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A BOLD FAITH
(Boldly serve only GOD)
The effects of Daniel’s interpretation and revelation to King Nebuchadnezzar concerning his dream in chapter 2, no doubt played a role in his decision here in chapter 3, to build a 90 foot statue of himself made of plated gold, with the intent to have everybody in his kingdom bow down and worship his molten image, as god.
In the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream by the prophet Daniel, the Babylonian king represented only the “head” of the gold statue that was made of various other elements, which represented other kingdoms that would come into being after his kingdom ended.
This towering edifice, erected on the plains of Dura in the province of Babylon in chapter 3, was Nebuchadnezzar’s way of heading off these coming kingdoms, and making himself “immortal”, so to speak, having a kingdom of his own that would be passed down from generation to generation and, in effect, would never end. It was a foolish attempt by Nebuchadnezzar to defy the GOD of Daniel, WHOM Daniel said had given him the answers concerning his dream in the first place.
After having the statue built, Nebuchadnezzar summoned eight “classes” of his top officials to attend the dedication ceremonies for this new idol of himself. The “princes”, who were the chief representatives of the king, the “perfects”, who were the military commanders, and the “governors”, who were the civic administrators, were all called to attend. In addition, the “counselors”, who advised governmental authorities, the “treasurers”, the “judges”, the “magistrates” and other “provincial subordinates” who served in an official capacity, were also called to attend.
Here in this chapter Nebuchadnezzar is not calling for the people to honor one of the traditional gods of Babylon, here he is actually instituting a new form of religious worship with his own image as the centerpiece, or object of adoration. It is an attempt by the king to unify government and religion in Babylon, placing himself at the head of both, literally.
Nebuchadnezzar then issued a decree that everyone in the Babylonian kingdom must bow down and worship his newly constructed image of himself whenever they hear the sound of the music playing. Anyone who refused to comply with his command would be thrown into a fiery furnace and burned to death. Surprisingly, there were three young men, of Jewish descent, who failed to comply with the king’s edict.
Now there were some astrologers who went to King Nebuchadnezzar and reported to him that a certain trio of Jews, namely Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were noncompliant to his new edict. The king flew into a rage (v.13) and ordered that these three men be brought before him immediately.
As we know, these three had all been recently promoted, along with Daniel, to very high positions in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom as a result of Daniel’s correct interpretation of the king’s dream in chapter 2. And it is only because of his fondness of the trio that Nebuchadnezzar decides to give Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego a second opportunity (v.15) to change their minds, and bow down to his statue and worship it as god.
Nebuchadnezzar further admonishes Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that, if they refuse this final time to worship him, they would be immediately thrown into the blazing inferno prepared for those who refused to comply with kingdom policies. However, because of their strong dedication and conviction to WHO they knew was the Almighty GOD, they defiantly and steadfastly refused to obey the king’s command, and what follows, is one of the most famous examples of “men united in dedication to GOD” that can be found anywhere in the annals of recorded biblical history.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego boldly replied to Nebuchadnezzar in a state of solidarity that, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the GOD WHOM we serve is able to save us. HE will rescue us from your power, your majesty. But even if HE doesn’t, your majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up (Vs. 16-18 – NLT)”.
In verse 19 we see that the demon inside Nebuchadnezzar “distorted his face with rage”, and he commanded that the heat in the furnace be turned up seven times hotter than it was normally kept. And with that said, the trio was tossed into the flaming furnace. It was now so hot that, when Nebuchadnezzar’s men opened the door, they were killed by the heat that poured out from within the furnace.
Moments later, Nebuchadnezzar, from a safe distance, peered into the furnace, and to his amazement, he was able to see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with a fourth person, who seemed to be an angel of sorts, all walking around inside the blazing inferno. The king then ordered the men to come out of the furnace, and when they did, everyone present was astounded by the fact that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not harmed by the fire in any way. In fact, they didn’t even smell like smoke, and their clothes were all intact.
When we stand by GOD, GOD always stands with us. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all employed by an important man, in fact a king, named Nebuchadnezzar. However, they had sense enough to know that they should only worship GOD, WHO is the CREATOR of man. If we fear and worship our earthly employers more than we fear and worship GOD, we are already on our way to the ultimate blazing inferno that is “Hell”.
Employers should be “served”, sure enough, in exchange for the wages that they pay us, but only GOD should be “served”, and “worshiped”. We should never “obey” an employer who is demanding that we “disobey” GOD. JESUS says that it is impossible to worship GOD and mammon (money) (Matthew 6:24), and of course, HE is right. We will eventually have to choose one over the other.
Our faith must cling to the conviction that GOD is able to keep us safe from the perils that crop up in this life, because, after all, it is HE WHO controls all things in this life, both now, and forever. However, our faith should also affirm that, whether or not GOD does choose to save us, is always a matter for HE HIMSELF to decide. We, as Christians, only need to keep our priorities in order, which are, “we are to worship GOD only”, “love people”, and “use things”. And when we mix those priorities in any other order, we automatically place ourselves out of the Will of GOD.
GOD, will never support us, nor reward us when we choose to make decisions that place HIM second to people, places, and things, in our lives. Christians are to remain steadfast in their convictions to GOD, even in suffering, always standing up for an innocent CHRIST, WHO stood up for us in our guilt, and taught us through HIS words and actions, how we can overcome that guilt. And even if it costs us family, friends, jobs, things, or even our own lives, we must count it all joy, because we have shown ourselves to be men and women of GOD, in pursuit of GOD’s OWN heart, through obedience and faith in HIM.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website