IN the same year that Daniel and his companions entered the service of the
king of Babylon events occurred that severely tested the integrity of
these youthful Hebrews and proved before an idolatrous nation the power
and faithfulness of the God of Israel.
While King Nebuchadnezzar was looking forward with anxious forebodings
to the future, he had a remarkable dream, by which he was greatly
troubled, "and his sleep brake from him" (Daniel 2:1). But although this
vision of the night made a deep impression on his mind, he found it
impossible to recall the particulars. He applied to his astrologers and
magicians, and with promises of great wealth and honor commanded them to
tell him his dream and its interpretation. But they said, "Tell thy
servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation" (verse 4).
The king knew that if they could really tell the interpretation, they
could tell the dream as well. The Lord had in His providence given
Nebuchadnezzar this dream, and had caused the particulars to be
forgotten, while the fearful impression was left upon his mind, in order
to expose the pretensions of the wise men of Babylon. The monarch was
very angry, and threatened
that they should all be slain if, in a given time, the dream was not
made known. Daniel and his companions were to perish with the false
prophets; but, taking his life in his hand, Daniel ventures to enter the
presence of the king, begging that time may be granted that he may show
the dream and the interpretation.
To this request the monarch accedes; and now Daniel gathers his three
companions, and together they take the matter before God, seeking for
wisdom from the Source of light and knowledge. Although they were in the
king's court, surrounded with temptation, they did not forget their
responsibility to God. They were strong in the consciousness that His
providence had placed them where they were; that they were doing His
work, meeting the demands of truth and duty. They had confidence toward
God. They had turned to Him for strength when in perplexity and danger,
and He had been to them an ever-present help.
The Secret Revealed
The servants of God did not plead with Him in vain. They had honored
Him, and in the hour of trial He honored them. The secret was revealed
to Daniel, and he hastened to request an interview with the king.
The Jewish captive stands before the monarch of the most powerful empire
the sun has ever shone upon. The king is in great distress amid all his
riches and glory, but the youthful exile is peaceful and happy in his
God. Now, if ever, is the time for Daniel to exalt himself, to make
prominent his own goodness and superior wisdom.
But his first effort is to disclaim all honor for himself and to exalt
God as the source of wisdom:
"The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the
astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; but
there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the
king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days" (Daniel 2:27, 28).
The king listens with solemn attention as every particular of the dream
is reproduced; and when the interpretation is faithfully given, he feels
that he can rely upon it as a divine revelation.
The solemn truths conveyed in this vision of the night made a deep
impression on the sovereign's mind, and in humility and awe he fell down
and worshiped, saying, "Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of
gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets" (verse 47).
The Golden Image
Light direct from Heaven had been permitted to shine upon King
Nebuchadnezzar, and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of
God. But a few years of prosperity filled his heart with pride, and he
forgot his acknowledgment of the living God. He resumed his idol worship
with increased zeal and bigotry.
From the treasures obtained in war he made a golden image to represent
the one that he had seen in his dream, setting it up in the plain of
Dura, and commanding all the rulers and the people to worship it, on
pain of death. This statue was about ninety feet in height
and nine in breadth, and in the eyes of that idolatrous people it
presented a most imposing and majestic appearance. A proclamation was
issued calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the
dedication of the image, and at the sound of the musical instruments, to
bow down and worship it. Should any fail to do this, they were
immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
The appointed day has come, and the vast company is assembled, when word
is brought to the king that the three Hebrews whom he has set over the
province of Babylon have refused to worship the image. These are
Daniel's three companions, who had been called by the king, Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego. Full of rage, the monarch calls them before him,
and pointing to the angry furnace, tells them the punishment that will
be theirs if they refuse obedience to his will.
In vain were the king's threats. He could not turn these noble men from
their allegiance to the great Ruler of nations. They had learned from
the history of their fathers that disobedience to God is dishonor,
disaster, and ruin; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning
of wisdom but the foundation of all true prosperity. They look with
calmness upon the fiery furnace and the idolatrous throng. They have
trusted in God, and He will not fail them now. Their answer is
respectful, but decided: "Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will
not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up"
The proud monarch is surrounded by his great men,
the officers of the government, and the army that has conquered nations;
and all unite in applauding him as having the wisdom and power of the
gods. In the midst of this imposing display stand the three youthful
Hebrews, steadily persisting in their refusal to obey the king's decree.
They had been obedient to the laws of Babylon so far as these did not
conflict with the claims of God, but they would not be swayed a hair's
breadth from the duty they owed to their Creator.
The king's wrath knew no limits. In the very height of his power and
glory, to be thus defied by the representatives of a despised and
captive race was an insult which his proud spirit could not endure. The
fiery furnace had been heated seven times more than it was wont, and
into it were cast the Hebrew exiles. So furious were the flames, that
the men who cast them in were burned to death.
In the Presence of the Infinite
Suddenly the countenance of the king paled with terror. His eyes were
fixed upon the glowing flames, and turning to his lords, he said, "Did
not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" (verse 24). The
answer was, "True, O king." And now the monarch exclaimed, "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" (verse 25).
When Christ manifests Himself to the children of men, an unseen power
speaks to their souls. They feel themselves to be in the presence of the
Before His majesty, kings and nobles tremble, and acknowledge that the
living God is above every earthly power.
With feelings of remorse and shame, the king exclaimed, "Ye servants of
the most high God, come forth" (verse 26). And they obeyed, showing
themselves unhurt before that vast multitude, not even the smell of fire
being upon their garments. This miracle produced a striking change in
the minds of the people. The great golden image, set up with such
display, was forgotten. The king published a decree that any one
speaking against the God of these men should be put to death, "because
there is no other God that can deliver after this sort" (verse 29).
Steadfast Integrity and the Sanctified Life
These three Hebrews possessed genuine sanctification. True Christian
principle will not stop to weigh consequences. It does not ask, What
will people think of me if I do this? or, How will it affect my worldly
prospects if I do that? With the most intense longing the children of
God desire to know what He would have them do, that their works may
glorify Him. The Lord has made ample provision that the hearts and lives
of all His followers may be controlled by divine grace, that they may be
as burning and shining lights in the world.
These faithful Hebrews possessed great natural ability, they had enjoyed
the highest intellectual culture, and now occupied a position of honor;
but all this did not lead them to forget God. Their powers were yielded
to the sanctifying influence of divine grace. By their steadfast
integrity they showed forth the praises of Him who had called them out
of darkness into His marvelous light. In their wonderful deliverance
were displayed, before that vast assembly, the power and majesty of God.
Jesus placed Himself by their side in the fiery furnace, and by the
glory of His presence convinced the proud king of Babylon that it could
be no other than the Son of God. The light of Heaven had been shining
forth from Daniel and his companions, until all their associates
understood the faith which ennobled their lives and beautified their
characters. By the deliverance of His faithful servants, the Lord
declares that He will take His stand with the oppressed and overthrow
all earthly powers that would trample upon the authority of the God of
A Lesson to the Fainthearted
What a lesson is here given to the fainthearted, the vacillating, the
cowardly in the cause of God! What encouragement to those who will not
be turned aside from duty by threats or peril! These faithful, steadfast
characters exemplify sanctification, while they have no thought of
claiming the high honor. The amount of good which may be accomplished by
comparatively obscure but devoted Christians cannot be estimated until
the life records shall be made known, when the judgment shall sit and
the books be opened.
Christ identifies His interest with this class; He is not ashamed to
call them brethren. There should be
hundreds where there is now one among us, so closely allied to God,
their lives in such close conformity to His will, that they would be
bright and shining lights, sanctified wholly, in soul, body, and spirit.
The conflict still goes on between the children of light and the
children of darkness. Those who name the name of Christ should shake off
the lethargy that enfeebles their efforts, and should meet the momentous
responsibilities that devolve upon them. All who do this may expect the
power of God to be revealed in them. The Son of God, the world's
Redeemer, will be represented in their words and in their works, and
God's name will be glorified.. . . . . .
As in the days of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, so in the closing
period of earth's history the Lord will work mightily in behalf of those
who stand steadfastly for the right. He who walked with the Hebrew
worthies in the fiery furnace will be with His followers wherever they
are. His abiding presence will comfort and sustain. In the midst of the
time of trouble--trouble such as has not been since there was a
nation--His chosen ones will stand unmoved. Satan with all the hosts of
evil cannot destroy the weakest of God's saints. Angels that excel in
strength will protect them, and in their behalf Jehovah will reveal
Himself as a "God of gods," able to save to the uttermost those who have
put their trust in Him.-- Prophets and Kings, p. 513.