Daniel chapter 3, Message 4
A familiar account of God’s protection, or is there a lesson we often overlook?
I. The Plan. Daniel 3:1
Daniel 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
The king had requested the interpretation of his dream, received the revelation of God’s plan for the nations, and rejecting the Word of the Lord, refused to submit and determined to overrule God by creating his own plan for the future – to be more than the ‘the head of gold’, he would have all of the power!
II. The Proclamation. 3:2-6
Daniel 3:2-6 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellers, the sheriffs, and all 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, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellers, 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. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (See Jeremiah 29:22)
III. The Prejudice. 3:12 (envy, jealousy)
Those who bowed in worship of this idol were jealous of the courage of these men. The integrity and determination of the Hebrews illuminated the weakness of these leaders. They could either take courage and turn to God or cause the Hebrews to be killed. They chose to stand against God. Do their actions sound familiar?
Daniel 3:12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
IV. The Proud King. 3:15
Daniel 3:15 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 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?
V. The Proof of faith. 3:16-18
Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, 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 out of thine 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 thou hast set up.
They were aware of the consequences of their actions and did not seek to argue with the King. Their trust was not in the conscience of the king or compromise with his demand. Their trust was in God – in life or in death, God is all in all!
VI. The Protection from God. 3:19-27
A. The king’s fury was unleashed against them.
Daniel 3:19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
B. The king’s folly – his own servants were killed by the raging inferno –
Daniel 3:22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
C. The king’s frustration.
Daniel 3:24-25 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 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.
D. The king’s fear –
Daniel 3:26-27 (KJV) Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellers, 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.
The king learned that he could have no power except it was given to him from God. God reminded Nebuchadnezzar that the plan of God would come to pass and it was not about glorifying Nebuchadnezzar – it is about the glory being given to God who only rightly deserves worship and glory.
VII. The Praise unto the Lord. 3:28-30
Daniel 3:28-29 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, 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. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, 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.
‘The most high god’, proclaiming superior position, but not claiming Jehovah as his God! Nebuchadnezzar came short of saving faith in God, even though he praised the power of God! Just because people praise Him does not mean they trust in Him.
VIII. The Problem.
Most often we focus on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego when we read these verses, which is good in that we are reminded again of the grace of God working out His will in His power, but we miss the lesson from God that no one is above Him! No one, no matter how exalted by God in the pursuit of accomplishing His purpose on earth, is excused from submitting to Him in all things. The truth that has been revealed by this occasion is that this was simply another confession by Nebuchadnezzar based on emotion, like that the previous confession to Daniel –
Daniel 2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
– not a true confession of the worthiness of God who is due all worship, submission, and obedience.
We have met many people over these years that confess that Jesus is Lord, yet this confession is simply based on a need they had in their lives –
– All of which the Lord helps with, yet none of which are true confessions of faith.
What is a true confession then?
We are sinners, not able to save ourselves.
We need a Saviour that will satisfy the justice of God, bringing us into relationship with Him.
We ask for His forgiveness and His salvation, believing that Jesus is the only way of salvation.
Romans 10:9-13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.