Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Daniel 3:1a (Holman) “King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue, 90 feet high and nine feet wide.”
Nebuchadnezzar was a mighty leader, a successful general who never lost a battle and ruled Babylon 40 years. In the zenith of his power, Nebuchadnezzar wanted a public display of allegiance to his god, which would represent solid support for him. To achieve his goal, he built a huge image, and commanded government leaders all over the world to come bow before it.
This idol was a gross concoction, ninety feet tall by nine feet wide, as if its being monstrous would make amends for its being lifeless. It glistened with gold to impress the worshipers. It could be beautiful, even if dead.
Daniel 3:4-6 A herald loudly proclaimed, “People of every nation and language, you are commanded: When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.”
Music, a wondrous gift to people from God, would be the signal for all to bow before the idol. What an insult to YHWH! The Devil, to achieve his own evil purposes, unashamedly perverted a blessed treasure from God. Every fascinating thing Satan has he stole from God, and then perverted.
Music inherently belongs to God. Singing, trumpets, and harps are found in Heaven, not Hell. Music was given by God to His people as a precious gift to bless our lives. Dr. Joe Crider says God wired humans for music. It belongs to us as a special gift from our Creator. It is a present the Devil loves to pervert.
Whenever we find permissiveness, sin, or degradation, we usually find perverted music. This is not to say secular music is inherently evil. Secular music becomes a problem only when we let it hinder our relationship to God.
There is a place for secular music, but no place for music with vulgar, suggestive language. When music serves as an accompaniment to sin, the act is a prostitution of God’s miraculous gift from heaven.
God gave music to us that we might overflow in gratitude and praise to Him. Music is its best, highest, and purest when used as a means to focus our attention and affection on Jesus.
Music has the ability to cause something inside us to swell, for better or worse. It has rises and falls, plus tensions and releases, that our emotions also have. Music invigorates our feelings, and allows us to express sentiments which the words by themselves fall short of expressing.
Music is powerful, affecting us deeply, for good or bad. Be careful about music we listen to or sing. Make sure it does nothing to lessen our love for Jesus.
Daniel 3:15b “If you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire ( and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”
As men of rank, the Hebrew youths’ disobedience would be scandalous, a bad example for the masses. Nebuchadnezzar called for them immediately.
The king could not believe they disobeyed. Surely there has been a mistake or misunderstanding. He offers a second chance, but in the process casts a negative reflection on YHWH. He shouldn’t have done this. It was a big mistake.
The Lord is vitally concerned about His reputation. It is dangerous to speak ill of God. “Moses and Aaron went in and said to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Let My people go, so that they may hold a festival for Me in the wilderness.” But Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and what’s more, I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:1-2). Ouch! Pharaoh learned the hard way who the Lord God was. YHWH brought Egypt to her knees.
Defeated by King Ahab of Israel in a surprise attack on the hills, the Syrians regrouped and accused YHWH of being God of the hills, not God of the valleys. The Lord was so angered that He used wicked Ahab’s army to kill 100,000 Syrians and made a wall fall on 27,000 who escaped to Aphek (I Kings 20).
The King of Assyria wrote Hezekiah, “Don’t let your God, whom you trust, deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria. Look, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries: they destroyed them completely. Will you be rescued? Did the gods of the nations that my predecessors destroyed rescue them?” (II Kings 19:10-12a). Hezekiah, King of Judah, spread the letter before YHWH in the temple. That night God’s angel killed 185,000 Assyrians outside Jerusalem.
Now it will be Nebuchadnezzar’s turn to see the majesty of YHWH. The challenge has been made. The three Hebrews will take it up and answer the King.
Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
The champions felt no need for consultation. Determined not to recant, they sensed no need for deliberation, evasion, or delay concerning their answer.
Cyprian, asked by friends to deny Christ so the Emperor would reverse the edict of execution, said, “There can be no deliberation in a matter so sacred.”
The Hebrews put no conditions on their commitment. They have no assurance of deliverance, but whether it comes or not makes no difference to them. Duty is sovereign. They will do right whether God delivers them or not.
Their answer is grand because it is direct and distinct, not one ambiguous word blurs the whole speech. Nebuchadnezzar did not need an interpreter. He understood immediately and flew into a rage.
Daniel 3:24-25 Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?” “Yes, of course, Your Majesty,” they replied to the king. He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
While amusing himself by watching the fire, Nebuchadnezzar suddenly bolted from his seat. He saw a fourth person in the fire, a being so glorious that even Nebuchadnezzar’s heathen eyes could tell He was supernatural. In their moment of affliction, the three Hebrews were helped by a messenger from God.
We cannot remove heartache from Christianity, but can offer a Friend to help in our grief. In times of trouble, a friend is worth a gold mine to us.
Only one Friend can always be present to help us. Jesus promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20b). “What a friend we have in Jesus” should be the theme song of our lives. Whatever the trouble, however hot the fire, we can count on the Guest.
Before every troubled step we take, Jesus’ footprint is already on the path. In it all we have Him. During times of trouble we learn most about Jesus. In the furnace we have our nearest and dearest dealings with our Savior. Tear-stained eyes see the Lord’s beauty most clearly.
Daniel 3:26-27 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and called: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God ( come out!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. When the satraps, prefects, governors, and the king’s advisers gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men; not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them.
The fire consumed nothing but their bonds (v. 25). The Hebrews became freer in the furnace than they had been before. The more we believers are persecuted for our beliefs, the more freedom we can enjoy in our hearts. Once the world scorns us, we don’t have to worry about trying to please it any more.
The enslaved Christian is one who tries to please both the world and God. Being on a fence is one of life’s most uncomfortable and unnatural positions.
Such a Christian is of all people most miserable. Rather than an external fiery furnace, theirs is internal.
We can choose a cowardly life if we desire, but we’ll never have freedom in such a life. There will always be inner turmoil. A guilty conscience is one of life’s heaviest burdens.
We need to be set free from addiction to applause. A help in William Nicholson’s becoming a Christian was the courage of a Salvation Army worker who on his red jersey had written in white yarn, “Saved from public opinion.”
In Acts 13 Jews rejected Paul. This gave him greater freedom to preach more openly to all people. Peter, though, tried to appease the Jews. In bondage to pleasing them, he had to be openly rebuked by Paul (Galatians 2:11-14).
Wesley and Whitefield tried to work within the traditional denominational structure of their day and met total frustration. They were finally thrown out of the churches, and forced to preach in fields. What a blessing! Churches held hundreds, but in the open air, tens of thousands could and did come to hear them.
Luther at first felt a need to proceed with caution toward reform, but once he received the Pope’s letter, he thundered, “The Pope of Rome excommunicates Martin Luther, and I, Martin Luther, excommunicate the Pope of Rome.”
When the world throws us out in the road, our bounds are loosed. There is freedom in the fiery furnace.