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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Daniel 3

 

 

Verses 1-30

Nebuchadnezzar's Image of Gold

Daniel 3:1-30

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. Daniel in Babylon.

(1) How Daniel came to be in Babylon. When Jerusalem was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel and the three Hebrew children were among those carried to Babylon. He found himself, with his three friends, chosen to be set aside for training, that they might be numbered among the Babylonian wise men.

(2) How Daniel stood true as a youth. Daniel and his three friends did not yield to the orders of the king as to their diet. They stood firm for their convictions which they had received from God. The result was that they prospered in every way.

(3) How Daniel's life was threatened. During the period of Daniel's training, the king of Babylon dreamed a dream which he could not remember. The wise men were called to tell the king both his dream and its interpretation. This none of them could do. Nebuchadnezzar was very angry, and ordered the wise men, including Daniel, to be slain.

(4) How Daniel prayed and praised. Immediately Daniel asked the king to grant a respite until the morning. Then Daniel and the three Hebrew children besought the God of Heaven in prayer, and God, in His mercy, revealed to Daniel the king's dream, and the meaning thereof.

(5) How Daniel stood before the king. When Daniel, by the Lord, was given the king's dream, he praised the Lord of Heaven for His mercies, and announced that he was ready to go in to the king. It was a test of faith, but God's youth, Daniel, did not waver for a moment.

2. Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image revealed by Daniel.

(1) God showed Nebuchadnezzar the things which should come to pass in the latter days. Do doubt the king was greatly moved as, step by step, the dream and its interpretation were unfolded before him.

The head of gold was the kingdom then present. Daniel said, "Thou, O King, art * * this head of gold."

The chest of silver was a second world empire the Medo-Persian that was to arise after the Babylonian.

The belly of brass was the third, the Macedonian Empire, under Alexander the Great.

The fourth empire was the Roman. It was of iron because of its strength and the hardness in its dealings.

The ten toes were ten kings which were to arise after the Roman empire, and in its territory. These ten kingdoms were to arise in the latter days.

(2) God showed Nebuchadnezzar that the Lord Jesus Christ would come in power, even as the stone, cut out without hands, appeared on the mountain side and came down striking the image on its feet, and demolishing it. That Stone, which stands for Christ Himself, will then become a great Kingdom, filling the whole earth.

It is needless to explain to our readers that Christ is coming again as King of kings, and Lord of lords. The promise is very definite: "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David * *, to order it, and to establish it." The promise given by the angel Gabriel is similar to the one just quoted from Isaiah: "The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David : and He shall reign over the House of Jacob."

I. NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S IMAGE OF GOLD (Daniel 3:1 )

1. The image: its size and beauty. Nebuchadnezzar's dream was God's acknowledgement of his greatness. In the image that God showed him in his dream he was the head of gold. This, however, did not suit the haughty king. He built himself an image all of gold, and set it up in the plain of Dura. It was very high, and glittered in the shining of the sun.

2. The image: its deeper purport. It stood for Nebuchadnezzar's pride of heart. However, there was a deeper meaning. Nebuchadnezzar was, in fact, setting himself up against the God of Heaven. He was seeking to dethrone God and enthrone himself. This spirit is characteristic of Satan. He said in his heart, "I will ascend above the heights"; "I will exalt ray throne above the stars of God."

This same spirit was breathed into the hearts of the first pair in the Garden of Eden. Satan said to Eve, "Ye shall be as gods." This same spirit will culminate in the latter days in the antichrist who will exalt himself above God and above all that is called God, so that he as God will sit in the temple of God showing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 ).

3. The image: its flaunting against God. Thus did the king flaunt himself against the One who said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image."

Poor Nebuchadnezzar knew God, through Daniel's testimony, and yet he would not have God to rule over Him. He went so far as to say, "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" That is, he felt himself greater than the God in whose hands were his breath and all his ways.

II. THE DEDICATION OF THE IMAGE (Daniel 3:2-3 )

1. The representatives of a world-empire gathered together. When the great image was completed Nebuchadnezzar sent out his call to gather all the princes, the governors, the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs and all of the rulers of the whole empire.

Among those who came were the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These young men must have been strangely moved by so great a group; and they, themselves, stood among them as leaders of Babylon, the chief city of the empire. Think you they knew what the king had in his mind?

2. An effort to establish a world-worship. When the king, Nebuchadnezzar, built his image of gold, the thing farthest from his mind was to spend money to decrease his own popularity and power. Perhaps something like this ran through his brain: "If, in the dream sent me by the God of Heaven and earth, He placed me as the head of gold, and if He acknowledged that my kingdom was the greatest of four world empires (according to the interpretation of Daniel) then I will go Him one better, and make myself a kingdom all gold."

3. A desire to be exalted, on the part of Nebuchadnezzar. One thing we know: there was a desire for self-exaltation. Daniel 5:20 recounts to Belshazzar, these words concerning Nebuchadnezzar: "But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne."

God abominates pride. Self-exaltation is black with God's frown. The proud will He destroy. "Thinkest thou great things of thyself? Think them not." "Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased." "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

III. A RELIGION MAN MADE AND MAN ENFORCED (Daniel 3:4-6 )

1. A religion under a dictator. "It is commanded, O people, nations, and languages." The king of Babylon was an absolute dictator. At his word all men were forced to bow. All this bespeaks the time, about to come, when the man of sin, the antichrist, shall arise on the horizon. He will once more rule the world in tyranny and absolute lordship. In his day no man may buy or sell, except under his word, and except he bear his mark and the number of his name.

2. A religion, spectacular and gorgeous. "At what time ye hear the sound of * * all kinds of musick, ye (shall) fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up."

Ah, here was the purpose of the king! It was not only an effort to signalize his name, and immortalize his fame: he demanded worship. All men were commanded to fall down and to worship his image; and his image stood only for himself.

What, then, was the king's ambition? He would be king, but he would also be God; he would rule both in things temporal and in things spiritual.

3. A religion enforced under threats of retribution. This was not all. Nebuchadnezzar decreed that all must worship his image under the severest penalty of nonconformity. Here again was Satan enacting before their very eyes, the same spirit that shall dominate the last great world dictator, the antichrist.

The antichrist will make war with the saints and will overcome all them that refuse to worship him. And, "as many as would not worship the image of the beast shall be killed."

IV. THREE STALWART AND GOD-FEARING SONS (Daniel 3:7-12 )

1. The masses prostrated themselves before the image. When the music sounded we read that they all fell down and worshiped the image, with the exception of the three whom we shall mention later.

How near did Nebuchadnezzar come to the fulfillment of his great desire!

The 13th chapter of Revelation should be studied in the light of the 3d chapter of Daniel. In Revelation we read: That all that dwell upon the earth shall worship the Beast, with the exception of only those whose names are written in the Book of Life. The false prophet also shall arise and do wonders, saying to them that dwell on the earth that they should make an image to the beast. And he causeth all to worship the beast and his image, and the number of his name.

2. Accusers of the saints. When the three Hebrew children refused to bow down and worship the image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up, then certain Chaldeans came near and accused the Jews, and said: "There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon * *; these men * * have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

3. The three Hebrews who worshiped not. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bend the knee, or to fall down or to worship the golden image. They acted under the Command of God, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image * *: thou shalt not bow down thyself to worship them."

These three men stood true to God, facing a burning fiery furnace as the penalty of their fidelity. How about us?

If we catch the spirit of the 20th century, it will not be long until the blood of the martyrs flows again. Indeed, it is now flowing in certain parts.

V. THE GREAT TEST (Daniel 3:13-18 )

1. Standing before the king. The three Hebrew children were immediately called by the king. Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage and fury because what he had planned to be the greatest day of his life was about to be spoiled by what he, no doubt, thought to be three stubborn-willed Jews.

He was forced to punish them or else lose his place of authority and dictatorship. His crier had announced the penalty of disobedience, and, in order to sustain his honor, that penalty must be fulfilled. Therefore Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them: "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image?"

2. Inquiring as to faith. The king having spoken as above, said: "If ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of * * all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall 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?"

3. The meaningful reply. "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee 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."

All this but bespeaks the coming days under the anti-Christ when the Jews will die before they will worship the image which is yet to be set up. At this time let us study Revelation 20:4 . There we read of the resurrection of those who refused to worship the beast and his image, and who received not his mark upon their foreheads nor in their hands. They will live and reign with Christ a thousand years.

VI. THE ANGRY MONARCH (Daniel 3:19-23 )

1. God's children under the ban. When the three Hebrew children, on the second test, refused to acknowledge the king's supremacy and to worship his golden image, Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against them. He at once commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times hotter than necessary, and he ordered his most valiant men to cast them alive into the burning furnace.

2. God's children persecuted to the limit. Let us go, in our minds, to the time of the antichrist. In those days the antichrist will not only persecute the saints on earth, but he will even blaspheme the saints who are in Heaven. He will be filled with wrath, as was king Nebuchadnezzar. The blood of the martyrs will run freely. The slain of the Lord will be many.

In those days God will cause His children, the remnant of Israel, to flee into the wilderness where He will protect them for the while from the wrath of the beast,

3. God causeth the wrath of man to praise Him. As Nebuchadnezzar watched the fiery furnace he beheld four men walking in the midst of the flame. God had conquered the king. He had made his word of no avail. He was protecting His own, and shielding them. Thus it was that God did indeed cause the wrath of the king to praise Him.

They had been cast in bound, but their ties were burnt down to their garments.

There was something exhilarating the spirit of these three men. Instead of bemoaning their fate, they were rejoicing in their God.

VII. FAITH'S GREAT TRIUMPH (Daniel 3:24-30 )

1. The astonished king. King Nebuchadnezzar who had boasted that there was no God that could deliver these three men out of his hands, was greatly astonished as he saw them walking about in the midst of the fire. Then he rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, "Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king." Then Nebuchadnezzar replied, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, * * and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."

2. A would-be world religion's collapse. Thus it was that the Almighty God delivered His sons. Nebuchadnezzar was abased in the presence of the great company of his own leaders.

Immediately a new edict was sent forth by the king. He who had come to establish a world empire and a world religion with himself as lord, cried out: "Ye servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come hither." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth of the midst of the fire.

It was a wonderful sight as the princes, the governors, and the captains, and the king's counselors gathered around and saw these men upon whose bodies the fire had no power. They beheld that their coats were not changed, the hair of their head was not singed, neither was there the smell of fire on them.

That day Nebuchadnezzar spake and said: "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God." He who had decreed that every person in his nation should worship his image, was forced to make a second decree, "That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces." Then did the king promote Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Jesus Christ is the all-conquering Stone which demolishes every power lifted up against Him. While He is away let us be faithful to Him.

Embarking with other heroes of the day Ulysses had sailed away to the siege of Troy, upon the fall of which he began that eventful voyage which brought him at length, after an absence of twenty years, to Ithaca his native land. His wife, Penelope, was a beautiful woman and during the absence of Ulysses more than a hundred nobles had been suing for her hand. But hers was a beauty not of form alone but of character and soul as well. She knew it was highly improbable that her lord would ever return. For more than ten years her many important suitors had pressed their attentions and there seemed no refuge but in choosing one of them. She accordingly told them that when she had finished with a certain web she was weaving she would make her choice. She worked on the web every day but during the night would undo what she had wrought during the daytime, and thus she found delay. Ulysses entered the palace disguised as a beggar and found the suitors all assembled and in trial of strength he proved himself the worthiest of the lot. Penelope, still unaware of the presence of Ulysses, had provided for the contest his own bow which she knew no other man could bend, and so in one act Ulysses revealed himself to his faithful spouse and took revenge upon the insolent suitors who had annoyed her.

Penelope was not sure Ulysses would ever return, but still she wasted, even against hope, and kept herself pure for the sake of the one to whom she had given her love and sworn fidelity. Our Lord will surely return again. Can we be less faithful to our Heavenly Lord than Penelope? Shall we not keep ourselves pure and separate from the world that we may welcome Him at His Appearing? Victory Magazine.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Daniel 3:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/daniel-3.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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