The Great Image
Dr. Joe Temple

The Great Image

We have been discussing the book of Daniel, which is the blueprint of the times of the Gentiles. That is a phrase with which you should become familiar. Lest some of you are not familiar with it, may I remind you that “the times of the Gentiles” is a period of time with a definite beginning and a definite ending. The Old Testament beginning is found in the book of Daniel, chapter 1. The New Testament beginning is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 21. It is in that portion of the Word of God that you find the phrase, “the times of the Gentiles.” This period of time, “the times of the Gentiles,” will end when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth. We are not left in darkness as to God's plan for this age. It is very clearly revealed in the book of Daniel, and that is one of the reasons we study the book.

Another reason is that it is closely related to the book of Revelation, the study which we have just completed. And another reason we study the book of Daniel is that as we study the book, we are convinced that, though this world is in turmoil and men do not know the end from the beginning, God has the whole world in His hand and is planning and arranging things according to His own will.

When something happens that we may not understand, we do not need to panic. We do not need to wonder if everything is going to blow up in our faces. We can know that nothing can happen except as God has planned it, that plan being revealed in the book of Daniel.

We told you that the book of Daniel, first and foremost, is a prophecy. Because the first six chapters are historical, men are prone to think that only the last part of the book is prophetical. We want to remind you that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself characterized the entire book as a prophecy. Therefore, as we read the chapters in the first half of the book, we should expect to find some prophecy of the future.

As we consider chapter 3, I would like to suggest that we consider it historically, devotionally, and prophetically. All these three approaches are found in this chapter. Notice chapter 3, verse 1:

The Golden Image Made by Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 3:

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Let us stop there for a moment and realize what we have read. You will remember that Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon. You will remember that, in chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. The dream concerned a great image, greater than anything he had ever seen before. As Daniel explained to him the meaning of the image, he told him it stood for the kingdoms which would walk across the stage of the world until that time when the Lord Jesus Christ would return to the earth. Nebuchadnezzar was particularly interested in the head of the image because Daniel had said, “Thou art that head of gold.”

That is very significant; you need to keep it in mind because as we look at verse 1, we notice that the image which Nebuchadnezzar made was an image not with a head of gold, but an image of all gold. I do not think that this is a happenstance. I do not think it just happened. I believe that Nebuchadnezzar, thinking about the image of which Daniel had spoken to him, in the jealousy of his own heart, decided that he was not going to be part, but that he was going to be all. And so he made this great image all of gold as though to say to God, “I'm not afraid of You.” Later, in this very chapter, he said that very thing. He made the image all of gold as if to say to Daniel and to those who stood with Daniel, “What you believe is insignificant. I can thwart the plan of God.”

The Size of the Image

If you will glance at verse 1 with me again, you'll notice some significance as to the size of this image. We read that its height was threescore cubits and the breadth thereof six cubits. Practically speaking, that means that this image was from ninety to one hundred and ten feet high. It was from nine to eleven feet thick. It would depend upon the size that you use for the cubit as to the height and the thickness. Sometimes a cubit is listed as being eighteen inches and sometimes a cubit is listed as being twenty inches. So this image was ninety to one hundred and ten feet high.

Let that sink in, will you? Do you realize what a tremendous image it was? It was nine to eleven feet thick—not broad, but thick. You will notice that Nebuchadnezzar set this image up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. The word Dura actually means “a game preserve.” Outside the city of Babylon he had a game preserve, and in the midst of that game preserve, he set up this great image, one hundred and ten feet high and eleven feet thick!

Two Similar Images

Prophetically speaking, more important than the height and thickness of this image is the suggestion brought to our minds by the figures given to us in the Bible. Did you notice that this image was threescore cubits in height? It was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. This emphasizes the number six.

Those of you who studied the book of Revelation with us should immediately begin to think of the prophetic significance of this particular image. There should come to your mind what is recorded in chapter 13 of the book of Revelation. You will remember that in that chapter is recorded the story of how the last great world ruler in this series of kingdoms which is to march across the stage of the world will make a great image, and the number of the image is going to be 666. The times of the Gentiles will end with an image.

We are of the opinion that the image described for us here in Daniel, chapter 3, is a prophetic picture of that image which will be raised later in the land of Babylon, the capital of the Antichrist, who will take possession of this world.

An Official Dedication of the Image

If this is true, the prophetic keynote of this chapter is already set, and we will be able to know what its prophetic significance is. Notice verse 2:

Daniel 3:

2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Twice in this paragraph we are told that this was an official dedication, not a popular dedication. That is important in the light of the criticism that is leveled at the book of Daniel as to its inspiration. There are those who doubt the inspiration of Daniel who tell us it would be absolutely impossible for all the people of the Babylonian Empire to gather in the game preserve where the image was situated and to bow down and worship it. Since they say it was absolutely impossible for that to happen and God's Word says it happened, they say God's Word is unreliable.

We would like to remind you that one of the problems for those who find it difficult to believe the Word of God is their carelessness in reading God's Word. This did not say it was a popular dedication; it says it was an official dedication. The officials of all the various provinces of the land of Babylon attended the official dedication.

Now will you notice in verse 4:

Daniel 3:

4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,

“Oh,” you say, “there is a contradiction.” Not at all! He was speaking to the official family of all the peoples and nations and languages that made up the Babylonian Empire.

Worship of the Image Commanded

Notice what he said in verse 5:

Daniel 3:

5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

Notice right in the center of verse 5 the phrase, “all kinds of musick.” That is the important phrase. I seriously doubt that if we were to ask you after the service is over to name the various instruments that were included in this phrase, “all kinds of musick,” you could name every one of them. It is not important that you do so, but it is very important that you notice the phrase, “all kinds of musick,” in relation to the worship of this particular image. It is mentioned in verse 5; it is mentioned again in verse 7; it is mentioned again in verse 15. Music played a tremendous part in the worship of this image.

The Place of Music in False Religion

I am emphasizing that for two reasons. One is that music is very definitely related to the flesh. You will find that all of the false religions of the world consider music an essential to worship. Now they don't say the worship of what, but they say it is absolutely essential to have music or you cannot worship.

We are grateful for the place that dedicated Christian music has in our worship services. But I want to remind you that if we depended upon music to stir the emotions so that people could get in the spirit of worship, we would be falling into the very error in which we found Nebuchadnezzar at this particular time and into which all religions which are based upon emotions and the flesh fall.

The Effects of Music Upon Men

I am emphasizing this for a second reason. We said that this chapter was prophetic. We said the thing that brought all of these people to one frame of mind that they might worship the image was this fleshly music. We have tried to point out to you in our study of the prophetic word that the stage is fast being set for the end of the age. I was recently reading an article in a magazine about the effects of present day music upon the emotions of men, particularly the so-called folk music of the present hour. It was suggested that if we examined the words of the songs that are called ”folk music” today, we would find that a great many of them—not all of them, but a great many of them—very slyly insert, to influence the thinking of our people, things that will tear down the very things for which we have always stood.

Possible Gain of World Control Through Music

I am not in a position to prove this or disprove it, because I am not a musician. But this same writer said that the very seat of modern music is such that if a world dictator wanted to take over America, he could put forth the message he had in the same beat, and as the beat began, the words that accompanied the beat would cause people to fall prey to his suggestion.

Once again, I do not know whether that is true or not, but the article seems reliable. I do know this—the end of the age is very, very near! And if it is as near as I think it is, it will not be long before the Antichrist marches across the stage of the world. When he does, everything will be prepared for him. When he establishes his image in the plains of Babylon, minds will be so geared by the current music to whatever suggestion he wants to make that the world will bow down at the feet of the image that is described in Revelation, chapter 13.

Don't shrug your shoulders at modern day music. Be concerned about it. If it appeals to the flesh instead of the spirit, watch it! If the words of the music suggest brain washing, watch it! It is not of God; it is of the Devil. Don't go out of here and say that all music is not of God. I am making a distinction, and I trust that you will make it.

Let us continue our reading from Daniel, chapter 3, verse 8:

Daniel 3:

8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

I've always been curious about this passage of Scripture. It reminds me of some dear children who say, “Do you know that so-and-so doesn't close his eyes when we pray?” I always say, “How do you know he doesn't?” I've often wondered what kind of bowing down these Chaldeans did that made it possible for them to see that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not bow down when the music began to play.

This paragraph is an illustration of the ingratitude of the human heart. Do you realize (go back to chapter 2 to refresh your minds when you have time) that these Chaldeans were the very people whose lives were saved by these three men whom they condemned? You would think they would want to plead for them instead of condemning them.

Anti-Semitism As Far Back as Babylon

Then you will notice that when they made their accusations in verse 12, they said:

Daniel 3:

12 There are certain Jews…

Listen carefully to what I am going to say. Anti-Semitism is as old as the Chaldeans who testified against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Did you notice that they did not say, “There are certain individuals…” and they did not say, “There are certain fellows over there who didn't do what you said.” The Babylonian Empire was made up of many, many different nationalities and peoples. These men said, “There are certain Jews…” The trend of Anti-Semitism was furthered here. Since this is a prophetic portion of the Word of God, it represents the persecution of the Jews during the times of the Gentiles.

Notice how twisted the testimony against them is, down in the middle of verse 12:

Daniel 3:

12 O king, [they] have not regarded thee;…

“They don't have an ounce of respect for you, Nebuchadnezzar.” That was not true. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were good citizens. It was because of their finesse in the affairs of the government that the Babylonian Empire prospered. But the Chaldeans said, “These men have no respect for you.”

When they said that, Nebuchadnezzar was ready to turn in fury upon these three. The people said to Nebuchadnezzar, “They do not serve thy god.” And they said, “They do not worship the golden image which thou set up.” This threefold charge was leveled at these individuals because they were Jews. Others could have done the same thing and nothing would have been done about it.

Jealous of Jews

Have you ever stopped to think about the Anti-Semitism that lies naturally in the hearts of many of us? We don't mind a Gentile's being a banker and making money, but we can't stand for a Jew to do it. Did you ever stop to think about that? We don't mind a Gentile's making some great scientific discovery, but we resent it if a Jew does.

These individuals were not concerned so much that these people had not bowed down to the image. They saw a good opportunity to do the Jews in, and they did just exactly that!

Notice in verse 13:

Daniel 3:

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.

In verse 14 he addressed them:

Daniel 3:

14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

A Second Change from Nebuchadnezzar

There is an interesting thing about Nebuchadnezzar. Every once in a while we see his heart stirred. Notice, in verse 13, he was in a rage and in a fury. But something happened to make him do what he did in verse 15. He said:

Daniel 3:

15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made;…

He gave them a second chance. Notice what he said:

Daniel 3:

15 …but if ye worship not, ye 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?

A Changed Attitude Toward God

My, how he had changed! Do you remember what he said in the last part of chapter 2? After Daniel had revealed the meaning of his dreams to him, do you remember what he said? Look at Daniel, chapter 2, verse 47:

Daniel 2:

47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.

But notice what he said in chapter 3, verse 15:

Daniel 3:

15…and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

He knew what he was saying. He knew who their God was. In chapter 23, He was God of gods and Lord of lords, but now he says their God can't do anything about it. Right away you know that all of this was aimed directly at God. As you will realize when we study that which is related to the Tribulation period, all that the Devil and the Antichrist do is aimed at God; they hate Him; they hate Christ. Thus Nebuchadnezzar said, “I'd like to know the God Who can deliver you out of my hands.”

Reasons for Nebuchadnezzar's Changed Attitude

Why did he take this attitude? I would like to suggest two things to you. One of them is very practical. Twenty years elapse between chapter 2 and chapter 3. Three additional invasions of the land of Palestine have been made by Nebuchadnezzar, and the God of the Israelites let him get away with it, even to the extent of his bringing from the temple the sacred vessels that have been used in the worship of Jehovah. God let Nebuchadnezzar take those sanctified vessels and place them in the temple of his god and did absolutely nothing about it.

Because God did nothing about it, Nebuchadnezzar made the mistake that many potentates have made. He made the mistake of thinking that, because God did not stop him then, God was powerless to stop him.

He made the mistake that you and I make. Because God lets certain people get away with certain evil things, we are greatly concerned and we wonder why it is, and we wonder whether God has failed. We wonder whether God cares. Let us remember that God does not deal with individuals or nations in judgment until the cup of their iniquity is full. There are many people today who don't have their cup full yet, and God is withholding His judgment. In the event they turn to God before their cup is full, judgment is withheld. But if they do not turn to God, then judgment is poured out.

You don't need to be alarmed and upset because God is letting people do these certain things, because God is letting certain individuals get away with certain things. Their cup of iniquity is not yet full. Nebuchadnezzar made the mistake of thinking God didn't care.

Perhaps there is a spiritual lesson in this for us. Did you notice in chapter 2 that Nebuchadnezzar was not a converted man as we would think of such a man today? He was simply an admirer of God. He came close but not close enough! He was like the man in the gospel of Luke who swept and garnished his house but left it empty, and when an evil spirit came by and found the empty house, he took with him seven other spirits worse than himself and occupied the house, and the last state of the man was worse than the first (Luke 11:24-26). That is what was true of Nebuchadnezzar in this portion of the Word of God.

An Answer to Nebuchadnezzar

How refreshing it is to read in verse 16; what a wonderful ray of light comes into this area of darkness when we read:

Daniel 3:

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
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 thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Notice verse 16. There is a very important lesson in it. They said, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” That is an unhappy translation. What they said was, “It is not necessary for us to answer thee in this matter; we don't have to defend ourselves. Our God is able.” I wish that the children of God would learn that.

How often the children of God feel that it is absolutely necessary for them to go about explaining this and explaining that and defending their reputations and defending their actions. You don't have to do that before a world that does not respect God.

Complete Faith in God's Power

I learned many years ago that the God Who is able to take care of my soul is able to take care of my reputation, and I never waste my time explaining things to people. “It is not necessary for us to give you an answer in this matter. However, we want to give you a testimony.”

Notice verse 17 says:

Daniel 3:

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace,…

Literally what they said was, “If it is God's will, He is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace.” Get that; it is tremendously important. There are some things that God cannot do because they are inconsistent with His will. I am not thinking about His overall will. I am thinking about the ultimate will and purpose of God. I am thinking about the will that He has for you as an individual as He had a will for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They did not know what God's will was; they did not know but that they might have to die in the fiery furnace. They said, “We don't know. We know that if it is God's will, He is able to deliver us; He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king, if it is His will.” They didn't know.

Complete Submission to God's Will

There are some things about which we never need to wonder. They are plainly stated in the Word of God. But there are other things of which we are not sure because they are related to our individual lives. Those of you who heard me give my testimony concerning my illness will remember that I told you that I spent some days lying on a bed seeking the will of God, whether to seek healing without the aid of human effort or to seek human means in relation to my healing. There was absolutely no question in my mind that God was able, but there was a question in my mind as to whether or not God was willing, and I discovered that God was not willing. I discovered that instead of delivering me from that fiery furnace, He wanted me to go into the fiery furnace. So did these three men find that God wanted them in the fiery furnace.

Notice what they said in verse 17: “God is able, and He will deliver us.”

Daniel 3:

18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

“We don't know what God is going to do, but even if He lets us go into the furnace, we will not bow down.” That is a tremendous thing.

Did you notice they did not condition their decision on delivery? There are a lot of people who are willing to follow God with the idea that just before they go over the brink, God will hold them back. They find faith to follow God by saying, “Well, I don't believe that God is going to let it happen, so I'll go ahead and start.” He may let it happen; He may let you go over the brink. You cannot base your following of God on whether or not God is going to let something drastic happen to you. He may let you go into the fiery furnace. H did these three—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

No sooner had they made their statement than, in verse 19, Nebuchadnezzar heated the furnace seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated. He thought it would destroy them more quickly. All it did was magnify the miraculous power of God.

Notice verse 20; there is a wonderful lesson here:

Daniel 3:

20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

Bonds Loosed in Fiery Furnace

In the succeeding verses, the emphasis is placed on the fact that these three men were bound. Notice verse 19 and the word bind . In verse 21, notice the word bound again, and again in verse 24. I do not believe the Spirit of God has repeated this word so many times that He wants us to realize that these men were bound, because the miracle, the thing that impressed Nebuchadnezzar, is discovered in verse 24, where we read:

Daniel 3:

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

The thing greatly impressed him: “Those men are loose. I know they were bound. I had the strongest men in the army bind them. I don't understand why they are loose.”

I wonder whether Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were surprised to be loose. I am inclined to think they were because they thought the fiery furnace meant the melting of bonds, and they had a freedom they had never known before. That is the lesson I want you to get.

Sometimes the fiery furnace which we fear, sometimes the fiery furnace which strikes terror to our hearts, proves to be the means of our being set free for greater things for God. It proves to be the means whereby our bonds are melted and we are transported to a glorious liberty that we have known before. I am convinced that people who never get into the fiery furnace know nothing about the liberty of which I refer.

Not Hurt by the Fiery Furnace

Did you see that this fiery furnace did not hurt them? “They had no hurt,” said Nebuchadnezzar in verse 25. And did you notice verse 27? They didn't just take the word of the king; they had a scientific investigation of the matter. In verse 27 we read:

Daniel 3:

27[they] saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Did you notice? The fire was absolutely helpless against anything save the bonds which had bound them down! I want to suggest to you that you could enter into your trials with a realization that the trial is not going to hurt you; not a hair of your head is going to be singed; you are not going to lose anything because of the trial. All in the world that will happen to you is that the bonds which have bound you are going to be burned loose and you are going to be set free.

In the Presence of the Son of God

When Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he not only saw that the men were loose, but he saw another man with them. In verse 25 he said:

Daniel 3:

25…and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

He describes him in verse 28 as an angel. There is no contradiction. Actually in the original text the word son is not capitalized. It is a phrase that speaks of a supernatural being. There is nothing wrong with its being capitalized in our text because He actually was the Son of God. But He appeared here as He appeared everywhere else in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord. That is the reason Nebuchadnezzar one moment described Him as the Son of God and the next moment as an angel. That is why men were able to walk around in the fire loose—the Son of God was there with them.

A Promise to All Believers

He was but fulfilling a promise that He had made a long time before. Turn, please, to the book of Isaiah, and perhaps mark, if you have not already marked, this portion of the Word of God. It is a very precious promise. Literally, it was fulfilled in the portion of the Word at which we are now looking, but it has been fulfilled in the lives of believers time without number. Notice in Isaiah, chapter 43, verse 2:

Isaiah 43:

2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
5 [Notice this] Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;

The individuals in Daniel, chapter 3, could not be hurt by the fire. They could not be hurt by the furnace heated seven times hotter than any furnace had ever been known to be heated because the Son of God was with them. He was there to see that His Word was fulfilled because He had said through the lips of Isaiah, “When you go through the fire, it shall not kindle upon thee. It shall not burn upon thee.” He was there to see that it did not.

I would remind you that no matter into what furnace you may be placed, the fire cannot hurt you.

Proof of the Bible's Inspiration

We are thinking about this portion of the Word of God from the prophetic standpoint as well, so may I remind you that this is a picture of the inferno through which the Jews have been going since the times of the Gentiles began. They are a people who cannot be destroyed. Gladstone's statement, when asked for a proof that the Bible was inspired was, “I can give it to you in one word: The Jew.”

Particularly during the Tribulation, when individuals will refuse to fall down and worship the Beast that is described in Revelation, chapter 13—and thank God there will be some—they will be persecuted; they will be killed. But God will miraculously protect a third of them.

I never cease to marvel at the accuracy of the Word of God. Turn with me to the book of Zechariah, chapter 13, verse 9. If you read the entire chapter, you will find that it deals with what we have referred to as the Tribulation period. Time will not permit us to read the entire chapter, but notice in verse 9 the promise that God gave:

Zechariah 13:

9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

There were many Jews in the land of Babylon and many of them bowed down to that image, but three of them did not! I do not believe that there is a commentary written on the book of Daniel that does not ask a question, without answering it, as to the location of Daniel while this was going on. “Where was Daniel?” There was no record that he was there. Is it suggested that he bowed down to the image? Of course not. We could not tolerate that for a moment because that would be inconsistent with the character of Daniel.

Why wasn't he included in the picture? Regardless of the reason, he was not there from a practical standpoint. I believe the Holy Spirit guided events so that he wouldn't be there. Had he been there, it would have spoiled the type. There were three men in that furnace, and God is preserving the Jews at the end of the Tribulation on the basis of three. God's Word is accurate to the most minute detail.

God said, “I will cause them to go through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.”

God's Ability to Defend His Name

Back to Daniel, chapter 3. Notice how God vindicates the people who are true to Him. Notice the reason these men said at the very beginning that it was not necessary for them to answer King Nebuchadnezzar. In verse 26 we read:

Daniel 3:

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.

Is that what he said? It is not what my Bible says. But that is what he ought to have said if he felt the same way that he did when he threw them into the furnace; because before he threw them in he said, “Who is the God that will deliver you from my hands?” What did he say here? “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.”

Do you realize that you don't have to defend God? He is able to defend Himself. Do you realize that you don't have to vindicate Him? He is able to take care of the situation, and He will in due season.

Good Comes from Trials

Notice in verse 28 that the good that came out of the fiery furnace was freedom of worship. Will you remember that there is always good that comes. There is always an afterwards to every tribulation and to every trial. “No chastening of the Lord for the present seems to be joyous…” (Hebrews 12:11). Anybody that tells you he enjoys tribulation is either crazy or a liar. No tribulation for the present seemeth to be joyous, but afterwards it yieldeth fruit. That fiery furnace was not pleasant for these three, but, oh, the afterwards. Look at verse 28:

Daniel 3:

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel…

Notice, the next is exceedingly precious:

Daniel 3:

28 … and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

Bodies Yielded to God

Notice this. These three men trusted God and they yielded their bodies. Here is another indication in God's Word that it is possible for you to trust God in some things and still not yield your body to Him. Those men yielded their bodies. And did you notice the results? They changed the king's words. The Scripture doesn't say God changed the king's words; it says they did. They made that king out a liar! Oh, how he ranted and raved about what he would do. He said they wouldn't come out alive from that fiery furnace, but they did!

Do you know why they did? Because they had trusted God and yielded their bodies. It is not easy to yield your body. They said to God, when they stared at the mouth of that fiery furnace into which they were cast from the top down, “God, if You want to have our bodies in that fiery furnace, You may use them there.” They didn't know how God would use them there, but they said, “If You need to use them, You can in the fiery furnace.”

If you yield your body to the test of fire, I say humbly from experience that it is not as easy as you think when the time comes. It is easy to talk about it and it is easy to pray about and it is easy to sing about it. It is different when you have to do it. Can you yield your body to the fiery experience that God may have in store for you? These men did, and they became a great testimony to the entire Babylonian Empire.

Religious Freedom for Jews in Babylon

Look at verse 29:

Daniel 3:

29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss 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 that can deliver after this sort.

Here is a rare decree, and what does it mean? It means religious freedom for the Jews. That is what it means. God said that anybody who does anything to thwart their freedom is going to be dealt with.

I want to remind you from a prophetical standpoint that this decree which was initiated in chapter 3 of Daniel is emphasized in chapter 25 of the gospel of Matthew. Nations who speak anything against God are going to be dealt with.

Danger for the Nation

That is the reason for the first time in my life's history, I am becoming very much concerned about our nation. No matter what has been done, up to the last few years I felt that God, in His mercy and grace, would somehow overrule our shortcomings and our failings because we were the last testimony for God as a nation. But now we have started leaving Him out. I don't know how far it will go, but mark what I say: If the trend becomes an actual reality from a national standpoint, we will fall under the threat of the decree which started back in the times of the Gentiles, and we will end up as one of the goat nations of Matthew.

God's Purpose Fulfilled Because of Fiery Furnace

May I ask, from the standpoint of a spiritual application, have you ever wondered why God wanted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to go through the fiery furnace? You say, “Oh, they had some lessons to learn individually.” Yes, they did. “God wanted to show His miraculous power.” Yes, He did.

Do you realize that the only ”therefore” in this entire chapter is related to this religious proclamation? The reason God wanted these three to go through the fiery furnace was not primarily for themselves. It was that there might be a way in which God could move the heart of Nebuchadnezzar to issue a proclamation of religious freedom.

We do not always understand why God does what He does. But if we wait until the heat of the fire subsides, we will find that His purposes are true and just.

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