Summary: To look at the commitment, courage and deliverance of God in the 3rd chapter of Daniel
For SBC Philippi 1/23/04 pm
Rev. Jeff Simms
The Fiery Furnace
Primary Purpose: To look at the commitment and loyalty to Jehovah God that these 3 men demonstrated as compared to the masses of people who bowed to an idol.
The events in chapter 3 seem to follow the events of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream found in chapter 2. If you remember, the king had a dream about a gigantic statute. Daniel had told him that he was the head of gold, the most valuable element in the entire statute. Perhaps inspired by this dream, the king decides that he wants people to worship him, so he begins the process of brainwashing the people by building a huge idol of himself.
I. The King’s Idol v.1-2- This was an idol that was about 90 feet tall that was situated in a large plain which would have been visible from a great distance. (A cubit is about 18 inches). There is some disagreement about who the statue was for or what it looked like. It looks as though Nebuchadnezzar had made the statute as a image of himself as a form of claiming deity. You see this pride in his later statements when he says to the three: “What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” v.15
He may have been trying to use religion to control the different people groups under his rule and unify people. To have instead of many different gods and religious one absolute ruler and then for that ruler to be yourself was his aim. This was to be the first group among many to bow to this idol, it all had to start with the leaders.
Nebuchadnezzar was a very powerful king, the most powerful at the time. But, God wanted him to acknowledge that God alone is sovereign and worthy of our worship. The king wasn’t interested in acknowledging anyone else’s authority except him own at this point. We will see in this book that God uses Daniel and his friends to humble the king’s heart and lead him to a place where he will acknowledge the Lord’s right to reign and rule in his heart as well.
II. Forced Worship v.3-7- they were brought to this plain without explanation and given the choice, either bow to the idol or die by fire. The masses chose to at least outwardly go along with it to save themselves.
Perhaps they tried to justify their actions by saying to themselves that they really didn’t mean anything by bowing they just wanted to protect their own lives.
III. The Refusal of 3 To Worship v.8-18- Certain Chaldeans may have been other “chief magicians” who were jealous of Daniel and his associates and their quick rise to the top (see 2:49). This is probably the same reason why Daniel gets thrown into the lion’s den in chapter 6.They told the king that they refused to bow amounts to formal charges. The king is enraged by this refusal.
They answer the king by saying, v.16 “We don’t need to give you an answer about this”. They are saying they don’t have to answer to the king because they answer to another authority about whom they worship. They have thought through what this act of disobedience might cost them and they willingly give of themselves.
v.17 They acknowledge God’s ability to save them even though it would mean a contradiction with the natural laws of nature.
v.18 They realize that God may not answer in the ways they expect, but their obedience is not conditional. This is a tremendous act of obedience and courage by these three men.
IV. Daniel’s Friend’s Protected by God v.19-27- After the 3 are thrown into the furnace the king sees 4 men in the furnace he says the fourth looks like, “a son of the gods”. This is most likely a preincarnate vision of Christ”.
v.27 We should notice that the deliverance is complete. There is no damage done to their person or clothing they didn’t even smell like fire. It also resulted in praise to God by Nebuchadnezzar and his acknowledging the power of God.
The message of this miracle is the fourth man is Christ. He has always been willing to walk with his people when they place their trust and confidence in him. Although we may be tempted at times to doubt him and his timing, we should never doubt his love for us.
A man in Dundee, Scotland, was confined to bed for fourty years, having broken his neck in a fall at age fifteen. But his spirit remained unbroken, and his cheer and courage so inspired people that the enjoyed a constant stream of guests.
One day a visitor asked him, “Doesn’t Satan ever tempt you to doubt God?”