Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Sunday afternoon Bible study. Today is study #2 of Daniel, chapter 3, and we are going to read Daniel 3:1-7:
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. 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. 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. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 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.
I will stop reading there. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a great image and Daniel had interpreted the dream. First, Daniel had to tell him the dream because it was gone from the king, but by God’s grace, Daniel was able to know the dream and interpret the dream. The dream was of a great image and in the interpretation Daniel had said this to King Nebuchadnezzar, in Daniel 2:38:
… Thou art this head of gold.
Daniel told the king through the interpretation from God that the image had everything to do with King Nebuchadnezzar, so we are not surprised at all that soon the king made an image of gold: “Thou are this head of gold.” He may not have made it of all the elements interpreted in the dream, as that would have been very difficult to do. After all, he was primarily concerned with himself and he was that image of gold, so he made a golden image, basically, after himself. The building of the image was commissioned sometime after Daniel had given him the interpretation of the dream. It stayed on his mind until he decided he was going to make an image.
We can see God’s hand involved in all this because it was God that had revealed the dream and its interpretation that involved an image and involved the king as being that head of gold. Through God’s revelation in showing the king these things through the prophet Daniel, it really led to King Nebuchadnezzar designing and commissioning the building of this image of gold. We can see God’s hand at work in all things that happen in this world in Satan’s activities as well as sinful man’s activities. It is not that God is the author of sin or causes any to sin, but God allowed Satan to sin as He did in the beginning when he became a fallen angel. It was by the permissive will of God. Some other angels fell and became demons, but a good number of angels did not fall because God restrained them and kept them faithful.
So God permitted Satan to tempt Adam and Eve and from that point Satan has been performing a role that serves the will of God, as there needed to be an adversary and enemy that would rule over an enemy kingdom in opposition to the kingdom of heaven. God also allowed Satan to have tremendous freedom prior to the cross and he could bind the hearts of men. Then the Lord bound Satan and limited his ability throughout the church age, but then God loosed Satan and lifted His hand of restraint and Satan had tremendous freedom, once again, to work in the world and to be a great ruler of the kingdom of darkness. All was done according to the will of God in His timetable for His salvation program and the “times and seasons” that the Lord worked out.
The building of this golden image was done by the permissive God. King Nebuchadnezzar had to commission the image to be built and he had his people working on it. Perhaps, they drew images, like blueprints, and they got approval from the king. The task of building it would have taken some time. The height of it was 60 cubits and the width of it was six cubits and we know that a cubit is thought to be 1.5 feet, so 60 cubits would have been 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, so this was a very large statue or image of gold. They could not have built it overnight and care would have been taken in constructing it, as they knew King Nebuchadnezzar would not suffer there to be any mistakes, so it would have taken some time. We do not know how long it took from the time Nebuchadnezzar had the dream until the time the image was completed, but it would have been weeks, months or even a year. But, again, there would have been some passing of time.
Likewise, when we see how this relates to the end of time and to the actual image of the beast the Bible speaks of in the Book of Revelation, we realize that the spiritual image of the beast was not something that happened over night. We read in Revelation 13:14-18:
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. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The “beast” is the name given to Satan specifically for the time of his rule during the Great Tribulation period. It is very obvious when we read this passage that it is drawing from Daniel, chapter 3 and King Nebuchadnezzar’s image. There are unmistakable similarities. First of all, it is the image of the beast and in Daniel it was the image of King Nebuchadnezzar, an historical figure that typifies Satan. We also read that it was commanded that all were to worship the image of the beast and if anyone did not do so, they would be killed and this is the same thing that happened, historically, in Daniel, chapter 3. At the time they heard the musick, everyone was to fall down and worship the golden image that the king had set up. As far as I remember, it does not say it was an actual image of Nebuchadnezzar, but it says it was the image he set up, so we are not sure what the image was but it had everything to do with him; it belonged to him and he was the owner of it, so it completely identified with him, even if it had not been an image of him. It could have been, but we do not read that.
So, we see similarities in that there was an image of the beast and there was an image of gold made by King Nebuchadnezzar, a type of Satan, and all were commanded to fall down and worship them. Any who failed to do so would be killed. If anyone did not worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s image, they were to be thrown into the midst of a burning, fiery furnace and it seemed a certainty that if anyone was thrown into that furnace they would die, but that was not the case with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
There is also a similarity in “number.” It says in Revelation 13:18:
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The number “666” is a number that is associated with the beast, but it is not the number of “a man,” but it should say it is the number “of man,” or mankind in general. It is the number representing unsaved mankind and that number is interesting. When you break it down, it is “3 x 6 x 37,” and the number “3” points to purpose; the number “6” points to work (as God worked six days to create the earth or as Christ made six water pots into wine as He performed work illustrating the work of God in creation); and the number “37” points to judgment. In other words, it is the purpose of God that He will bring every evil work of man into judgment. The image of the beast that was made and worshipped during the time of the Great Tribulation indicates the point that the Spirit of God came out of the midst of the churches and Satan’s evil spirit entered in as he took over the rule of the churches and judgment began upon the churches. Therefore, there was no more salvation through the grace of God available in all the world because they were left with only a gospel of their own works.
The problem for many of the denominations all along was that they had taught their congregation that there was salvation through the works of man: “Here is how you get saved. Be (water) baptized. Say the sinner’s prayer. Walk down the aisle and accept Christ. Continue to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Perform these works and you are saved.” Beginning May 21, 1988 it was the end of the church age and the beginning of the Great Tribulation. That is when the Holy Spirit departed and Satan entered in and ever since that time the corporate church has been the “image of the beast.” The churches and congregations on our local church corners became that “image” that was made to the beast. When Satan, the father of lies, entered into the corporate church to rule and take his seat as the man of sin, the churches were without the Spirit of God to protect them and they became conformed to the image of Satan. His main characteristic is that he is a liar – he was a liar from the beginning.
Satan ruled in all the churches at that time, no matter what the denomination, whether it be Catholic, Protestant, Episcopalian, Presbyterian or independent churches. If they follow the guidelines for a corporate body, it applies to them, no matter what their country or language. If they are a church, then they have become part of the image of the beast and they were made after the one that ruled over them. They have become an entirely false gospel that proclaims lies. Their very existence as a corporate body after God had ended the church age is a “lie.” When churches say, “We are the church of Christ,” it is a lie. When churches tell people, “Come to our church this Sunday to worship God,” it is a lie. God is not there and He is not the one being worshipped there. When the churches say, “Come with your family to our church and you will be blessed,” it is a lie. There are no more spiritual blessings in any churches in the world. When churches say, “This is how you can get yourself saved and enter into heaven,” it is a lie.
There was no possibility of salvation from the moment the Holy Spirit came out of their midst. We could go on and on, not to mention all the false doctrines many churches had already been involved with for hundreds of years. There were lies in the churches concerning the role of women as women were allowed to teach and exercise authority in the churches. There were lies regarding the qualifications of deacons and elders and the laws regarding marriage and divorce. There were lies about speaking in tongues, falling over backwards and holy laughter, and so many other things. They were truly made into an image after the image of the beast and it is a lying image.
We know that it is the corporate church that is spoken of as the “image of the beast,” because we read in Revelation 13:15:
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.
The image was said to have “life” and it had the ability to “speak,” so it could not have been an actual image because statues do not have “life” and they cannot “speak.” So it had to be another kind of image that is a living organism. How many times have we heard from pastors that say, “The church is not a building, but it is a living body”? It is that corporate body of professed Christians that became the image of Satan when God turned them over into Satan’s hands for their destruction. It is that image that also “speaks” when the pastor or priest climbs into the pulpit and greets the congregation and turns in the Bible to a passage and begins to speak. What are they speaking? First of all, they are emissaries of Satan and they come as “ministers of righteousness,” as we are told in 2Corinthians, chapter 11, so they speak forth lies.
Here is one of their lies, as God refers to Judah of old, which typifies the New Testament churches at the time of the Great Tribulation, in Ezekiel 13:22:
Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
This is what the pastors, elders and deacons do – they promise people “life.” They say, “Come and worship at our church. This is the way to heaven. You just stay with us. We have set our course and we are sailing to the Promised Land. Yes, bring your family. Bring your little ones and tell your friends. We have a very nice church and everyone is friendly. We have barbeques. We always have a good time after the service. Sometimes we even go to the pastor’s house and watch the football game in the afternoon. Come on! We will have a wonderful time and just enjoy ourselves in our wonderful Christian life. We will enjoy the world as Christians and at the end, we will all go to heaven.”
They are all a bunch of lies. It is pure deceit. God picks up this same thought in 2Peter 2:12-19:
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
They promise “life” and they promise “liberty” and deliverance from sin. They use the Bible’s language and, yet, they are all lies. God is not with them. God’s Spirit is not there to bless His Word any longer: “For faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If the Holy Spirit is not there to open the ears and to grant saving faith, there will be no salvation. There will be no life. This is the awful thing that has already happened to all the churches. It was done several years ago. The Great Tribulation has come and gone and the 23 years has elapsed. We are now in the time after that Tribulation and we can see how that all worked out. The image of the beast was made and Satan worked on that image over the entire course of the church age of 1,955 years as he sowed tares among the wheat; his emissaries infiltrated all the congregations and they advanced in the ranks as they started as members and went on to be deacons and elders and pastors or even the professors at seminaries, and so forth. They became the church authorities and they were the men in power. Once positioned in power, the changes in doctrines began to occur as they reconsidered doctrines. The consideration was not to compare Scripture with Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to teach, but the consideration was what doctrine would increase membership or improve how the world would perceive them. It was natural-minded and worldly thinking because that was the nature of these individuals. So Satan was at work building the “image” over the course of the church age and when the end of the church age came and God’s Spirit departed out, then the “abomination that maketh desolate” was set up. Remember, it says in Daniel 12:11:
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Notice the similarity in language between the “abomination that maketh desolate” being “set up” and what we read in Daniel, chapter 3 concerning the image that King Nebuchadnezzar being “set up.” It was repeated a few times that his image was “set up” and the image that Revelation, chapter 13 speaks of was set up the moment the daily was taken away. The “daily” has everything to do with the light of the Gospel and the light of the Gospel has everything to do with the Spirit of God being present, so the “daily” was taken away by God Himself. There is no more light and there is no more Spirit of God in any corporate church and, simultaneously, the “abomination that maketh desolate” was “set up.” The image of the beast was ready and waiting, as the emissaries of Satan were in place where they needed to be and these multitudes of tares were filling the congregations of the world. The image was already finished, in effect. It was completed. We could really look at the beginning of the Great Tribulation on the very first day when judgment began at the house of God and we could say that the image was completed and the church body had been remade in the image and likeness of Satan, the beast, and it was ready to be worshipped. We could look at that first day as the “dedication day,” as we read that of King Nebuchadnezzar’s image, in Daniel 3:2:
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.
This word translated as “dedication” is also used in the Book of Ezra when they dedicated the house of God in Ezra, chapter 6. When the house was finished the dedication took place. In the Book of Nehemiah when Nehemiah finished building the wall in 52 days, they had a dedication of the completed wall of Jerusalem. So the “dedication” is performed at the time when the project is completed and, again, it spiritually points to the removal of the Holy Spirit and the entry of Satan into the house of God. He had always been in the churches as the enemy sowing the tares over the course of the church age and opposing the truth and persecuting the true people of God. Just consider the events of the Reformation when the Bible was translated into the language of the people. Individuals within the corporate church of that day were coming against that idea of the Bible being in the language of the people; they saw it as heresy. They arrested some of the people of God and they declared them guilty and they put a great number of them to death. This took place during the church age when God was still working in the churches and congregations, so how could this happen? It was because Satan was at work all through the 1,955 years of the church age and he could turn an entire denomination to a false gospel, like the Catholic Church, the largest denomination at that time. He could turn individual churches from the truth to a lie and they would become false gospels and God’s Spirit would then turn over that church or denomination.
However, we understand that even though God’s Spirit was operating in the church world, it does not mean that any church was perfect and Satan was very active and busy. It simply means that within many corporate churches (but not in all churches) the Spirit of God was still working. You might not have found Him in a particular church or denomination and it meant you would have to look around for a faithful congregation. We are familiar with this from recent decades when there may have been a faithful Reformed Church in a certain place but just down the street there was another church that was way off course. Satan was actively working and actively seeking whom he could devour throughout the entire history of the church, but, finally, he was given his great desire to rule in all the churches. It was only by the wisdom of God this could happen and the entire corporate church body could be turned over to Satan.
This was what Satan had longed for and it was his chief desire to rule in every church. He had been trying to do this, one by one, over the course of the church age, but now he had his desire. We cannot help but see how happy this evil being must have been on that day when he came up out of the bottomless pit as the beast and the image had been made to him. It had “life” and could “speak” and Satan took his seat as the “man of sin” and he began to rule, showing himself that he was God. This was what he always wanted. He always wanted to be worshipped by mankind that had been made in the very image of the one true God, the Almighty, Everlasting God. God had made a creature in His own image and after His own likeness. It says in the Psalms, “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” There was this people that were formed and made in the image of the Almighty God and then the evil thought entered Satan’s mind. We do not know how it happened because all the angels were created good, but it happened in accord with God’s perfect will and Satan thought, “If I can get this creature that is made in God’s own likeness to worship me and fall down to me, then I would be God. I would be like God.” So Satan hatched his plan. He went into the Garden of Eden and indwelt the serpent and he began to speak lies to Eve, in Genesis 3:4-5:
Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Satan tempted Eve with the same temptation that he had fallen for, because Satan wanted to be as God. That was his desire and his reason for tempting man. It was such an appealing idea to him that he thought, “This will be appealing to mankind,” and it was. Man fell for the same trap and the same evil thought and desire to be like God. Finally, at the end of time, God allowed Satan for the short little season of the Great Tribulation to attain to that desire.
We are going to go back to Daniel and read Daniel 3:4-6:
Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
As we have seen, this “image” identifies with the corporate church as it took on the likeness of Satan and proclaimed lies during the entire Great Tribulation period. It was a living image that spoke and anyone that did not worship that image was to be killed. They were driven out of the churches and the Bible likens being driven out of the synagogue (church) to being killed. It is interesting that in verse 4 falling down to worship the image was keyed to the sound of these musical instruments. We read of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer. There were six musical instruments. The image that Nebuchadnezzar set up was 60 cubits high and 6 cubits in breath. The number “60” is “6 x 10,” so it points to work and completeness, or the completed works of unsaved mankind. The image itself was made up of the living organism of the corporate body that had been constructed by man’s works. It is not the actual spiritual body of Christ – it is not that body that is comprised of only the elect. The corporate body is an earthly organization that has gained membership.
People came into the churches through “work” which the churches encouraged them to do and, therefore, the image of the beast was comprised of the hundreds of millions of professed Christians in the churches when Satan took over their rule and it became an image totally identified with “works.” It is not by the faith of Christ. It is interesting that God has made that a “priority doctrine” at the end of time as He emphasized that salvation is by the faith of Christ and not by the works of man. By works no man is justified and that verse in Galatians 2:16 came to the light and was understood for the first time at a time when the corporate church was completely identified with “works” and free will gospels. It all emphasizes the work that man can do in order to become saved, but they are lies. These false gospels that encourage people to do even the least bit of “work” in salvation came under the judgment of God. The judgment of God that came against the corporate church at the time of the Great Tribulation is judgment against the “image of the beast” and it is strongly identified with the number “666” and the number associated with Nebuchadnezzar’s image that was 60 cubits in height and 6 cubits in breath. The number “6” was also in view with the number of musical instruments.
The list of musical instruments is restated in four different verses. They are listed in verse 5, verse 7, verse 10 and verse 15. In three instances, all six instruments are listed, but in verse 7 only five instruments are listed. We wonder why the dulcimer would be left off the list? If we count them, we would have the number “six” three times and then the number “five” once, so the total is “23.” The moment they heard the musical instruments, they were to fall down and worship and, spiritually, this was officially beginning the 23-year Great Tribulation and it was at that point that the “daily” was taken away and the “abomination of desolation” was set up. At the very moment God’s Spirit left the churches, the churches became a harlot. At that very moment the whole of the corporate body came under judgment.
I remember that people used to say, “Well, how do you know there is not a faithful church somewhere out there. You have not visited every church, have you? Even if you visited hundreds of churches, there are possibly millions of churches in the world and you cannot possibly know that every church in the world is under the power of Satan or that they are all unfaithful.” However, we can know they are all unfaithful because the corporate church was counted faithful as long as Christ’s Spirit was in the midst. And the very moment that the Spirit of Christ departed out and left the churches, the entire corporate body instantly became a harlot. They became unfaithful and they become remade in the image of Satan.
There is no question about that and you do not have to know what every church is teaching. Yes, there could have been a Reformed Church, for example, that was teaching some accurate doctrines. People would point to these accurate doctrines and they would say, “See, we are still faithful.” But, no, that cannot be because God has ended the church age and if they were faithful to the Word of God they would no longer be a corporate church. As we are learning more and more about faithful doctrine as God opened up the truth of the faith OF Christ, you are not going to find any church teaching accurately the faith OF Christ. They all have a little bit of works and some try to hide it more than others. Some try to hide it by using language of predestination and election and they speak of the grace of God and, yet, at some point they will slip in a little work: “It is all by God’s election, but you have to believe.” They will sneak something in there because the entire corporate body has been remade after the image of the evil one and it is all a result of the works of man. The truly saved had been called out of the midst and they were told to depart out of the churches and they did leave, leaving only professed Christians that believed they were saved by one kind of “work,” or another.
The 23 musical instruments point to the 23-year Great Tribulation. The number “23” identifies strongly with the Great Tribulation. It is really a fascinating fact that initially there were three kings that ruled over the 12 tribes of Israel. There was Saul, David and Solomon. But after Solomon, God divided the nation and then there were 20 more kings in the North and then they were destroyed by the Assyrians. If you start with the 3 that ruled over the 12 tribes and then you add the 20 kings, it was at the time of the 23rd king of Israel that the Assyrians conquered the nation of Israel. Also, after Solomon there were 20 more kings of Judah and at the time of the 23rd king of Judah, Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians. Is it a coincidence that after 23 kings, Israel in the North is destroyed and after 23 kings, Judah in the South is destroyed? No, it is not. And at the sounding of the musical instruments that God counts out to “23” times, there is worship given to the beast.