THE FIERY FURNACE
INTRODUCTION: In this chapter, we have the story of three men who stood alone among all the people of Babylon (Jews and Babylonians) for God and righteousness. Discuss how hard it is to be different (even today) and to take a stand for God among our acquaintances. It was hard for these three men, too. Let's see how they fared in their stand.
I. The Royal Decree Vs. l-7. This came about 19 years after events of Chapter two.
1. The Forgotten Lesson - Vs. 1 -- Cf. Chapter 2:47; Deuteronomy 6:12; Psalm 9:17; 50:22; Deuteronomy 4:9. Note: Threescore cubits = 60. 6 is the number of man and corresponds to the Mark of the Beast - 666. Revelation 13:18. A cubit is about 18 inches.
2. The Sin of Idolatry -- This was Satan's effort to get man to idolize man. The Image was a gigantic man. Remember, Daniel's prophetic teaching deals with the "Times of the Gentiles." Idolatry and the deification of man are then the first moral characteristics mentioned which are to prevail during the Times of the Gentiles. The "Times of the Gentiles" produce a religion that is opposed to the God of Heaven. In Revelation 13, near the time of the end of the "Times of the Gentiles", another image will be made and worshipped. Cf. Romans 1:18-23; Psalm 115:1-8; Isaiah 44;9-20; Exodus 20:4,5. Idolatry is both sinful and foolish.
3. The Source of Idolatry -- Satan. Cf. I Corinthian 10:19,20; Deuteronomy 32:17; Ps. 106:36,37.
II. The Bold Refusal Vs. 8-12
1. The Reason -- They knew God. They had proved Him (chapter 1 & 2) to be the only, the true, the living and the all powerful One by experience. They had the knowledge of God. Have we? CF. Prov. 1:7; 2:5; II Corinthians 4:6; I Corinthians 1;24.
2. The Result -- A bold uncompromising stand for Him against all opposition. Cf. Daniel 11;32; II Timothy 1:12; Romans 1:16. The knowledge of God encourages and strengthens us. Illustration: The martyrs of the church through all ages: Paul, Stephen, Peter,...
III. The Fearful Threat Vs. 13 - 15 1.
1. The Rage. Vs. 13 -- The wrath of man robs him of his reason, balance and justice. Which is best to fear -- the wrath of men or the wrath of God? Job 36:5,18; Romans 1:18; Revelation 6:15-17.
2. The Threat. Vs. 15 -- The fiery furnace that could only touch the body. Matthew 10:28.
"Who is that God that shall deliver you?" He will soon find out and all who reject Him will one day discover who He is.
IV. The Brave Avowal Vs. 16-18
1. As to God's ability -- Vs. 16-17. "Our God." Theirs by (1) knowledge. They knew Him; John. 17:3; (2) choice. "We serve." (3) experience. As seen and proved in their lives. God is able to deliver us in any circumstance. II Timothy 4:17, 18.
2. As to their Own Responsibility -- "But if not." Here is the crux of faith, "if not". At all costs they would stand for Him. Job 13:15.
V. The Divine Deliverance Vs. 19-27
1. The Fiery Furnace . Vs. 19-23. Its effect upon the executioners; They were slain. Note the helplessness of the captives, Vs. 21. Note the intensity of the fire. Vs. 22. No matter how bad the circumstances around us seem, God is able to deliver us.
2.The Divine Companion. Vs. 24, 25. In the midst of the trial, Jesus was there. Cf. Isaiah 49:1,2; Hebrews 13;5; Psalm. 23:4; II Timothy 4;16,17; Isaiah 41:10,17; Proverbs 18:24; Matthew 28:18-20.
3. The Marvelous Result. Vs. 27. A complete deliverance in their trial, not deliverance from their trial. Cf. Job 23: 10; I Peter 1:7; I Corinthians 10:13.
By Primary interpretation: This story teaches God's care for His captive people Israel in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. By application, the story teaches us that God always cares for His own and we need never be afraid to be faithful to our convictions and His word.
The Prophet's interpretation: The three Hebrews are a picture of the nation Israel among the Gentiles. Cast into the furnace of affliction and persecution, they should perish by all human standards, but miraculously they are preserved, even in the fiery furnace of race hatred and persecution, because they are God's covenant people and will finally be marvelously delivered and exalted among the nations.
In Verse 1, we have Nebuchadnezzar erecting a great image and telling all the world to worship this image. All do except a few, a little remnant who refuse. Now this is at the beginning of the "Times of the Gentiles" which is to run until Jesus returns with His Saints. Revelation 19. This age begins and ends with a great image, a false God. Nebuchadnezzar's image in Daniel chapter three is the first image and the image set up in the Temple in Revelation 13, the last. Then too, in that day there will be a remnant who will not worship this false god. They will be marked for death, but will be miraculously preserved and delivered to live in the millenial reign of Christ.
VI. The Royal Proclamation Vs. 28-30. Cf. Deuteronomy 32:31.
A. Nebuchadnezzar's testimony. Vs. 28,29.
1. As to their faithfulness and courage. Vs. 28; Matthew. 5:16; I Peter 2:11, 12.
2. As to God's Supreme Authority and power, Vs. 29; II Thessalonians 1:12.
3. As to the Gospel message. Vs. 28. God sent His angel (Jesus) and delivered His servants that trusted in Him. John. 5:24; 5:16.
B. Their Triumph. Vs. 30. If God is put first He will look after our earthly interests. Cf. Matthew 6:33.
CONCLUSION; God will take care of us. We, as Christians, can expect God to do that. Romans 8:28. The unsaved have no such promise. Are you saved today? If not, it may soon be too late. You should trust Christ today and obtain peace in your heart and assurance for the future that God will deliver you.