Sunday Night Bible Study

June 4, 1995

Daniel 3:1-30


Daniel and his three buddies have been taken to Babylon, and have been put into government service as part of the counselors to the king, Nebuchadnezzar.

They are in their late teens, early twenties.

Daniel and his friends have stood their ground in walking with the Lord in the midst of a wicked people.

God has just used Daniel to tell the king what his mysterious dream was, and to interpret it as well.

:1-7  The image and the decree

:1  height was threescore cubits ... breadth ...

60 cubits = 90 feet high!

6 cubits = 9 feet wide.

This is a huge, tall, skinny thing

:1  an image of gold

The Aramaic word used here means "idol", or, "image".

It was first used in:

»Daniel 2:31-AV Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness [was] excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof [was] terrible.

Where do you think Nebuchadnezzar gets the idea to build such a huge idol?  Especially all of gold?

»Daniel 2:37-38 AV Thou, O king, [art] a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.  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.

Last week we studied Nebuchadnezzar's dream, where he saw this huge, terrible looking idol, made up of various metals.

It was a picture of the Gentile, world-wide empires that would dominate the landscape up to the time of the Messiah's return.

And the head of gold was identified as Nebuchadnezzar.

The chest and arms of silver would be the next empire, the Medes and Persians.

The belly of brass was the Grecian empire.

The legs of iron was the Roman empire.

The feet of clay and iron was a part of the Roman empire, but a part that would be in existence when the Messiah comes back to destroy man's rule on earth, and set up His own kingdom.

And now, rather than set up an image like the one he saw in his dream, he now sets up a huge image, all of gold.

I wonder if he's trying to make a statement here?

Like maybe he thinks he's just going to stay in control, and that Babylon will never lose world dominion?

:1  in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon

"Dura" means any place that is enclosed by walls.

It is thought that this was a mound outside of the city, surrounded by a plain.

The image, placed on the mound would be visible from very far away.

:2  gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains ...

Basically, Nebuchadnezzar is bringing together all the various under-rulers of the land, all who rule under his authority.

:5  the sound of the cornet, flute, harp ...

We won't get into the details of the instruments.

Nebuchadnezzar wants to play "musical idolatry"

Worship leaders take note:  Not all usages of a band are godly ones.

:5  fall down and worship the golden image

[email protected] (Aramaic) 1) to prostrate oneself, do homage, worship

He wants all the leaders in the land to worship this image of gold.

I think that it's possible that Nebuchadnezzar thinks that if he can get all the leaders under him to worship, and "pledge allegiance" to his image, and to Babylon, that this will insure that Babylon will rule the world forever.

:6  a burning fiery furnace

It is thought that this was probably similar to a common lime-kiln.

There would be a perpendicular shaft from the top.

An opening at the bottom would allow for the removal of materials placed into the furnace.

The materials put in the furnace will be put in from the top.

This is kind of a good incentive to worship this image, isn't it?

It's seems to me that Nebuchadnezzar almost is appearing to be the kind of insecure person who demands that people pay attention to him, or else he'll punish them.

There are some kinds of husbands who treat their wives this way.

I've even heard of pastors who get like this with their churches.

You can demand that people love you, but you're not going to find that you'll ever receive the real thing. 

You'll only end up with people who are afraid of you.

Instead, we will receive love when we turn around and give it properly:

»Ephesians 5:25-AV Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Note that it doesn't say:  Husbands boss your wives around until they finally learn to love and submit to you.

:7  therefore ... when all the people heard ... fell down ...

Nebuchadnezzar got what he wanted.

But when people are forced to do this, you don't want to turn your back on them.

:8-12  The accusation

:8  certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews

The tattle-tales come out of the woodwork.

:13-18  The answer to the king

:13  in his rage and fury

Just a little more insight into the pleasant character of good old king Nebuchadnezzar.

Remember how he wanted all the wise to tell him what he had dreamed, as well as tell him the interpretation?  Or else they would all die?

:15  who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

He's about to find out.

:16  we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

Bad translation for today's use of "careful".

careful = chashach (Aramaic)  to need, have need

Better translation:  "we do not have a need to answer or defend ourselves in this matter".

They didn't even feel that it was necessary to make any long speeches.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

:17  our God whom we serve is able to deliver us

Here's the first part of their faith.


Overcoming faith knows God's abilities.

To have the kind of faith that take you through your trials, you have to be aware of what God can do!

»Hebrews 11:6-AV But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

You have to start with knowing who God is and what He can do.

Isaiah 40:12-31

We serve an awesome God!

»Jeremiah 32:17-AV Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for thee:

When we get our eyes off of God's abilities, and start looking at our own circumstances, we get things out of perspective.

We tend to "zoom-in" on our circumstances, and they look HUGE!

But if we would just step back, and put things into correct perspective, we'd realize that God was much, much bigger than our problems.

:18  but if not ... we will not serve thy gods

Here's the second part of their faith, just as important as the first.


Overcoming faith trusts God's decisions.

It's not just knowing what God can do, but it's learning to step back and let God do what He wants, and acknowledge it as right.

This kind of goes against some of the teaching you'll receive on channel 40 from the "word of faith" teachers.

They say you don't have enough faith if you pray for anything but leave room for God's will.

But real faith is willing to trust God, no matter what the outcome it

» Job 13:15-AV Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

Sometimes God answers our prayer the way we want Him to.

But sometimes He doesn't.

It's not always just a lack of faith or sin in our lives that keeps Him from doing things our way.

Sometimes it's because He knows best, and He needs to do it His way.

We need to grow up and mature and believers and realize that

Father knows best!

How can you stop people like this?

You can't.

Nothing can deter them from trusting in God.


The apostles

   All of the apostles were insulted by the enemies of their Master. They were called to seal their doctrines with their blood and nobly did they bear the trial.

   Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia.

   Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.

   Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.

   John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward branded at Patmos.

   Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward.

   James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem.

   James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller's club.

   Bartholomew was flayed alive.

   Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he preached to his persecutors until he died.

   Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.

   Jude was shot to death with arrows.

   Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.

   Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.

   Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.

   Such was the fate of the apostles, according to traditional statements.

It was through these men that the gospel went around the world, unstoppable.

In the end, it wasn't the church that died, but the Roman empire.


  Polycarp (69-155), one of the early church fathers, was put on trial because of his faith in Christ.  When the Roman proconsul told him to deny his faith, Polycarp answered, "For 86 years I have served Him, and He has never wronged me.  How can I blaspheme my King, who has saved me?"

   The proconsul then threatened to cast him in with the wild beasts, but Polycarp answered, "Call them!"  He was then warned that he might be burned at the stake.  Even that failed to move him.  He responded, "You threaten me with fire which burns for only a moment, but you are ignorant of the fire of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly."

   These are Polycarp's final words:  "O Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son, Jesus Christ!  I bless Thee that Thou has counted me worthy of this day, and of this hour, to receive my portion in the number of the martyrs, in the cup of Christ."

Polycarp die at the stake.  It was said that the flames weren't hurting him, so one of the executioners pierced him with a spear, and the blood that came out of him put the fire out, though he died.

Chet Bitterman

   Chet Bitterman, a Wycliffe bible translator in Bogata, Columbia, made this entry in his diary on September 13, 1978:

   Costa Rica, the situation in Nicaragua is getting worse.  If Nicaragua falls, I guess the rest of Central America will too. Maybe this is just some kind of self-inflicted martyr complex, but I find this recurring thought that perhaps God will call me to be martyred for Him in His service in Columbia.  I am willing.

   On January 19, 1981, 7 armed terrorists burst into the Wycliffe bible translators office in Bogota, Columbia and took Chet captive for 7 weeks until they shot him in the head.

Then ...

  The "homegoing" of slain Wycliffe linguist Chester Bitterman was not a setback to the work of translating the Scriptures into the world's remaining 3,000 unwritten languages.  It was, said William Cameron Townsend, 84, founder-patriarch of Wycliffe and its Summer Institute of Linguistics, "a tremendous advance. Young people have been awakened in a new way."

   That this is not pious sentiment or wishful thinking became evident at the Golden Jubilee celebration of Wycliffe in Anaheim, California, last month, when 7,500 Wycliffe supporters paid tribute to "Uncle Cam" and Wycliffe's 4,255 members who work in 750 languages in 35 countries.  Since the 28-year-old Bitterman was kidnapped, then murdered 48 days later in Bogota, Columbia (CT, April 10, p. 70), about 100 students at Columbia Bible College in North Carolina, where Bitterman was graduated, have pledged themselves to missionary service.  Chet's widow, Brenda, has vowed to return to Bible literacy work, and his younger brother, Craig, 21, has applied to Wycliffe, hoping to be a Bible translator.  And a new chair of linguistics and Bible translation has been established at Biola College in La Mirada, California, in Chet's memory.

   Said Chet's father, Chester Bitterman, Sr., who, with his wife, Mary, and Chet's five brothers and sisters were special guests at the Golden Jubilee:  "On a human level, Chet may have lost his life.  But we believe that God is not finished in this. We haven't read the last chapter yet."

:19-25  Into the fire

:19  full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed

The NIV says:

»Daniel 3:19-NIV Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual

Lit:  "the image of his face (or nose) was changed or altered"

Other translations:

»DAN 3:19  NASB Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

»Daniel 3:19-NRSV Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary,

In simple terms, he's having a temper tantrum!

:19  heat the furnace one seven times more

It's going to be very, very hot in there!

:21  bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats

Or, their mantles, leggings, and turbans.

In other words, they were thrown into the furnace with all their clothes on.

:22  urgent

or, harsh, severe

:22  slew those men that took up Shadrach ...

This is just to let us know how hot it was in there.

They aren't supposed to just be getting a tan.

The guards who take the three Jewish boys in die in the process.

:23  fell down bound

As the guards were dying, they pushed the three into the burning furnace.

They were still tied up when they got thrown in.

:24  the king was astonied

startled or alarmed

:25  Lo, I see

However the furnace was set up, it was set up in a way that whatever went on could be observed.

:25  loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt


Deliverance comes in our trials

Our fear is that the trials we face are going to destroy us.

In reality, they only work to give us more freedom, to set us free.

Before the fire, the three were all tied up.

In the fire, the bonds are destroyed.

There is something about suffering that works to disconnect us from the power and pull of the flesh.

»1Peter 4:1-2 AV Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;  2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

Instead of destroying us, the trials we face are building good things in us.

»2Corinthians 4:17-18 AV For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory;  18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.

:25  the fourth is like the Son of God

Well it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out who this is!

I know that some of the other translations say, "a son of the gods"

It could be translated either way, but the others are just wrong!

This is Jesus in one of His "preincarnate" appearances.

These three have stood up for Him.

He stands up for them.


Jesus will be with you even in the fire

»Romans 8:35-39 AV Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You aren't going to be alone!

:26-30  The reward

:26  servants of the most high God

Old Nebuchadnezzar is getting closer!

:26  came forth ...

I wonder if their first words were, "Could somebody please turn up the thermostat, it's kind of cold in here"

:27  nor the smell of fire had passed on them

When you go to the beach and have an open fire, you come home smelling like smoke.

And you haven't even been IN the fire!


Trials aren't going to hurt us.

The worse that can happens is that we will find ourselves in God's presence.

:28  Blessed be the God of Shadrach ...

This is good.

He's getting close, kind of ...

:29  shall be cut in pieces ...

There goes that old temper again!

:30  the king promoted Shadrach ...

I wonder if he put them in charge of the Fire Department!