Daniel
Introduction 1 The Golden Picture 2-7 The Dedication of the Image 8-12 The Three Friends Charged 13-15 The Ultimatum 16-18 Fearless Testimony 19-22 Cast into the Midst of the Fire 23-25 The Fourth Man in the Fire 26-27 Out of the Fire 28-30 The Testimony of Nebuchadnezzar
Introduction

In the book of Daniel two themes are dealt with. The first theme is the history of the four empires during “the times of the Gentiles” (Lk 21:2424and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.). These times began when Israel was no longer the people of God. They last until the moment that Israel will again be God’s people. About that time is spoken in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. That is the time of the fifth empire, the empire over which the Son of man, the Lord Jesus, will reign. Then Israel will be the center of the earth, which is in the kingdom of peace.

The second theme is what the people of God will experience at a time when God cannot openly recognize His people as His people. At that time, the nations rule over His people and it is oppressed by the nations. This will happen in the great tribulation in the most intense way (Mt 24:2121For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.). The faithful remnant of Israel will then be purified, while the wicked mass of the people will be judged. In Daniel and his friends we see the faithful remnant. We see that especially in Daniel 3-6. There we have not only to do with history, but also with prophetic events of the end time during the fourth empire.

We can say that we too live in the end time. The characters of the rulers of the world empires show characteristics that we increasingly see around us in the leaders of the world and in man in general. From the very beginning that God has placed dominion in the hands of the nations, it is clear that man does not take Him into account and fails in the responsibility that God has given him.

We see the increase of wickedness in Daniel 3-6:
1. In Daniel 3 we see idolatry and the shifting aside of God.
2. In Daniel 4 we see the glorification of man.
3. In Daniel 5 the ridicule of God comes to the fore.
4. In Daniel 6 the highest point is reached when man takes the place of God.

These histories with their prophetic purport warn us that we live in times of supreme wickedness. All boundaries given by God are crossed and erased. Nothing is sacred anymore. Man has taken the place of God. At the same time, it is the time for us to be able to show more clearly than ever what God’s rights are. Anyone who does this can at least count on misunderstanding on the part of mankind, but often more on ruthless hatred. Those who do so, however, can count even more on the appreciation and assistance of God. He wants to glorify Himself in those who recognize Him as a small and faithful remnant, against the renegade mass.

In short, we have in
1. Daniel 1 obedience of the remnant.
2. Daniel 2 the insight of the remnant.
3. Daniel 3 the suffering and persecution of the remnant in the great tribulation.
4. Daniel 4 the judgment of the ruler.
5. Daniel 5 the end of the Babylonian empire.
6. Daniel 6 the preservation of the remnant for the power of the devil.


The Golden Picture

1Nebuchadnezzar the king made a picture of gold, the height of which [was] sixty cubits [and] its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar makes a picture of gold, possibly inspired by his dream. In his dream he saw himself as a head of gold. Now he no longer only sees a head of gold, he only sees himself. He does not take into account a loss of his kingdom. That is why it is a picture all of gold. He makes this picture in order to have one object of worship for his entire empire with so many different cultures and religions.

There is nothing that so disturbs and destroys relationships between families and peoples as much as a difference in religion. At the same time, the opposite is also true: the best way to unite people is through a common religion. Religious unity also brings about political unity. Thus the unity of Europe is also shaped by a common idolatry, that of the antichrist, in which the world ruler himself is glorified (Rev 13:1212He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.).

The measures of the picture revolve around the number six. The number six is characteristic of this picture. The number six is also characteristic for man. In the history of man there have been three absolute rulers. All three are characterized by the number six. Adam is the first. He is created on the sixth day. The second is Nebuchadnezzar. Here he is linked to the numbers sixty and six. The third will be the dictator of the restored Western Roman empire, the beast that rises from the sea. “The number of his name” is “the number of the beast”, which is the number “of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Rev 13:17-1817and [he provides] that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, [either] the name of the beast or the number of his name.18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.).


The Dedication of the Image

2Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent [word] to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces were assembled for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and [men of every] language, 5that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. 6But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” 7Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language fell down [and] worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

All those who bear responsibility in the empire are called upon to come to the dedication of the image. All these different authorities represent the nations they come from. This is how they are addressed (verse 44Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and [men of every] language,). We read that “all peoples” throw themselves in front of the image (verse 77Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language fell down [and] worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.), whereas in reality this is only done by the authorities present.

What Nebuchadnezzar invented is man’s religion. It is at the same time a world religion, through which he wants to merge all the people he rules into one entity. He places a magnificent golden image before the attention of man and orders him to worship it.

To make the whole even more attractive, the inauguration is complemented by a musical contribution using a variety of musical instruments. No special sacrifice or monetary contribution is requested. The religion of Nebuchadnezzar is easy and pleasant for the flesh. You don’t have to do anything, just fall down and worship. It doesn’t have to take long and happens under the sound of deafening music.

It is clear that music plays an important role in this whole event. The whole orchestra is mentioned no less than four times (verses 5,7,10,155that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.7Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language fell down [and] worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.10You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image.15Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, [very well]. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”). Music works on the emotion. Deafening music brings people into a state of trance and apathy. The mind and conscience are eliminated. Thus people are an easy prey for the devil, for whom they actually fall down.

The worship of the image is not a voluntary matter, but is enforced. Whosoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire, so without trial and without any remand. Therefore we see that all peoples, represented in their leaders, fall down and worship the image.


The Three Friends Charged

8For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews. 9They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: “O king, live forever! 10You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. 11But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. 12There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, [namely] Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”

There are three men who remain standing when all have fallen down. Some watchdogs of Nebuchadnezzar see this and bring charges against them to the king. The friends are charged for not worshipping the gods of Nebuchadnezzar. Their indictment is also a wonderful testimony about the three friends. They worship only the true God, the God of Israel, and no other god.


The Ultimatum

13Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. 14Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, [very well]. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Nebuchadnezzar sees himself offended in his absolute authority. He let the friends come to him and gave them another chance to submit to him by obeying his order. If they don’t do that, they will unrelentingly and directly enter the burning fires. He adds to it, with contempt, who may be the god who will deliver them from his hands.

To him, the God of the three friends is nothing more than an idol. His earlier confession (Dan 2:4747The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.”) appears to have been only of a temporary nature. He has been impressed for a while, but that impression has faded and disappeared. This is the case when conscience has not been touched and there has been no true conversion.


Fearless Testimony

16Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18But [even] if [He does] not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

The young men are confronted with the choice: bow down for the image or die. It would not be difficult to consult with oneself: “Everyone does it, let us not be an exception.” Or: “Let us do it for the sake of appearances, but not in our hearts, for God sees the heart.” Or: “We can’t do anything about this situation, we are here because of the unfaithfulness of our ancestors, we have to fall down.” However, we do not read anything about such considerations, which easy arise in us in often much less difficult situations.

The friends do not defend themselves, but make a brief, clear statement: “We will not fall down.” Their testimony is impressive. We know the outcome, but they do not know it. They have no doubt that God can deliver them. They only don’t know if He will do that by delivering them before the fire or through the fire. Faith trusts that God is able that they do not enter the fire, but also that He can deliver them out of the fire.

Whatever it may be, it is clear to them that He will deliver them from the hand of the king. They are not in the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, but in the hand of God. As for them, the outcome is certain. Therefore they will not bow to the image, not even in form, nor worship it. Their attitude is a wonderful illustration of “the perseverance and faith of the saints” (Rev 13:10b10If anyone [is destined] for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.).

There is no rebellion with them against the king. They recognize him in his dignity as king. But they cannot obey his order to worship his gods. In this they must and want to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:2929But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.). They speak in the spirit of the Lord’s disciple, for they are “not … afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do” (Lk 12:44“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.). For the Christian it is not a question of how the king rules, but of what the king asks and how he should behave as a Christian in these matters (Rom 13:1-71Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.6For because of this you also pay taxes, for [rulers] are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.).


Cast into the Midst of the Fire

19Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20He commanded certain valiant warriors who [were] in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast [them] into the furnace of blazing fire. 21Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their [other] clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. 22For this reason, because the king’s command [was] urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

Their obedience to God did not prevent them from being cast into the oven. On the contrary. Nebuchadnezzar is so furious, that he lets the oven heat seven times more. However, this only makes the miracle of salvation seven times greater.

Their faith “quenched” – not the fire, but – “the power of the fire” (Heb 11:3434quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.). The power of the fire is so great, that Nebuchadnezzar orders the strongest men from the army to cast the three friends into the oven. But even though they are still considered so strong, they are losing out to the power of the fire. While the strongest men cast the friends in the oven, these powerhouses are killed by the fire.

The friends do not first quench the power of the fire when they are in the furnace of blazing fire and the fire does not affect them. They have already quenched the power of the fire when they stand before Nebuchadnezzar and he points them to the furnace of blazing fire. He has threatened to cast them in it if they would not kneel before his image. With the fires in mind, the friends have said in faith that they trust in God for the outcome and have remained in their refusal to kneel before the image.

In this way, many who died as martyrs at the stake in the fire quenched the power of the fire. They have not revoked their confession of the true God and have remained faithful to Him, despite the fire. The threat of fire has had no hold on them. They have “taken up the shield of faith” and thus extinguished “all the flaming arrows of the evil [one]” (Eph 6:1616in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil [one].).


The Fourth Man in the Fire

23But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire [still] tied up. 24Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” 25He said, “Look! I see four men loosed [and] walking [about] in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of [the] gods!”

As soon as the men have fallen into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire, Nebuchadnezzar sees something that frightens him enormously. He gets to see something a man normally does not get to see: he sees a fourth man who has “the appearance … like a son of [the] gods”. This is the Son of God Who is in the furnace with friends (cf. Isa 63:99In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
). The result of Nebuchadnezzar’s actions is that he brings the three friends into the company of the Son of God.

Before he comes to his exclamation, we read that he stands up in haste. That is, he comes from his throne. As an application it can be said that if someone comes face to face with the Lord Jesus, he must come from his throne. Man without God sits on the throne himself. He will come from it as soon as the Lord Jesus shows Himself to him.

It can still happen voluntarily now that someone comes from his own throne, so that the Lord Jesus can take His place on the throne of his life. When He sits on the throne, it means He has authority. Do we give him that, even if we already know him?

The men are bound cast into the midst of the fire of the furnace. The description “in the midst of fire” makes us extra aware of the enormous test for these men. They are in the center of the fire. Nebuchadnezzar is bewildered at what he sees and asks in his despair whether it has happened, as he ordered. After the affirmative answer he tells what he sees. He sees the men who were thrown into the oven bound, now walking around loose.

He wanted to kill them by the fire, but God gave the fire a turn. What is meant by Nebuchadnezzar for evil is used by God for good. The only effect of the fire is that the men’s bonds are consumed and that they now walk around loose. He also notes that there is no injury to them. Finally, he tells us that he sees a fourth Person and what this One looks like. As said, it is an apparition of the Lord Jesus.

In this scene we see something encouraging for everyone in trial. Those who are in difficult circumstances may know that God does not watch the suffering of His own from the high, but comes to them in that suffering. He is not indifferent, but is with them in the trial (Isa 43:2,5a2“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
5“Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
And gather you from the west.
). The Lord Jesus is with the disciples in the ship when it is in the storm (Mk 4:35-4135On that day, when evening came, He *said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.”36Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.37And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.38Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”39And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.40And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”41They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”).

We also see it in the scene of the burning bush, where the LORD appears to Moses “in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush” (Exo 3:22The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.). God is with His people in the bush, He dwells there; He is not only there to visit. The bush is a picture of Israel that is unfaithful to Him and therefore burns. The fire is so to speak necessary to remove the thorns. At the same time, the bush is not consumed, for God is always with His people when they suffer, even when they suffer because of their own sins.

The fire of the trial serves to purify the faith (1Pet 1:77so that the proof of your faith, [being] more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;; 4:1212Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;). God allows it or even sends it. It is to take away what is not His honor. The fire cleans. With Daniel’s friends it is not about cleansing away anything, but about showing the faith to the outside world. Faith is brought to light through this trial. It makes clear what God can do in His own for consecration and decision.

Usually God does not take away the fire of the trial in the life of a believer. He does not take away the suffering, but adds something to it and that is His own presence. In the Spirit God the Son comes to us. The Spirit of the Son is with us and supports us as we are in trial. The result of the fire of the trial is a walk in freedom. Nebuchadnezzar literally notices this with the three friends.

The picture of fire with regard to God’s earthly people is also seen in Zechariah 13:
“7 Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
And against the man, My Associate,”
Declares the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered;
And I will turn My hand against the little ones.
“8 It will come about in all the land,”
Declares the LORD,
“That two parts in it will be cut off [and] perish;
But the third will be left in it.
“9 And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” (Zec 13:7-97“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
And against the man, My Associate,”
Declares the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered;
And I will turn My hand against the little ones.
8“It will come about in all the land,”
Declares the LORD,
“That two parts in it will be cut off [and] perish;
But the third will be left in it.
9“And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”
).

First we read in verse 77Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language fell down [and] worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. about the cross, where God strikes His Messiah with the sword of His righteousness. Then it is about the remnant, “the little ones” who are scattered as a result of the rejection of the Messiah, but to whom He turns. Then, in verses 8-98For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews.9They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: “O king, live forever!, a jump is made to the future. In the end time, “two parts [= two thirds] of it will be cut off”. The remnant, “the third”, is refined in the fire. Of them God says: “They are My people,” and from them He builds His people in the kingdom of peace.


Out of the Fire

26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. 27The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around [and] saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire [even] come upon them.

Nebuchadnezzar has already risen from his throne, but is now moving on. He goes as close as possible to the door of the furnace of blazing fire to speak to the young men. He starts by naming their names. It is striking how often the names of the friends are mentioned in this history. The Spirit of God finds His joy of always mentioning the names of people who have made God great. He honors those who honor Him.

Nebuchadnezzar then addresses them as “servants of the Most High God”. This is an open testimony of the faithfulness of the friends. All those who in the course of the centuries until the end of time have ever persecuted the faithful will be forced to give this testimony (cf. Rev 3:99Behold, I will cause [those] of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and [make them] know that I have loved you.). Persecuted believers who have remained faithful to their confession of the living God enforce this testimony.

Nebuchadnezzar commands them to come out. They would have been able to walk outside through the door before and to place themselves triumphantly in front of the king. However, they only leave the oven on the king’s orders. Additionally, the company of the Son of God will have filled them so much with joy and peace that they have gladly stayed with Him in the midst of the fire.

But by order of the king they come out of the oven and stand in front of him. There they stand before Nebuchadnezzar, as faithful to him after they have been in the furnace of blazing fire as before. The fire has not changed their appearance, nor their behavior.

Then all those who charged them before Nebuchadnezzar come to the king. They do not come up with a new charge. That is not possible, because the verdict has been executed. What they observe is that the fire has had no effect on the young men, yes, that there is not even a smell of fire on them.

Here is also an important application to make. Believers who have been in a severe trial because of their faithfulness to the Lord will not make a fuss of their salvation from it. They will not boast about it and will not spread great stories about it. There will be no self-glorification. If they say anything about it, it will only be to make the Lord great, but upon themselves there will be “no smell of fire”. Their faithfulness to the Lord after the trial will be as great as before.


The Testimony of Nebuchadnezzar

28Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” 30Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.

The testimony of the friends brings Nebuchadnezzar to a praise of God, whom he calls “the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego”. God rejoices when His own are connected with Him in this way through the world and “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb 11:16b16But as it is, they desire a better [country], that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.). The behavior of the friends has shown Who God is.

The king recognizes deliverance through God. He acknowledges that they have trusted Him and that in their trust they have not been ashamed. They have resisted his word, the word of him as king, the most powerful man on earth, out of faithfulness to God. He has seen that their faithfulness to their God is so great that they have even surrendered their bodies. The greatest threat, and even the execution of the sentence, has not been able to induce them to unfaithfulness to their God by glorifying or worshipping another god. They have only glorified and worshipped their God.

After this remarkable statement, Nebuchadnezzar goes even further. He sends an order through his entire empire that there must be general respect for the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He who speaks anything offensive against God will be severely punished personally, while his house will also suffer. His house is the place where the defamation could have happened, so that that place has become unclean and may no longer be inhabited. That house becomes a memorial for warning.

This judgment is the part of anyone who speaks anything offensive. To speak offensive is speaking evil against better judgment. Anyone who, after this clear proof from God that He is a redeeming God, speaks evil of Him, cannot be excused. And everyone in the whole empire of Nebuchadnezzar will hear about it. All those in authority have looked attentively at it (verse 2727The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around [and] saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire [even] come upon them.) and will be able to witness this great salvation in the countries from which they have come and to which they will soon return.

Nebuchadnezzar forbids only speaking anything offensive against God. Unfortunately, he does not go so far that he calls upon his people to worship and serve that God. He needs to learn an even deeper lesson. This is shown in the next chapter.


Read more