This chapter is full of what we call foreshadowing or typology. A type in Scripture is a person or thing in the Old Testament that foreshadows a person or thing in the New Testament. For example, the flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6—7) is used as a type of baptism in 1Pe_3:20-21. The word for “type” that Peter uses is figure. In other words, just like the flood cleansed the world of sin, so baptism represents a spiritual cleansing of sin.
The types in this chapter foreshadow the resistance of the Jews to the worship of the Antichrist during the time of Daniel's 70th Week (Tribulation). 1. King Nebuchadnezzar is a type of the Antichrist. 2. The three Hebrew children represent the 144,000 Jews God will seal and protect during the Tribulation. 3. The golden image represents the image of the Antichrist that will be set up in the rebuilt Jewish temple. 4. The fiery furnace represents the Great Tribulation. 5. Daniel could represent the Church, which will not be around during the Great Tribulation.
Image of Gold Made
vv.1-7 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. (2) Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. (3) Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. (4) Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, (5) That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: (6) And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (7) Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. In response to the dream, Nebuchadnezzar made the image of gold. Whether this was a representation of his dream, himself, or something else, we do not know. Randy White suggests that it is actually an obelisk, or possibly even an Asherah pole considering the 10/1 dimensions (2Ki 18:1-4). Asherah Poles were to the Canaanite mother goddess, Asherah. They were sometimes just stylized trees. Thus in the KJV, it is translated as groves. She was tied to the Tree of Life and fertility. Some mythology views her as the wife of El or Yahweh. Either way, it's amazing to me, how soon old Neb forgot the God of Daniel (Dan 2:46-47).
vv.8-13 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. (9) They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. (10) Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: (11) And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (12) There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (13) Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. To my knowledge, this is the first time that we see civil disobedience in the Bible. Were they justified in their refusal to bow? After all, the Bible does speak in strong language in regards to being obedient to those who are over us in Col 3:22 and Heb 13:17. But then we also see Peter and the other apostles saying in Act 5:29, We ought to obey God rather than men. Obviously, by their example, there are times when God has to be placed first.
vv.14-15 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? (15) Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? From these verses, we must conclude that the king did feel fond of these guys by offering them another chance. After all, that was not his reputation.
vv.16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. (17) If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. (18) But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Notice the faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Faith is obedience even when you are unsure of the outcome! Faith is doing it when it is the right thing to do.
v.19 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. Notice the King's anger. Many see this as just how bad the Great Tribulation will be (Mat 24:21).
Able to Protect
vv.20-25 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. (21) 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. (22) 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. (23) And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. (24) 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. (25) He answered and said, 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. The three Hebrew boys knew that God was able to protect them (v.17). That is the perfect balance in my opinion. Living the Christian life on the brink. On the one hand, we know that God can deliver us if so He chooses. On the other hand, we are determined to stand for Him even if He chooses not to. Either way, God is always faithful.
Jesus Walks in the Midst
Notice that the only things that burned were the ropes binding them. Jesus still walks with us in the midst of our crises. If the type holds true, it shows how God is going to protect them during Daniel's 70th Week (Rev 12:1-6).
vv.26-29 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. (27) 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. (28) 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. (29) 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. Attitude adjustment time (cf. v.15). The Babylonians believed in trials by ordeal. If you were accused of something and the punishment killed you, they presumed you were guilty. If you survived, you were presumed innocent.
v.30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon. Daniel isn't mentioned at all in this chapter. He would never have bowed to the image, so we have to conclude that he wasn't there. Still assuming that Daniel is a type of the church, he was spared from fire; i.e., Tribulation.
Old Testament Types
1. Abraham's Plea (Gen 18:23-25).
2. Lot's Escape (Gen 19:22).
Nowhere do we see in the Bible the righteous being judged with the wicked by God (Luk 17:28-30; 2Pe 2:4-7; 1Th 5:9).
3. The Flood of Noah
The flood of Noah is also an excellent type of God's people being delivered before judgment comes.