The Burning Fiery Furnace
"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"
King James Version by The Holy Spirit through Daniel
with notes by Katie Stewart
The Book of Daniel
Chapters 2 & 3
N THE SECOND YEAR OF THE REIGN OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. 2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. 3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.
5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. 6 But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof."
The LORD God gave the dream, but did Nebuchadnezzar seek the interpretation from Him?
7 "They answered
again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation
8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. 9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof.
10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the Earth that can show the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. 11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh."
This situation is a divine "setup." The LORD gave the wizards and magicians an impossible task. There was no authority on Earth that could expect obedience to this demand by any human power on Earth. And yet, Nebuchadnezzar, as the king of all the Earth was driven to do exactly that!
12 "For this
cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise
men of Babylon. 13
And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel
and his fellows to be slain.
14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: 15 He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. 16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king the interpretation. 17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: 18 That they would desire mercies of the God of Heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon."
The value that the LORD places in a servant who faithfully trusts Him with life itself-- even when placed in humanly impossible situations-- is limitless. There is NOTHING the LORD would not do for His own.
The LORD would stop the sun and the moon in their orbits-- if His servant needed it.
So, after Daniel's great commitment in faith that
God would help them, the LORD, of course arranged that...
was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.
Then Daniel blessed the God of Heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said,
Blessed be the Name of God for ever and ever: for Wisdom and Might are His: 21 And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth Wisdom unto the wise, and Knowledge to them that know Understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the Light dwelleth with Him. 23 I thank Thee, and praise Thee, O Thou God of my fathers, Who hast given me Wisdom and Might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of Thee: for Thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.
24 Therefore Daniel
went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon:
he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in
before the king, and I will show unto the king the interpretation.
25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king; 28 But there is a God in Heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days."
"Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and He That Revealeth Secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. 30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay."
Side Note Number 1: C. H. Spurgeon-- "While the Lord Jesus takes upon Himself our nature (2 Peter i. 4), He restores in us that image of God (Gen. i. 27) which was blotted and defaced by the fall of Adam. He raises us from the degradation of sin to the dignity of perfection. So that, in a two-fold sense, the Head and members are of one nature, and not like that monstrous image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The head was of fine gold, but the belly and the thighs were of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet, part of iron and part of clay. Christ's mystical body is no absurd combination of opposites; the Head is immortal, and the body is immortal, too, for thus the record stands, 'Because I live, ye shall live also.' 'As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.' 'As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly:' and this shall in a few more years be more fully manifest to us, for 'this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.' Such as is the Head, such is the body, and every member in particular;--a chosen Head, and chosen members; an accepted Head, and accepted members; a living Head, and living members. If the Head be of pure gold, all the parts of the body are of pure gold also. Thus is there a double union of nature as a basis for the closest communion." --from "Till He Come" ---New Window by C. H. Spurgeon ---New Window
Side Note Number 2: Tom Stewart-- "How do we arrive at identifying the Beast 'out of the sea' (13:1) with the Roman Empire? To answer that question, we must read the prophecies of the second chapter of Daniel. There, we are given a description of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a 'great image' (Daniel 2:31), whose 'head was of fine gold [Babylon], his breast and his arms of silver [Medo-Persia], his belly and his thighs of brass [Greece], 33 His legs of iron [Rome], his feet part of iron and part of clay [the Revived Roman Empire]' (2:32-33). The Almighty gave Nebuchadnezzar's dream and its interpretation to Daniel in response to believing prayer, i.e., they desired 'mercies of the God of Heaven concerning this secret... Then was the secret revealed' (Daniel 2:18, 19). 'Thou, O king [Nebuchadnezzar]... art this head of gold [the Babylonian Empire]' (2:37-38). As it was with Daniel, so it is true with the Saints throughout time, divinely revealed prophecy is merely history in its yet to be fulfilled form. '39 And after thee [Nebuchadnezzar] shall arise another kingdom [the Medo-Persian Empire of Darius and Cyrus] inferior to thee, and another third kingdom [the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great] of brass, which shall bear rule over all the Earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom [the Roman Empire] shall be strong as iron' (2:39-40)." --from "A Commentary on the Book of Revelation" Chapter 13: The Antichrist and the False Prophet ---New Window by Tom Stewart
"34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole Earth.
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of Heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold."
The LORD was very pronounced here, in establishing the true facts to this pompous, earthly "king of kings", that everything he ruled over was NOT attained by his own fleshy hand. "The God of Heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory", Daniel warned him, and that wherever men lived on the Earth, whatever animals roamed the Earth, and even whatever birds flew the heavens, Nebuchadnezzar ruled over it all-- BY GOD'S OWN CHOOSING. In the vanity of his boastful heart, Nebuchadnezzar wouldn't admit that he was, in effect, God's slave and servant, to do with however God chose.
After affirming His authority over Nebuchadnezzar,
the LORD continued to expound on the finiteness of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.
"39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the Earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. 41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the Great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. 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."
Nebuchadnezzar makes a "vain show" of recognition to God's authority. After all, God did reveal the secret of the dream, which none of the "gods" of his sorcerers could do. But his rebellion was still evident in that, he "worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him", thus giving Daniel the treatment meant only for God, for only gods are worshipped.
"48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.49 Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king."
The "great image" that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream had a "head" of "fine gold". The king was told by Daniel that the LORD God decreed that this gold head was the King Nebuchadnezzar himself. "Thou art this head of gold." It was also specifically revealed to the king that the LORD God was to set up a Kingdom that would consume all kingdoms, even Nebuchadnezzar's. "It brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the Great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter." God wanted Nebuchadnezzar to know that his reign was finite. Nebuchadnezzar was not God. His reign was not Eternal. He was not Infinite. Nebuchadnezzar couldn't appreciate the fact that God was trying to reveal the darkness in his heart, and that the outcome of such darkness was destruction, "broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff."
At first confrontation with the revelation in general, the king "fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. 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." However, upon reflection, after an unspecified length of time had passed, the pride in this king who ruled all the Earth, rose in rebellion. Had this "Great God", The Revealer of Secrets, set up this whole dream sequence to put him in his place? Who did this God of Daniel's think He was? God of all gods? Lord of all lords? How dare this "Revealer" threaten his might and power! Didn't Nebuchadnezzar rule All the Earth? Would any on Earth oppose him? Didn't All the Earth bow only to him?
And so, King Nebuchadnezzar decided to set up his
own image. But he would outsmart Daniel's God. King Nebuchadnezzar wouldn't just
be the golden head. Oh, no! He would be ALL GOLD! And then he would prove who was
the real God. He would command the worship of all. Worship belongs only to
God! Therefore, with his plan proudly laid out, and himself preserved in the everlasting
riches of gold, Nebuchadnezzar proceeded.
ebuchadnezzar 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. 2 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. 3 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.
4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a Burning Fiery Furnace.
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.
8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. 9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 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: 11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a Burning Fiery Furnace. 12 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.
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 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? 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 music, 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?"
Here again, Nebuchadnezzar shows the abundance of real hatred he has for God. He is challenging God's right to be God. His fist is clenched in defiance to God's claim over him. NO! It is his own word that rules as his law over his Earth! "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" The depth and degree of contempt are displayed in his "fury". His mouth pours forth the poison of his heart.
"16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the
king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
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. 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."
These three Hebrews knew, that one way or another, God would deliver them. So their answer was given freely and full of conviction. They stood in the faith that only came from strong confidence in the One Who had never failed them, "with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
"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. 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. 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. 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 Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell
down bound into the midst of the Burning Fiery Furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, 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. 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. 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar 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. 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.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Who hath sent His Angel ["the Son of God"], 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. 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. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon."
Notice that Nebuchadnezzar, even after witnessing firsthand that wonderful deliverance, still did not confess the Hebrews' God to be his own.
"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego"
"which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego"
Yes, the king appeared to be impressed. He acknowledged the victory of God's ability to rescue His faithful ones. " Who hath sent His Angel ["the Son of God"], and delivered His servants that trusted in Him." But the impression made wasn't one of submission to the One True God, but of being afraid of God. It frightened him, that God could and would do such a thing-- especially in opposition to 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." This was not a Godly fear which would work reverence, awe, and love for the LORD. This was the fear of devils.
This was Nebuchadnezzar's second opportunity to
experience God's outreach to him. It will take a third effort-- drastic, but effective.
There are many similarities between the account of Nebuchadnezzar and that of the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation. Both ruled the world. Both thought they were God. Both created images to be worshipped. But the grand difference between them was that the revelation of the latter days shown to Nebuchadnezzar, and this miracle of the "Burning Fiery Furnace" were part of a cumulative effect which eventually led to his conversion, whereas, the Antichrist never did get the LORD's message. [Read more about Antichrist in our article, "Antichrist Shall Come" ---New Window by Tom Stewart]
Take heed. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). If your enemies conspire to burn you, the victory is already your's. The LORD causes that you have "quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight" (Hebrews 11:34). He will be with you, and He WILL deliver you. But "if God be" NOT "for us", but instead, He It is that has thrown you into the fire-- there is no escape; no, not for even an Eternity.
"8 We are troubled on every side,
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