Friday 4 March 2016

Daniel 3 Commentary : Nebuchadnezzar Image and Daniel's Friends in The Fiery Furnace

It is interesting how man tries to copy things or objects that God reveals to them or has created. In most cases this often leads him to idolatry when those man made images are seen as items of worship.

This appears to the case with King Nebuchadnezzar who decides to erect his own image after God gives him a dream of a statue in Daniel 2. The statue made up of various metals was God's way of telling him the rise and fall of successive world empires in history to the very end of time. 

According to the interpretation of the dream, Nebuchadnezzar was represented by the head of gold. However, Nebuchadnezzar decides to erect an image different from the statue that he saw in his dream in that it is all made of one metal, gold.

What is the difference between the image in Daniel 2 and Daniel 3?

  • The image in Daniel 2 is shown in a dream while the image in Daniel 3 is a real image.
  • In Daniel 2, it is a revelation from God while in Daniel 3 is the initiative of King Nebuchadnezzar.
  • In Daniel 2 the image is a prediction about the future of the world while in Daniel 3 it is the king's wishful thinking about the future.
  • In Daniel 2 the image is made of different metals but in Daniel 3 it is all of pure gold.
  • In Daniel 2 God is the highest authority while in Daniel 3 the king is the highest authority.
  • In Daniel 2 the image is not related to worship while in Daniel 3 the image is an object of worship

In Daniel 2 the interpretation says that Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold. However in Daniel 3 Nebuchadnezzar decides that the whole image should be made of gold. In other words he is trying to suggest that contrary to God's word his kingdom would be perpetual and not followed by any other kingdom. This is rebellion against God.

Who Were Summoned to The Dedication of This Image?

In Daniel 3:2,3 the dignitaries of the Babylonian kingdom are summoned to the plain of Dura to worship this image. While Daniel himself was not present his three friends Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego are present.

All the top officials of the kingdom from all over the Babylonian kingdom are called upon to this dedication. It was a who is who meeting.

What Would Worship of the Image Express? Daniel 3:4-6.

It is clear from reading this chapter that worshiping this image was a recognition of King Nebuchadnezzar as supreme lord and submission to him.

I also think that King Nebuchadnezzar was trying to force his people to see him as a kind of god.

It is also a denial of the true God. It is was a rejection of the first and second commandment of the Decalogue.

Nebuchadnezzar was also trying to show that his gods are superior to other gods and the true God.

Why Did King Nebuchadnezzar order right away the death penalty for the case of disobedience to his command to worship the image?

In a totalitarian regime to disobey the leader's commands is seen as rebellion and suppressed immediately. This is still true today in totalitarian regimes such as North Korea.

Dictators do not tolerate disobedience as they see it as a danger to their absolute authority. It also affects the unity of their empires or countries. 

How Did Daniel's Three Friends React to A Call To Worship the Image?

As one writer has pointed out crowds don't make good decisions, crowds are used, manipulated and thus abused by influential people. Truth is not found in a majority. 

There is a danger in following a crowd. It was a crowd that called for Christ's crucifixion.  

Men like Hitler have manipulated crowds through various ways e.g. oratory.

This was the case here as well where everyone, except the three friends of Daniel, decided to worship the image. It takes a lot of courage to stand for the truth when everyone around us is not. It was even worse here as their lives were in danger as well.

When these three friends are brought before the king and given a second chance they still insist that they will not change their stance no matter what. This makes the king even more furious.

While they believe that God is capable of saving them they also know that He does not always intervene. Daniel's three friends are determined to be faithful to God no matter the consequences.

Daniel's friends understanding is that God does not say that believers are somehow exempt from evil and challenges. They believe that God is not under obligation to save them from all danger. 

They however believe that they cannot let go of God in case He does not intervene. They have a personal relationship of trust and love with the Lord.

Daniel's Friends in The Fiery Furnace.

In his wrath the King orders that the three Hebrew friends should be thrown in the fiery furnace which has been heat seven times hotter. The heat of the furnace kills the warriors throwing the three Hebrew men into the furnace. 

Babylon is renowned for the various kilns in the land and this furnace may have been one of these kilns. These kilns were used to bake bricks.

Though the soldiers throwing them into the furnace are killed, the three Hebrew men do not die but walk freely around in the fire and a fourth man joins them. His appearance is described as a son of the gods or the Son of God (vs. 28, 29 suggest the second option). 

God has intervened to save His faithful servants.

Nebuchadnezzar's Reaction: Consequences of God's Miracle

The bible says that Nebuchadnezzar calls the three Hebrew men to come out of the furnace. His anger against them is turned to appreciation of their faithfulness and unwillingness to compromise.

Nebuchadnezzar recognizes the true God of heaven and issues a command in favor of God. The king also promotes the three Hebrew men.

Let's all dare to be like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.

Below is a video discussion of this bible study on Daniel 3 as seen on 3ABN.

Click here for the next study: Daniel chapter 4.


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