Summary: This incident in Babylon shows us that Christians are justified in getting involved in politics, but also in resisting a government that compels obedience to what is contrary to the will of God.
Alfred North Whitehead said, "The key note of idolatry is
contentment with the prevalent gods." Nebuchadnezzar, as we saw
in the conclusion of chapter 2, had been convinced that Jehovah was
the God of gods. Even after this, however, he did not feel compelled
to forsake his lesser gods. Like many Oriental people today he added
the true God to his collection and went on in his allegiance to his old
gods. Here in chapter 3 we see him setting up an idol of gold to be
Commentators disagree as to how to interpret this idolatry. Dr.
Gill says it was due to his pride. In the dream and interpretation of
chapter 2 he was the head of gold, but he was going to do better than
that and be the whole image of gold. The image represents himself,
and it is his attempt to outwit the dream and make himself superior.
Whether or not he felt this image represented himself we do not
know, but we do know he was very serious about it being
worshipped, for he threatens immediate death to all who would bow
to it. what ever his motive he is determined to get all to worship his
golden image. It meant a great deal to him.
Joseph Seiss takes an opposite view of the matter. He says the
king is to be congratulated here for this noble act of reverence. He
says Nebuchadnezzar is building this image as a memorial of the
dream God gave him so as to never forget. The purpose then is to
glorify the God of heaven and not to detract from Him. It is
wonderful to be able to see such a noble motive, but the evidence is
opposed to this optimistic view. If it was true that he was honoring
Jehovah, why would the whole chapter be about the opposition of
God's men to the whole thing? In verse 18 they say they will not
serve his gods or worship the golden image. It is flying in the face of
the facts to suppose Nebuchadnezzar is doing anything here but
demanding idolatrous worship. It helps to know that chapter 3 does
not come immediately after chapter 2 in time. Nebuchadnezzar is not
to be pictured as getting up the next day and ordering the image to
be set up.
Since chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar has been to Jerusalem and has
destroyed the city, and so this is 19 years later. Possibly he is now no
longer impressed with the God of the Jews whose city he has
destroyed. He is feeling very supreme himself, and he says to the 3
Jewish friends in verse 15, "And who is the God that will deliver you
out of my hands?" If the God of the Jews could not deliver them in
their holy city, He will certainly be no threat in Babylon is what he
was thinking. Nebuchadnezzar had lost the impression he had when
the dream was interpreted. He settled back into his contentment
with the gods of Babylon. He was in the same frame of mind as king
Robert of Sicily. He heard the words of Scripture being chanted by
some priest. They were saying, "He hath put down the mighty from
their seats, and exalted them of low degree." His scornful response
of pride was-
Tis well that such seditious words are sung
Only by priests in the Latin tongue,
For unto priests and people be it known,
There is no power can push me from my throne.
It was in this spirit that Nebuchadnezzar raised his 90 foot high
golden image and expected all to bow down. Even if it did not
represent him, his ego was directly involved. We get an idea of his
attitude from the famous India House Inscription in which he tells us
how he renovated two great temples and built many others. Of one
of his palaces he says, "That house, for admiration I made it, for the
beholding of the hosts of men I filled it with magnificence.
Awe-inspiring glory, and dread of the splendor of my sovereignty
encompass it round about; the evil, unrighteous man cometh not
within it." He came very near to playing God with his great power.
Verse 2 says that he called all the officials together for the
dedication of his image. A tyrant always has a good crowd at his
formalities. It is a matter of survival to attend such a function.
Daniel is not present at this ceremony, and was likely on a trip of
some important government business. His three friends, who were
lesser officials, were not so fortunate, and they were forced into a
showdown. They had survived all these years as servants in a pagan
government, but now they faced a test of loyalty between God and