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Book of Daniel

Daniel Chapter 3
Commentary by Ron Beckham

Verse 1.  "Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits.  He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon."

I’ll bet, if we were able to compare this image with the one in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, (chap. 2, vs. 31 & forward), this one would appear the same as that statue, but with one important difference:  This statue was all gold, instead of only having a HEAD of gold.  In other words, King Nebuchadnezzar had no intention of allowing his kingdom to end, as was indicated in the dream of the statue, previously given him by God.

God gave him a dream indicating that as a man and king, he would be limited (only partly gold) – Nebbie’s response was a statue that was ALL gold.  It’s interesting, by the way, that many who have studied Daniel agree that approximately 20-years passed between chapter 2 (the dream) and the building of this statue.   However, it would have been like YESTERDAY to the king, and the dream would always be a part of his life.

It is very important to see that GOD created the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.   Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, on the other hand, was his own creation, and an insult to God, in that it drew people to idolatry.  It probably was a good copy, but God wants us each to be ORIGINALS, created in Him, in Christ Jesus.  Copies just will not do.

Nebuchadnezzar was stating by his actions that he did not believe God’s word to be true.  Such is our reluctance to see our own vulnerability and our need of God.   We are so slow to recognize that we will not last in this world – We need to trust in God.

Verse 2.  "And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up."

When we fall into error, we often want to convince as many OTHER people as possible, of our "rightness" in the situation.  We want others to join us in our sin.   It is as though by receiving acclaim from others, we might somehow make our fallen lives become acceptable.  It is so incredibly much better to BE true in life; than to be like this king, who was trying to convince others of a lie.  Only God’s kingdom will last.  The works of man are going to fall.

Our lies ultimately don’t succeed, cannot succeed, even though they might fool people and cause harm for a time.  We simply cannot SUSTAIN that which is untrue.   In King Nebbie’s case, there was to be a point in time when he would no longer rule, no matter how much he might try to convince his "satraps and administrators" otherwise.  What image do WE project that isn’t true?   We might even convince ourselves for a while, but time and circumstances will reveal all.

Idolatry (placing your trust in any created thing) is rampant in the world – we need to worship the Creator, rather than His creation.  It is infinitely better to come clean before God that we are just men, and trust in HIM.

Verse 3.  "So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up."

What were they thinking when they stood before that statue?  Probably something along the line of "What’s this pompous ass up to now?" and also "I hope this over soon, so I can get home for the re-runs of the gladitorial events!"   or something like that.  The point is, if you PRETEND to be more than you are, most other people won’t be fooled.  They may HUMOR you, but we do not win the hearts of people with hypocritical behavior.

What did the Italians think of Mussolini in 1944?  What thoughts were going through their minds about him, when his own people hung him and killed him?  He was the fool who led many to death and brought his country to humiliation and ruin.

What are WE looking for when we seek God?  It better not be for popularity, for we might have none.  There are no guarantees of health or wealth here, though they do come to some.  We are promised the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus and that is the most delightful, the most satisfying gift we could ever receive.

Verse 4.  "Then a herald cried aloud: ‘To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages,’"

The herald loudly proclaimed the command of the king.  These days the modern herald (assistant) of the company makes proclamations through memos and e-mails to personnel and customers.

There would have been a lot of confidence here among these people.  Dr. Kevin Lehman has said this proclamation was probably AFTER the 587 BC final overthrow of Jerusalem and the burning of the city.  It is interesting that it is the time of victory in our lives; the times of health, strength and prosperity when we are most likely to forget God and initiate idolatrous practices into our lives.

Verse 5.  "That at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up;"

Religion and government have actually done a lot of good in the world.  External rules of behavior have done much to deter "the evil that lurks in the heart of man" (as Lamont Cranston put it).  Nebuchadnezzar was creating a religion at this point.  The flaw is that when we create godless, idolatrous religion, it may seem good for a time, but it will ultimately end in destruction for all concerned.

Our hearts are not changed by outward rules.  Many of us older people grew up to music that touches the heart and statues in the park that spoke of bravery in past generations.  I am a personal fan of classical music.  Much of it is beautiful to me and often there is an underlying story line in the music that speaks of historical events from long ago.  We need music and historical relevance but we also NEED – so much more.  Things, music, no matter how compelling, just aren’t enough.   We don’t need substitutes – we need the reality of the risen Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts and lives.

Verse 6.  "And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."

This is similar to what happened to the apostles in Acts chapter 5.  A good thing (religion) was badly used – people were being FORCED to adhere to mere outward religious observance.  If God is real and God is good (I am persuaded that He is), then, accept no substitutes – you need HIM.

In Acts 5, the apostles were put in jail (5:18) because they valued God more than outward religion.  The apostles’ response:  "It is better to obey God, rather than men" (Acts 5:29).  The apostles could have died for what they believed, and here was Nebuchadnezzar, hundreds of years before the apostles, drawing the same line in the sand.  If you’ve read the full version of Foxe’s "Book of Martyrs", you are left with the impression that those who have trusted God enough to die for Him have numbered at least in the millions.  In this section of Daniel, we have a description of one such attempt at the martyrdom of believers in God.

Verse 7.  "So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshipped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up."

Most people do not pass the many tests offered by life.  Often, when social pressures come upon us to sin, to "bend" the rules, people give in.  Here, almost all of the people of Babylon gave in to the worship of false religion, with no struggle at all.

Self interest and short-sighted personal goals often are greater to us than conviction and truth.  That’s certainly true these days, when people simply don’t CARE about morality anymore.  Personal fear is greater than moral concerns.   "Why, I might lose my job!"  Or, "What will people think?"   Such responses are the personal motivators of our generation.

As a whole world, we have fallen into sin.  How can God the Father love us, by the way, considering that we are grossly into sin?  How can we know He loves us?  By sending His Son, He showed us His love.

It’s not so only our actions, by the way, that are offensive to God, it is even more our attitudes.  We self-righteously think we are right and others are wrong.   We push God out of the way, concluding that our ideas are somehow better than those of God Almighty, maker of heaven and of earth.

God sent His Son, who paid the price for our sins.  We, the blind, suddenly are enabled to "see" our need of Him.  Receiving Him, we also receive His Spirit, who gradually turns us from the wretchedness of sin to the righteousness of God.   He does it all.

In one way or another, we have all built and served the wrong "god" just like the Babylonians did, but we have the Son of God, and we can be FORGIVEN in Him. Trust in Him today.

Verse 8.  "Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews."

It’s still the same today.  You’re working, trying your best; just heading for retirement; not bothering anybody, when someone changes the rules and then rats you out!  Every generation has its accusers and so does every person. (Sometimes we accuse ourselves best of all).  Trying to keep safe in life through formulas of living doesn’t work, either.  As stated, people keep changing the rules.

Remember, by the way, who these "Chaldeans" were – they were the guys that God (through Daniel) saved from death, about 20-years before.  It’s interesting that sometimes when we help people, they turn on us. The Chaldeans were undoubtedly very relieved when they got off the hook, two decades before, but likely they came to resent Daniel, who did something they could not do.  So they went after Daniel’s three friends.  If they succeeded, Daniel would be next.

Verse 9.  "They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘O king, live forever!’"

This ridiculous statement "O king, live forever" is uttered again.  As though flattering words could prolong his life.  We saw those words in Chapter 2, when the Chaldeans used them in the context of trying to gain time and get information out of the king.

Remember what James (5:17-18) said about Elijah – He was "just a man" (though greater than Nebuchadnezzar because Elijah was a man of prayer).  "Just a man" is true of Churchill, Hitler, rock stars and every person who ever lived – except Jesus Christ.

We tend to put our trust and hope in the wrong people and wrong places.  Remember:   Respect people but trust in God.  The only King who will live forever is God Himself.  In Jesus Christ, His life is imparted to those who look to Him.

Verse 10.  "You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image;"

We all need to THINK (and pray) more, before we put our thoughts into words or laws, in our jobs, our homes, our contacts with people.  We all send out "laws" of behavior to the people around us.  How often the one who does not dress or talk in an "acceptable" manner is scorned by others.

In this incident in Babylon, all people were required, whenever MUSIC was heard, to enter into an act of idolatry.  By always blindly conforming to the society in which we live, we tend to often involve ourselves in idolatrous practices.  Most commonly, we worship mankind itself and its’ accomplishments.  We listen to the "right" music, wear "proper" clothes and even think what we are expected to think.

We are not to be rebels but we are to trust in God more than we trust in men, and to always remember that God the Holy Spirit is in those in Christ, enabling us to see our need to be changed by a Holy God (John 16:8-11).

Verse 11.  "And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."

The punishment for disobeying the king’s form of idolatry was – death!   If we are not in conformity with the world around us, there is a kind of social "death" which can follow us all of our lives.  I don’t think we should ever be deliberately foolish in our actions, and again, we are not rebels.  It’s enough that the world tends to decide we are out of step by regarding the "message of the Cross" to be "foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1:18).  We do not choose death; we choose LIFE – but sometimes the world chooses "death" for us.

One thing here – We ARE promised persecution ("all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecution – 2 Timothy 3:12).  However, we do not seek that persecution or act in a bizarre manner that will bring it on ourselves.   Sometimes we are persecuted because we have annoying personalities and only THINK it is because of our faith.  Let us "examine ourselves" (2 Corinthians 13:5) and then make TRUE judgments about what we should and should not do in life.

Verse 12.  "There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you.  They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up."

Now, this gets very PERSONAL.  Here comes the accusation, and it’s got YOUR name written on it. What would we (YOU) do?

Note that our disobedience to authority (these three did disobey authority) should NEVER be in relation to that which is superficial.  To experience public humiliation, it is important that it is God’s issue, for His purposes, and not our own.   Again, we don’t ever need to go looking for trouble like this – it will find us.  When it comes, we neither run away, nor do we place our trust and hope in the wrong places, the wrong people.

Notice again that the three "Hebrew boys" were respectful to the king but they TRUSTED in God.

Verse 13.  "Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king."

This is an incredible and impressive flaw in the person of King Nebuchadnezzar.   "Outbursts of wrath," by the way, is one of the "works of the flesh" listed in Galatians 5:20.  If you have that problem, stay in prayer (persist like Daniel), and God ultimately will heal your anger.  (He did heal mine).   Such behavior ALWAYS leads to other problems.  The husband or wife who operates in "rage and fury" will kill the marriage by destroying the hope of the other person.

These three men had undoubtedly proven themselves on many occasions to be faithful to the king.  A lot of employers don’t realize that Godly employees will truly SERVE the employer out of love for God.  Hitler destroyed loyal, industrious German citizens when he attacked the Jews.  Our government should recognize that by quibbling about "separation of church and state" and discouraging prayer, we attack some of OUR most loyal and industrious citizens.

Verse 14.  "Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?’"

Here’s their chance!  All they have to do is say a "little" lie – just "schmooze" the king a little bit and only "pretend" to worship his statue.  Others were probably doing precisely that, right at that very moment.  Actually, we do not, as Christians, have the "partial" lie or the "white" lie as part of our repertoire.  Where it says we are to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15), it means we are to be gentle (not harsh) in our honesty; it never allows us to "shade" the truth in any way.

He is now waiting for their answer.

Verse 15.  "Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good!  But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.   And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"

This is nice and clear cut – do it my way or you die!  There’s a lot of that in the world, and these kind of ultimatums occur a lot in marriage.  Most of what we call "substance" in life is really "style" – a way of doing things and approaching problems.  There are almost as many styles as there are people in the world, and different methods often work just as well. LISTEN to your spouse, co-worker, boss, your subordinate, your friend – Doing it HIS way might – work!

That’s true with religion, but with an important difference:  There may be just one way our of a burning building (an apt analogy to the fiery furnace) and we would be wise to take that way – no other.  Go that way and you live.  Go down another corridor and no matter how appealing it may seem, you die.  God is so HOLY that if we stood in His Presence right now, unchanged, sinful as we are, we would instantly be vaporized.

Now, IN the fire, we COULD wear a fireproof suit and be protected from injury, and that is how it is in Christ.  We ARE in the fire of this life - in Christ, we are saved from the this life and, from the fires of hell.  In Christ, we safely come into the Presence of the Father.  Jesus said "I am the way" (John 14:6).  And, as Mark Behrens said, "those that know Him will want to bring OTHERS" out of the building also.

Nebuchadnezzar here makes a great mistake, challenging God by asking, "who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"  He was about to see an aspect of Jehovah God, (in the New Testament He is called "Jesus Christ") – the aspect that God loves and protects His people.  And He also has vengeance for those who would disparage His Name and harm His little ones.

Verse 16.  "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.’"

There are times to talk and times when all the talking is over.  We hear so many sermons and read a lot of books.  Jesus Christ is not words, He is THE Word, the Son of God.  We are all faced with death, and in such a setting, our beliefs are really important.  Either He will deliver us or not; we are redeemed or we are not.   This was not the time for words, but for ACTION.

Nebuchadnezzar would mock, they would have faith, and God would either deliver them or not.

Verse 17.  "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king."

God is ABLE.  As we see in Hebrews, chapter 11, sometimes He delivers us from our immediate trouble, and sometimes not.  The outcome is basically irrelevant to us, because we will all die and therefore any deliverance, no matter how profound, is temporary in nature.

What are you afraid of?  Sickness?  Loss?  Death?  Embarrassment?   Ridicule?

Jesus said that we need not fear them (Matthew 10:28); rather "fear HIM who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."   The only One who can truly destroy us is also the one who loves us and He sent His Son to die for our sins.

And He DOES deliver those who trust in Him.

Verse 18.  "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

We serve no other gods.  Oh that this were true in our lives!  When we watch "that" TV show; visit a questionable place, take credit ourselves for something God has done, enthrone our spouse or some other person – who do we serve?  What will we do if we are pressed to the extent that these three men were pushed?  Don Araiza pointed out that the enemy is often subtle in this area, attempting to destroy faith "by drawing people from God to the cares of this world."

To love God truly is BETTER than all this world can offer.  As we saw in chapter 1, these men lost more than most of us, yet they kept their trust in Him.  They joined Job:  "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15).   If you, for some reason, lose it all, you do not lose God, unless that is what you secretly wanted, for you can only lose, with Him, what you never had.

Verse 19.  "Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.   Therefore he spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated."

We’re going to see, in chapter 4, that Nebuchadnezzar eventually went completely nuts.  Long before it happened, however, the seeds of self-destruction were deeply planted within him.  The works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20 & context) were very much a part of his life, including idolatry (as we see here), sorcery, hatred, contentiousness, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, and so on.  And, of course, we see these somewhat in us all.  I think, when it says "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), it includes the meaning we are all, to some extent, mentally ill.  (Why else would we deny Him in so many ways?)  The only truly sane Person we’re going to encounter in this life is God.  When we receive Him, He brings sanity with Him.

Verse 20.  "And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace."

Like David, Nebuchadnezzar had "mighty men" under his command – these were the best of the best.  He didn’t NEED these men for the killing of three Hebrew "boys."  It’s interesting that "outbursts of anger" (as mentioned in the preceding verse) can lead us to unnecessary and excessive responses.   These Hebrew men were not really dangerous to him, except that he had been embarrassed by them.

There’s a factor in Nebuchadnezzar’s response that underlies all "works of the flesh" which is called "pride."  A common denominator in all sin is pride.  Actually, none of us can really do anything right, except God, through His wonderful intervention - enables us.  If I am poor and you give me $100.00, how can I boast in what I have?  I could only boast in YOU who gave me the money.   God gives us everything and we can only boast in Him.

Nebuchadnezzar was extremely proud and such an attitude inevitably leads to destruction.

Verse 21.  "Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace."

Notice the eye witness nature of the testimony here.  (We often get lost in abstract principles and forget that, in the Bible, we are dealing with flesh and blood men and women).  A non-witness would have just said they were cast into the furnace.   An eye-witness is struck by the details of such a shocking event and would notice things like the clothing they wore.

Who was this witness?  It wasn’t likely to be Daniel himself, for he would not have bowed before the statue, either.  I believe he was too high in his position to be attacked at that time.  These three guys were probably a test of how far their enemies could go.  If it went OK with them, Daniel would likely have been next.   It could have been Shadrach and the others themselves, who told these things to Daniel at a later time.  But it sounds like the key witness was OUTSIDE of the furnace, looking at what happened from the king’s perspective  It could have been one or more of Daniel’s assistants, or likely the king himself later breathlessly told Daniel what he saw, and Daniel then recorded it in his journal (which we call the Book of Daniel).

Verse 22.  "Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego."

These "mighty men" were killed because the furnace was "exceedingly hot."  The real reason they died was because of the anger of Nebuchadnezzar.   His pride, expressed through anger when his statue was not honored, killed his very best men.  And what a revelation of the intensity of the fire!  This was a killer fire and no one could survive it unless God Himself intervened to save them.

Sometimes, you are approached by people who insist that you must worship a specific way or adopt a certain doctrine.  It’s always courteous to listen – who knows, they might have something important to say!  But we do not worship that which is false.  We test the spirits and trust in God.

The faith of these Hebrew men had led them to certain death – the death of the soldiers proves the risk they took.  Sometimes, perhaps often – to just go on is not enough.  Words like "integrity" and "honesty" come to mind, but those words only have real validity in relation to our God.  We don’t even know what "honest" and "true" mean, until we come to Him.  They chose God & sometimes to choose Him is to choose death.

He is Just and Honest and True, and He loves you.  Is He worth dying for?   Yes, He is.

Verse 23.  "And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace."

We should all remember these verses someday, when it seems like our lives may be at an end.  You may have been cast into the fiery furnace of circumstances that are completely out of your control.  As stated before, our youth can be gone, health ruined, fired from the job, divorced, widowed, reputation damaged beyond all retrieval – all is lost.  Or is it?

"It ain’t over ‘till it’s over" and "NOTHING (Romans 8:38-39) can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus."  You can never truly die, when GOD is part of the basic equation of your life.  He loves each one and ALWAYS (if not in this life; then in the next) turns "disasters" into complete victories – for YOU!  It’s never the "end" with God.

Verse 24.  "Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast those men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’"

We become complacent, don’t we?  One day is like another, but there are many "zaps" in life, and some of them will change us utterly.  As with Nebuchadnezzar, God is waiting to astonish us.  Most, God wants to surprise us with His love.  If that doesn’t catch our attention, He will allow increasingly shocking events into our lives.  These will become negative, as time goes on, but not at all for a "bad" reason.  Just as the skilled surgeon must remove the sick flesh so we can be healthy, God intends to remove our sin, and then His HEALTH will fill our lives.

The shocks will come, but God loves you.  Never forget His love.

Verse 25.  "'Look!' he answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’"

You have to see the setting of these events:  There were dead men all over the place.  His "mighty men" had just been killed and their remains were right in front of the furnace.  They could not only been seen, they could be SMELLED and it would not have been pleasant.  And here, not on the periphery where his men died, but in the very heart of certain death, FOUR unbound persons walked, not three.

There was something DIFFERENT about the unexpected One, this fourth "Man."   He was "like the Son of God."  That’s because He WAS the Son of God.  Jesus Christ is with you right now.  Whatever trouble you may be in, He understands it fully and He stays by your side in every difficulty.  That’s not so surprising when you consider that He DIED for you.  If He was willing to DIE for you; then you can be sure He certainly lives WITH you.

Tennessee Williams wrote, "We all live in a house on fire, with no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it" ("The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore," 1963).  I agree with Tennessee's concern but God has given us Jesus Christ and He is the Fire Department we can call.  He will send His Holy Spirit, who will put out the fire.  He is waiting with outstretched arms of love.

Verse 26.  "Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.’  Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire."

Notice he didn’t ask the Other Guy to come out.  The thought would probably have terrified him, for Nebuchadnezzar now had complete evidence that HE, the king, was a sinner.  He referred to them as "servants of the Most High God," which he already knew from past dealings with them and their countryman, Daniel.  It was now CONFIRMED again that they were of God, and he (Nebuchadnezzar) was the guy who had just tried to kill them!  Such a man would feel uneasy and NOT ask the fourth Man to come out!

Notice there is a time when your trials will end.  Just like Lazarus came back from the dead, and these men walked out of the fire, Jesus Christ longs to deliver you.   Some will be delivered in this life and others in eternity.  He may use a man like Nebuchadnezzar to call us out of the fire, but He does not need a man & He is with you right now.

Verse 27.  "And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them."

Fire has no power over you.  I know an excellent Christian man in Tucson, named Joe, who had been terribly burned in an automobile fire.  Before that happened, he had been a brilliant, DRIVEN man, with no time for anything really, except his work.   The fire changed him, and that intense, driven, fiery individual, became a gentle, marvelous testimony of God’s healing in the lives of people.

Fire has no power over you.  Neither does a murderer, or disease, or any other created thing.  NOTHING "shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).  Nothing.  We may die in a fire tomorrow, or be torn apart by some road-raged lunatic on the freeway, but all that would happen is that we are gently led to be with our Lord; free from all sin and death.

There are no guarantees of OUTWARD success in this world, in this flesh.  But if we, in Christ, were to "die" tomorrow, it would just mean that our Holy, loving God, has just said "Enough" to this sinful life and brought us home to safety with Him.  If we are IN Him, we will always be WITH Him.

Notice even the SMELL of the fire did not cling to them.  If you’ve ever been around barbecues, fires and fireplaces, you know there is a distinctive, gritty smell which clings to everything.  But not these guys!  God has the power to get you through life so effortlessly that even the SMELL of trouble will not cling.  If difficulties DO grab us, He has a good purpose in allowing it to be so.

Fire has no power over you.

Verse 28.  "Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!’"

Why does God allow bad things to happen to "good" people?  Sometimes we are amazingly delivered like these men.  Joe, in Tucson, was delivered, but only AFTER he was terribly disfigured for the rest of this life on earth.  This trouble brought him to God.

The purpose here was to bring people to God.  If we hear there is a child-murderer on the loose, our response is to find our children and bring them home!  There is SIN in this world, which, whether you know it or not, is worse than fire, and God wants to bring you safely HOME to Him.

The immediate circumstances of these verses were designed so that guys like you, and Nebuchadnezzar, and me, would hear about these things and come to "bless" God.   The word "bless" actually means "happy."  How do we make God happy?  By trusting in Him.  God wants to bless you, as well.   And when you catch that; when you really SEE that God's PURPOSE in all that is happening is for your ultimate HAPPINESS; you'll say "Oh, I SEE," and love Him.   Those who really SEE His love for His people; will love Him in return.

Verse 29.  "Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this."

The decrees of men do not last.  Your credit history is not permanent and neither is your employment record.  Here is Nebuchadnezzar, making another one of his expansive decrees, which might have lasted 10-years or 20, but certainly did not last long.  The "Hebrew children" were delivered from the fire, but they subsequently died, by the way (I have not heard of them out there, walking around).   The same for Lazarus (the brother of Mary and Martha) who was literally raised from the grave.  He lived again but only for awhile.

Being delivered is WONDERFUL, but the best deliverance of all is when He receives us, right here on earth, into the joy of the Lord.

Verse 30.  "Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon."

Promotions are good.  But Daniel himself is a good example that promotions don’t last.  He would go in and out of power, all of his long life, at the whim of some monarch or another.

But, as we saw earlier, "fire has no power over us" and neither do the circumstances of our lives.  They may be good or bad for awhile and then go the other way.  Things change and you can’t really depend on anything or anyone, even yourself.  But, "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) and through the Son of God, you can be sure - You are SAFE in Him.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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