“Well may he smell fire, whose gown burns.” –George Herbert
After Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream was correctly interpreted, the king was so joyful that he fell prostrate before Daniel and said, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal the mystery.” He then ordered that Daniel be recognized as ruler over the entire province of Babylon. Daniel responded by asking if he could remain in the royal court and appoint assistants over the province. The request was granted, and Daniel’s friends, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael became administrators over the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:46-49)./1
Nebuchadnezzar then went out to build a golden image on the plain of Dura. Since this endeavor followed his dream of an enormous statue, perhaps he did it to prove that he was the most powerful king on earth (Daniel 2:31-38)./2 After the construction was completed, he summoned his officials to a dedication of the image. Daniel’s three friends were among that number, and they heard the following command, “At the sound of music, all are to fall down and worship the golden image”(Daniel 3:)./3
When the music started, everyone bowed down except for the three Hebrews. They stood, refusing to compromise their faith in God. Seeing their defiance, some jealous officials reported to the king, and he ordered them to comply (Daniel 3:13-15). Fully resigned to do God’s will, they withstood the threat of death and responded, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
The king was furious and could not understand why these Hebrews refused to obey him. In his anger, he commanded that a brick kiln be heated seven times hotter than usual and ordered his strongest warriors to throw the three Hebrews into the furnace (Daniel 3:19-23)./4 The command was so urgent, and the fire so fervid, that it killed those who threw them into the blaze. At that moment, God revealed his power to Nebuchadnezzar.
Sitting in his royal chair, the king leaped to his feet when four men appeared walking around in the fire. “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like the son of the gods.”/5. Approaching the door he shouted, “Servants of the most high God, come out!” Complying, the three Hebrews stepped out the fire and into the crowd.
They were unharmed. Not a single singed hair or burnt garment could be found, nor did they smell of smoke. Indeed, the God of Israel had rescued them from the powerful king of Babylon (Daniel 3:24-30).
This story of faith occurred over two thousand years ago, yet contemporary stories of faith are still taking place today. In an email on January 23, 2007, from Tamil Nadu, India, Don Iverson writes: “Arriving in Kuthan Guli I was so anxious to see brother Jeba and his wife. They were baptized shortly after the tsunami and immediately started teaching thirty children in their village. The church grew mightily there and on my first visit there were more than 100 souls gathered for worship… We talked at length and Jeba explained how so many of the brethren were suffering. Jeba himself is a professional driver and recently bought a new vehicle. The entire village was warned that no one should use his services because he is a member of the church of Christ. Jeba has had one fare in fifteen days and wonders how he will make his car payment. A rat was running around our feet as Jeba went on to explain how the officials had come to him and offered a free brand new house if he would only leave the church of Christ and stop the meeting in the back yard. This man, who now has vipers living in his grass ceiling/roof said flatly, ‘No!’ He would rather suffer for Christ.”
In Jeba’s village, people are fined $220 when they are caught worshipping Christ. What will you do if it becomes this painful to follow God? Will your faith bring God the glory? Christian, are you up for the task?
“Ye that are men now serve Him
Against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger,
And strength to strength oppose.”
— George Duffield
1./ Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were given new names after they arrived in Babylon. All four of their Hebrew names contained El or Yah. El means God, and Yah means Yahweh. Their names were change to honor the Babylonian gods. Their Babylonia names were Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1:6,7).
2./ The breadth of the golden image was six cubits (nine feet), and the height was sixty cubits (ninety feet). The full story of Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold and the fiery furnace is found in Daniel 3:1-30.
3./ The words lyre (zither), trigon (harp), and bagpipes (pipes) are the only Greek words in the book of Daniel. When the music was played, Nebuchadnezzar was using the latest imported music from Greece.
4./ Since there was a scarcity of wood in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s city was built out of kiln-fired bricks. These furnaces were dome-shaped, with a hole in the top and a door at the bottom. The temperature was controlled by bellows forcing air into the furnace chamber.
5./ Nebuchadnezzar was a polytheistic pagan. He used the phrase “son of the gods”, which referred to a lesser heavenly being sent by the gods.
Faith Brings Glory to God