Sabbath, April 2, 2011
“… Through faith … quenched the violence of fire….” Hebrews 11:33, 34.
1. What did the enraged monarch command? Who was ordered to cast the servants of the Almighty into the furnace?
Daniel 3:19-21 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. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
“The king’s wrath knew no bounds. ‘Full of fury,’ ‘the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,’ representatives of a despised and captive race. Directing that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than its wont, he commanded the mighty men of his army to bind the worshipers of Israel’s God, preparatory to summary execution.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 508.
“Daniel and his fellow-companions … and many others were witnesses for God in their captivity. The Lord scattered them among the kingdoms of the earth that their light might shine brightly amid the black darkness of heathenism and idolatry. To Daniel God revealed the light of His purposes, which had been hidden for many generations. He chose that Daniel should see in vision the light of His truth, and reflect this light on the proud kingdom of Babylon. On the despot king was permitted to flash light from the throne of God. Nebuchadnezzar was shown that the God of heaven was ruler over all the monarchs and kings of earth. His name was to go forth as the God over all gods. God desired Nebuchadnezzar to understand that the rulers of earthly kingdoms had a ruler in the heavens. God’s faithfulness in rescuing the three captives from the flames and vindicating their course of action showed His wonderful power.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1169.
2. What happened to the men who carried out this command? What suddenly caused Nebuchadnezzar’s face to turn pale?
Daniel 3:22-25, first part Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 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? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt;…
“But the Lord did not forget His own. As His witnesses were cast into the furnace, the Saviour revealed Himself to them in person, and together they walked in the midst of the fire. In the presence of the Lord of heat and cold, the flames lost their power to consume.
“From his royal seat the king looked on, expecting to see the men who had defied him utterly destroyed. But his feelings of triumph suddenly changed. The nobles standing near saw his face grow pale as he started from the throne and looked intently into the glowing flames. In alarm the king, turning to his lords, asked, ‘Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’…” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 508, 509.
Protected and rescued
3. What did the king say about the fourth Man in the fire? What did the monarch do?
Daniel 3:25, last part, 26 … And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
“How did that heathen king know what the Son of God was like? The Hebrew captives filling positions of trust in Babylon had in life and character represented before him the truth. When asked for a reason of their faith, they had given it without hesitation. Plainly and simply they had presented the principles of righteousness, thus teaching those around them of the God whom they worshiped. They had told of Christ, the Redeemer to come; and in the form of the fourth in the midst of the fire the king recognized the Son of God.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 509.
4. What did the government officials discover about the young men? What impression did this make on the ruler? What confession did he make?
Daniel 3:27, 28 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 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.
“Forgotten was the great golden image, set up with such pomp. In the presence of the living God, men feared and trembled.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 510.
“John was cast into a caldron of boiling oil; but the Lord preserved the life of His faithful servant, even as He preserved the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 570.
Recognition of the true God
5. What decree did Nebuchadnezzar issue to the then-known world? How did the Lord reward His servants’ steadfastness?
Daniel 3:29, 30 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. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
“It was right for the king to make public confession, and to seek to exalt the God of heaven above all other gods; but in endeavoring to force his subjects to make a similar confession of faith and to show similar reverence, Nebuchadnezzar was exceeding his right as a temporal sovereign. He had no more right, either civil or moral, to threaten men with death for not worshiping God, than he had to make the decree consigning to the flames all who refused to worship the golden image. God never compels the obedience of man. He leaves all free to choose whom they will serve.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 510, 511.
6. According to the testimony of the Spirit of prophecy, what happened because of these young men’s faithfulness? What thought should be uppermost in our minds?
1 Samuel 14:6, last part And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
“The tidings of their wonderful deliverance were carried to many countries by the representatives of the different nations that had been invited by Nebuchadnezzar to the dedication. Through the faithfulness of His children, God was glorified in all the earth.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 512.
“Great light shone forth from Daniel and his companions. Glorious things were spoken of Zion, the city of the Lord. Thus the Lord designs that spiritual light shall shine from His faithful watchmen in these last days. If the saints in the Old Testament bore such a decided testimony of loyalty, how should God’s people today, having the accumulated light of centuries, shine forth, when the prophecies of the Old Testament shed their veiled glory into the future.” –(Letter 32, 1899) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1169.
An example for God’s people
7. In the last days, what similar circumstances will confront God’s people?
Revelation 13:14, 15 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
“Important are the lessons to be learned from the experience of the Hebrew youth on the plain of Dura. In this our day, many of God’s servants, though innocent of wrongdoing, will be given over to suffer humiliation and abuse at the hands of those who, inspired by Satan, are filled with envy and religious bigotry. Especially will the wrath of men be aroused against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; and at last a universal decree will denounce these as deserving of death….
“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.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 512, 513.
For personal study
• Prophets and Kings, pp. 503-513.
• Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, pp. 1169, 1170.