Daniel 3:17
If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and from your hand, O king.
Christians UnconquerableSignal.Daniel 3:12-18
Courage and FidelityW. Reading M. A., W. Jay.Daniel 3:12-18
Devotion to PrincipleD. J. Burrell, D.D.Daniel 3:12-18
Is it TrueDaniel 3:12-18
Nebuchadnezzar's Golden ImageC. P. Reichel, D. D.Daniel 3:12-18
On the Conduct of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-NegoChristian ObserverDaniel 3:12-18
Pious YouthW. A. Scott, D.D.Daniel 3:12-18
Religious IntoleranceC. Leach, D.D.Daniel 3:12-18
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-NegoD. Kelly, B. A.Daniel 3:12-18
The Duty of Religious ProfessionDaniel 3:12-18
The Fiery FurnaceG. F. Pentecost, D.D.Daniel 3:12-18
The Fiery Furnace; Or, True Principle ExemplifiedJ. H. Hughes.Daniel 3:12-18
The Fiery TrialOriginal Secession MagazineDaniel 3:12-18
The Golden ImageWilliam White.Daniel 3:12-18
The Hebrew YouthsW. R. Inglis.Daniel 3:12-18
The Importance of a True CreedDean Payne-Smith, D.D.Daniel 3:12-18
The Martyr SpiritP. H. Hunter.Daniel 3:12-18
The MartyrsJ. B. Brown, B.A.Daniel 3:12-18
The Nonconformists of BabylonW. J. Macdonald.Daniel 3:12-18
The Nonconformists of BabylonW. M. Taylor, D.D.Daniel 3:12-18
The Power of Youthful PietyCaleb Morris.Daniel 3:12-18
The Refusal to Worship the Golden ImageJ. Parsons.Daniel 3:12-18
The Three Hebrew YouthsC. Neil, M.A.Daniel 3:12-18
The Three Hebrew YouthsT. Kidd.Daniel 3:12-18
The Three Jews in BabylonJ. Foster.Daniel 3:12-18
The Three Witnesses on the Plains of DuraF. Thorne.Daniel 3:12-18
The Three Witnesses on the Plains of DuraH. J. Hastings, M.A.Daniel 3:12-18
The Trial of FireJ. T. Murray.Daniel 3:12-18
The True Way of Treating Sin, and What Comes of ItWayland Hoyt, D.D.Daniel 3:12-18
Three HeroesJohn Williams.Daniel 3:12-18
Three Names High on the Muster-RollDaniel 3:12-18
Three NoncomformistsF. James.Daniel 3:12-18
Principle Illuminated by FireH.T. Robjohns Daniel 3:14-18
The Church's TriumvirateJ.D. Davies Daniel 3:16-18
Absolute Confidence in GodM.Wright, M.A.Daniel 3:17-18
ConscientiousnessW. H. Nanken, M.A.Daniel 3:17-18
Courage in the Best of CausesW. F. Vance, M. A.Daniel 3:17-18
Faith Victorious Over the Fear of ManA. Shanks.Daniel 3:17-18
Firmness in the Hour of TrialJ. Glason.Daniel 3:17-18
Our Sure DefenceW. Clarkson, B.A.Daniel 3:17-18
The Burning Fiery Furnace and its LessonJ. Hubbard.Daniel 3:17-18
The Fiery FurnaceH. Crosby.Daniel 3:17-18
The Fiery FurnaceMonday Club SermonsDaniel 3:17-18
The Fiery FurnaceWilliam White.Daniel 3:17-18
The Three Hebrews in the FurnaceR. Fuller.Daniel 3:17-18

Nothing was further from these youths' thoughts than public notoriety, much less world-wide renown. They did but perform what seemed plain duty; and they asked no more than to be allowed to serve their God in quiet obscurity. When temptation spake through royal lips, they calmly said "No;" because loyalty to the King of kings had a previous and paramount claim.

I. LOYALTY TO GOD RESISTS THE ENCROACHMENTS OF HUMAN AUTHORITY. "In this matter," they affirmed, it did not concern them to answer the king. They had no answer that would be palatable to imperious arrogance. In all other matters they were prepared to render honest obedience and dutiful service. But "in this matter," touching the love and worship due to God, no other course was open than to obey God rather than man. Plainly had Jehovah said, "Thou shalt not make any graven image, nor bow down to it;" and they had responded, "All that the Lord hath commanded us will we do." It was an abuse of human authority, an encroachment on the prerogatives of Deity, to set up forms of belief or objects of worship. This is tyranny, offensive both to God and to men. Only a spirit of mean subserviency will silently submit to such arrogance. Manly courage will follow the simple rule of Jesus Christ, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

II. LOYALTY TO GOD IS CONFIDENT OF DIVINE SUCCESS. In true service of God we learn to know him, and increased knowledge leads to stronger faith. Obedience is the main portal to the temple of Divine truth. The closer we come to God, the clearer vision of his power and greatness we obtain, and the stronger grows our assurance that we have an interest in his friendship. We do not know who God is if we are not confident that he is well able to protect us in every emergency. But the faith of these men was stronger yet. They believed that God was sustaining them in this decisive resolve, and would, in some way, appear so as to vindicate their honest fidelity. How they should be delivered, they did not know; but they were well assured that ten thousand modes of relief were open to God, and they could leave the plan of campaign with their Commander-in-chief.

III. LOYALTY TO GOD IS ENTIRELY AN UNSELFISH PRINCIPLE. Assured, though these Hebrews were, that deliverance would come; yet, even if it had been otherwise, they would not have altered their line of conduct. Whether heaven be the outcome of pious loyalty to truth, or whether it be not, renewed men can act no other than they do. Let philosophers argue as plausibly as they please, they cannot persuade the conscience that moral obligation is a phase of self-interest. A good man does not pursue virtue for the sake of what he can get, however remote the expectation be. Nevertheless, the kindness of God has decreed that virtue, faith, holiness, shall bear sooner or later the fruits of abundant joy. And so these champions of Divine truth boldly avowed to the king that, come what might - fire or freedom, grief or gladness - they would have no complicity with idols. They would buy the truth at any price; they would sell it at none. They could die, but they dare not sin. - D.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.
These souls were under the strongest possible temptation to do that which would have been an act of utter unfaithfulness to God, and which would have cost them their own self-respect. Had they yielded to the royal threat, they would have done that for which theft never could have forgiven themselves. It would have been a deed of recreancy and of shame. It is not only for great occasions that we should be prepared. Again and again will occur to us the opportunity for courageous constancy, the temptation to "unworthy concession or to the submission that would end in shame. Where shall we find our defence?

I. IN ABSOLUTE CONVICTION. "The God whom we serve is able to deliver us," said these dissenting Jews. There was no doubt about that. They remembered what Jehovah had done in the past, what deliverances He had wrought; and in answer to the king's incredulity, they replied with the absolute conviction of the Divine power to save. It is almost everything to us to have a deep sense of some great spiritual certainties. When evils hang over our head, when our prospects are threatened, when health, or liberty, or life is at stake, it is much indeed to stand upon the rook of some solid certitudes. God is near to us; He is observing us, and is awaiting our constancy with Divine interest and acceptance; He will reward fidelity with His loving favour; He will not allow the worst to happen, except it be right and well that it should happen; Christ will sympathise with us if we suffer, and go down with us into the deepest waters into which we may descend. If God be for us, we can afford to have the world against us (Matthew 10:28; Romans 8:31). It is a strong rampart in the day of assault to have some impregnable convictions such as these within our souls.

II. A STRONG HOPE. "And He will deliver us out of thine hand... but if not"; in other words, we have a prevailing hope that our God will exert His power on our behalf. Their state of mind was this: they knew that God was with them, and was for them, that He was mindful of their prayer and of their trust; that was certain. They could not be sure whether He would justify their faith by a miraculous intervention on their behalf, or by imparting Divine grace to enable them to bear martyr-witness to the truth. Their strong hope was that He would thus deliver them. It is open to us to act and to feel thus. We are in serious danger of financial disaster, or of being attacked by disease, or of losing reputation, or of severe bereavement, or of grievous disappointment, or of social or professional failure. We ask for deliverance. It is not for us to prescribe to the Lord of our life how He shall interpose for us. We may say to ourselves, "God will give us our desire, but if not" — we may cherish not a presumptuous confidence, but a sustaining hope.

III. AN UNWAVERING RESOLVE: "We will not serve thy gods," etc. Even if their hope of bodily deliverance was not granted, they would retire to the spiritual certainties on which they built, they would fixedly determine not to belie their convictions, not to offend their God, not to desert the truth, not to fail their fellow-countrymen and their coreligionists in the hour of trial. To the proud threat of the imperious and all-confident monarch they opposed the immovable resolution of upright souls that believed in God; their resolution was unqualified, unenfeebled by the shadow of a doubt, invincible. Let the young go forth to the conflict of life in this devout, this heroic spirit, and to them also shall come the victory and the crown.

(W. Clarkson, B.A.)

Examples of the victory of faith over the terrors of the world are useful to believers in their militant state. The victory of faith related in our text will appear brilliant when we call to mind the number of the combatants, the situation in which they stood, the manner in which they were assailed, and the strength and terror of the opposition with which they contended.

I. WE WILL GIVE A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE ILLUSTRIOUS MEN, WHOSE NAMES ARE IN THE TEXT, and their praise in the church. With respect to number, they were only three; a small number to appear for the Lord God of Israel in opposition to the idolatry of the king, and the court, and the empire of Babylon. By nation and profession they were Israelites, who had been carried to Babylon in the captivity of their country. They were of the tribe of Judah, and are commonly believed to have been of the king's seed, or royal family. They were in places of power and trust in Babylon.

II. "WE SHALL GIVE SOME ACCOUNT OF THE TESTIMONY WHICH THESE IT ILLUSTROUS MEN HELD, AND THROUGH WHICH THEY OVERCAME. It was not a testimony of their own framing. The Lord God of Israel framed and wrote it, and commanded it to be observed. "He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children." That branch of the testimony for which these princely witnesses appeared, had not only been written on tables of stone by the finger of God; but, according to His promise, was written in their hearts. It had been put into the ark of His testimony which was now lost; but it was also put into their minds by His Holy Spirit, out of which it could not be erased. "Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord, and my servants whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me." "Fear ye not, neither be afraid — ye are even my witnesses. Is there a god beside me? yea there is no god, I know not any." "I am the First, and I am the Last, and beside Me there is no God." The reason inserted in the law satisfied the conscience of every pious Israelite: "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." Encouraged and awed with the sovereign reason in it, the princely witnesses entered the plain in the boldness of faith, stood before a haughty monarch without meditating terror, and spake with the dignity of men who feared Him that would not give His glory to another, nor His praise to an image of gold in the plain of Dura. With the Psalms of David and the prophecies of Isaiah they were doubtless acquainted. In the Psalms of David are these passages: "The Lord is great and greatly to be praised, he is to be feared above all gods: For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens." "Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols." "Wherefore should the heathen say, where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not. They have ears, but they hear not; noses have they, but they smell not. They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not, neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." In the prophecies of Isaiah, we find these and several other passages of the same import. "They have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save." "They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance; and hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it a god; they fall down, yea they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove; yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble. Remember this and shew yourselves men, bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no god beside Me." Under that dispensation, in Babylon, as in Jerusalem, believers lived by the word.

III. We shall attempt TO GIVE SOME ACCOUNT OF THEIR MANNER OF MAINTAINING THE ESTABLISHED TESTIMONY, which they received, believed, and held fast. The witnesses, in maintaining their testimony for the honour of the God of Israel, conducted themselves:

1. With discretion. Nebuchadnezzar, in his haughtiness and bigotry, added rudeness and insolence to idolatry, and impiously challenged the might of the God of Israel — "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" The witnesses, however, neither call him tyrant, nor idolater, nor oppressor, though, in fact, he was all three. On the contrary, they express themselves discreetly and mildly: "O Nebuchadnezzar!" "O king!" In their language they give no occasion to irritation, nor to any court, or to accuse them of despising dominion.

2. With composure and presence of mind. Neither anger nor fear disturbed them. The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, ruled in their hearts. The cause in which they appeared needed not the wrath of man to support it; and the fear of God, which is a sedate and composed principle, fortified their minds against the fear of man.

3. With confidence in the living Cool, as God and their God. Far from being ashamed of Him, and the testimony which He had established in Israel, they acknowledge His propriety in them, and their interest in Him, before a numerous and splendid convocation of His enemies. If their acknowledgment be boasting, it is boasting in the Lord, which is an exercise of faith.

4. With steadfastness. This was standing fast in the faith, and quitting themselves like men.

5. With uprightness. Nothing crooked, nor perverse, nor deceitful, appears in their conduct. Had they consulted flesh and blood, reasons might have been suggested to palliate some deviation from integrity. But flesh and blood were not consulted. The witnesses were Israelites indeed, in whose conduct there was no guile.Lessons:

1. The mean and unkindly behaviour of the mighty potentate, who projected and authorised the criminal solemnities of that memorable day. Vengeance sparkled in his eyes, with a fierceness resembling the dame of his furnace. This was unmanly, unwise, unkingly, ungodly — "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils."

2. Observe the violence of superstition armed with power. Nothing will satisfy it but either the consciences or the lives of upright and holy men. One would have thought that the king and court of Babylon might have been satisfied with the obeisance of that great assembly, without prosecuting three dissenters of a different nation, and a different religion.

3. Observe the distressing alternatives to which faithful witnesses for God have been reduced.

4. Observe the goodness of God in supporting His witnesses in such extremities. What were these three witnesses? In themselves they were weak and timorous as other men. How were they preserved from fainting, and from dishonouring, by unworthy compliances, the testimony for which they appeared? The Lord stood by them, and said, "Fear ye not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God: I will strengthen you, yea I will help you, yea I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness." "Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, by His Spirit in the inner man," they stood firm, repelled the wrath of the king and the terror of his furnace, and obtained a glorious victory, "The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits."

5. Observe the wisdom of counting, before temptations and trials assail our faith, the expense of holding fast our profession unto the end.

6. Observe the nature and efficacy of faith in God:(1) The nature of faith in God, which is receiving and resting on the grant which He makes of Himself to us as the Lord our God.(2) The efficacy of faith in God. The efficacy of this principle is mighty. Through it, men weak and timid have resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

(A. Shanks.)

One case is presented here as to which there might be an alternative, and another case is presented as to which there could be no alternative. "If not." There is that which may happen, and there is that which may not happen. Whether or not our God shall deliver us — and of this there is a doubt — "we will not serve thy gods, O king," of that there is no doubt. The confidence of the just in God is never misplaced. But this confidence of the just must be absolute, in no way distinguishing. It must be in God himself, not in God doing for them this or that." They must demand of Him nothing; they must trust Him simply. This is the word which comes to us from the story of the fiery furnace. Death by burning was a Babylonish punishment. The martyrs of God are sometimes left to suffer. Faith in God — not in God's deliverance, but in God himself — reaches beyond all earthly destiny; it reaches up to Him. If we can only see the form of the "Fourth," no furnace that we may ever have to pass through will go on keeping its heat. Near to us, if we strive to be true to our Father and His love, we may see the very Son of God. There was one who said, and said it to all His true servants, whatever their condition may be, and in whatever age of time they may live, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." If the knowledge of Him who said that shall only be, by the mercy of God, vouchsafed to us; if we are empowered to grasp the fact of Christ and His salvation; not with the shadow of a fancy, but with a strong and real hold; then the plain of Dura, or the fiery furnace, the quiet pastures of life, or the rugged broken ground, the walking loose unhurt, or the consuming of the flames — there will be a reach in our souls beyond them. Knowing God, we shall absolutely trust Him. And then, as to the changes and contortions of this mysterious life — in which we must all take, certainly our chequered, perhaps our grievous part — we shall have outgrown either anxious hope or enervating fear. As to the afflictions of life, in the words of hope we may say, "He shall deliver us; but if not." Inevitably the point is open, and the trust of faith assumes, and' accepts the doubt, and passes beyond it; but as to death, and the conditions beyond death, there is to the humble, truehearted believer in Christ no alternative to be admitted. What did he say, that noblest of all Christian men, when he came to the borders of this valley, and looked forth upon its darkness, knowing that he must pass immediately into it — what did he say? "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. . .Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." St. Paul speaks quite positively here. He admits of no second case being possible. There is no room here for "but, if not." That may suit the life of our mortality. The believer in God is here sure of God, but he is not sure of what God shall do with him. God hath pledged himself to no earthly thing, except His love over all. God makes us all like unto St. Paul in this; and life may be buoyant and cheerful with us, or even tempered and calm, but if not — at least when "I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." The form of the Fourth will be there, and He is not (as the King of Babylon said) "like unto the Son of God," He is the Son of God.

(M.Wright, M.A.)

These Jews were placed in a perfect dilemma. Life and death are now presented for their choice — life with all its blessings if they would conform — death in all its terrors if they should refuse compliance. If they had consulted with flesh and blood, in forming their determination or in framing their reply, what a multitude of cogent and plausible arguments might have been found to justify their compliance. They were not required to renounce the God to whom they had been hitherto devoted-to adjure His name, to abandon His worship, and to profess the god of Nebuchadnezzar as the only living and true God. No such profession was required; all that was necessary was an outward act of homage, which might have been done with a secret disavowal of the image as a god, and a mental protestation in the sight of Heaven that they still owned none save the God. of their fathers, and worshipped none else but the invisible Jehovah. But these men, by a previous refusal, had already lifted up their testimony against the idolatry of which they had been the witnesses; and their obedience now, after such a testimony, could be regarded in no other light than as an involuntary constrained act, in which their feeling of constraint destroyed their guilt. A multitude of considerations must naturally have suggested themselves in palliation of the crime. But no token of retraction was given, no sign of irresolution appeared. They addressed the king in calm, but uncompromising terms. The principle which actuated these youths was a scrupulous regard to the will of God, and a deep-seated confidence in His power and promises. Idolatry was a sin prohibited and denounced by God as a derogation from the honour that was due unto His name. In defiance of the punishment which threatened them, they resolved to adhere to the plain line of duty, disdaining the subterfuges which carnality would suggest. The application of this history is far from being a remote one. There is little likelihood, indeed, that any of you should ever be placed in circumstances so critical. But you may be the subjects of tyrannical dictation from another quarter, even from that world in which you dwell, and from those masters which dwell within you — your lusts, your appetites, your passions. Temptation may often be presented to make you swerve from the path of rectitude. You may meet with many who will ridicule your faith, and more who will ridicule your practice, if that be in strict conformity to the faith you profess. But we need not so much to warn you against others as to warn you against yourselves. There are tyrants within who would constrain you to do them reverence. Money, sensual pleasures, vanities, etc., all have something within you to which they make appeal.

(J. Glason.)

This is one of the most admirable instances of fortitude and magnanimity. The deportment of these men was at one respectful and unshrinking, free from anything approaching to a railing or resentful expression, but at the same time wholly unmixed with fear. How admirably does their response harmonize with the instructions of our Lord to his disciples, "When ye are brought before kings and rulers... it shall be given you in the same hour wilt ye ought to speak." How many and how glorious have been the triumphs which this Divine principle of a realising faith in the grace and providence of God have, in all times and countries, enabled His people, however weak in themselves, to achieve. In the example before us, it inspired the Jewish youths with a freedom from anxiety perfectly sublime. How does their magnanimous reply put to blush that lukewarm, pusillanimous profession of religion with which so many of us are contented, which refuses the most trivial sacrifice or self-denial in God's service, and shrinks affrighted even from the shadow of danger! We are in no danger of being called upon to resist unto blood, striving against sin. Our present peril lies in the opposite direction — of being altogether overpowered by the ease and effeminacy of modern refinement — in the risk of our being swallowed up in spiritual sloth and self-indulgence. Our danger arises chiefly from within, from that covetousness which is idolatry. It is when called to undergo fiery trials that the upright Christian may, with the most unhesitating confidence, look for his Lord's special protection and support. In every temptation, however fierce or terrible, He will open a door of escape, or give us grace to bear the trial. No fire so intense as to overcome His love.

(W. F. Vance, M. A.)

In what a trying position these three young men were placed! They did not trifle with their consciences. Compare their behaviour with the accommodating spirit shown by Naaman the Syrian. Persons who are thus only half-conscientious are very apt to show this accommodating spirit whenever they are associated with those who are altogether irreligious. In the various matters of daily life, the conscientious, the half-conscientious, and the unconscientious, are often obliged to have dealings with each other. It is contrary to common-sense, as well as to all Christian modesty, that the Christian should thrust forward at times and in places whore he is not called for the difference in principle between himself and some other who is only a Christian in name; but it does seem to be the duty of all Christians, when mixed up in this world's business with the ungodly, to be ready to bear witness to the truth, whenever circumstances call for such a witness. An accommodating spirit may be sinful. If we had more reverence for conscience, considering it as no less than God himself speaking to us, we should not be anxiously seeking how far we might go without sin, in making conscience give way to our convenience.

(W. H. Nanken, M.A.)

The three young men, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, whom the king of Babylon named Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, did not go to the fiery furnace with a prophecy that they would be preserved, as David did when he moved forward against Goliath. David declared, "This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand." The three Hebrews in Babylon had no such prospect vouchsafed them. They went to the fiery furnace without assurance of any deliverance. Their courage of faith was greater than that of David in the case alluded to. The faith of these three is brought out into full relief when we thus consider that the fiery furnace was a reality in prospect for them. Had God revealed to them that they should not be touched by the flames, their faith would have rested on His word of deliverance; but now it rested on His character of wisdom, truth and love. It was a higher, grander faith than mere faith in a special deliverance promised. It was a full, implicit confidence that God would do what was best, and would never abandon His own servants. It is not, therefore, in the miracle that we find our lesson to-day. Such a miracle may never again be wrought. Men as true and as holy as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego have not been miraculously saved from physical torture and death, and no saint of God has any right to expect such intervention. Our lesson lies deeper than this. The exclamation of the three was not "The Lord will deliver us from the force of the fire," but, "The Lord is able to deliver us from the fire." And herein is a vast difference. Here is implied a spiritual knowledge of the character of God as the God of His people, for the implied sentence is, "And He who is thus able will do for us what is best'; and that this is the implied sentence we know from what follows: "and He will deliver us out of thy hand, O king." They are assured that God will give them deliverance from the king's wrath, though it may be by taking them out of the body. There is a grand, eternal deliverance before them. The lesson, then, which we are to learn legitimately from these heroes of the faith is to be unconcerned regarding the Nebuchadnezzars and fiery furnaces that are in our path, and that not because they will be removed, but because the Omnipotent God, our God, is directing all, and will give us the grand deliverance. In our low views of things we are tempted to say, "Why, this is very unsatisfactory; there is no encouragement here. It would be far better if the promise would come to us that the fire should not burn us, that we should suffer no pain or hardship, and have all easy before us. Why cannot God do this?" Well, He certainly could, as far as ability goes, but what would become of His love then, for it is certainly true that whom the Father loveth He chasteneth?

1. The first point, then, in our lesson from the three Hebrews is to have faith in God as our God There is a strange misapprehension of faith, Christian faith, in some minds. They seem to consider it a blind confidence that certain things will take place. Only put your mind on an event, and be perfectly sure it will come, and it will come. There is not a grain of Christian faith in such presumption, but the very enemy and hindrance of faith. Christian faith is faith in God, His character, His will, His promises, as revealed in Jesus Christ His Son. Christian faith has God as its object and security. It holds all things subject to His most holy will, and knows that all things are directed by that will for the soul's good. It does not attempt to mark out God's course of dealing, but it is satisfied with that course, whatever it may be. It asks God for special gifts, but it desires God's infinite wisdom to decide concerning the giving, for a true faith humbly recognises human short-sightedness and knows well that the human wish might be very injurious if granted. Herein is the radical difference between the believer and the world. He is in communion with God, and the grace of God is his comfort and defence, while the world resists the grace and has no Divine promise and no Heavenly experience to rest upon.

2. The second point in our lesson from the three Hebrews is that faith implies service. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us," is the exclamation of the three heroes. This completely sets aside a speculative faith, which is the common faith of so many who are called Christians. Orthodoxy in opinion is not faith. There must be an action corresponding to the creed. As there can be no true faith without active service, so, of course, there can be no assurance of faith. The Christian who lazily looks after nothing but his present earthly comfort will never look at fiery furnaces with composure. Now, the service of the Lord is the use of the Divine means of grace for ourselves and for others. His grace is working in our earth for His great purpose of salvation, and He chooses us to be His co-workers. The field is the human heart — our hearts and the hearts of others. As servants of God we will take hold of this assigned work earnestly. It is in this way our faith will grow into the proportions of overcoming power that will fear no Nebuchadnezzar or his fiery furnace. Without such service we can express no such growth. Salvation is not from without and by magic. It is by a life that has faith as its motor. The three Hebrews were simply acting out their life of faith when they refused to bow to the king's idol It was the natural operation of a godly life. They served the Lord. That was their soul's position. They lived in accordance with that service. "The thing is perfectly plain. Our whole lives direct us. We shall not worship thine idol, and the burning fiery furnace is no argument." That is the way a soul in the Lord's service will always reply to an invitation to sin, even when a threat accompanies it. The reason why so many Christians yield is because they do not serve God. They wear Christ's name and serve self and the world. They have no courage because they have no faith.

3. The third point in our lesson from the three Hebrews is that God's service runs counter to the world's requirements. Hence there must be a collision. A man who will serve God will clash with the world. Nebuchadnezzar was but a specimen of the world. The world will insist upon some form of idolatry of every one, and will threaten the fiery furnace for disobedience. The world hates God, and will not recognise His exclusive demands. Political, commercial and social customs will bring a tyrannical pressure upon the soul, and the Christian in the name of his God will have to resist. The fiery furnace has different forms. The more resolute he is, the more wrath the world has and the hotter will it make the fire. Then is the opportunity for the Christian to triumph in his faith and to taste the glory of his position as with God. Deceit, Sabbath-breaking, impurity, fraud, lying, intrigue, to which the customs of the age allure the Christian, are all forms of idolatry, for they are revolts from God after the gods of covetousness, ambition, or carnality. Now, there is no other treatment of these by the godly but positive, open, uncompromising resistance, at any cost. The only position, then, of the Christian who would be at peace with God and with himself is the position of the three Hebrews — the position of faith. There he is afflicted with no doubts, anxieties, or remorse. He knows that God will be with him, even if it be a valley of death-shadow that he is to traverse. He will find the inexpressible comfort of the Divine presence, and feel at every step the strong upholding hand of his God. He will not miss earthly friends in such exalted companionship. In contrast with this steady believer is the one who fears the world's opposition, and endeavours to soothe and subdue it. This is always done by giving up God for the world. This Christian is of all men most miserable. He gets worse than the fiery furnace in the tortures of his conscience, in his failure to make anything satisfactory out of the world, in his own self-contempt and his dreary, blank prospect.

(H. Crosby.)

Monday Club Sermons.
It was in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, according to the Septuagint, that he set up this image of gold in the plain of Dura. If that date be correct (and there appears no reason to discredit it), it was done to celebrate the recent destruction of Jerusalem, and the subjection of various enemies of Babylon from India to Ethiopia.

I. THE SECRET OF LOYALTY is a simple and undisturbed trust in God. Of course, there can be no loyalty without faith; none to man, none to God. That which impresses us in the case of these Hebrew youths is that their trust was so serene. And now, when the stress of the king's command is put upon them, they are not taken off their guard; they are not overwhelmed with surprise or dismay. They trust in God. They believe His word. But the arm on which they leaned was omnipotent. The wisdom to which they confided their way was unlimited. Jehovah cared for them. He had kept them; He would keep them in the time to come. The truest courage is the calmest. Peter and John looked into the faces of the Sanhedrim, and put the question simply back to them, "Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." Paul, arraigned before Roman kings and Hebrew governors, turns from his own defence on a technical complaint, to deliver the message with which his master had charged him. A loyalty thus based is ready for any emergency. It is not a strain; it is only a confidence. It does not go into heroics; it is unconscious that it is heroic. During the time of the civil war, much was said about the extraordinary bravery of Admiral Farragut in having himself lashed to the mast while passing the forts under fire at Mobile. In answer to an inquirer about it afterwards, he said, "I cannot understand why they make so much of my going up into the maintop. It was nothing special that I did at Mobile, and I was not lashed there at all. When going into action, or in any time of danger, I always went up there, because I felt it my duty to be where I could overlook everything in person, and be seen by all of the men, and set them an example of sharing their risks." True courage does not promise, nor posture, nor explain. It goes on quietly and acts. It does not care to answer.

II. THE TESTING OF LOYALTY is permitted of God. Nor is it any contradiction to the constancy of His care for His people that it is so. The Lord can do better for His own than to shield them from all hardship. Even their spiritual gifts and graces deserve something better at His hands than sheltering. They ask for cultivation, for the opportunity of development, for the privilege of growth. Protection from evil ceases beyond a certain point to be a kindness. It is more to be strengthened than to be sheltered. The trees which grow always in the forest, protected from the sharpness of the winds, never compelled to battle with the storm, grow up toward the light, but do not spread their branches above ground or their roots below. If the barrier by which one of them has been shielded from the winds were taken suddenly away, the first blast of the tempest would lay it low. It is not braced against it. It stands, not because it is strong, but because it is supported. But on the mountainside the oak grows, or the cedar. From a sapling the breezes have played with it, and it has bonded but held on. And, equally, what power of discipline, what opportunity of courage, what development of strength would the church and Christian of the present day be deprived of, if, by more delicate but no less searching tests, its loyalty were not continually put to the proof.

III. THE SUPPORT OF LOYALTY is promised and assured. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "My strength shall be sufficient for thee." "Certninly I will be with thee."


(Monday Club Sermons.)

Stars are visible in the dark, and heroes are seen in persecution and trouble. Had these men always remained amid the peace and quietness of Canaan, they might have perished without leaving even their names upon the pages of history. This is no singular and isolated case.. All history, whether secular or sacred, is full of them. The antediluvian darkness caused Noah to shine. The Egyptian bondage caused Moses to shine. Roman Catholicism caused Luther to shine. The national darkness of England caused Cromwell to shine. The chief glory of man is obedience to God. Every reader finds a charm in the Babylonian captivity. There is something that captivates and delights the soul of man, and has a powerful influence over his life. The wisdom, wealth, authority, slavery, and idolatry that crowd upon each other in the narrative with their light and shadow, may all be stript from the page, yet the power remains that moves the breast of man. Take that one secret, and all the august and dazzling things are bereft of their charm and power. We are part with the wisdom of the magician and the wealth of the king; but we hold with a tenacious grip the unfaltering trust of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. We pass by everything else and cling to this, because it is the chief glory of man, and his most lasting good. The imposing art of the magician, the foresight of the astrologer, the easy saying of the soothsayer, may be grand; but that power these three captives possess, which enables them to defy the king and live for God, is more glorious by far. The wealth of the king only enriched the body, and left the soul as poor as before; would last but a few years, and then vanish for over. But the faith of the captives enriched "the inner man" with a life and blessedness that would endure throughout the hidden ages of eternity. The chief glory of man is not outward grandeur, but a strong trust in God; because it is a power to help amid the cares of life, amid the experience of death, and the unknown possibilities of the future. This has been verified by all history and experience. Pharaoh's palace yonder is adorned with all the arts and magnificence of the land. Sheep and oxen, corn and wine, power and plenty are on every side. Everything for which one can crave to make life joyous and gay is near. Servants and soldiers without number wait to do his bidding. But we yearn for none of those things; we pass by them all as valueless. We crave for the spirit and faith of the slave Joseph. Because the humble obedience of the slave, and not the outward grandeur of the king, is the chief glory of man.

1. The value of this faith is seen in that it gave the captives boldness to express their convictions.

2. The value of this faith is seen in that it prepared the captives for adversity and suffering.

3. The value of this faith is seen in that it secured the captives a noble victory. God stood by His servants, baffled their opponents, and gave them a glorious victory. God's enemies might appear to conquer at first, but Jehovah only delayed the victory of His people that, when it did come, it might be more marked and distinguished. To fight against God, and against God's people, always means defeat and ruin in the end. Pharaoh and his army were buried in a watery grave aa they pursued the Israelites.

(J. Hubbard.)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were men of integrity, against whom no one could bring an accusation, except in the matters of their God. But solely on account of their adherence to the Divine cause, they were cast into the burning fiery furnace.

1. By this we may he reminded, of what it is important at all tinges to keep in view, that for adherence unto God we may be exposed to great difficulties and dangers. At the beginning it was foretold that there "would be enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman," and no prediction has ever been more strikingly fulfilled. Those that are born after the flesh have always persecuted them that are born after the Spirit. What injuries have thereby been done unto the church!

2. Though these young men were menaced with danger, though all that was dear to them was in peril, yet they openly adhered unto God. They did not feign an excuse for absenting themselves from the dedication. They did not content themselves with adhering to God in their heart, while they bowed down to the idol with their bodies. When accused, they had not recourse to any specious disguise or subtle ambiguity. And, though everything like ostentation is to be avoided as a sin, we ought openly to hear our testimony for God, whatever difficulties we may have to encounter. It is not enough that we wish well to the cause of God in our hearts — it is not enough that we desire and pray for its triumph — it is not enough that we give it secret aid, while we remain openly among its enemies. When any acknowledge a cause to be good, and stand hack from avowing their attachment, because of the odium which they may incur, or the danger to which they may be exposed, this is unequivocal evidence that the fear and the favour of man have more effect upon their minds than the fear and the favour of God. Christ was not ashamed to own us publicly. God and angels, men and devils, saw Him publicly die for us upon the cross. And shall we ever be ashamed to confess Him before men!

3. Their adherence unto God was not only open, it was also resolute. Nothing like hesitation, or suspense, appears in their conduct. Their minds seem as resolute as if all inducements had boon upon the side of duty — as resolute as if adherence unto God had been the way of advancement, instead of leading, as it did, to a fiery "Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." We must beware of everything like halting, hesitating, and wavering. A halting, wavering, undecided frame of mind, is spoken of in Scripture in the language of contempt. Why halt ye between two opinions? if Jehovah be God, then choose ye Him, but if Baal be God, then choose ye him.

4. The adherence of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego unto God was steadfast. Many are bold when danger is at a distance, who faint when the hour of trial draws nigh. But these young men were steadfast and immovable. They not only declared their resolution to suffer everything, they actually submitted to be cast into the furnace when it was heated seven-fold. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Much depends on the steadfastness of soldiers in the day of battle — the issue of the conflict, and the fate of their country. Openly, decidedly, and steadfastly to adhere to the cause of God's glory, in despite of all trials and difficulties, is no easy matter. They who are called to such work would do well to count the cost, and consider their abilities. It is God alone who can teach the hands for this war, and the fingers for this fight. And He has promised to do so. Has He not said, "Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. My grace is sufficient for thee, and my strength shall be perfected in thy weakness." These promises were made good, in the case of His three witnesses, on the plains of Dura. When He called them to more than ordinary work, He furnished them with more than ordinary strength. God not only supported His three servants under the trial to which they were exposed; He, in due time, delivered them. This deliverance was in many respects miraculous, and, in so far as this was the case, we are not warranted to expect that any such interposition will be made in our behalf. But the manner of their deliverance was in most respects similar to God's ordinary method of interposing for His church and people.(1) This deliverance was seasonable. It took place at the very best time. In the exercise of infinite wisdom, Jehovah discerns, and seizes the critical moments and though His people may think Him long in coming, He will never come too late.(2) This deliverance was of such a kind that it could not have been conceived beforehand. And the manner in which God delivers His church and people is, in general, altogether different from what anyone could have conceived beforehand.(3) The deliverance of these three children took place immediately after their confidence in God and submission to His will had been fully tested. They put themselves into God's hand.(4) This was a God-like deliverance. It showed itself to be God's work. All the power and ingenuity of the created universe could not have saved these young men after they had been so long in that dreadful furnace. Although no visible manifestation of the Deity had been granted to them, the fact of their preservation in the fire would have shown that the arms of the Almighty God had been around them. All pure and holy deliverances come from God, and generally bear upon them the impress of His hand. The deliverer of the three children was one in the form of the Son of God.(5) Their deliverance, therefore, came from a God' in Christ. And all the deliverances of the saints come from a God in covenant, and. they come through the second person in the adorable Trinity. He is not only the Saviour of the soul, He is also "the Saviour of Israel, and the help thereof in the time of trouble."(6) In delivering His witnesses from the furnace, God vindicated their conduct. He showed that in refusing to obey Nebuchadnezzar they had done what He approved. How greatly did He honour them in the midst of their enemies, when He thus visibly owned them us His friends, and altered the very laws of creation on their account! And in delivering those who had been sufferers for His cause, God generally vindicates their testimony and puts honour on their names.(7) In short, this was a very wonderful deliverance. It afforded a remarkable display of the power, and the wisdom, and the loving kindness of the Lord. "This is the doing of the Lord, and wondrous in our eyes." And in God's greater works of deliverance, there is in general something so superhuman, something so God-like, as to fill every serious observer with admiration. What wonderful things has He done in behalf of His people! How blessed is that people whose God is the Lord! He can bring them u through fire and through water to the wealthy place." And He will make the worst and severest dispensations that befal them, to promote the honour of their names, and the everlasting welfare of their souls.

(William White.)

"I am no hypocrite. I make no profession of religion" — that is to say, you boast of your open and consistent enmity to God. This is not the worst. This impiety of conversation, which we every day hear, if it means anything, insinuates, of course, that a profession of religion can never be sincerely made — that there is no such thing as true piety; and proves the people who talk thus to be, not only sinners in their lives, but infidels in their hearts. I only wish these cynics would, study the narrative mow before us. It is said that no one can eater the presence of that matchless statue, the Apollo Belvidere, without instinctively standing erect, without feeling his own form at once dilate and become taller and nobler; and the man is to be pitied who can contemplate the moral grandeur of these youthful heroes without being conscious of I know not what elevation of heart and purpose. A true soul will turn from the record of such undaunted loyalty to God and conscience with a fresh outfit of faith and hope.

I. In unfolding the lessons of the text, let us begin with THE NARRATIVE, let us analyse this passage in the history of our race. And, first, who can look at the scene here portrayed without blushing for the degeneracy and corruption of our race? The spectacle presents a brilliant panorama. The morning is bright, and the eastern sun is kindling a blaze all over the plains of Dura, us its beams are reflected from silver and gold and diamonds, in which princes, satraps, peers, the whole jewelled aristocracy of that magnificent court, are arrayed. High on a throne of royal state, gorgeous with barbaric pomp and splendour, sits the Chaldean monarch. And from the centre of this Oriental and most imposing pageant, soars aloft, glittering and dazzling, the colossal image, the cynosure of every eye — attracting the admiration and homage of that uncounted multitude. The spectacle is grand; but what an exhibition of human nature! On every side I behold the earth carpeted with the softest green, enamelled with a flushing luxuriance of variegated and fragrant flowers. Cool fountains gush up in the groves, and transparent streams murmur through the valley. I breathe delicious odours. I am refreshed by the balmiest zephyrs. Heaven and earth are rejoicing in their loveliness. From nature I turn to man, and what do I find? Recollect, here is no mob of the ignorant and brutal, but the monarch and his patricians — all the gathered wisdom, refinement, honour, of the empire. What do we see openly and superciliously displayed in them all? Idolatry, hostility to God, selfishness, cruelty, the most vindictive malice. In this countless host what a diversity of talent and taste and character; but those detestable passions reign in every bosom. And this depravity flows from an inexhaustible fountain in the human heart. In all this multitude here are only three men who worship the true God, and what have they done? whom have they injured? It is simple mockery to speak of liberty if the mind and conscience be not free. The persons, the property, the lives of his subjects are at the absolute disposal of the Chaldean autocrat. This, however, is not enough. His imperial mandate shall control their religion, shall fetter their souls. The ends of government are temporal, not spiritual. The Saviour possessed omnipotence, but He did not use it to enforce His religion by measures having no relation to the truth of His doctrine. He said, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me, go teach all nations."

II. THE CONDUCT OF THESE HEBREWS, and the example which God here proposes of that constancy and decision of character, without which we can neither be true to truth, to Jesus, nor to ourselves. Decision of character must never be confounded with obstinacy. Firmness tempered with gentleness, this is what we need, if we are to be real Christians. The more you study the conduct of the Redeemer the more will you admire the peerless combination of these virtues in Him. It is not at all uncommon to meet people who pique themselves on firmness and decision; when in fact it is mere, sheer, downright stubbornness they betray — a perverse, selfwilled pertinacity — in which there is no more moral force than there is in the dead weight which fixes a heavy, inert mass of rock to the earth. The other quality, gentleness, is more amiable, but it is scarcely ever united with the highest energy. There is softness, tenderness, sweetness of disposition; but the character is effeminate. Firmness tempered with gentleness — this is true decision of character; not the rigid, inexorable, iron hardness of the dead tree, which cannot bend without breaking; nor the weakness of the osier which bends and remains bent; but the innate, elastic vigour of the young oak, which only becomes more erect, and strikes its roots more deeply into the earth, by yielding to every breeze and complying with every pressure. What is the first element in true decision of character? It is an inflexible and controlling adherence to the will of God in all things and at all times. What is the next element in true decision of character? It is a spirit armed and intrepid in facing danger, in meeting the responsibilities of our station. How prone are we to shrink from duty. These Jews were men of a different spirit. At first, indeed, we are tempted to ask, Why did they come on the ground at all? But — not to remark that cowardice could have availed them nothing — it never can avail anything in the cause of God — was it for men like them to be afraid? Was this a time for the servants of the Most High to be craven? Here is no small matter; a great soul will never concern itself about small matter. God and His glory are about to be outraged. The third element in decision of character grows out of those just indicated. It is a brave disregard of consequences. The moment we begin to think of expediency — to inquire tremulously, What, if we are faithful, will be the effect on our interest or position or reputation? that moment we are gone, we have fallen. And all this strenuousness of purpose is perfectly calm, as real strength always is calm. Men and brethren, a simple trust in God is the most essential ingredient in moral sublimity of character. It elevates a man high above all the earth, and equips him to bear anything, and to brave everything. If God be for him, who can be against him? How indispensable energy and courage are to the Christian, you need not be told. Would you be useful? you must be decided; piety is not enough; you must have a reputation for piety. Would you not dishonour your profession? you must be decided. But, now, how can this firmness and fortitude be inwrought and sustained in beings so feeble and inconstant? I answer, By faith, and faith only; hence the exhortation, "Add to your faith virtue," that is, courage. Faith is the source from which this commanding grace must spring, and by which it must be fed; and with what invincible courage, what undaunted contempt of danger and death, does not a simple trust in God inspire these young heroes? Observe the noble singularity of the Hebrews. Nor was this any transient enthusiasm, one of those sudden impulses which may hurry a generous spirit to make heroic sacrifices, of which it may afterwards repent. For space is given them to reconsider their determination, the king expostulates with them; but they are immovable.

III. THE RESULT OF THIS FIERY ORDEAL; and impress upon you the great lesson it teaches. The expression, "than it was wont to be," shows that this furnace was the place of punishment for criminals; and it is probable that its floor was now a bed of the horrible ashes left by former executions. It is God's method' ever to cause the malice of those who persecute his people to recoil upon themselves. "The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." And what is all this but the type of a Christian, when called to pass through the fire — trembling, perhaps, in view of the furnace — but afterwards, with adoring wonder and gratitude, exclaiming, "My God how good it is for me that I was afflicted?" This is not all. Not only is this furnace a sort of heaven to these noble youths, but see how they glorify God in this day of their visitation. Witnesses who testify from eternity. For the place in which they stand belongs not to this earth. Witnesses who look with sublime contempt upon the king and all the pomp and equipage of his power. Witnesses who take no praise to themselves. A Christian never does arrogate any strength or merit; he ascribes all his salvation, from first to last, to sovereign grace. Lastly, witnesses whose testimony is at once and forever decisive. It is not by words, not by preaching, nor forms, that we are to honour God and His truth; it is by our fidelity that men may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven." Lessons:

1. And, first, let this narrative reinforce our faith and constancy. The secret of Christian strength is an open secret; it is a gracious habit of trusting in God at all times. The song of the Three Holy Children is one of the Apocryphal Books. The man who wrote that beautiful composition, if not inspired himself, had power to inspire others. Nothing can be more touching than the whole story, which I commend to you.

2. How amiable is the religion of Jesus Christ. To the faithful soul it is really true, that "all the way to heaven is heaven." Even when all is bright, how necessary is this religion for man. But are you bearing crosses and making sacrifices for Jesus and His cause? If not, you are preferring some idol to Him, and what must the end be?

(R. Fuller.)

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