[Home] [Daniel] [India Village Ministries] [Bible Study] [Doctrine] [Music Study]

Daniel 3: Idol and Furnace

Chapter 3 - Introduction

Religion and government have often been allied. Nebuchadnezzar will gather all of the local administrators of his government to bow down to a large idol, probably of his god Nabu. Worshiping the god of Babylon (Nabu) will be equivalent to pledging loyalty to Babylon. If Daniel's friends refuse to worship this false god, they will be considered disloyal to the King.

Chapter 2 - Text and Commentary

The Scripture text is BrRon's paraphrase based upon the Web English Bible and the original text.

{3:1} Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits, and the width was six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

It is likely that the statue was hallow, and perhaps made of a wood frame with gold leaf over it. Gold leaf is gold hammered very thin, thinner than paper, and then applied to the surface.

{3:2} Then Nebuchadnezzar the king gathered together the satraps, the deputies, the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the prefects, and all the officials of the provinces to attend the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

satrap - a viceroy or governor as representative of the king.

prefect - a military commander.

{3:3} So the satraps, deputies, governors, judges, treasurers, counselors, prefects, and all the officials of the provinces, were gathered together for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

{3:4} Then the herald cried aloud, "It is commanded to all peoples, nations, and languages,

{3:5} when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up;

zither - a stringed instrument played by plucking the strings, similar to a lyre.

{3:6} and whoever doesn't fall down and worship will immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.

{3:7} Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

{3:8} Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and brought accusation against the Jews.

{3:9} They answered Nebuchadnezzar the king, O king, live for ever.

{3:10} You, O king, have made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image;

{3:11} and whoever doesn't fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

{3:12} There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded you: they don't serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.

{3:13} Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.

{3:14} Nebuchadnezzar answered them, Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don't serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

{3:15} Now if you are ready whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, [well]: but if you don't worship, you 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?

The application of gentile rulers demanding worship and killing those who refuse is typical of despotic rulers of past, present, and future ages, a prime example being the Roman Empire in the early centuries AD. This will be a characteristic of the future tribulation period, although this text is not a specific prophecy of that time.

{3:16} Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.

{3:17} 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 your hand, O king.

{3:18} But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.

This is a greater test than in chapter 1 where they followed Daniel in asking for a vegetable diet. Now they risk their lives in a public setting in Daniel's absence. In that time as well as today, worship of the LORD is an exclusive religion, we cannot adopt other gods alongside of the LORD. For the pagans, this was not so. They could continue the worship of whatever their native gods were in addition to Nabu. This is similar to Hinduism today, with millions of gods, and is a challenge to Christians living in India.

{3:19} Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: [therefore] he spoke, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

{3:20} He commanded certain mighty men who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, [and] to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

{3:21} Then these men were bound in their pants, their tunics, and their mantles, and their [other] garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

{3:22} Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

{3:23} These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

{3:24} Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste: he spoke and said to his counselors, Didn't we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered the king, True, O king.

{3:25} He answered, Look, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods.

It is a common, but unnecessary, inference that the fourth man was the preincarnate Christ. It is just as easily understood as an angel, as Nebuchadnezzar stated in verse 28.

{3:26} Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace: he spoke and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come here. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth out of the midst of the fire.

{3:27} The satraps, the deputies, and the governors, and the king's counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, that the fire had no power on their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed, neither were their pants changed, nor had the smell of fire passed on them.

{3:28} Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

{3:29} Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything evil 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 who is able to deliver after this sort.

{3:30} Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Chapter 3 - Summary

Nebuchadnezzar erected a large gold-covered idol and required his government administrators to bow before it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow. They stated that their God could deliver them from the furnace (presumably the one used to make the idol), but whether He chose to or not, they would bow down before the idol. Nebuchadnezzar had them tied and cast into the furnace. Either an angel, the pre-incarnate Christ, or God Himself was revealed in the form of a man saving them. Nebuchadnezzar then acknowledged the power of the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Chapter 3 - Questions


Unless otherwise stated, the Bible text is from the World English Bible, and is in the public domain.
BrRon's Bible Commentary (C)Copyright 2010 by Ronald Miller, All Rights Reserved

[ Back to Commentary List ]