Study Notes on Daniel 3
Under Trial, But With Jesus

A) Introduction

This event occurs after Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are described as being in the positions (3:12) they were raised to in 2:49.

When Daniel interpreted the dreams, Nebuchadnezzar had said, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings” (2:47), but now he thinks he has more power than God of gods (see v15). How pride had consumed his heart.

Maybe being the “Head of Gold” had gone to his head, as he builds a 90 ft high, 9 ft broad, image of gold (probably gold plated). The text is unclear as to whether it was an image of Nebuchadnezzar or one of his gods.

B) The Nations Worship Nebuchadnezzar’s Statue (v1 – 7)

  • Military, judicial, economic and civil authorities from across the empire (v2) were gathered on the plain of Dura – a huge number.
  • All gathered to express submission to Nebuchadnezzar and his image – often a means by which a ruler would seek to enforce submission to himself.
  • The king’s command (v5), the peer pressure of the huge group (v2, 4), and the emphasis of the music (v5), all acting to enforce conformity to the king.

C) The Faith of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego (v8 – 18)

How the other officials view Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego

Certain “Chaldeans” place emphasis on these Jews (v12). Perhaps there was jealously that these foreigners from a defeated kingdom had risen so high.

  • The charge: the king has honoured them with their appointments, but they will not honour the king
  • Was Daniel away on business? Was he not required to attend? The text is unclear why Daniel did not have to bow to the image

How Nebuchadnezzar views Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego

  • The importance to Nebuchadnezzar of complete submission by all the assembled officials is revealed by his rage (v13)
  • Perhaps because of his earlier high view of them (1:20), he gives them a second chance to publicly display submission (v14,15)
  • Nebuchadnezzar reveals how important he views himself when he asks which god can save you from my hand? V15

The response of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego

The furnace was probably an industrial furnace where iron was smelted and/or bricks hardened, and they would be thrown in immediately if they did not submit to the king.

  • The only thing hotter than the fiery furnace was Nebuchadnezzar’s anger
  • They could not bow to a false god (Exodus 20:3 – 5). Only the true God deserves our loyalty and obedience.

“They weren’t doubting God’s ability. They were submitting to His sovereignty.” Jon Courson

“When we pour out our requests to God and say, ‘If You decide not to heal me, bring me that financial windfall, or save my business, it doesn’t matter. All I want is Your will’—that is true faith.” Jon Courson

 “Let Nebuchadnezzar heat his furnace as hot as he can, a few minutes will finish the torment of those cast into it; but hell-fire tortures, and yet does not kill.” Matthew Henry

Trials will come upon us as Christians

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:6,7

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2

D) Knowing God’s Help in the Trial (v19 – 30)

God has promised to be with us under trial

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” Isaiah 42:2,3a

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

Testimony of one who has been through the trials

  • Jon Courson’s first wife died in car crash, and almost 20 years later his eldest daughter died in a separate car accident

“We can talk esoterically about the Lord. We can discuss theologically His presence. But it’s not until we’re in the fire of trial that we truly know He’s alive, that He’s with us, that He’s for us.” Jon Courson

“This fiery trial was a testimony to a sceptical, angry unbeliever who saw Jesus in the fire along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There are neighbours and colleagues, fellow students and co-workers watching you. And when you go through fiery trials, as they watch you, they will see Jesus with you.” Jon Courson

The Lord’s comforting and protecting presence in the furnace

  • Notice who is with them in the furnace – either an angel or the Angel of The Lord (i.e. the Lord Jesus Himself)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego weren’t running around in the fire, trying to find a way out. They weren’t taking off their clothes and trying to snuff out the flames. They weren’t sitting down in a corner crying about their ordeal. They weren’t striving, complaining, or even seeking to get out. They were simply walking around, almost certainly, with Jesus

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have rather been in the fire with Jesus than out of the fire without Him. That is why they stayed there until Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to come out.” Jon Courson

The difference between the king and the King of Kings

Nebuchadnezzar’s mighty men died (v20,22) while Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were completely unharmed (v27)

“Lord is able to protect his servants better than Nebuchadnezzar can protect his.” ESV Study Bible

Nebuchadnezzar honours the Lord

  • Nebuchadnezzar calls Yahweh the “Most High God” or “Highest” God (v 26)
  • Nebuchadnezzar also appreciated the integrity of these men (v 30)