Daniel 3-4

Thursday Evening Bible Study

December 15, 2005


Before we get into this chapter, there are two things I want to remind us of. These will be helpful in understanding the story of Daniel 3.

1. Nebuchadnezzar is the ruler of a world empire. He has conquered many nations and has taken the best and brightest from all the various conquered nations and brought them to Babylon to educate them and place them in positions of leadership in this new global government. Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1) are part of the group taken from the nation of Judah.

2. In the last chapter (Dan. 2) we saw an incident where Nebuchadnezzar has a very strange dream that spoke of the future. In the dream he saw a huge image or statue that was made of various metals – the head was gold, the chest was silver, the belly of bronze, etc. In the interpretation of the dream, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that the head made of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar.

(Dan 2:37-38 NKJV) "You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; {38} "and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all; you are this head of gold.

Daniel 3

:1-7 The Golden Image

:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

This statue is 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. It is made entirely of gold.

Where do you think Nebuchadnezzar got this idea?

It sure reminds me of the image in his dream, except this one is completely covered with gold, because he, Nebuchadnezzar, was the “head of gold” in the dream.

Archaeologists have found a large square made of brick about six miles southeast of Babylon in the middle of a large plain. Some think this might have been where the statue was set up.

:2 And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

These are the various government leaders of Nebuchadnezzar’s vast global empire. Some are like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who have been trained in the Babylonian ways and placed into government jobs.

:3 So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

:4 Then a herald cried aloud: "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages,

:5 "that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up;

When the “worship band” played, the people were to worship this statue.

There is a religious significance, either in worshipping Nebuchadnezzar himself, or his gods.

There’s a political significance, the swearing of allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar.

There’s an interesting verse at the end of Jeremiah:

(Je 51:59 NKJV) The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And Seraiah was the quartermaster.
Why did king Zedekiah make a trip to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign, seven years before Jerusalem falls? One suggestion is that Zedekiah was one of the officials brought in to pledge their allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar, what is recorded in Daniel 3.

:6 "and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."

:7 So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

:8-18 Jewish Disobedience

:8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews.

:9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever!

:10 "You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image;

:11 "and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

:12 "There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up."

This would be interesting if King Zedekiah was actually in attendance and he was bowing before the image while Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego weren’t.

:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king.

:14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?

:15 "Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"

:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.

:17 "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.

:18 "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

Guys with this kind of faith are unstoppable. What can you do to guys like this? Even if you try and kill them, they will still serve their God.

How can we have this kind of faith when we go through the fire?


Overcoming faith knows God’s abilities.

We serve an awesome God!  He is “able”.
(Jer 32:17 NKJV) ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

God is all powerful.  There’s nothing He can’t do.

If He wants to get me out of this fire, He can do it.


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.
Real faith is learning to trust God, no matter what the outcome is, like Job:
(Job 13:15 NKJV) Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my 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.

“Things aren’t always what they seem.”
Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always what they seem.” The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel “How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him”, he accused. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die. “Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it.” “Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren’t always what they seem.” Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always according to our Heavenly Father’s Love for us! You just might not know it until some time later...

~ Author Unknown

I need to learn to trust Him no matter how I perceive the outcome.
I can trust Him because He loves me.

:19-25 Into the furnace

:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

:20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

:21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

The furnace probably had a chimney on the top and an opening on the side for adding fuel. The three were thrown in through the chimney, but Nebuchadnezzar could watch through the side opening.

Note: They were fully clothed. There’s a reason for this bit of detail (we’ll get to it in verse 27)

:22 Therefore, because the king's command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.

The fact that the three young men would survive the fire was obviously not because the fire wasn’t hot enough. The guards that threw them into the furnace die from the heat.

:23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

:24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king."

:25 "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."

Who was the fourth person?  I think it was Jesus.

(Isa 43:2 NKJV) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.

:26-30 Nebuchadnezzar honors God

:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.

:27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.

The only thing that burned in the fire was the ropes that had bound them. They were being refined in the fire

:28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!

:29 "Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this."

:30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.

The End Times picture

Though this is nothing that we could actually build doctrine on, I think that this story has some interesting pictures of events that will happen in the end times.

This could be an interesting picture of the events that will happen during the Great Tribulation.

Nebuchadnezzar is a picture of the antichrist, who will set up an image and demand to be worshipped.
The three young men represent the Jews who will become persecuted and face the wrath of the antichrist.
God will miraculously keep the Jews safe.
Some have suggested that Daniel might be a picture of the church. Where is Daniel? He isn’t there.

Daniel 4

In this chapter, we get to hear from Nebuchadnezzar himself. It is thought that this will take place towards the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.

:1-18 Nebuchadnezzar has another dream

:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you.

:2 I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me.

:3 How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation.

:4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace.

:5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.

:6 Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.

:7 Then the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream; but they did not make known to me its interpretation.

This time he tells them the dream.

:8 But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying:

Nebuchadnezzar knew there was something different about Daniel.

:9 "Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.

:10 "These were the visions of my head while on my bed: "I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great.

:11 The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.

:12 Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it.

:13 "I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven.

watcher – an angel who is “watching”.


You are being observed

We are not alone. We are being watched (makes you feel a little paranoid, doesn’t it?)
Have you ever walked into a room and the person in the room quickly hides what they’re doing or changes the channel?  We act differently when we know we’re being watched.
One of the biggest lies that Satan can tell us is that nobody can see what we’re doing.
(Isa 29:15 KJV)  Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?
The angels see.  God sees.

:14 He cried aloud and said thus: 'Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches.

:15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, Bound with a band of iron and bronze, In the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, And let him graze with the beasts On the grass of the earth.

:16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times pass over him.

:17 'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.'

Note: The angel is telling Nebuchadnezzar that he is just “the lowest of men”.

It seems that the main point of what this dream about is “Who’s in charge?”

That’s a key to understanding humility – who’s in charge.  Is God in charge or am I in charge?

:18 "This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you."

:19-27 Daniel interprets

:19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you." Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!

I wonder if the other wise men really didn’t know what the dream meant. I wonder if it isn’t possible that they knew what it meant but they didn’t want to take the risk to tell Nebuchadnezzar the truth. After all, he’s a guy with a temper. He cuts people in pieces. He throws people into a fiery furnace.

:20 The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth,

:21 whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home;

:22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.

:23 And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 'Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him';

:24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:

:25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

:26 And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.

:27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity."

Daniel not only has an understanding of the dream, but he has the courage to speak it out.


Speaking the truth in love

It’s one thing to know the truth. It’s another to be able to share it with a person who needs to know it.
(Eph 4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;
You can tell from his choice of words that Daniel not only knows the truth, but he seems to sincerely care for Nebuchadnezzar.
A true friend will tell you the truth, even if it hurts you.
Jay Leno’s first encounter with the man he would eventually replace was less than auspicious.  “You seem like a very funny young man,” Johnny Carson told him after catching his act at The Comedy Store. “But you don’t have enough jokes.”  Leno was devastated.  He recalls:

When I watched the Carson show I saw him do 15 or 20 jokes.  I realized I’d been doing only three and relying on clowning and gestures for the rest of the laughs.  I resented what Johnny had said, but I took it to heart and began honing my material.

A few years later, Carson asked me on his show.  I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me real advice—hard as it seemed at the time.

-- Peter Swet, Parade Magazine, as reprinted in the Reader's Digest, September 1992, p. 31

Daniel sees this dream not just as what is inevitable, but as a warning.

Jonah had a message for the people of Nineveh,
(Jonah 3:4 NKJV) …"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"

He didn’t even tell them to repent, but they did repent and God turned in mercy and withheld His judgment.

Daniel warns his friend that he needs to change his life.

:28-37 Nebuchadnezzar is humbled

:28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar.

:29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon.

:30 The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?"

Nebuchadnezzar ruled for 43 years and had extensive building projects.

The “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” which Nebuchadnezzar built were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

:31 While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!

:32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses."

:33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws.

Moo. Talk about humiliating.

There are a couple of mental diseases: With zoanthropy, a person thinks he is an animal. With boanthropy, a person thinks he’s a cow.

seven times – pretty vague. Because of the time involved in order to grow your nails like birds’ claws and his hair like eagles’ feathers, the most likely choice is seven years.

Most likely Daniel made sure that when Nebuchadnezzar went crazy, that the kingdom would stay in Nebuchadnezzar’s control.

:34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.

His understanding didn’t return until he lifted his eyes to heaven.

Is there a connection between looking to heaven and understanding? The Bible tells us that the opposite is true –when a person refuses to acknowledge God as the Creator, a person becomes a “fool” (Rom. 1:20-23).

It’s a smart thing to “look up”.

:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?"

:36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.

:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

I expect to see Nebuchadnezzar in heaven.



Humility needs to be continually cultivated. It wears off pretty easily.
Nebuchadnezzar forgot the warning within a year.
How do we cultivate humility?
Serving others.

Jesus is our example of humility (Phil. 2:5). He kept serving right up to the end. Even on the night He was betrayed He was washing the feet of His disciples.

We never outgrow being a servant. We only grow as being a servant.


Sometimes prayer only makes some people more proud.  Jesus talked about a Pharisee who prayed,

(Luke 18:11 NKJV)  'God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.

But a correct attitude in prayer can help humility:

(1 Pet 5:5-7 NKJV) Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." {6} Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, {7} casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

There’s a connection between casting your cares on the Lord and humility.

When we are proud we don’t think about how much we need the Lord.

A humble person understands how much help He needs.  He knows He needs the Lord.