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Daniel 3 and 4—The Fiery Furnace and the Fall of Nebuchadnezzar

Norman McNulty

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Part 3 of 11 in Daniel Prophecy Series given at Maraval, Trinidad SDA church.

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Norman McNulty

Neurologist at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System, Lawrenceburg, TN

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  • August 12, 2011
    7:00 PM
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Good evening. That was a blessing, that special music. Amen? And I’m thankful to be here again this Friday evening to open the Sabbath. And it’s a special day for me; today is actually my fourth anniversary with my wife. She’s sorry she can’t be here with us. If you’re here tomorrow, you will get to meet her and my nearly seven-month-old daughter. This is our second anniversary here in Trinidad. We’ve been here about a year and a half now, and the Lord has blessed. I’m very thankful for her, and I’m glad that you will get to meet her tomorrow. And I’m glad to see so many of you here tonight, and I hope that this message tonight will be a blessing.

 

Before we get into the message, I’d like to offer a word of prayer, so let’s bow our heads. Our Father in Heaven, we thank You for the blessings You’ve given us this week. We thank You that we could be here again tonight to study more from Your Word. And as we study tonight from Daniel, chapter 3 and chapter 4, may it help us to understand better the kind of lives that You want us to be living at this time in Earth’s history. So, be with me. Speak through me. This is my prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

So, we started last Sunday night. We had our second presentation Wednesday night, and tonight we’re going to be covering Daniel, chapter 3, and Daniel, chapter 4. In our first presentation, we covered chapter 1. And if you were here, one of the key points that we saw from Daniel, chapter 1, is that the name Daniel means “God Is My Judge.” So, the book of Daniel is a book about judgment.

 

And we also saw that Daniel made a key decision along with his three friends that helped to shape the rest of his experience in Babylon, and that was that they purposed in their hearts to not defile themselves with the king’s meat nor with the wine which he drank. And because of that, they were found to be ten times wiser than all the other wise men in Babylon.

 

Then we came to chapter 2 (and the quiz that you just took, and I like the quiz, I didn’t write the quiz, but I thought it was a good quiz), we saw the kingdoms that are represented in the image, the head of gold, the chest and arms of silver, the thighs of brass, the legs of iron, the feet of iron and clay. And we saw that a stone strikes that image, and that stone becomes a mountain, which becomes a kingdom, God’s kingdom, which fills the whole earth.

 

So, Daniel, chapter 2, lays the foundation for the rest of Daniel. (Is that better? Okay. So, we’ll try from here and take it from here.) So, tonight’s presentation is the fiery furnace and the fall of Nebuchadnezzar. Now, we’re going to start off in Daniel, chapter 3, verse 1. Here we read, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, which was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.”

 

So, here we see this image; its height is threescore or 60 cubits, and it’s 6 cubits wide. Alright, so this image is 60 cubits tall and 6 cubits wide. Now, a cubit, just so you know, is measured from the elbow to the fingertip, so it’s about one-and-a-half feet. So, this ends up being roughly 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. So, it’s very tall and narrow compared to its height, but it’s obviously a very large image.

 

Now, what’s the very first thing that strikes you about this image? What did we just see in Daniel, chapter 2? In Daniel, chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and in that dream he saw an image, and what was the head? It was of gold, but did it stay gold all the way through? No, so what’s happening here in Daniel, chapter 3? Nebuchadnezzar has made an image that is all of gold in defiance to God’s Word.

 

And as we talked about last time, this is one of the cardinal characteristics of Babylon. And as we talked about, you see Babylon again in the book of Revelation at the end of time, and we’ll get to that later in our series. But this shows that one of the characteristics of Babylon is defiance to God’s Word.

 

Now, Ellen White, who we’ve been quoting from in this series, in the book Prophets and Kings talks about this. Page 504, “The words, ‘Thou art this head of gold,’ had made a deep impression upon the ruler’s mind,” that’s Nebuchadnezzar. “The wise men of his realm, taking advantage of this and of his return to idolatry, proposed that he make an image similar to the one seen in his dream, and set it up where all might behold the head of gold, which had been interpreted as representing his kingdom.”

 

So, notice this, Nebuchadnezzar had seen in a marked manner the demonstration of God’s power, had he not? He turned to his wisemen because he couldn’t remember the dream. They couldn’t help him out. And then a Hebrew captive receives the dream from his God and tells him the interpretation, and Nebuchadnezzar knows it’s true because once Daniel told him, he’s like, “That’s right. That’s the dream that I had.”

 

But notice what happens, he returned to idolatry after he was convicted of the true God. Now, here’s a very key point. When God convicts you, you better watch out if you return to the idolatry, because if you return to idolatry, the devil will take advantage of the knowledge that you’ve gained and will twist it so that you will use that knowledge for his service. And that’s what happens here with Nebuchadnezzar.

 

Continuing on, “Pleased with the flattering suggestion, he determined to carry it out, and to go even farther.” So, notice this. The wisemen were saying, “Hey, why don’t you make an image like the dream that you had, and the people can bow down because they will know that the head of gold represents your kingdom.” And Nebuchadnezzar says, “Hey, that’s a great idea, but you know what? I’m going to do it even better than that. I’m just going to make the image of all gold.”

 

“Instead of reproducing the image as he had seen it, he would excel the original. His image should not deteriorate in value from the head to the feet, but should be entirely of gold—symbolic throughout of Babylon as an eternal, indestructible, all-powerful kingdom, which should break in pieces all other kingdoms and stand forever.”

 

So, notice, Nebuchadnezzar wants Babylon to be seen as eternal, indestructible and all powerful and which would break in pieces all the other kingdoms. Now, which kingdom is really eternal? Which kingdom is really indestructible and which kingdom will really stand forever and break all the other kingdoms? It’s God’s Kingdom.

 

So, Nebuchadnezzar, in setting up this image, is setting up an image to represent that he believes he can defy the God of Heaven and make a kingdom that will be in competition and destroy God’s Kingdom in Heaven. And that is what Babylon has been trying to do ever since. So, this setting up of this image in Daniel, chapter 3, isn’t just some little exercise. This was a defiant act on the part of Nebuchadnezzar to challenge the Word of God.

 

Now, continuing on, we go to verses 2 and 3, and turn in your Bibles to Daniel, chapter 3, verses 2 and 3, and we’re going to read what happens at this worship service. Daniel, chapter 3, verses 2 and 3. So, they set up this image on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Verses 2 and 3, “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”

 

Now, so far, it’s like, “Well, okay, he’s just calling people to come to a dedication. There can’t be any harm in that, can there? It’s a dedication.” But notice what verse 3 says, “Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” And, just skipping on ahead, it talks about in verse 5 how they should fall down and worship this image, so what you have here is not just a dedication. This is a worship service.

 

Now, notice who’s there. And who is at this service shows how important this meeting is. I mean, the example I can think of is recently in the Seventh-day Adventist Church here in the Caribbean Union Territory and in this local conference we had some important meetings called the Union Constituency Session, and the Local Conference Constituency Session, and delegates from all throughout the region came together to participate in the meeting. So, you know when people come from all over, it’s going to be an important meeting, right?

 

Now, notice who’s here: Number one, the princes were there. That means that royalty showed up to this dedication. Not only that, the governors were there. These are the national political leaders. Not only that, you had captains, so the military leaders were there. And the judges, so you have the judicial leaders, the people who make sure the laws are enforced. You have the treasurers (Brother Henry should like that), the financial leaders were there. You have counsellors and sheriffs, so the educators and law enforcement officers were present. And you had rulers of the provinces, so local political leaders were there.

 

So, what you have is, you have key leaders throughout the kingdom, whether they’re royalty, politicians, military leaders, judges, financial leaders, educators, law enforcement, even down to the local political level. All the key people in the kingdom have come to this service, so this has to be a very important event, right? And this event was set up by Nebuchadnezzar to bring glory to the Kingdom of Babylon. This was not to bring glory to God. You see that?

 

So, when we look at this…Let’s go down to verses 4 through 7. Verses 4 through 7, “Then an herald cried aloud, ‘To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages.’” Now, notice, this describes people throughout the kingdom, “people, nations and languages.” There are different nations here. There are different languages here, so it in a sense represents a regional, you could call it a regional, almost worldwide, event for the Kingdom of Babylon.

 

And continuing on, The herald says, “‘That at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up.’” Verse 6, “‘And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.’” And verse 7, “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, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”

 

Now, initially the first three verses, you could be saying, “Well, that’s nice. All these leaders are coming together, and they’re coming together for a dedication.” But in verse 5 it said, “When you hear the music, specifically all kinds of music, you better fall down and worship this image because if you don’t, the king is going to have you thrown into a fiery furnace, and you will burn to death.” So, all of a sudden this happy event becomes, “Yes, sir, oh, King. Whatever you say. I don’t want to die.” So, the nature of the event changed.

 

Now, in verse 7 it says how many fell down and worshiped the image? It says “all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”

 

Now, here is what we have in these first seven verses, what you have is a union of church and state because in our present time, you should not see a political leader call all of the other politicians and royalty and military and law enforcement officers together to an event and then force them to worship something under the threat of death. That shouldn’t happen, but that’s what happened in ancient Babylon.

 

Leaders from around the world were present for the dedication of this image, and they all had to bow down and worship the image. And it’s interesting, all kinds of music was played as part of the worship. And when we make an application to that, what we can simply say is that in Babylon, they will use the music that should belong and remain in the world to try to get people to worship the way they want.

 

So, this is what Babylon says, “Okay, we have all people, nations, and languages here at this event. Here’s what we’ll do: We’ll play some music that appeals to that nation, some music that appeals to that nation, and other music that appeals to the other nation, and they’ll all feel comfortable. They’ll be like, ‘You know what? That’s the kind of music that I do when I’m worshiping my pagan god or whatever.’” And so they hear all the different kinds of music, and so that makes them feel more comfortable in participating in the worship of a god they’ve never worshiped before. So, just think about that.

 

Now, continuing, so Babylon as a political kingdom was enforcing religious worship to an image it had set up in the presence of leaders from around the world with the music of the world. Now, let’s continue on.

 

You know, it’s interesting, in verse 7 it says, “all people, nations and languages fell down,” but let’s see what verses 8 through 12 say. “Wherefore at that time,” so at that time is when the music was played and everyone bowed down. It says, “Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake,” this is verse 9, “They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.” So, now they’re sweet-talking the king, “Hey, King, you’re great. You know, we just bowed down, and we’re here to tell you something.”

 

Verse 10, “Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image.” Verse 11, “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

 

And here’s the key point, verse 12, “There are certain Jews,” now, notice this. In verse 8 it says they came to accuse the Jews, but how many Jews did they accuse? They only accused “certain Jews,” not all the Jews. “There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

 

Now, here is the first question: We see three Jews, three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; they did not bow down. First question is, where was Daniel? Do you think Daniel bowed down? I don’t think so. Here is one possibility, and it’s interesting, Ellen White doesn’t give us any inside information on this either.

 

But one possible theory, which I think is plausible, is that the king to this point had seen Daniel as the ring leader of these four unique Jews that didn’t go along with all the other Jews. And he felt, “You know what? Daniel is the leading influence, so here’s what I’m going to do. There’s no way that Daniel’s going to bow down to that image because I’ve seen what he’s done so far. He’s not going to bow down, and if he’s with those three Hebrew boys, they’re going to stand with him, and that will be four guys standing together, but here’s what I’ll do. I’ll separate Daniel from those three guys. I’ll send him off on the king’s business to a different part of the province. He won’t be invited to this dedication, and when this event happens, I’ll break the three guys, and Daniel will be the only guy left, and eventually maybe I’ll break him, too.”

 

So, the three Hebrews are now being tested, and Daniel isn’t with them. So, that’s one possible theory. I can’t say with absolute certainty that’s exactly what happened, but I think it’s a plausible theory. But now the king is hearing these three didn’t bow down, and again this brings us back to what happened in Daniel, chapter 1, because in Daniel, chapter 1, Daniel and his three friends were just a small group of all the Jews who were taken captive and placed in the king’s court. They were a large group that were chosen.

 

And only Daniel and his three friends were faithful about not eating the portion of the king’s meat or drinking his wine. So, they didn’t compromise in chapter 1, so then when you come to chapter 3, they remain uncompromising. However, the other Jews, who were used to drinking the king’s wine and eating his meat, when it came to their lives being on the line, they’re like, “It’s no problem. I’ll just bow down. I’ll pray to God, ask for forgiveness, and He’ll forgive me, and then I’ll just go back to worshiping the true God after this event. Even though they knew that the Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them,” or worship them.

 

So, here is what we see happening. Now, a controversy is developing. Ellen White has some things to say. Prophets and Kings, pages 506, 507, “On that eventful day the powers of darkness seemed to be gaining a signal triumph; the worship of the golden image bade fair to become connected permanently with the established forms of idolatry recognized as the state religion of the land. Satan hoped thereby to defeat God’s purpose of making the presence of captive Israel in Babylon a means of blessing to all the nations of heathendom.

 

“But God decreed otherwise. Not all had bowed the knee to the idolatrous symbol of human power. In the midst of the worshipping multitude there were three men who were firmly resolved not thus to dishonor the God of heaven. Their God was King of kings and Lord of lords; they would bow to none other.

 

“To Nebuchadnezzar, flushed with triumph, was brought the word that among his subjects there were some who dared disobey his mandate. Certain of the wise men, jealous of the honors that had been bestowed upon the faithful companions of Daniel, now reported to the king their flagrant violation of his wishes.”

 

So, notice what’s happening here. You know, so many times we come to crises, moments, where we have to make decisions, and I talked about this in our first presentation, and it’s so easy to view the issue, the conflict at hand, with the mentality where we say, “You know, God is so gracious and loving,” and He is, absolutely, He is. “He’ll understand my situation here. God has blessed me. He’s put me in the king’s court. I have some influence with Nebuchadnezzar now, and, you know, if I bow down, then I’ll save my life, and I’ll be able to continue to plant some seeds in the king’s mind. And I know that God will forgive me for bowing down, and I’ll be able to just keep planting seeds in the king’s mind because he’s seen the good lives we’ve lived thus far.”

 

But that’s not how these three boys viewed the issue. They saw it from a bigger picture. They saw that the God of Heaven was being dishonored, that a false god was being elevated to a position that should not be done. You shouldn’t worship any other gods. There are no other gods. There is only one God to worship, and they were not going to worship any other gods. And their mentality was not, “Will I lose my salvation if I bow down?” Their mentality was, “I am going to choose to do the right thing so God’s name will be honored or vindicated before the onlooking congregation, the onlooking crowd, and the universe. And if I lose my life, so be it because the honor of God’s name and His Kingdom is more important than saving my life at this point.”

 

Continuing on, verses 13 through 15, so now Nebuchadnezzar, he’s heard the report. We read in verse 13, “Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.” So, Nebuchadnezzar, he was flush with triumph. He was feeling, “Boy, I am so great. The whole world has come together, and they have bowed down to the image that I have set up. Boy, this is the pinnacle of my kingdom.” And then all of a sudden he hears, “Actually, some of the guys that are at the top level of your kingdom didn’t bow down.” And Scripture says it caused rage and fury in his heart. This made the most powerful man on earth as angry as you could get.

 

So, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, they’re in trouble. “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 which I have set up?” So, it’s interesting; he didn’t immediately throw them into the fire. He asked them some questions.

 

Then 15, he says, “‘Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if you 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?”

 

Now, there are a couple of ways to look at this. You know, Nebuchadnezzar, you could argue, was trying to do these guys a favor. He’s like, “Look, okay, you didn’t bow down. I’m going to give you another chance here. Just bow down the next time the music plays, and everything will be fine. We’ll just forget about this. You won’t get a demotion, and things will just keep going on the way they always have, but if you don’t, I will throw you into the fiery furnace.

 

And then he makes a challenge to the God of Heaven, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” And, you know, if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, if they were in an unconverted, unconsecrated state, they could have said. “Who is that God? Don’t you remember Nebuchadnezzar? He’s that God that spoke through our friend Daniel to remind you of the dream that You had, and He’s the God that said, ‘Your kingdom’s only going to be a head of gold, and once you get to the silver, you’re done.’”

 

Of course, at that point, they would have probably been killed on the spot, but how can Nebuchadnezzar be so brazen as to say, “who is that God that should deliver you out of my hand?” He had already seen that God, and he’s hardening his heart to the true God of Heaven.

 

Now notice, Ellen White has, again, an interesting statement here. Prophets and Kings, page 507, “As the three Hebrews stood before the king, he was convinced that they possessed something the other wise men of his kingdom did not have.” So, this is a bad situation for Nebuchadnezzar. It’s like, “These are the guys that he knows are ten times wiser than the other wise men, and so he doesn’t want to kill them if he doesn’t have to. These are his best guys. And so, he wants to save them if he can, but he can’t let them off the hook, or otherwise he would be absolutely humiliated. The whole purpose for the service will be destroyed.

 

So, she says, “They had been faithful in the performance of every duty. He would give them another trial. If only they would signify their willingness to unite with the multitude in worshiping the image, all would be well with them; ‘but if ye worship not,’ he added, ‘you shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.’ Then with his hand stretched upward in defiance, he demanded, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”

 

Now, this is where these three verses were our Scripture reading for this evening, and, you know, these three verses are a clarion call to each one of us here to be faithful and true to God no matter what, and especially to the young people. You know, if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego could stand up to the most powerful king on Earth through the power of God, what excuse do we have when we are faced with tests and trials at school, at work, or in our families. These three men were captives, away from the comforts of home, in a foreign land, in the most powerful kingdom of the world, and now they’re coming face to face with the most powerful man in the world. If they could be faithful, surely we could be. Amen?

 

Notice what they said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.’” In other words, “We don’t need to think about this. Our minds are already made up. You don’t need to negotiate with us and give us a second chance. We don’t have to think about this. This is a no-brainer for us. We know who our God is. Our lives may be on the line, but we don’t have to think about this because we know who our God is.”

 

Verse 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 thine hand, O king.’” The king had said, “Who is that God that can deliver you out of my hands?” And they said, “Our God is able to deliver us.” Speaking about faith, look at the faith of these young men. And you know what? If they had not been faithful in chapter 1, if they had not seen God’s providence in chapter 1, how could they have endured this trial, this challenge?

 

Verse 18, so they say, “Our God can deliver us,” but verse 18, “‘But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.’” What powerful integrity. They are saying, “It doesn’t matter. We know that our God is able to deliver us, but if He decides not to, we are still not going to worship your image.”

 

You know, they’re saying, “If God came down from Heaven right now and showed us right now, that if we choose not to worship your gods, He will allow us to die when we’re cast into the flames, we’re still not going to worship your gods.” Have we reached a point in our lives that we love God so much that there is nothing in this world that will cause us to swerve from our integrity and our firm resolve to always serve God continually? Have we reached that point?

 

Here are three young men who had all the reasons in the world to compromise, and they are not compromising. The king’s even giving them a second chance, and they’re still not compromising. Even when the king tries to sweet talk them, if you will, they still won’t bend because they had such a firm connection with God. I just love it when they say, “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

 

And, you know what? Sometimes in our lives we wish that things could be different. You know, there are times when perhaps we come to church, and we expect that everyone in church is going to lead us closer to God. But, you know what, if not, we will still be faithful. If there are people in the church that aren’t helping us in our walk with God, even if they aren’t helping us, we’ll still be faithful.

 

You know, maybe you’re in a situation where you think, “Okay, I’m going to go to a Christian school…,” and if I send my children there, or I’m a young person, “and I’m going to go there, and I’m going to find friends that are going to lead me closer to God, but if not, I will still be the only one that stands up for God, even if no one else is.”

 

Don’t use your surroundings as an excuse for compromise. And, of course, His intention is to use our institutions to bring people closer to God, and that is still happening, so don’t say that you can’t find anyone. But I’m just saying, if you were to find it that way, you can’t use that as an excuse because these three Hebrews were in Babylon, a pagan nation and had everything going against them, and even still, they were faithful.

 

Now, continuing, Ellen White has an interesting comment, pages 507, 508, Prophets and Kings, “In vain were the king’s threats. He could not turn the men from their allegiance to the Ruler of the universe. From the history of their fathers they had learned that disobedience to God results in dishonor, disaster, and death,” and that’s, unfortunately, the history of the nation of Israel. They learned, “that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the foundation of all true prosperity. Calmly facing the furnace,” can you imagine that? They calmly faced the furnace.

 

I’m not sure I could say that I could do that. My life’s on the line, and I’m just calmly facing, there’s the furnace right there. “Hey, king, if God doesn’t deliver me, I’m still not going to serve your gods,” in a calm manner. I mean, in my mind I could hopefully say that I would be able to stand firm, but my heart would be pounding really hard, and I’d be sweating really badly.

 

No, here it says, “Calmly facing the furnace, they said, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so,’” and Ellen White says this means, “if this is your decision,” “‘our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand.’” Now, notice this, she says, “Their faith strengthened as they declared that God would be glorified by delivering them, and with triumphant assurance born of implicit trust in God, they added, ‘But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.’” 

 

You know, when you make a decision to be firm to God, to follow Him faithfully, as you start to speak the words, as you make that choice, the power of Heaven is put within your grasp, and you feel that power, and you have your faith grow as you speak those words of faith. You know, sometimes our problem is we come up to a challenge like the children of Israel did so many times in the wilderness, and instead of remembering, for example, how God had parted the Red Sea and how He had given them manna, when they would run out of water, they would say, “Our God has led us out into the wilderness to die. I wish we were still slaves in Egypt. At least we’d be getting food.”

 

And, you know, sometimes in our present day, we come to church, we hear a sermon, and it challenges our faith, it strengthens our faith, and we are on fire for the Lord when we walk out of the church. We are ready to walk into the gates of Heaven, and on the way home we get a flat tire, and then we’re saying, “Does God really exist? How could He have allowed me to get this flat tire? And I was supposed to have an appointment with one of my friends, and now I’m going to miss it. I’m not even sure if that experience at church was true or not.”

 

Now, I’m just making that story up, but you can fill in the blanks to describe whatever situation it is. But if we would learn to say, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us, “In everything give thanks,” and if we would speak those words, God will supply the power to remain faithful and to keep our mind set on Him. And it’s interesting, we see here that as they spoke the words, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us,” we see that their faith was strengthened. And as their faith was strengthened, God was able to work for them even more powerfully. But if they had bowed down to the image, this wouldn’t have even been an opportunity.

 

So, continuing, let’s read verses 19 through 23. Starting in verse 19, “Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” So, he’s like, “Make that furnace seven times hotter!” And they didn’t need to. Anyone would have died the way it was, but he’s so mad he loses his reasoning and says, “Make it seven times hotter.”

 

Verse 20, “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.” You know what he’s doing, he’s just making it more of a situation where God’s name is going to be glorified even that much greater. He made the fire seven times hotter. He brought the strongest men from his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and God just has to be sitting back smiling and saying, “Do you think you can really mess with me, Nebuchadnezzar? Nice try. You’re just making yourself look worse, and you’re making the God of Heaven look better.”

 

Verse 21, “Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” And that’s the end of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, right? Wrong. Continuing on, “Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” So, the guys who threw them into the fire, the fire was so hot it killed them!

 

Verse 23, “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” Notice, they went down; it wasn’t like they just went in, and they land and they’re standing there like, “Hey, we’re good.” They actually fell down on the ground. They were down in the flames. There is no human way that you could survive that. They were down in the flames.

 

Now, continuing, verses 24 and 25, verse 24, “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, ‘Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said unto the king, ‘True, O king.’” Notice verse 25, “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.’” Now, how did Nebuchadnezzar know what the Son of God looked like? How would He know that was the Son of God? He had seen a dream of the image, but he hadn’t seen God. How would he know?

 

At this point, he knows that something major has happened. This is not what was supposed to be. He threw three men in. The guys who threw them into the fire all died, and yet the three who went into the fire are now standing and walking around, and there is a fourth Person there, and He looks like God.

 

Now, notice what Ellen White says, pages 508, 509 of Prophets and Kings, “But the Lord did not forget His own,” Amen? Will the Lord forget you? [Audience, “No.”] Will the Lord ever cast us off? Absolutely not. “As His witnesses were cast into the furnace, the Saviour revealed Himself to them in person.” Now, here’s a key point. So many times we wonder why God may not be helping us out in our trials and in our circumstances and in all the things that we face, but the question we have to ask is, “Are we witnesses for God?” When the trials come, when the tests come, are we standing tall? Are we speaking faith? Are we rejoicing in the Lord or are we complaining and murmuring like the children of Israel? Because, if we’re not witnessing for God, He can’t work for us in the way that He worked for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. But if we are witnesses for Him the way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were, He will be with us, and that is a guarantee.

 

“As His witnesses were cast into the furnace, the Saviour revealed Himself to them in person, and together they walked in the midst of the fire.” I love that. “In the presence of the Lord of heat and cold, the flames lost their power to consume.”

 

Now, continuing, “From his royal seat the king looked on, expecting to see the men who had defied him utterly destroyed. But his feelings of triumph suddenly changed. The nobles standing near saw his face grow pale as he started from the throne and looked intently into the glowing flames. In alarm the king, turning to his lords, asked, ‘Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? ... Lo, I see four men loose,’” and we read the rest of the part.

 

Now, notice the next paragraph. “How did that heathen king know what the Son of God was like?” Notice what Ellen White says, “The Hebrew captives filling positions of trust in Babylon had in life and character represented before him the truth. When asked for a reason of their faith, they had given it without hesitation. Plainly and simply they had presented the principles of righteousness, thus teaching those around them of the God whom they worshiped. They had told of Christ, the Redeemer to come; and in the form of the fourth in the midst of the fire the king recognized the Son of God.”

 

Do you realize that when we witness to God’s character and to His righteousness, the people in this world will recognize in us through our lives the power of God, and when God demonstrates Himself, those of the world will recognize Him through the lives that we have lived? It is God’s purpose for us to be witnesses for Him. And because of the witness of these three Hebrews, Nebuchadnezzar recognized the Son of God when he saw Him.

 

And what a privilege those three Hebrews had. For that brief moment in their life, to be in the physical presence of Jesus, the Son of God. But, you know, we can be in His presence all the time as well?

 

Continuing on, and this wraps up the chapter, “Then Nebuchadnezzar,” verse 26, “came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, 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.” So, they obeyed the king. You know, it would have been tempting to say, “You know, I’m with Jesus now. I don’t want to come back to you. You’re the one that tried to put me to death.” But you know what? They respected his authority still.

 

Verse 27, “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” Alright, that’s a miracle. They didn’t have any smell of fire on them.

 

Verse 28, “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.’” So, notice what’s happened here. This was supposed to be a worship service so that the pagan god of Babylon would be exalted and lifted up, and paganism and heathenism and the false gods would receive glory and honor. But at the end of the day, God is honored. God is glorified because there were three Hebrews who said, “We will not compromise, even if we lose our lives.” And now the most powerful king on Earth is speaking in front of all of the leaders in his kingdom and says, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego 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.”

 

And then verse 29, “‘Therefore I make a 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, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.’” Now, do we agree with that? It’s like, “If anyone speaks against our God, let’s go just tear them to pieces.” No. So, Nebuchadnezzar still has some things to learn about God, didn’t He? That’s not how God wants to work. It’s like, if you speak against Him, He’s just going to tear you in pieces? No, that’s not the way He wants to work.

 

Verse 30, “Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon,” so they got a promotion. They go up against the king, and because of their faithfulness to God, they get promoted. Now, you know what? It doesn’t always work that way. You may stand up for what’s right and never be recognized on this earth again, but the God of Heaven will take note.

 

Education, page 57, this is a famous quote for those of you who read Ellen White, and this is speaking of the three Hebrews. “What a lifework was that of these noble Hebrews! As they bade farewell to their childhood home, how little did they dream of their high destiny! Faithful and steadfast, they yielded themselves to the divine guiding, so that through them God could fulfill His purpose.”

 

And, you know, God wants to fulfill His purpose through our lives as well. “The same mighty truths that were revealed through these men, God desires to reveal through the youth and the children of today.” Did you hear that?

 

Now, notice, this is the key point right here. “The greatest want of the world,” what is it? “The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest,” that means when no one is looking, “men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.” Men who will be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who, with the whole world looking, leaders from all over the world at a worship service in the leading nation of the world, standing before the most powerful king on this earth who represented the head of gold, which was the best kingdom in worldly terms that has ever been, these men stood tall in that situation. And God is looking for men and women like that today.

 

“But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature—the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man.” And there is the key: Surrender of self.

 

Now, let’s make some end-time applications here about chapter 3 as we bring this to a close. Point number one: Babylon brings in political leaders throughout its empire for a religious service to worship an image it had set up. Those who do not worship the image will be killed. They’re threatened with death. Now, it’s interesting, at the end of time, in Revelation 13, it describes worship of the image of the beast, which is Babylon, end-time Babylon, and those who do not worship will be killed, so history repeats itself on a more global scale.

 

Point number two: Nearly all bow down to the image in Daniel, chapter 3, and in fact the language says all people, nations, languages and tongues bow down to the image. In Revelation 13, verse 3, it says, “All the world will wonder after this beast,” Babylon.

 

However, point number 3: Only a remnant, the three Hebrews, did not worship the golden image. And in Revelation 12:17, we see a remnant who keep God’s commandments and who do not the worship the beast, which is Babylon, or his image. And specifically in Revelation, chapter 12, verse 11, it says, “They loved not their lives unto the death.” Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, God will have an end-time people who will love not their lives to the death. They will say, “You know what? You can make all the laws that you want, but we will serve God the way His Word says to worship, not the way man says to worship.”

 

So, we see an end-time application. And Ellen White makes a clear connection. This is Manuscript Releases, Volume 12, pages [218 and 219], “When religion is mixed with civil government, it means much to Seventh-day Adventists. A union of church and state means a recognition of a spurious sabbath, and a failure to respect the conscientious observance of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.

 

“This movement, demanding that all observe as sacred an idol sabbath, resembles the act of Nebuchadnezzar in making a golden image, and setting it up for all to worship.” So, you see what Ellen White says? What happened in Daniel 3 will be similar to what happens at the very end of the world, so this story is relevant for us. We need to learn to be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, do we not?

 

One other quote, Manuscript Releases, volume 14, page 91, “An idol sabbath has been set up, as the golden image was set up in the plains of Dura. And as Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, issued a decree that all who would not bow down and worship this image should be killed, so a proclamation will be made that all who will not reverence the Sunday institution will be punished with imprisonment and death.”

 

Now, here’s one more application that I want to make. Do you think that, on the morning that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego woke up when that dedication took place, do you think they were caught by surprise? It’s like, “Wow, we just got a notice that the king has set up this golden image on the plain of Dura, and that we’re going to have to bow down and worship it. How did that happen? Man, I didn’t see that coming. He’s clearly defined what happened in Daniel 2, and he’s trying to make the head of gold into being everything, the whole image being of gold. Man, I didn’t know that was going to happen.” Do you think that really happened? No.

 

How long would it have taken to build an image that’s 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide of all gold? That would take some time. So, here’s a key application: In the setting up of the image in Daniel 3, some work had to go into it that would have caused God’s people to know what was coming. Everyone who showed up to that dedication would have known that they would have to make a decision as to whether or not to worship that image.

 

Likewise, at the end of time, we have been given a road map in the book of Daniel and in Revelation to know what is coming, and as we see that image begin to be set up, we should know ahead of time what our decision is. It’s not going to be a surprise like, “Oh, man, I didn’t see that coming. I knew the Bible said it would happen someday, but I didn’t know it was going to happen today.” We’ll see the events that are bringing it together, and if you’re paying attention to the news and the world events, we can see things happening.

 

Now, it’s getting late, so I’m not going to say much about Daniel 4. Daniel 4 is very simple. I’ll just show you a couple of slides. This is the one chapter in the book of Daniel that king Nebuchadnezzar actually wrote. He had another dream. It was a disturbing dream. I’ll let you read it yourself. But it was very clear that something bad was going to happen to him, and sure enough, once he lifted up his heart in pride…He’d got this message from God, “If you don’t humble yourself, you will become insane.” For a while he was repentant, but then about a year later or so, he says in his heart, “Is this not great Babylon that I have built?” And at that moment God struck him down. He became like an animal, and he ate grass for seven years.

 

At the end of that time, he became converted and acknowledged the true God. He acknowledged that it is God who sets kings up and takes them down. He acknowledged that it was not for him to try to overrule the image he had seen in Daniel 2 and to make the image of Daniel 3. He acknowledged that Babylon will not last forever as the literal kingdom as it was in that time. He became converted.

 

And I’m not going to read all the verses, but basically what you read in the last four verses of Daniel, chapter 4, is that Nebuchadnezzar became converted, and we will see Nebuchadnezzar in Heaven. The same guy who threatened Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego with death, who threw them into the fiery furnace, who lifted up his heart in pride and said, “Is this not great Babylon that I have built,’ who instituted a mentality that was followed through the remaining kingdoms of this earth and that are synthesized in the final end-time Babylon, that same king was converted and will be in the kingdom of Heaven. And if we are faithful, we will meet him some day.

 

And you know what that tells us? An end-time application, point number two: God was able to reach Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel, and if God could reach Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylon of that time, and Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man in that kingdom, don’t you think He can use us to reach the people of the world? As we studied in our last message, we are to call people out of Babylon. If Daniel could reach Nebuchadnezzar, surely God could use us to reach those who are still in Babylon.

 

And so, we have a message to give to the world to prepare people for the coming of the Lord, to call people out of Babylon. And we, as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego and Daniel, now is the time to be deciding whom we serve. Now is the time to be faithful in the little things because a time is coming when bigger tests will come, and if we can’t handle the small tests now, how will we handle the bigger tests?

 

But God is faithful. If we choose to serve Him, He will help us with the smaller tests now so that when the big tests come, when the final crisis comes, just as Daniel and his friends had purposed in their hearts to always be faithful, to be faithful unto death, even if God would not deliver them in this life, we will be faithful unto death, and we will receive a crown of life that fades not away.

 

So, at this time, I’m going to offer just a short prayer, then we will have a closing hymn. Our Father in Heaven, we thank You for this message in Daniel 3 and also in chapter 4. We pray that we would learn to be faithful like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, to stand for the right though the heavens fall, and that we would be ready when You come, and that we would do all in our power to share this message with the world around us so many souls will be saved in Your Kingdom. Thank You again for the message in the book of Daniel and be with us throughout the remainder of this series. This is my prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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