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Fire Escape
05/09/2010
Scripture: Daniel 2:1-4; Daniel 3:1-30
Track 3 of 12 in the Daniel: A Life Without Compromise series
There is a significant fact about Chapter 3; Daniel is nowhere mentioned. It is unlikely that the king would have proceeded with the making of the image while Daniel was still around. And it is unlikely that Daniel would have sat by quietly while his three buds were under attack. Time has erased the influence of he dream on Nebuchadnezzar He sees himself as the image and wants everyone to worship him.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Fire Escape

As we move onto Chapter 3 in Daniel, we will see a close resemblance to Chapter 2. Both chapters have an image or a statue and as I studied these chapters, I believe these images are closely related. This raises the question that we will discuss, what does the image in Chapter 3 look like?

But before we answer that question, there is something we need to look into and understand. Does anybody know what language Jesus spoke when he walked this earth? It is interesting to note where the language came from.

Daniel 2:1-4 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

The oldest inscriptions in Old Aramaic are from Syria around 800 B.C. In the ninth century official or Royal Aramaic appeared. This was a dialect known from documents from Assyria and known best from documents from the Persian Empire, for which Aramaic had become the official court language. Before 700 B.C. Aramaic had begun to supplant Akkadian as the language of commerce and diplomacy. Aramaic, the language spoken at the court of Nebuchadnezzar, was later used as the official language of the whole western section of the Persian Empire.

Here is something I want you to think about. How much influence did Babylon have on the Hebrews? How much of Jesus’ culture did Babylon have on it?

It is most likely that Daniel and the captive people of Israel would have learned to use the languages of their captors to do business in the king’s court. Much of Daniel, Ezra and Jeremiah are written in Aramaic. These show how the empires influenced the language of the Hebrews. Once Ezra, and others return to Jerusalem 70 years later, they would bring the influence of the languages back with them. By the time Jesus comes onto the scene, the changes in the language have taken place. Also Joseph, Jesus stepdad was a businessman. Knowing and using the language of commerce was probably necessary for good business.

Daniel 3:1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet£ wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.

There are some striking contrasts between the image in Chapter 2 and the image in Chapter 3. What are they?

• Chapter 2 – It was of divine origin, Chapter 3 – King’s own image
• Chapter 2 – It was imperialistic and nationalistic, Chapter 3 – religious
• The first had a variety of metals, the second was made of gold

It is quite possible that the image in Chapter 3 is a replica of the one Nebuchadnezzar saw in Chapter 2 except he made the image totally of gold.

If this image in Chapter 3 is an image similar to Chapter 2, what does it tell you about Nebuchadnezzar? What was his attitude about Daniel’s God? Was Nebuchadnezzar really serious about Daniel’s God?

We don’t know how much time goes by between chapter 2 and chapter 3. Most scholars believe that there is an 18-20 years difference between chapter 2 and chapter 3. The events in chapter 3 are actually taking place 20 years later from the time Nebuchadnezzar honors Daniel for his interpretation of the dream. During these 20 years, a lot has happened with Babylon. It goes into Jerusalem two more times and eventually destroys the temple and the city. It takes additional captives. It also is expanding and growing as a power. Nebuchadnezzar probably was the most powerful ruler of his time. What do you think happens to his respect for Daniel and his God during all of this?

There is a significant fact about Chapter 3; Daniel is nowhere mentioned. We are not told about his whereabouts or his activities during those intervening years. Because he was in high position in Babylon, Daniel could have been sent by the king to deal with matters in other conquered cities. It is unlikely that the king would have proceeded with the making of the image while Daniel was still around. And it is unlikely that Daniel would have sat by quietly while his three buds were under attack. Time has erased the influence of he dream on Nebuchadnezzar He sees himself as the image and wants everyone to worship him.

The size of the image is also interesting. It is 60 to 6 in ratio or a 10 to1 ratio. But the measurements are 60 cubits high by 6 cubits wide and 6 cubits deep (666). Again in scripture, this number or the number 6 represent the number of man. The image was a man made image to represent man as god. There is only one God and his number is 7. 6 is close to 7 but it is never as large as 7 or equal to 7. The number 6 was used often in the Bible to represent man or his representative.

• The measurements of Goliath were in sixes, he was 6 cubits tall. (1 Samuel 17:4-7)
• 6 days were appointed for man’s labor (Exodus 20:11)
• 6 steps to Solomon’s throne, a throne of human judgment (1 Kings 10:19)

Daniel 3:2-5 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. Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.

• I think it is interesting that there are also 6 instruments playing.

Notice who was invited to the dedication of the image; delegations from all the tribes and nations that were under the reign of Babylon were invited to be there. Why were the three invited and not Daniel?

Do you think everyone knew why they were requested to attend? If the three knew ahead of time, do you think they would have appeared? It is not until everyone has arrived that the king lets everyone know why they are there. It is not some political meeting; it is a worship service. They are there to worship the image.

Daniel 3:6-7 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

After the people arrive, they are told the real motive of the meeting. Notice the stern tone of the demand. They are commanded to worship the image. There is no question, the image represents the state and it’s monarch. In reality, there was one religion for all the people, nations and languages, all must conform to state worship (3:4).

When was everyone to bow down? Why not just use a loud gong to signal the time? Why use music? What role does it play in worship? What is Nebuchadnezzar trying to do? What do you think Nebuchadnezzar is thinking? If chapter 2 was God’s message to Nebuchadnezzar of what is to happen to him and his empire, what is the response to God in Chapter 3?

True or False: Daniel’s three friends stand in defiance of the golden image.

Daniel 3:8-15 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes 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, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up. ”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, pipes 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?”

Where in scripture is it recorded the defiance of Daniels three friends? It is not separately recorded. Others report the defiance to the king. We don’t know for sure what the three originally did. There is no record of their initial response. What do you think is the motive for the report turned into the king? What importance were Daniel and the three friends to these men? What kind of relationship did these three have with Nebuchadnezzar? Notice he didn’t just believe the report. He gives the benefit of the doubt to the three. He gives them a chance to save themselves.

Daniel 3:16-23 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O 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 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.” 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. 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.

In verse 16-18, describe the faith of these three men. Notice two times they use the word “if”. Does this reveal a small crack in their faith? What are they saying? Today in our climate of spiritual compromise, how could they have answered the king and to still remain a Hebrew and not been toasted? Why was burning the three up not enough for Nebuchadnezzar? Why did he want the furnace 7 times hotter than originally ordered? Is there significance to the number 7?

I think it is interesting to look closely at the scene at the furnace. It is recorded that Nebuchadnezzar was angry that the event was urgently. The flames were so hot and the event happened so fast that the fire consumed those who were to take the three up and push them in. It says they were firmly tied and that they fell, not pushed or thrown into the fire. It gives us a sense that they might have allowed themselves to fall into the flame. Nebuchadnezzar perspective in verse 24 was that they were thrown in, but scripture records something different.

Daniel 3:24-27 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, O king.” 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.” 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, 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.

Describe this scene for me. What does this look like in your mind’s eye? Notice the scene in the fire; what is the state of the three men? Not consumed, walking around, unbound, unharmed. Who is the fourth person in the fire with them? Did you notice how he described the fourth person? a son of the gods

Daniel 3:28-30 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. 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.

In a way, Nebuchadnezzar still didn’t get it. Notice the penalty if everyone didn’t respect the God of Daniel and the three?