THE central theme of the Book of Daniel is God's sovereignty over earthly rulers, including Nebuchadnezzar, as we read in this chapter.
A GOLDEN IMAGE
Nebuchadnezzar set up a 90 ft high golden statue, to which all his officials had to pay homage (2-6). He was a monarch who had rejected any previous experience of God in his life (see chapter 2).
* How does such independence towards God work itself out in the attitudes of those around us?
A TRUSTING TRIO
By contrast, even when faced with the blazing furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to compromise their faith (12). Their total reliance lay in God's sovereign power: 'the God we serve is able to save us, and he will rescue us... but even if he does not... we will not serve your gods or worship the image' (17-18). Whether they would live or die, they were confident of being safe in God's hands.
* In what ways have we been called upon to exercise such faith ourselves?
A HUMBLED KING
God's power and presence were clearly seen in the burning furnace (27). When the men came through the fire unscathed. Nebuchadnezzar was deeply humbled (28,29). Such a change of heart was caused by the sight of a fourth figure in the furnace. Here was living, undeniable proof of Nebuchadnezzar's error and folly!
*How can this story help us pray for our own national leaders?
For any who are committed to the structures, wealth and power of this present world, the presence of the kingdom of God calls for radical change. Jesus reminds us of this.
By Paul Hardingham