Worship or Die (Part 1)
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a story we all know well. Who does not know how these three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace and came out alive? Nebuchadnezzar made an image and required the leaders of his kingdom and people there to worship it or die if they don’t. This story is just like a fairy tale, which have a beautiful ending. However, the events recorded here are historically true.
The devil tempts us to destroy our faith, but God tests us to develop our faith, because a faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted. False faith withers in times of trial, but true faith takes deeper root, grows, and brings glory to God. This explains why God permitted the three Hebrew men to be tested and then thrown into the fiery furnace. The Apostle Peter must have been well acquainted with the Book of Daniel because he used the metaphor of the “fiery trial” when he warned his readers of the persecutions about to come to the church (1 Peter 1:7; 4:12).
The experience of these three men helps us examine our own faith and determine whether we have the kind of authentic faith that can be tested and bring glory to God. (The Bible Exposition Commentary)
I. The Golden Statue (Dan. 3:1)
A. The Idolatrous Image
1. Its Maker – Nebuchadnezzar
2. Its Material – Gold
3. Its location – On the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Dura was a common name in Mesopotamia for any place that was enclosed by mountains or a wall.
Note: There is one obvious difference between the image of chapter 2 and chapter The image in the dream had a head of gold, whereas the constructed image was all gold. This shows the king’s pride and arrogance. According to Dan. 7:25, this will be the characteristic of the Antichrist.
B. Its Measurements- H = 60 cubits, W= 6 cubits (1 score = 20)
1 cubit is 18 inches or 90 ft. x 9 ft. (about the size of an 8-story building).
Assuming the thickness is 4 ½ ft. The dimensions 90 x 9 x 4 ½ = 3645 cubic ft or 4,400,000 pounds.
C. Notice also that it was made up of combination of SIX- the number of man (Rev. 13:14-17; 2 Thess. 2:4.)
In Rev. 13:18, we are given the number of the Antichrist – 666
The fact that one of the 6’s is missing in Nebuchadnezzar’s image possibly indicates that the rebellious system was not yet fully developed.
D. Its Magnificence- standing all alone
The king must have done this to consolidate his empire through a common religion. This is the second of the three great attempt of man to institute a one world religion. The first occurred at the tower of Babel (Gen. 11), and the last will take place in Jerusalem during the Tribulation (Rev. 13).
Illustration/Application: Other Gods
What other gods could we have besides the Lord? Plenty. For Israel there were the Canaanite Baals, those jolly nature gods whose worship was a rampage of gluttony, drunkenness, and ritual prostitution. For us there are still the great gods Sex, Shekels, and Stomach (an unholy trinity constituting one god: self), and the other enslaving trio, Pleasure, Possessions, and Position, whose worship is described as “The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Football, the Firm, and Family are also gods for some. Indeed the list of other gods is endless, for anything that anyone allows to run his life becomes his god and the claimants for this prerogative are legion. In the matter of life’s basic loyalty, temptation is a many-headed monster.
Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for April 17
II. The Decree of the Proud King (Dan. 3:2-3)
A. The Dedication Day.
1. People of all nations present there would fall down and worship the golden image.
2. History will repeat itself in the future! This ancient event has its counterpart the ecumenical movement and the “one-world” globalism of today- which is heading straight towards the Babylon prophesied in Rev. 17 & 18.
B. The Melodious Music – Music affects the emotions- good or bad
1. The instruments – cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer. (Note that there were SIX kinds of instruments
2. The Instructions – they were to worship the image when they hear the music. Nebuchadnezzar here is a picture of the Antichrist.
3. Nebuchadnezzar was wise to use instrumental music because it could stir the people’s emotions and make it easy for him to manipulate them and win their submission and obedience. Throughout history, music and song have played an important role in strengthening nationalism, motivating conquest, and inspiring people to act. Music has the power so to grip human thoughts and emotions that people are transformed from being free agents into becoming mere puppets. The English poet William Congreave wrote that “music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” but music also has power to release the savage in the breast. Music can be used as a wonderful tool and treasure from the Lord or as a destructive weapon from Satan.
C. Eight Categories of Officers
1. Satraps were the highest political officials of the king.
2. Prefects (princes) were military commanders.
3. Governors were civil administrators.
4. Advisors were high ranking judges.
5. Treasurers administered the treasury of the kingdom.
6. Judges administrated the law established by the advisors.
7. Magistrates issued judgments of the law
D. The punishment (Dan. 3:6)
1. Those who would not fall down will be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Death by Incineration. (See Rev. 13:15 for the future repetition of this event)
The purpose of the erection of this image was to consolidate Nebuchadnezzar’s authority. The image was to be the central symbol of his reign. The addition of worship indicates that this event had religious as well as political implications. Nebuchadnezzar’s subjects were to recognize both his political and religious authority. Failure to comply meant death – turn or burn.
This may be another attempt at forming a one world government and religion. Worship here is forced worship. We can find no individual volition here.
III. The Jews Refusal to Worship the Idol (Dan. 3:8-12)
A. Daniel’s 3 Friends
1. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were Daniel’s friends who were raised to
positions of authority through Daniel’s request to the king (Dan. 2:48-49).
2. In Daniel 2 we don’t see their faith, but in chapter 3 we see that they were as genuine in their faith in the true and living God as Daniel was.
B. The Accusations:
1. Have not regarded thee:
2. They serve not thy gods,
3. Did not worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Ex. 20:4-6, Acts 5:29)
Although Christians will be kept from the coming worldwide Tribulation (Rev. 3:10, 1Thess. 5:9), we may well be severely tested for our faith as many of our Baptist forebears were. Should we pass through such a time, may we resolve, like these three Jews, to be true to our Saviour no matter what! (Phil. 1:21)
IV. The rage of the king (Dan. 3:13)
A. Rage means violent anger accompanied with furious words, gestures or agitation; anger excited to fury. Passion sometimes rises to rage. (Webster)
B. The word rendered “fury” means “wrath; a storm of anger; madness; turbulence. Nebuchadnezzar was a man of violent passions. He can kill or command others to kill with no regret. Cruel man as he is, there is still some godly fear and religiosity within him
Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image to symbolize the empire and its unity under his kingship. It has both political and religious implication in that people must recognize his political and religious authority. The three friends of Daniel refused to obey the king and worship the golden image. This of course caused the king’s fury. We will continue this next week.