King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:1
King Nebuchadnezzar set up a huge image in the plain of Dura so that so it would be visible from afar off and there would be room for a vast number of worshippers to gather. The image was 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. It was most likely not made of solid gold, but either of gold plate over a wooded frame, or it was hollow. The ratio of height to width may indicate that this was either a stylized slender image or an obelisk.
In Hebrew, seven is shevah. It is from the root word savah, which means to be full, satisfied, or have enough of. Hence the meaning of the word “seven” is dominated by this root, for on the seventh day God rested from the work of Creation. It was full, complete, good and perfect. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection.
The spiritual significance of the number six, which is the number of man who was created on the sixth day, is that man comes short of spiritual perfection.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23
Six is the number of imperfection. It is the human number; the number of man without God, without Christ.
Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. This idolatrous statue was ten times six cubits in height and six cubits wide. These sixes are connected to Nebuchadnezzar’s godless imperfection of human pride which was the result of his unchallenged dominion over his empire.
This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. Revelation 13:18
To compute the number of the Antichrist, his name must be written out in Hebrew so that the value of each letter of his name is determined and then added together. The total sum will be 666. The son of perdition will fall short body, soul and spirit. He will be carnal, soulish and devilish.
He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. Daniel 3:2-3
Although Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue in which only the gold head represented him and his Babylonian kingdom, he now summons all of his provincial officials to assemble before a statue that was overlaid with gold from head to toes.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” Daniel 3:4-6
Nebuchadnezzar had assembled musicians from all over the civilized world to form his orchestra. As soon as the sound of six instruments was heard, the provincial rulers and administrators from all the nations that comprised the Babylonian Empire were to bow down and worship the image of gold or be thrown into a fiery furnace. Furnaces in Babylon were associated with the firing of bricks which were widely used in construction of buildings in the absence of stone.
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Daniel 3:7
When the music played, all of the men of importance and ruling authority of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom fell facedown before a lifeless idol. Through the love of music, the fear of the furnace, in regard to pagan idolatry, and to the king’s command, men of all nations and languages gave it homage and worship.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:8-12
The astrologers came to criticize the Jews and suggest to the king that he had made a grievous error by promoting Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to a place of authority in Babylon. According to the astrologers, these Jews, who by way of their birth, by nation, and religion are despicable foreigners, exiles, and captives, were improper persons to be put in places of honor and trust. This is evident since they neither serve the king’s gods nor worship the image of gold that the king erected.
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Daniel 3:13-15
The three Hebrew young men who refuse to bow down to the king’s giant image–suddenly find themselves being offered a second chance from the king himself. But the king’s offer is heavily laced with threats.
King Nebuchadnezzar in his pride and arrogance declared, “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Had he forgotten his very own words in response to Daniel’s interpretation of his dream of an enormous statue?
“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” Daniel 2:45-47
The King was humbled when the Babylonian wise men and their gods were unable to reveal his dream and interpret it, but only the God of Israel was proven to be the revealer of mysteries. Now in his pride, Nebuchadnezzar forgot that it was the God of heaven that gave him his dominion and power and could rescue these Jews from his hand.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”Daniel 3:16-18
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Luke 12:4-5
Even with the prospect of being thrown alive into a blazing furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not hesitate whether or not they should comply with the king’s command. They knew that must obey God rather than man. They believed that God would deliver them, either from death or in death.
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. Daniel 3:19-20
Nebuchadnezzar burst into an uncontrollable rage at the reply of the three Hebrews. He would not be defied and ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual (meaning as hot as possible).
So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Daniel 3:21-23
The furnace was so hot that in fact, that the guards whom he detailed to bind the prisoners and throw them into the furnace, themselves perished in the flames. But that did not stop the three from falling in.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25
It seems that the brick kiln was a domed structure with a place at the bottom for the removal of ashes. Apparently, he looked through the hole in the bottom and saw the young men walking about.
A Christophany is an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament, or after his ascension. A Christophany is thus a special case of a theophany. The word, “Theophany” is derived from the Ancient Greek, meaning “appearance of God.” Whenever someone received a visit from “the angel of the LORD,” this was in fact the pre-incarnate Christ. The visible appearances of God in human or angelic form in the Old Testament, is actually the Son of God manifesting Himself prior to His incarnation. The fourth man in the fire was the Son of God. He most probably had a radiant appearance since the king said that the fourth man looked supernatural.
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, Daniel 3:26
Note that the king calls the three Hebrew men by name but makes no mention of the fourth man. The king gives glory to the God that he had just mocked and calls Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego servants of the Most High God. Although Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged Yehovah to be supreme above other gods, he still did not cease to believe in these other gods.
and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Daniel 3:27
Whether or not these officials had seen the supernatural companion of the three Jewish men, they were now able to bear testimony to the fact that the three friends had escaped a fiery death. This event was all the more important to the Babylonians since Iz-bar, the Babylonian god of fire, was a god high in the pantheon of the many gods they worshipped.
The God of Israel was thus manifested as so much greater than Iz-bar, that he could deliver his servants even in the very element in which Iz-bar had his power. The fact that their “robes” were not burned, and not even a hair singed, while the cords that had been used to bind them were consumed, emphasizes their supernatural deliverance. Although the cords were consumed, the garments of these servants of Yehovah were preserved even from the smell of fire.
The Babylonians had conquered the city of Yehovah, had burned his temple, and had done this through the power of Marduk or so they thought. But here Bel-Marduk had been openly defied by three worshippers of Yehovah. They had been hurled into the very element of Iz-bar, the servant and ally of Marduk, yet the fire had been unable to harm them or vindicate the honor of Bel-Marduk. What emphasized this was that the fire that spared the servants of Yehovah slew the followers of Bel-Marduk who were eager to show their reverence for Marduk by throwing these Jehovah-worshippers into the furnace. Such a miracle, witnessed before all the high dignitaries of the Babylonian Empire, would go far to diminish the scorn and ridicule of the God of Israel who allowed the destruction of Jerusalem.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Daniel 3:28-29
The Jews had been exiled for seventy years because of their failure to observe the seventh year as a year of rest for the land. This act as well as, intermarriage, idol worship and other sins of the nation, resulted in the people being taken into captivity. The mighty miracle of God that delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would serve to both encourage the Jews to observe the Torah during their captivity and cured them from idolatry. After the return to the Promised Land from Babylon, the Jews never practiced idolatry again.
The king commends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s defiance of his decree.
Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:29-30
The king who threatened anyone who did not worship the image he erected with being thrown into a blazing furnace now threatens anyone who says anything against the God of Israel with being cut into pieces. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to save face amongst his subjects and wanted to insure that no one in his empire would ridicule him or attempt to defy his decrees as did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
The Jews that Nebuchadnezzar meant to destroy were now elevated into even higher positions of authority and influence in Babylon.
If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. Deuteronomy 28:1