20 June, 2024

June 16 Study | Looking in Amazement

by | 10 June, 2024 | 0 comments

Unit: Daniel 
Theme: Revealer of Mysteries
Lesson Text: Daniel 3:1, 4-6, 8-28 
Supplemental Texts: Daniel 6:16-28; Matthew 17:19-20; Mark 9:17-29; Luke 18:24-27 
Aim: Expect amazing things from our God. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_June16_2024.

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By Mark Scott

Ancient Babylon must have been an amazing place. It contained the “hanging gardens,” one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Located perhaps in the backdrop of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), it had various trees, shrubs, and vines overhanging a tiered, mud-brick structure. Quite a lush sight in the desert. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar wanted to add to Babylon’s beauty by erecting a statue (of himself?) in the city.  

The two central questions concerning this huge statue: When did Nebuchadnezzar erect it, and when did the events of Daniel 3 take place? If we read through Daniel from front to back, then the placement of this event seems most odd since Daniel 2 ended with Nebuchadnezzar praising Daniel’s god (2:46-49). Would the king have made an about-face so quickly? Perhaps so; we know Nebuchadnezzar could be unpredictable. The Greek Old Testament (LXX) suggests that this event took place in the 18th year of the king’s reign. But “why” this occurred might be more important than “when” it occurred. Arrogance might be one answer, but creation of the statue could also have been an effort to unify the empire.  

Amazing Image 
Daniel 3:1, 4-6 

The link between the king’s dream (chapter 2) and the large image of gold (chapter 3) is convenient. Knowing that the gold portion of the statue is Nebuchadnezzar himself (2:38), the king erected a massive image of gold (form of an idol). It was huge—90 feet high (8 stories) and 9 feet wide. Very imposing. It was placed in Dura (dwelling, a plain in Babylon). Archaeologists have uncovered a large square made of brick six miles southwest of Babylon. Could it be the base of the statue? 

After the structure was assembled, all the government officials gathered to dedicate the image. The proclamation was part of the dedication. When the music played—at least six different instruments are mentioned—the people were to bow. The punishment for not worshipping was death by fire. 

Amazing Courage 
Daniel 3:8-18 

The proclamation was quickly tested. Certain astrologers (perhaps better referred to as “Chaldeans” or “clod breakers”) noticed that many of the Jews did not prostrate themselves when the music played. So, the Jews were denounced (eaten up, devoured, or slandered) by the astrologers. They ultimately “ratted out” the Jews to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel’s three friends were singled out and charged with disobedience. [More than one commentator has suggested that Daniel was on business for the king and absent from the country at this time.] 

King Nebuchadnezzar was furious with rage (the Hebrew translation means “to the point of shaking”). The king summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and asked if the report was true. He reminded them that if they complied with the request, it would be good, but if not, then they would be thrown into the fire. What kind of god could deliver them then? 

What follows is one of the most stunning displays of courage in Scripture. The three Hebrews defended themselves without being defensive. They said they did not need to answer the king. Their response was twofold: (1) God could deliver them from the fire and from the king. (2) They would not bow no matter what. In fact, the three words “but if not” have become historically significant and used in other famous courageous moments.  

Amazing Deliverance 
Daniel 3:19-28 

The fury inside Nebuchadnezzar was quickly transferred to the furnace. It was heated seven times hotter than normal. We are not told what kind of furnace this was. Furnaces often were heated slowly to prolong the torture. Intense heat, however, would kill someone immediately—as it did to the soldiers who threw the Hebrews into the furnace. The three were thrown in clothes and all.  

King Nebuchadnezzar soon saw an amazing sight. How the king could have observed this we are not told. He certainly could not have been close to the furnace, so the fourth person the king saw inside it must have been very evident. Was this some divine, preincarnate appearance of Jesus? The language is vague enough to be unclear; the king called this person an angel. The king somehow was able to tell the Hebrews to come out of the furnace, and they did. God had protected them to such an extent that no evidence of the fire was on them.  

King Nebuchadnezzar was undone by what he witnessed. For a second time, as we read through the book, he praised the God of the Hebrews. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego defied the king’s commands and were willing to die if need be. There is only one word for that—amazing.  


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