Making Sense of Daniel
Chapter 3: Quenched the Violence of Fire
“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 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.”
“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
- Here we have a glorious example of courage to stand publicly for the true God against horrible danger.
- The small tests of faith we experience are nothing in comparison with what these three men withstood.
The CONTEXT OF THE FIRE (Dan 3:1-7).
- Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, was the greatest king the world has ever seen (Dan 3:1).
- He had destroyed Jerusalem and Judea and taken Israelites captive (Dan 1:1-7).
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were high in the province of Babylon (Dan 2:49).
- A ninety-foot tall image with a height-width ratio of 10 could well be obelisk-like.
- As King, Nebuchadnezzar could demand and expect others to honor his image (Dan 3:2-7).
- When he invited all the officials of his empire, they came obediently to Babylon.
- They were told to worship the image during the music under penalty of death.
- Everyone should understand a cornet, flute, and harp. But the others?
- Sackbut. A bass trumpet with a slide, like a trombone, for altering pitch.
- Psaltery. An ancient stringed instrument played by plucking the strings with the soundboard behind and parallel with the strings.
- Dulcimer. A stringed instrument played by hitting strings with hammers.
- Music has been an important part of worship – both Jewish and pagan.
- Can you imagine our President, often despised and ridiculed, having the authority to require all government officials, including Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy, to submit to a personal whim under penalty of death?
The CONSPIRACY OF THE FIRE (Dan 3:8-12).
- Certain Chaldeans, most likely jealous peers of these men, accused them to the King.
- Character like that of these men will bring the persecution of wicked men.
- Living righteously with God’s blessing will bring the persecution of others.
- We should be glad to suffer reproach for the name of God and Christ.
- We should remember our carefulness to avoid any appearance of evil.
- Consider prudently the great “care” that these men have for the law of Nebuchadnezzar.
- Their accusers (1) point out their nationality, (2) mention their lofty positions, (3) accuse them of disregarding the King, and (4) accuse them of not worshipping his gods.
The CONFRONTATION OF THE FIRE (Dan 3:9-18).
- Nebuchadnezzar’s rage and fury show his (1) foolish spirit and (2) general authority.
- He shows discretion in questioning them as to whether the accusation was true.
- He shows mercy in offering them a second chance to worship his golden image.
- However, he makes a statement that certainly qualifies for “famous last words.”
- He either had no knowledge of the true God or had rejected such knowledge.
- He had experience in defeating many enemies who put their trust in vain gods.
- The answer of these three men to this great monarch should bolster our faith.
- They were not careful to answer him – they were not anxious, worried, or fearful; nor did they need any further time to consider or reconsider his merciful offer.
- They acknowledged God’s ability to deliver them from his furnace if He chose.
- They specifically take recognition of his “hand” and put their confidence in God.
- They faithfully said they would not worship the image no matter what happened.
- These men rightly understood the secret and revealed will of God (Deut 29:29).
- They did not know God’s secret will about their deliverance and future.
- They did know that regardless they should not worship his golden idol.
- Would we be as courageous under similar power, authority, and threats against us?
- It is a pity that sometimes Christians are ashamed of (a) prayer before eating in public, (b) their reasons for not doing certain things, (c) certain positions on morality, (d) where they attend church, and so forth.
- Many martyrs faithfully followed these three men in their faith toward God.
The CONSEQUENCES OF THE FIRE (Dan 3:19-25).
- Nebuchadnezzar, changed by their words, furiously consigned them to the fire.
- The form of his visage was changed – his conciliatory spirit was totally gone.
- He ordered this fiery furnace heated seven times beyond normal combustion.
- He commanded the greatest men in his army to bind and throw them in the fire.
- They were bound with all their clothing and cast into the midst of the furnace.
- Because the King’s commandment had been to overheat the furnace, the great heat burned up the greatest men in his army, as they threw them on their way.
- The witnesses were able to see these three bound men fall down in the fiery furnace.
- Nebuchadnezzar is greatly surprised to see the three men and an angel in the furnace.
- He saw the three were loose from the ropes/chains in which they were bound.
- He saw that the three were walking about in the midst of the fire in the furnace.
- He saw that they had no hurt by the way in which they were walking in the fire.
- He saw that there was a mysterious fourth man with the appearance of an angel.
The CONVICTION OF THE FIRE (Dan 3:26-30).
- Nebuchadnezzar came to the mouth of the furnace before all witnesses and called them.
- He was not assigning this opportunity to anyone – he needed to see for himself.
- He addressed them as “servants of the most high God.” He confessed their God.
- The crowd of witnesses there was able to verify their condition as they came forth.
- The fire had not had its normal power of heat in damaging their bodies (Ex 3:2).
- Their hair was as before they were cast into the fire (Matt 10:30; Luke 21:18).
- Their coats and clothing, which they wore into the fire, were not damaged at all.
- They did not even have the smell of the fire or smoke upon themselves.
- Pagans have boasted of walking on coals, but they ought to try this sometime.
- Nebuchadnezzar did not see Jesus in the Old Testament, he saw an angel (Dan 3:25 cp Dan 3:28).
- Nebuchadnezzar responds to the lesson by blessing our God and enforcing His honor.
- He blessed the great God, Who sent an angel to deliver those who trusted Him.
- He acknowledged that these three men had changed his word about his “hand.”
- He identifies their faith as that willingness to yield their bodies for God’s sake.
- He issues a decree enforcing honor throughout his empire on behalf of this God.
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were promoted (Jos 1:7-9; I Sa 2:30; I Kgs 2:1-4).
- Where was Daniel? Everyone asks this question, and it is one we can only answer partially, since the Bible does not tell us. There is indirect evidence that he did not bow in idolatry to the golden image.
- We learn Daniel had been promoted by Nebuchadnezzar as a great man to sit in the king’s gate, and so we may presume he was not obligated to attend this event, for his office is not listed (Dan 2:48-49 cp Dan 3:2-3).
- Also, since the king knew Daniel worshipped the true God, there is further reason to believe he would not have compelled his most trusted advisor to violate his valuable faith (Dan 2:47).
- Whatever the case, the lesson is about the three other men; and speculation about Daniel is distracting and wasteful. If the LORD wanted us to know, He easily could have told us.
- Let us never be ashamed of our God, His Son Jesus Christ, or His Word. We may have the opportunity to suffer for His name, and it is historical events like this in the lives of other saints that encourage us.
- Are you going to be afraid of family members, school peers, neighbors, or anyone else who questions or criticizes your faith in the God of heaven?
- There are many martyrs under the altar of God, who were not delivered from the flames until their souls were taken to heaven by His angels. In the burning flames they gave testimony time after time of His glorious and preserving grace.