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Monday, December 14 2015
Daniel 3: The Fiery Furnace Of The Head Of Gold
"Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God"
The LORD (see The Identity Of The LORD God and The LORD God Our Saviour) had given King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon a great prophetic dream that revealed the flow of Israel-related history from Nebuchadnezzar's own time right to the yet-future coming of the Kingdom of God on Earth (see Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Of The World To Come and The Empires Of Bible History And Prophecy).
Nebuchadnezzar was the "head of gold" in the revelation that was given to him.
"2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 2:38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold." (Daniel 2:37-38 KJV)
As is typical of humanity's state of mind in the present age of rebellion (i.e. from the fall in the Garden of Eden until the time when humans will be cured of the confusion that Satan has infected them with; see the Fact Finder question below), Nebuchadnezzar thereafter nevertheless became oblivious to the true existence and power of the LORD and made himself a great golden idol. He might even have perverted the earlier prophecy that was given to him into a narcissistic delusion of it.
Nebuchadnezzar then commanded it to be an object of nationalistic worship, not only throughout Babylon itself, but in all of the nations that Babylon had invaded and seized in their malignant lust to "lead" other nations with nothing more than brute force ("To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages ... ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up"). The penalty for refusing to take part, in what was declared to be a patriotic state religion of the empire, was to be cast alive into a blazing furnace.
"3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 3:2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3:3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
As is also typical of any police state (in earlier times, tyrants were most-often kings, such as Nebuchadnezzar, but in the present era they are almost always presidents of republics e.g. Adolf Hitler was a democratically elected president of the German Republic), the government-fearing people attempted to demonstrate their patriotism by accusing others of being unpatriotic - in most cases, it's simply a desperate tactic to deflect attention away from themselves. Such was the case of those who reported Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for their refusal to commit heathen idolatry.
It's absolutely certain that Daniel also did not worship the idol, but in this case the snitches were apparently either only aware of Daniel's friends and fellow exiles Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and/or that Daniel would have been a harder target at that time because of the political power that Nebuchadnezzar had given to him for his revealing of Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego also gained political power from that incident, but it was less than Daniel i.e. "2:48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. 2:49 Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king." (Daniel 2:47-48 KJV; again, see Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Of The World To Come)
"3:8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. 3:9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 3:10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: 3:11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 3:12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3:8-12 KJV)
Nebuchadnezzar had a short temper. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to commit "patriotic" idolatry, "Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated." The fire was fueled so that it was seven times hotter than usual - so hot that it burned the executioners to death as they cast Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the flames.
"3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 3:14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 3:15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
While expecting to find only ashes (see also Isaac: Rising From The Ashes and Is 'Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust' Really In The Bible?), Nebuchadnezzar was shocked to discover that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were unharmed by the intense heat of the flames - and that the LORD had manifested one "like the Son of God" to stand with them in the fire.
"3:24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?
With that, yet another powerful demonstration that the LORD rules His Creation, Nebuchadnezzar then declared Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to thereafter be immune to religious prosecution - a "generous" act by Nebuchadnezzar, considering that the LORD had already made it clear that no abuse of them would be permitted.
"3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
Fact Finder: How did idolatry begin? When will it end?
This Day In History, December 14
557: Constantinople was severely damaged by an earthquake. The city was named after the Roman Emperor Constantine (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).
704: Aldfrith, king of Northumbria 685-704, died.
1287: A Zuider Zee (i.e. sea in Dutch) seawall failure in the Netherlands caused the drowning of over 50,000 people.
1542: Princess Mary Stuart became Mary, Queen of Scots.
1782: In France, the Montgolfier brothers' balloon made its first test flight.
1812: The French invasion of Russia ended with the remnants of Napoleon's Grande Armee retreating from Russia.
1822: The Congress of Verona, a last meeting of the powers of the Holy Alliance and Britain, ended with Britain preventing a possible intervention in revolutionary Spain.
1860: George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, died at age 76. The British statesman and Prime Minister (1852-1855) led a government that involved Britain in the Crimean War against Russia. His government settled disputes over boundaries between Canada the U.S. by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.
1861: Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha died of typhoid at age 42. The German-born husband and first cousin of Queen Victoria (Albert and Victoria were the nephew and niece of King Leopold of Belgium, who promoted their marriage) was the father of King Edward VII. Throughout her almost 40 years of widowhood, Queen Victoria decided important questions on the basis of what she thought "Albert would have done."
1900: Max Planck presented his quantum theory at the Physics Society in Berlin.
1911: Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and three others became the first known humans to reach the South Pole.
1920: The first fatalities on a scheduled passenger flight occurred when an aircraft crashed into a house, killing the two-person crew and two passengers at Cricklewood, London.
1927: Britain signed a treaty allowing for Iraqi independence. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, numerous Middle East nations, including Israel, regained their independence by means of the British Mandate (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate).
1946: Primarily because Europe was still then in ruins at the end of the Second World War, the United Nations voted to move its headquarters to New York.
1977: Representatives from Israel and Egypt met in Cairo for the first peace conference between the two nations.
1981: Israel annexed the Golan Heights. It had been captured from Syria during the 1967 War.
2004: Cuba and Venezuela founded the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
2012: 20 children and 6 school staff were murdered in a mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.