Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Daniel- Chapter 3

Daniel 3


-Chapter details one of the most commonly told miracles of the Old Testament with the event of the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) survival of the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar’s worship of the Living God from Daniel 2:46-47 was apparently short lived as he had built for himself and his empire a golden statue, which was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. All of his leadership as well all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that they had conquered were expected to bow before this statue of gold. This was quite possibly a puffed up and conceited implementation of the head of gold he was given in his dream which Daniel interpreted (see Daniel 2:32, 37-38). When the music played from their diverse instruments, obedience and homage was mandatory (Daniel 3:1-7). This was a common practice in ancient subjugations. The vanquished was expected to take on the conquerors god or gods and worship them since their god was not able to save them from the takeover. The Hebrews were a stark contrast to this system, which denotes the enduring power of Yahweh, their True and Living God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedo-nego became the focal point of Jewish resistance to the king’s command when certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges for their refusal to bow down to the idol. In rage and anger the jilted Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring these captives, who had become leaders in his kingdom (Daniel 2:49), before him to explain their position. Nebuchadnezzar gave them another chance to worship his golden image with the threat of them being immediately cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire if they refused his command. He taunted the God of the universe overtly in stating, “What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands (Daniel 3:15)?” The three Hebrew amigos replied that they did not need to give the king an answer concerning this matter. They confidently asserted, “If it (the king’s punishment) be so, our God whom we serve is ABLE (emphasis mine) to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18). This response filled the pagan king with wrath to the point of his facial expression being altered toward them (Daniel 3:19). He ordered the furnace to be heated up seven times (the number of perfection, so it was perfectly hot) more than it typically was. It was so dangerously hot that the valiant warriors of his forces that threw the Hebrews into fire were consumed by the blaze (Daniel 3:22). The Jewish friends were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps, and their other clothes and cast into the fire. Then, an astounding and miraculous thing occurred. Nebuchadnezzar observed the three Hebrews, along with a forth “like a son of the gods” person loosed and walking about in the midst of the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:24-25). This forth person is a mysterious being of conjecture. Apparently it was either an angel of the LORD, or possibly the LORD Himself in a theophany. Nonetheless, Nebuchadnezzar’s heart changed again in an instant. He called out Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to come out of the fire as servants of the “Most High God (Daniel 3:26).” The government leaders (satraps, prefects, governors, king’s high officials) gathered around to verify that these men had no effects from the fire on their persons. Not a hair of their head was singed, nor their trousers damaged, nor had any smell of fire at all come upon them (Daniel 3:27). Nebuchadnezzar further praised and blessed their God who had sent His angel to deliver them because of their trust and obedience to their LORD despite his command. The king extoled their courage and bravery to yield up their bodies “so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God (Daniel 3:28).” A new decree was made “that any people, nation, or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, or Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way (Daniel 3:29).” The king caused these courageous young men to flourish and prosper from that point on in the province of Babylon (Daniel 3:30). These wise men, along with Daniel, are thought to have influenced the magi from the east who later came to see baby Jesus as the promised Messiah (Matthew 2:1-12).

-*Application* Capitulation to a worldly system or ethic is far easier it seems at first glance than to resist the tide of corruption. We are faced with these issues every day in American culture. While it may not seem as drastic as the sacrifice of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, the results can feel virtually the same. Take for example a real life scenario I recently heard. This man was a manager of a general merchandise store and was a Christian. Often in the morning he would come early and read his Bible in his office before starting the work day. A homosexual individual who came to work with him at the store became offended when he observed the Word of God displayed on his boss’ desk. This individual complained to their corporate superiors, and the Christian was threatened to lose his job if he didn’t put the Bible away. Threatened with a decision like this, what would you do? He needed the job’s income for his family’s survival, but He also felt an obligation to stand up for his beliefs and his Lord. The believer told them that they could fire him if they wanted to for his convictions. He had been very successful and the Lord had blessed his work. The Bible would stay on his desk or he would leave the job. The final result is that they backed down and let him express his faith by having his Bible on his desk. A modern day miracle you could say, right?  The conclusion to this story is that some time later he noticed on the surveillance camera in his office that this homosexual individual was going into his office and actually reading his Bible. Through continuing to work together with mutual respect for each other’s opinions, this gay man eventually ended up accepting Christ as his Savior, and his life was changed forever. A powerful testimony to the courage it takes to make a real difference in our modern world I would say. Now let’s go and do the same!


Verses to Memorize: Daniel 3:17-18, 28

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