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Daniel 3 - The Fiery Furnace (5 of 23)

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

Daniel 3 - The Fiery Furnace (5 of 23)

"The author of Daniel uses humor and satyr to polemicize against the Babylonians and their gods." from video introduction

Where was Daniel During the Fiery Furnace Incident in Daniel Chapter 3?

Daniel 3 relates the famous account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (or, to use their Hebrew names, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah). The three brave Hebrews take a stand against the king of Babylon, refuse to bow to an idol, and are thrown into a burning fiery furnace. Interestingly, Daniel is not mentioned in the story at all. Why did Daniel’s three friends face the wrath of the king alone? Where was Daniel during their time of crisis? Scripture does not say where Daniel was when King Nebuchadnezzar tried to kill Daniel’s friends. There are a few possibilities, all of them speculative: 1) Daniel, who was “ruler over the entire province of Babylon and . . . in charge of all its wise men” (Daniel 2:48), had been sent away on an assignment by Nebuchadnezzar and was therefore not present at the event described in Daniel 3. 2) Because of Daniel’s promotion and his place in the royal court (Daniel 2:49), Nebuchadnezzar had exempted Daniel from the command to bow down to the golden statue. 3) Daniel, in fear of being executed or to appease the king, bowed down to the golden statue. Option (3) can definitely be dismissed. One thing we say for sure is that Daniel was not bowing down to the idol that Nebuchadnezzar had made. He who had “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8, KJV) was not going to commit a blatant act of wickedness such as worshiping a false god. In Daniel 6, Daniel risks his life by simply praying. If Daniel was willing to die for his commitment to prayer, there is no way he would have directly violated one of the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:4). Daniel’s character and commitment were such that he would not dare dishonor the Lord. Options (1) and (2) are both plausible, with (1) perhaps being the more likely possibility. Nebuchadnezzar’s command to bow down and worship the image was addressed to “nations and peoples of every language” (Daniel 3:4), and present at the dedication were “the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials” (verse 3). In other words, the king’s command seems universal, with no exceptions; everyone within hearing range of the music was to bow down and worship the king’s image (verse 5). The most likely scenario, then, is that Daniel was away on the king’s business and was not present for the dedication of the idol. A related question is where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were during the events of Daniel 6, when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. The possible answers are the same as those listed above, with two additional explanations. One is that, by the time of the events of Daniel 6, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were no longer alive. Second is that Daniel’s three friends violated the king’s edict and continued to pray to the Lord, but they were not caught. The focus of the satraps was on catching Daniel (Daniel 6:11)." from the article:

4 figures in fiery furnace
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and a Fourth Figure

Who was in the Furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

One of the most emotionally captivating stories from the Bible is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their encounter with the “fiery furnace” in Daniel 3.

Who Were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

The first time we read about these young men, we meet King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who besieged Jerusalem. He immediately started to take notice of the people living in his new territory: “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:3–4). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, along with Daniel, were selected as meeting that criteria. They were the absolute “cream of the crop” in Jerusalem at that time. The king took these young men under his wing, gave them food and drink from his own table, and trained them in the ways of the Babylonians (Daniel 1:4–5). As a symbol of their stature within the leadership structure, the king even replaced their Israelite birth names with the Babylonian names they are most commonly known by: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It was clear that these young men were on their way to the top.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were eventually appointed “administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court” (Daniel 2:49). It didn’t take long for these young men to be tested. King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden idol and commanded everyone to bow down to it (Daniel 3:1–5). The dire consequences of not obeying this command were that the violator would “immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:6). The time had come for these three young men to choose whom they were going to obey: King Nebuchadnezzar or the One True God.

The Choice

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the golden image. When questioned as to why they had failed to comply with the king’s order, they replied, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16–18). The die had been cast. A furious Nebuchadnezzar immediately ordered the three young men to be thrown into the fiery furnace and, as an added measure of wrath, for it to be heated “seven times hotter than usual” (Daniel 3:20). The king wanted to make a public example of how disobedience would be dealt with under his reign.." from the article:

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