Daniel Chapter 3
This chapter has a clear message of Law and Gospel.
Its Law message is that God requires his people to resist the pressures to compromise the one true faith by worshiping false gods.
Its Gospel message is that God remains beside his persecuted believers, as shown by the appearance of the divine man with the three Judeans in the flames, and God shall rescue his people from even death.
For the faithful Judeans, God’s rescue comes miraculously in this life so that they do not die. God does not promise always to perform such miracles in this life, but he does promise that all those who die with faith in him shall be raised to everlasting life (12:2–3). Later Daniel passages also make explicit that the basis for God’s Gospel promise of resurrection to everlasting life is based on the atoning death and resurrection of the promised Messiah.
No Accommodation to Paganism
In Daniel 1, they were willing to learn the Babylonian language and literature and accept Babylonian names while maintaining their loyalty to God and the dietary laws of the Pentateuch. By requesting (not demanding) a trial exemption and by submitting to the king’s examination they were also able to show loyalty to the king without compromising their ultimate loyalty to God.
In Daniel 2, Daniel is able to speak to Nebuchadnezzar about the power of the only true God in the context of a Babylonian court that believed in the existence of many gods. Daniel (and he alone) was able to comply with the king’s demand that his wise men recount and interpret his dream, and afterward Daniel served the king in his court while his companions served the king in the province (2:49).
3:1-7 Nebuchadnezzar’s Officials Obey His Command to Worship His Idol
(3:1–3) Nebuchadnezzar Constructs a Statue and Summons His Civil Servants
He wanted to impress his officials with the golden statue and
ordered that they worship it as a demonstration of their fealty to him as their king
The pagan officials automatically obey the summons to assemble for idolatrous worship.
(3:4–7) The Herald’s Proclamation and the Obedience of the Civil Servants
The proclamation is addressed universally to “peoples, nations, and languages”
Compare the civil servants (bland) to the Judeans (strong character)
3:8-18 Despite the Death Threat, Judeans Remain Faithful
(3:8–12) The Threefold Accusation against Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego
1. They do’nt heed the king’s royal/civil authority. (“These men do not pay attention to you, Your Majesty.”)
2. They do not serve the king’s gods. (“Your gods they do not serve.”)
3. They do not bow down to the gold statue. (“The statue of gold that you set up they do not worship.”)
(3:13–15) The Enraged Nebuchadnezzar Threatens the Judeans with Death
The focus is religious and theological—a matter of faith and worship. Worship or die.
(3:16–18) The Judeans Refuse Idolatry and Entrust Themselves to God
The three faithful Judeans begin their response by declaring that they have “no need” to answer the king
3:19-30 The Judeans Are Thrown into the Furnace but Saved by God
(3:19–23) An Enraged Nebuchadnezzar Orders the Judeans to Be Thrown into the Furnace
The Judeans, by only worshiping the true God, personally and publicly defy Neb’s authority.
Nebuchadnezzar’s (the creator of the pagan stature) face or image changes, even thought the statue (created) cannot.
(3:24–27) God Sends His Son and Saves the Judeans
Four indications that this was a miracle:
1. Didn’t we throw three men into the midst of the fire bound?
2. the men were unscathed
3. the observation of a fourth person in the fire
4. They are able to obey the king’s command to “come out!”
(3:28a) God’s Salvation in Two Actions
First, he “sent his angel”
Second that Nebuchadnezzar God “saved his servants who trusted in him”
(3:28b) Two Acts of Faith by the Judeans
First, Nebuchadnezzar concedes that the faithful Judeans “changed the king’s command”
Second, “they gave their bodies so that they would not reverence or worship any god except their God”
(3:29–30) Nebuchadnezzar’s Two Actions
First, Nebuchadnezzar ceases to require idolatrous worship of his statue and stops persecuting the Judeans. (1st use; curb)
Second, Nebuchadnezzar “promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon”