Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 3

Outline and Background

The Creation - Daniel 3:1

The Ceremony and the Command - Daniel 3:2-7

The Conspiracy and the Coercion - Daniel 3:8-15

The Courage - Daniel 3:16-18

The Coolness - Daniel 3:19-27

The Confession - Daniel 3:28

The Canon and the Commission - Daniel 3:29-30

Application and Typical Prophecies

Application and Typical Prophecies - Daniel 3

In this chapter, faithfulness and fearlessness, in the face of extreme adversity, are modeled by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Following their example, believers during times of turmoil and tribulation should be encouraged to hold to the faith.

This chapter is prophetic, foreshadowing the ultimate preservation and restoration of Israel in spite of the wrath of the Antichrist during the Tribulation Period.

The near future is typified by the three men from Judah (Jews) and the fourth person in the fiery furnace. Herein is portrayed God’s presence and His protection of the faithful remnant during the Babylonian exile. The Jews will not perish as a people but will come out of the furnace when the king commands. What is typified here was fulfilled in King Cyrus’ decree in 538 B.C.

Subsequent history of the Jews shows that the courage of Daniel’s friends encouraged the Jewish patriots during the time of the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes, who foreshadows the Antichrist. He commanded the Jews to violate the regulations of their sacred law and apostatize from their ancestral faith on pain of death.

And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added, “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die” (1 Maccabees 1:44-50, NRSV).

In his last words, Mattathias said:

Elijah, because of great zeal for the law, was taken up to heaven. Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame” (1 Maccabees 2:59, NRSV).

The courage and faith of such men encouraged the Jews to fear God, not man. This will be the ultimate test in the end times for “faith is the victory that overcomes the world!”

The nation of Israel is a miracle—a far greater miracle than three Hebrews saved from the flames and heat of the fiery furnace. The very fact of Israel’s existence, after three thousand years of passing through the fires of satanic opposition, is proof there is a God of heaven who rules. Israel is God’s polemic against false gods (Isaiah 41). The fiery furnace is symbolic of the saving of Israel.

They will know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the LORD (Ezekiel 12:15-16).

God’s protection and preservation of the Jews, while they are in the fires, is proof that He continues to be the God of Israel during periods of chastisement according to Isaiah 43:1-7:

But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Just as chapter two’s panorama of history is followed by the persecution of the faithful remnant in chapter three, so will the times of the Gentiles end with the persecution and salvation of Israel.

The sixth century prophet Zechariah announced God’s purpose behind the yet future fiery furnace for Israel.

“In the whole land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it.” This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God’” (Zechariah 13:8-9).

Thus, the fiery furnace is a type of the Great Tribulation, which constitutes the second half of the seventieth “seven” revealed and recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. This period will be seven times hotter for the Jews than any previous times of distress. It is “A Time for Jacob’s Trouble” according to the prophet Jeremiah. This period serves multiple purposes of God as manifested by the following outline of Jeremiah 30:4-11.

A TIME FOR JACOB’S TROUBLE
A Time of Travail, Jeremiah 30:4-6
A Time of Terror, 7a
A Time of Triumph, 7b-11b

End of the times of the Gentiles, 8

Beginning of Christ’s Kingdom, 9
Restoration of Israel to the Land, 10a
Rest for Israel, 10b
Salvation for Israel, 11a
End of All Nations, 11b

A Time of Training, 11c

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are by inference in The Faith Hall of Fame: “Who through faith . . . quenched the fury of the flames” (Hebrews 11:33). When we consider that Yahweh gave light and protection to His people in the desert by means of a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21; 14:19-20), it is not surprising to find His presence also in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4), or the fiery furnace.

The application for the Christian is that God saves us in the fire but not from the fire. He takes us through the fire to test and refine our faith as well as to manifest His glory before an unbelieving world. To all who will stand firm in faith, there is the promise of persecution. No saint in any age has been popular with the world. Therefore, “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Nowhere in the whole Bible is there a verse that supports the contention that this present age is going to get better and better, until at last, through mutual understanding between men and nations the Gospel will banish war and bring about an age of peace and contentment. Instead, David describes this present age as a time of rebellion against God.

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters (Psalm 2:1-3).

Nebuchadnezzar foreshadows the Antichrist who will conspire against God in the end times. He will set up his image on the wing of the Temple in Jerusalem; then he will demand that everyone worship it or die. The images erected by Nebuchadnezzar and the Antichrist represent the state and its monarch. One religion for all people, nations, and languages during the end times is foreshadowed in Daniel 3:4. All must conform to state worship or die.

Paradoxically, God’s government disallows separation of state and religion. Yahweh instituted state religion when he created the nation of Israel. The millennial reign of Christ will be a state religion. Many of man’s efforts to combine state and religion have been devastating. Constantine corrupted the Church with state religion. In the Dark Ages, the popes, through abuse of their religious power, usurped the authority of kings, all in the name of religion.

America’s forefathers, in the Bill of Rights, legislated against the tyranny of the state religions of England and Europe. State religion will reach its darkest moment under the Antichrist in the end times and its brightest day during Christ’s millennial reign.

The dimensions of the image are not without significance. Its height was sixty cubits and its width was six cubits. The number of man is six. Six stops short of perfection. Six then is the number of human incompleteness. Man was made on the sixth day; the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD. Revelation 13:18, speaking of the number of the beast, says:

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.

One of the sixes is missing in Nebuchadnezzar’s image, possibly because the religious system is incomplete. On the other hand, six musical instruments are mentioned with the worship of the image (Daniel 3:15). Little did Nebuchadnezzar know that the golden image he erected on the plain of Dura would foreshadow the image and number of the beast.

Babylon embodies the religious system of man. It began with the erection of a tower on the Plain of Shinar; it continued with Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image on the plain of Dura; and it will end with the beast’s image on the wing of the Temple.

The image is of gold (materialism) and of a man (humanism), possibly the main elements of the religion forced on the inhabitants of the world by the false prophet, during the end times (cf. Revelation 13:11-17). The golden image also foreshadows Satan’s attempt to sidetrack God’s plan for the future. The Antichrist, like Nebuchadnezzar, will attempt to make the whole image gold (the end time empire), not just its head. He will almost achieve his goal as indicated by the title given to his empire.

This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH (Revelation 17:5).

The three faithful men in the fiery furnace prefigure the Jews saved in the midst of the fire. The Jews’ bonds will be burned off in the end times. Just as God preserved the 7,000 Israelites who did not bow to Baal in Elijah's day, so He is going to preserve 144,000 Jews during the Tribulation Period (1 Kings 19:18; Revelation 7:1-8). They will be victorious over the beast and his image (Revelation 14:1-6). When God delivers, He does it miraculously.

Not one Israelite perished in the Red Sea. Not one Jew perished in the fiery furnace. Not one of the 144,000 will perish in the Tribulation. Those who stand with the Lamb will be sealed and safely delivered. The soldiers, who died while throwing the three Jews into the fire, foreshadow the fate of those who will persecute the Jews in the end times.

Nebuchadnezzar’s royal decree provides the basis for Christ’s separation of the people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. Those separated as sheep will enter the millennial kingdom and eternal life. Those separated as goats will go away into eternal punishment (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). Opposition to God’s people ends in terrifying consequences, as we will see in chapter six.

Nebuchadnezzar is a dual type of the Antichrist and Christ. Verse 26 is exhilarating from the Christian’s perspective.

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire.

The unquenchable and non-consuming flames of Hell are the destiny of everyone until Christ issues the invitation to “Come out! Come here! Enter My kingdom.” According to the NT, every believer is to follow suit, extending Christ’s invitation to the perishing.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh (Jude 22-23).

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were tested by fire; survived the fire; and received their reward. That sounds very much like the Christian at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

This chapter emphasizes the truth that the wise fear the LORD, not people. Ultimately, those who trust and obey God will be rewarded. In the intervening time, every “fiery furnace” trial can produce within a believer a stronger faith, resulting in spiritual maturity.

{Let us} also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

Every believer, who perseveres in testing, has the potential to be a bold witness of the power of God in his or her life.

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Book of James

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

Other studies at Spreading Light Bible Studies

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