Its construction must have been the topic of conversation for months. The colossus made by Nebuchadnezzar was 90 feet high and nine feet wide and could be seen for miles. It surely was the talk of the empire!
The dedication of the golden image was an elaborate affair. The stern demand was proclaimed throughout the kingdom so that everyone knew that when the symphonic sound was heard, it was the cue to prostrate themselves before the golden image and pay homage to the king.
To forestall any rebellion, the king constructed a large furnace within sight of the image and his decree warned: “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:6).
The orchestra struck the note, and as its symphonic sounds wafted across the plain, “all the peoples… fell down and worshipped the image of gold” (Daniel 3:7). All the peoples, except for the three devout friends of Daniel. The astrologers were quick to report the defiance of the faithful three.
The three Hebrews acknowledged they had no claim on divine intervention, but had absolute faith in God’s almighty power. The response of the faithful three served only to increase the rage of the king who ordered his furnace to be made seven times hotter.
The faith of these three men becomes enshrined in that Westminster Abbey of the Bible, Hebrews 11, with its roll call of heroes “who through faith… quenched the fury of the flame” (vv. 33, 34).
The external setting may be different, but the inner truth abides. There are still many who know the experience of a fiery furnace, of a brutal force that seeks to destroy faith, and a Presence that enables them to survive the testing by fire.
The setting is no more barbaric than our own time. The distance from Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace to the fiery furnaces of the Holocaust is not that great. And what about the “silent holocaust” of 1.5 million legalized abortions every year in our country?
This chapter may be as up to date as any in the Bible. Even as we read, devout Christians in certain countries are suffering in prison for their faith, some even facing death.
This great text reminds us that “the God we serve is able,” (Daniel 3:17) and in our fiery furnace experience He will be with us and make us adequate.
Henry Gariepy, Light in a Dark Place