating computers that will be smarter than men and will perhaps one day rule over man because of their wisdom. Within computers there is already developed the capacity of chips, voice chips, so that they have little calculators that you can buy and as you punch the numbers it will give you the number, but then it will speak the answer as well as display it. Already in dialing wrong numbers, you get the operator that says, "What number did you dial?" And you tell them the number and then you hear, "The number 6 4 6 2 5 7 5 has been changed to... " and it gives you the new number and it's the computer that is a voice computer. Power to speak.

Now up until just, you know, the last few years it seemed to be a totally impossible thing to make some kind of an image and give that image the capacity to think and to speak. It could very well be, I don't say that it is, but it could very well be that the image that has been created by this man of sin that is going to arise, will be a highly sophisticated computer which will be used to govern the world.

Nebuchadnezzar made an image, sixty cubits high, six cubits broad, and demanded that everyone worshipped that image. And anyone who refuses to worship the image would be put to death. The man of sin, the beast, that arises out of the sea. In Revelation 13 , makes an image and demands that everyone worship the image, and if anyone refuses the image he has power to put to death.

We see an interesting parallel. There were three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who refused to bow to the image, but God miraculously preserved through the fire. In the book of Revelation we read of 144,000 that God is going to seal and take safely through the Great Tribulation, the fiery judgment of God that is coming upon the earth.

Now, the big question, here when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were reported to Nebuchadnezzar that they did not bow and worship the image, the question: what about Daniel? Do you think that Daniel bowed to the image? I think not. Daniel had purpose in his heart. He would not defile himself with the king's meat. His commitment to God was so complete. I am certain that Daniel did not bow. Then why wasn't Daniel reported with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego? Obviously, Daniel must not have been there. He was probably away on business of the affairs of state. For had he been there, he surely would not have bowed. That, of course, becomes extremely interesting in that Daniel is a type of the church. And when the Great Tribulation, the fiery judgment comes, when the antichrist is demanding that people bow down and worship the image that he has created, the church won't be there. It's gone; it won't go through the fiery furnace. It's been delivered, caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and forever with the Lord. And thus will not be here when the antichrist makes the scene and creates the image and demands that the image be worshipped. The church, Daniel is out of the picture. But it is the faithful remnant of the Jews who turned to Christ after the rapture of the church that God will seal as the three Hebrew children and take them through the fire. So a very beautiful typology in this story in Daniel.

Now, in verse Daniel 3:8 , chapter 3,

At the certain time the Chaldeans came near, and they accused the Jews. They spake and said unto the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live forever. Thou, king, had made a decree, that every man when he hears the sound of the cornets, and the music and so forth, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso does not fall down and worship, that he would be cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Now there are certain Jews whom thou has set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. Then [old hothead] Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and in his fury he commanded Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and they brought these men to the king ( Daniel 3:8-13 ).

This guy is always in a rage.

And Nebuchadnezzar spake unto them and said, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if you're ready that at the time you hear the sound of the music, you will fall down and worship the image which I have made; then all will be well: but if you do not worship, you will be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we're not even careful to answer you in this matter. 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. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up ( Daniel 3:14-18 ).

"Now God is able, the God that we serve can deliver us out of your burning fiery furnace. He will deliver us out of your hand. And even if He doesn't, we're still not going to serve your gods; we're still not going to bow down to your image. Now we're not even careful how we answer you in this. This is a set matter with us. We're just not going to do it." These guys had such commitment. Such commitment to God that, "God is able if He wants to deliver us, if He doesn't want we're still not going to bow. Our lives are in God's hands. He can do with us whatever He wants, but we're going to be faithful to God and true to God and God will be faithful to us. And whatever God does with us is fine. We're not worried, we're not concerned, Nebuchadnezzar, about your decrees or your threats and all. You don't scare us Nebuchadnezzar. You don't move us because our trust is in God, the God that we serve is able to deliver us. And if He doesn't, we're still not going to bow."

Then [old] Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed ( Daniel 3:19 )

I mean, his whole attitude towards these three fellows was changed completed. And he spoke and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was ever heated before.

And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. And these men were bound in their coats, their hose, their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the burning fiery furnace ( Daniel 3:20-21 ).

In Israel today you see these various orthodox Jews. And there are some of them that have these little black hats, and their black coats and black hosiery. They wear sort of knickers with black hosiery, and they have long curls. They're the Hasidics, and they have these long curls down the sides of their heads here. And when he describes binding them with their hats, and their coats, and their hosiery and all, I get a picture of some of these Hasidic Jews that you see over in Israel. Probably didn't look like that, but that's the mental picture that I get. As he binds them with their hats, and their hose, and their coats and cast them into the midst of the burning-fiery furnace.

Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace was exceeding hot, the flame of the fire killed those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men fell down in the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and he rose up in haste, and he spoke, and he said to his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? And they said unto the king, True. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, and they're walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God ( Daniel 3:22-25 ).

What a marvelous exciting experience. "The hand of God, the God that we serve is able to deliver us out of your burning fiery furnace." And so here they are, walking around in the midst of the fire.

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and he spoke, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, come on out. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth from the midst of the fire. And the princes, and the governors, and the captains, and the king's counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their heads singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire have passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and has changed the king's word, and yielded the bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God ( Daniel 3:26-28 ).

You see Nebuchadnezzar making another proclamation here.

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, language, would speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon ( Daniel 3:29-30 ).

So old Nebuchadnezzar, quite an interesting character, in his wrath and in his decrees. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Daniel 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/daniel-3.html. 2014.
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