Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Sunday afternoon Bible study. Today is study #4 of Daniel, chapter 3, and we are going to read Daniel 3:8-19:
Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 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: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 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. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 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? 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? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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. 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. 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.
I will stop reading there. By this time, we know that King Nebuchadnezzar is a type and figure of Satan. The Lord’s people are fully aware of these “types and figure” that God uses in the Bible because God has opened His Word to such a degree that many things that had previously been hidden are commonly known to the people of God. For instance, when we read the Book of Jeremiah, Ezekiel or Daniel we readily see the types and figures and the spiritual picture of the Babylonians representing the kingdom of Satan and the king of Babylon representing Satan and the Israelites or the people of Judah being figures of the corporate church or a figure of God’s elect, like these three young men. We see these things readily because God has opened the Scriptures. By God’s grace He gives us eyes to see and ears to hear these things and once you understand the Biblical definition of the spiritual language God is using in a passage, chapter or book, then you have the ability to see the interpretation or translation. The Bible is really written in “another language,” the spiritual language of the kingdom of heaven.
The mistake that men make (including earthly theologians, pastors and so forth) is to apply earthly interpretations to this heavenly language. They think the Bible is like any other earthly writing and they try to interpret it that way as they “translate” it via earthly interpretations like one would translate a difficult language like Chinese. And, yet, that is a huge mistake. It is error that leads them, time and time again, to wrong doctrinal understandings and wrong gospels. The Bible is a heavenly language and you need someone that can “speak” that language to provide the interpretation and do the translation. For instance, if I had a Spanish Bible I could not translate it properly. I might be able to define a word or two, but I would not be able to do an adequate translation because it is not my language and I do not know it well. And that is how it is when natural men approach the Bible and try to use their natural interpretation techniques to a heavenly book. We need one that speaks the language and the only one that truly knows the heavenly language is God Himself, the Holy Spirit. That is why God lays down the principal that we are to compare Scripture with Scripture and spiritual with spiritual and the Holy Ghost teacheth. When we follow that principal and we learn more and more as God opens our eyes through His Spirit within us, then we slowly begin to come up with a “heavenly dictionary” for these terms. Once we have spent some time doing this and put in the necessary study and effort, we begin to develop a vocabulary of spiritual language. Then as we read many passages, it gets easier and easier. It is just like learning a language; as your vocabulary develops and you spend time speaking with people that speak that language, it gets easier.
But when someone does not speak the language and he hears these things, it is “foreign” to him, especially if he thinks he speaks the language. I have heard that when someone goes to France and attempts to speak French, to the ears of the native French people that person is doing violence to their language and they are offended. That is how it is when earthly people apply their human understanding to that which is a heavenly Book. The Bible is a spiritual Book.
Here, we see the spiritual picture of King Nebuchadnezzar, a type of Satan, in the time of the Great Tribulation when God had turned over the corporate church to him and Satan expanded his rule in an unprecedented way; he ruled over the churches and he ruled over everyone in the world whose names were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That is a large number of people. At the time of the Great Tribulation, the population of the world was about seven billion people, so the number of unsaved people would have been six billion and hundreds of millions. We know that God saved a great multitude, but that could be 100 million or 150 million, but it is still a remnant. Even if God saved 180 million people, it would still leave over six billion and some 800 million people that were unsaved and subject to the rule of Satan. In this world an individual that rules over large numbers of people is thought to be a great ruler and the more people you rule over the greater you are, so we cannot deny that it was a tremendous period of rule for Satan. It says in Revelation 13:7-8:
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
It was given him to overcome the saints. All those that were not saved and whose names were not recorded in that figurative Book of Life will worship Satan and that is what we see in Daniel, chapter 3. The command goes forth to worship when they heard the music. We looked at the musical instruments and we saw that the musical instruments are listed in four verses. Six instruments are listed three times and five instruments are listed one time, so that is a total of 23, which points to the Great Tribulation. In 1988, which was the 13,000th year of earth’s history, Satan was loosed and began to rule as the beast that came up out of the sea or out of the bottomless pit. It all typifies the same thing. Satan took his seat in the temple, showing himself that he was God and he demanded worship and anyone that refused to worship was to be killed. This is what we see, historically, regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. Anyone that would not bow down and worship would be thrown into the midst of a burning, fiery furnace. In our last study, we saw it said in Matthew 13, verses 42 and 50 that a burning, fiery furnace pictures the wrath of God.
Here, King Nebuchadnezzar is in a rage and in his fury he demands that the three young Hebrews be called before him to find out if the accusation is true: “Do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” Then they confessed that they will not bow down, and it says in Daniel 3:19:
…he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
This was because he was trying to shew himself that he is God and God does reveal himself as a God of wrath against those that fail to obey Him or fail to worship Him. God punishes them and, finally, they are cast into a “fiery furnace,” spiritually. So, spiritually, King Nebuchadnezzar is illustrating Satan’s desire to be like God and anyone failing to worship him will be destroyed in his wrath. That is the threat. That is what he is trying to do. The way it would have worked out with the corporate church was that it had to do with the “image of the beast.” The corporate church itself is the “image,” because Revelation, chapter 13 tells us that the image had “life” and the ability to “speak.” That identifies with a living organism. Corporate churches have buildings, but they are made up of unsaved people in our time because God has already separated the wheat from the tares. However, the churches are made up of people that are alive physically and these churches “speak” each Sunday through their sermons and Sunday school teaching. The image was to be worshipped and the churches are where people go to worship. When the transition was made and the Spirit of Christ came out of the midst of the churches and Satan entered in, people continued to go to church to worship, but God’s Spirit was not there. God received no worship through those that go to the churches because the one that was being worshipped there is Satan, so we can see how that “image” has everything to do with the corporate churches throughout the world. That is where the unsaved go and bow down to worship at the command of Satan.
God opened up the Scriptures so we could see the tremendous deceitfulness that was going on when God had ended the church age and He had departed out. God then commanded His people to do likewise and leave the churches for their good and the good of their families. God was no longer in the midst and He was no longer the one being worshipped. The one that had taken his seat to rule in the world’s churches was Satan and, therefore, God commanded us to come out of the midst and flee to the mountains; we were to go outside the churches into the world. The Book of Jeremiah pictured that command by telling the Jews to go into captivity to Babylon. God’s people listened. When we came out of the churches after this doctrine was revealed by God when He opened up the eyes of His people, then the churches began to react. They began to speak evil of the true believers and to revile and reproach those that taught this doctrine, like Mr. Camping, and all of God’s people that believed it. There were cries of heresy and much worse, so the churches were spiritually involved in “killing” the people that believed and trusted the Word of God and that refused to bow the knee to worship Satan.
You know, God does speak of being put out of the synagogue as a form of killing, in John 16:1-2:
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
Nebuchadnezzar’s threat was that you either worshipped the image or you would be killed. Spiritually, how it worked during the time of the Great Tribulation was that “they shall put you out of the synagogues.” Remember, it said in Revelation 13:15-17:
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.
To “buy or sell” is language that has to do with the Gospel. In order to trade in the Gospel within the churches and congregations of the world, you must have the mark or the name of the beast and you must be a member in good standing or one that bows down and submits to the corporate church organization. You cannot be one that “makes waves” or seeks to correct the pastor and his wrong doctrine, and so forth. It all ties into accepting and submitting to the confessions and creeds and teachings of the churches, but they are false teachings. They are lies and this serves to worship the father of lies, the one that has taken his seat in the temple, Satan. It was as if they were saying, “Do not make waves. You are welcome to come here, but you have to accept our free will gospel. You have to accept that we have women teaching and we have elders and deacons and pastors that are not married or divorced. You have to accept our modern music. You have to accept that God is a loving God that would want two individuals of the same sex to experience that love in a marriage relationship.” And on, and on, and on it goes. You must accept it and bow the knee and worship the evil one. God’s people cannot do that, so we would have said, “What about this verse? What about that verse?” But, finally, information came forth from the Bible that explained the whole condition of the church – God had abandoned it and given it over into hand of Satan and it was time to depart out. All of this is related to being “put out of the synagogues.” To be cast out of the synagogues is a very fearful thing to the people that stayed within the churches because they only have an identification with the kingdom of heaven and with God through the outward, visible corporate body, whether it be Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic or whatever denomination. That is their only connection to the kingdom of heaven because their names were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The child of God has his name recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life and he has heavenly citizenship and the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God, so he has much security and is able to be objective. He is able to obey God when God said to leave the corporate body and he is able to see the distinction between the church on the street corner that is now corrupt and the eternal church comprised of God’s elect. He is able to leave the corporate body because he has confidence and faith, granted by God, that he is within the eternal body. The child of God is able to think, “Look at what the pastor is teaching. Look at what the Sunday school teacher is teaching. Look at what the denomination is teaching. Everywhere you go it is the same, so, yes, I must get out of the churches.” The child of God obeys.
It is not that way for the tares. It is not that way for the “Esaus” that now occupy the pews of these congregations. The corporate church is their connection and their assurance of salvation. It is what the pastor tells them. It was what the denomination has told them in their confessions and creeds. Their weekly attendance, their water baptism and their partaking of the Lord’s Table are where they put their trust. It is all under the control of the pastor and church leaders and they feel threatened if they no longer have assurance by their pastors or priests that they are a child of God. Therefore, it is just too much pressure. In the days of Israel, being threatened with being put out of the synagogues was also a frightening thing. In John chapter 9 there was a trial convened concerning a blind man that Christ had healed and they called in his parents. It says in John 9:18-22:
But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
You see, they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue. They had to watch their words. They had to be very careful, so they answered the question without giving indication that there had been a miracle performed and, especially, that Christ had performed that miracle. They valued their membership in the synagogue. They valued being a Jew within the synagogue system and it meant everything to them – it meant “salvation” to them. It meant they were going to enter into heaven. That is what was in the mind of the Jews, so it was a powerful weapon that the apostate leaders of Israel could use against the people. They could wield it like a sword and threaten people with it: “If you go against our established teaching, you will be put out of the synagogue.” These poor people were not authorities. From all we can tell, they had no position of power within the Jewish system, but that would not have made any difference, because there is a very telling verse that reveals much about the spiritual condition of the synagogues and the people of Israel. It is just striking in its similarity to the situation in the churches during the time of the Great Tribulation. It says in John 12:42:
Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him…
How could anyone not believe on him when this man was going about saying He is the Son of God and He backed it up with miraculous healings that no one had ever seen before. He gave “ears” to the deaf and “eyes” to the blind man. He gave “legs” to the lame and He raised the dead. And He did a great volume of healings. Yes, you could look back in Israel’s history and there was someone like Elijah or Elias healing a person here or there, but Jesus was healing people by the multitudes. Who could deny it? It was obvious, so it said that “among the chief rulers also many believed on him.” Again, anyone that was honest to any degree would have to recognize it, but it goes on to say in John 12:42-43:
… but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
In this case, the “praise of men” is simply acceptance – you can remain a part of the synagogue. There may have been a couple of people talking and one might have said, “You know the things that Jesus does are certainly what you would expect of the Son of God.” But the other individual whispers, “Watch what you are saying. Anyone that confesses Him is put out of the synagogue. The Pharisees have agreed on that.” Then the other person comes to his senses and says, “Jesus is not of God,” and he gets an approving wink from his fellow Jew. “Now you are thinking straight again. Come on, friend,” he says as they go on their way to the synagogue.
This is the pressure that men apply to one another and it keeps many in check. They are afraid to go against it because of their “membership” within the synagogue and it is everything to them. Once again, it is only everything to them because they lack actual membership in “Jerusalem above,” the heavenly city. They are only members of the “earthly Jerusalem,” so their fear is overwhelming and they cannot go against the churches. There are also other elements involved, like the fact that their families are part of the synagogue. They fear losing their wife or other family members or their position in the social system. There are all sorts of things that force them (they believe) to go along with things and to not see any other option.
We can be sure there were a great number of pastors, elders, deacons and longtime church members that heard the information about the end of the church age and they seriously contemplated these things and reasoned among themselves concerning the whole question of the end of the church age. They could see the condition of the churches and the deterioration of their congregations. Everyone could see it and, yet, they certainly would not confess it and it all ties back to fear. Anyone that would not bow down to the image of the beast would be thrust out of the synagogues and “killed,” spiritually, for all intents and purposes. That is fine if the churches “kill” you or the kingdom of darkness (Babylon) “kills” you in that way if you have life in another way. Then you can risk it and endanger yourself and you can be “slain” because you have life through your citizenship in the kingdom of heaven and you are not afraid to lose your citizenship in an earthly, lesser city. However, the overwhelming majority of the people in the congregations during the Great Tribulation only had citizenship in the earthly Jerusalem and not in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Let us go back to Daniel 3 where some of the Chaldeans accused the Jews. Basically, they are following the characteristics of their ruler in the kingdom of Satan. The number one accuser of the people of God is Satan. We find that in the Book of Revelation where God says of him, “the accuser of our brethren is cast down.” So it is not surprising that mankind now takes on his characteristics like the lies and accusations. They accuse the Jews, as it says in Genesis 8:12-13:
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. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
Had you noticed that when we read this chapter, over and over again we read the names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and they are listed together? That makes sense because we know the number “three” in the Bible points to the purpose of God. We know it was God’s purpose that they be tested in this way and that they give this wonderful testimony that they will not serve the image that King Nebuchadnezzar set up, but they will only worship God. That is the testimony they witnessed before all Babylon. It was done on the highest “stage” and before the greatest king in the world of that day and before all the rulers from all the provinces that had been brought to Babylon for the purpose of bowing the knee to the image. And on this stage it was a time when Nebuchadnezzar, in his pride, was seeking to be glorified in worship through everyone bowing to his image. Remember, in the interpretation of the dream Daniel said, “Thou art this head of gold,” so the image was one that Nebuchadnezzar fully identified with himself and if you failed to bow down to his image, it was a personal affront to him and he would destroy you. He would act as a god and pour out his wrath upon you in the burning, fiery furnace.
We know it was God’s purpose to show that His people will only serve Him. God’s elect will not bow the knee and He is going to show it to practically all the known world of that day. It was certainly the greatest kingdom in all the earth and all the provinces had their representatives there and all the leadership of these provinces will see that King Nebuchadnezzar can be denied. He can be refused. It was certainly a fearful thing in many ways and, yet, out of all the people of the earth God’s people were giving their testimony. You know, there would have been people there from all the religions. There would have been many religions in that time, just like there is today. There would have been many philosophers, atheists and agnostics, and so forth. All of these beliefs were tested: “Will you bow the knee and serve this evil king?” All the other religions and philosophies represented bowed the knee, with the exception of one small group of people. These three represented God’s elect and out of all the people of the world, it was only the belief of these three that passed the test and they were willing to die for their belief. They were willing to be thrown into the midst of a burning, firing furnace rather than to bow down and worship anyone other than the God of the Bible. Certainly everyone would have been “shaking their heads,” but God is just illustrating that His people will not serve anyone but the true God of the Bible, no matter what the consequences. This is what is being illustrated.
So, we read, again, and again, of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Remember, the name Shadrach was given to Hananiah and the name “Hananiah” means “favored of JAH.” The name Meshach was given to Mishael and the name Mishael means “like God.” The name Abednego was given to Azariah and the name “Azariah” means “the Lord will help.” Each one had a name that identified with God and they were the people of God. They could take away their names and give them Babylonian names, but they remained the people of God.
I encourage everyone to go through the chapter and every time you see their names, number them, starting in verse 12 through verse 30. In this constant repetition of their names, one interesting thing that comes forth is that Shadrach’s name is mentioned 13 times; Meshach’s name is mentioned 13 times; and Abednego’s name is mentioned 13 times. Together it is 39 times and, of course, we see the emphasis on the number “13,” just like the musical instruments emphasized the number “23.” We are not surprised at the emphasis on the number “13” because the Great Tribulation started in May 1988, the 13,000th year of earth’s existence. So, here, God is connecting this, just as in Nehemiah, chapter 8 in the context of the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, we read that Ezra was preaching and 13 men caused the people to understand and gave the sense of the Word of God. The number “13” is not accidental or coincidental in any way. God does not do anything in a haphazard or careless way like people do. We may list things with no rhyme or reason, but God has purpose in everything He does and the purpose here was to identify when the Great Tribulation would begin in 1988. It is just like how the 23 musical instruments related to the length of the Great Tribulation as 23 years.
Some people refuse to see these kinds of insights, but we keep seeing these things over and over again and the same numbers are appearing over and over again. For instance, what if the number “47” appeared or a whole host of numbers that have no spiritual meaning? Instead, we see numbers that are highly significant and they relate to the context of what is being related in the deeper spiritual meaning. Notice that when Nebuchadnezzar is speaking to these three young men, he says in Daniel 3:15:
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?
Back in verse 6 we also read that they would be cast “the same hour” into the furnace and the “hour” identifies with the “hour” of the Great Tribulation. Remember the parable in Matthew 20 where the husbandman hired laborers to work in his vineyard. He hired some in the third hour, sixth hour and ninth hour and then at the eleventh hour he hired laborers for the last hour of work because the work day was 12 hours. The last hour, from the 11th to the 12th hour, typifies the Great Tribulation and this is what is in view in Matthew 10:19-20:
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
This is parallel to Mark 13, verse 11 and Mark 13 is a chapter that deals with the Great Tribulation. It says in Mark 13:11:
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
Then it goes on to speak of the “abomination of desolation” being set up, and so forth. It is a parallel chapter to Matthew, chapter 24. So when Matthew 10 makes reference to “that same hour” it is making reference to the hour of the Great Tribulation, the time in which God will cause His people to speak because He will open up the Scriptures and what they speak will not be them speaking, but the Holy Spirit which speaks. How can that be when there is no divine revelation outside of the Bible? It is done through the methodology laid out in 1Corinthians, chapter 2 where it says that when we compare spiritual things with spiritual, it is the Holy Ghost that speaketh. Using the Biblical methodology produces the “speaking” of the Holy Spirit and that occurred in the “hour” of the Great Tribulation.
Then notice it says in Matthew 10:21-22:
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Again, it is very similar language to Matthew 24, Mark 13 or Luke 21, chapters that all deal with the Great Tribulation. Then notice what it says in Matthew 10:24-28:
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Do you see how the “same hour” that we read about in Daniel 3 contains a horrible threat if you do not worship the image? You will be thrown into the burning, fiery furnace. And here in Matthew 10 we are also reading of “that hour” and information that will be given to God’s people in the same hour and they will speak it. Then notice that in verse 22 it speaks of brother delivering up brother and being hated of all men for Christ’s sake. Then Christ says there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed in verse 26 and that which He tells us in darkness we are to speak in light and preach from the housetops. Then He tells us, “And fear not them which kill the body,” and God is prophesying what would come and He is telling us that in “that hour” we will reveal things that were hidden and sealed until the time of the end. When we see these things, we are to preach it from the housetops and not fear those that can kill the body. It is understood and the implication is clear that we will be threatened with “death” in a spiritual way like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were threatened with and that was that if you did not worship the beast, you would be “killed.” The threat is that you would be put out of the synagogue and labeled a heretic. That is why it says that the disciple is not above his master: “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”
Remember, Mr. Camping was reviled and reproached and he was spoken evil of and that is what it means to blaspheme. It is to speak evil of someone or something. God’s people are “spoken evil of” and that is our burning, fiery furnace; it is on a spiritual level. Sometimes I wonder (and I am sure you wonder, too) how we would react to the threat of a physical burning, fiery furnace. You can be sure God would be with us, just as he was with the three young men that were standing there and just as He was with His people throughout the Great Tribulation. In this Day of Judgment, God stands with His people and God’s people resist the spiritual threats and we stand fast, by the grace of God.