Conflict Over False Worship Index

In every chapter of Daniel thus far we have seen the great controversy theme illustrated. In Chapter 1 the issue in the controversy was obedience to God versus obedience to man. In Chapter 2 we are shown that God will ultimately triumph in the great controversy. In Chapter 3 we are introduced to the other main issue in the book of Daniel over which there is conflict, the issue of worship. Here we have an attempt to impose false worship. We see three Hebrew youths standing firmly for God when the whole world worships falsely. Remember, the stories in the book of Daniel illustrate the crisis that God's people will experience at the close of earth's history. Daniel's three friends were tempted to worship falsely in ancient Babylon, yet resisted: likewise God's people in the last days will be commanded to worship falsely, but will refuse. They will have such a solid relationship with God that no one compel them to worship falsely.

The parallels between Daniel 3 and Revelation 13 are striking. In this lesson we will examine carefully the story in Daniel 3 and consider a few of the general parallels to Revelation 13. However, in Lesson 24 we will examine in much greater detail the parallels between Daniel 3 and Revelation 13, and how they impact our day.

The events of Daniel 3 occurred several years after those of Chapter 2 when Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image and the king acknowledged Daniel's God as a God of gods. Although Chapter 2 ends with Nebuchadnezzar apparently beginning to follow the true God, Chapter 3 provides evidence that he no longer is doing so. Nebuchadnezzar, like many of us, slipped back into his former ways. Yet how patiently God bore with Nebuchadnezzar, until he finally submitted to the true God.

THE GREAT IMAGE SET UP
1. Describe the image that Nebuchadnezzar set in Daniel 3:1
  1. "An image of gold"
  2. "Whose height was threescore cubits"
  3. "The breath thereof six cubits"
  4. "He set it up in the plain of Dura"
In defiance of God, Nebuchadnezzar made an image all of gold to indicate his kingdom would last forever. This image was the opposite of the image of Daniel 2, which was made up of various metals and indicated a succession of empires. A cubit was about 18 inches, which would make the image about ninety feet high and nine feet wide. It was erected on the plains of Dura and would have been an imposing sight.
2. Who were invited to the dedication of the image? Daniel 3:2, 3: "The princes, the governors, the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces..."

Most of the key leaders in the realm of Babylon were gathered together for the dedication of this statue. This was an opportunity for all to solidify their position with the king by pledging their loyalty to him. Not to bow down to the golden image would be considered an act of disloyalty or treason.

3. were all these rulers to do when the music sounded? Daniel 3:3-5: "...fall down and worship the golden image..." False worship, the worship of an golden image, was the issue faced in Daniel 3.
4. What penalty would be received by those who failed to worship the image? Daniel 3:6: "And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall...be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."  
A REFUSAL TO WORSHIP FALSELY
5. What charge did the Chaldeans make concerning certain Jews? Daniel 3:7-12: "There are certain Jews...have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood out very prominently when the rest of the crowd bowed down when the music played. They understood God's second commandment, therefore they would not bow down. I have always wondered who say them if they all bowed down when the music played?
6. What commandment forbade false worship? Exodus 20:4-6 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them...." For the three Hebrews to bow down and worship the golden image would have been disobedience to God's second commandment. Please notice that the issues here were who the three Hebrews were to worship and obey. This story reveals an event that happened in ancient times. It also points forward to the "last days" of earth when all mankind will be required to worship and obey another world wide religious power. Later in this lesson we will compare Daniel 3 with events foretold in the book of Revelation when God's people are commanded to worship on a day other than the the seventh day sabbath of Exodus 20:8-11.
7. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were brought before King Nebuchadnezzar to answer the charges against them, how did he threaten them? Daniel 3:13-15 "...ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace..." Nebuchadnezzar first asked them "is it true?" He know the loyalty of the three Hebrews and of their service to him so he wanted to make sure what was said about them was first true. Then he gave them a second chance. This was a question of who was in charge, the king and his law or God and His law. That is the same question we face every day, who is in charge of our lives.
8. Did the three Hebrews need time to think the kings question over? Daniel 3:16: "...O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter." This expression simply means that they did not need a long time to think about their answer. Long before these young men came to the plain of Dura they had made the decision that their obedience belonged to God and God alone. Their response to the command to bow down to the golden image was the result of a life dedicated to God, not man. They could not be intimidated into false worship.
9. How did the Hebrews respond to Nebuchadnezzar's offer of a second chance? Daniel 3:17, 18: "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace... But if not...we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image thou has set up." These are to two key verses in the whole chapter. If God's will was to deliver them from the fiery furnace they would be delivered. If it was His will that they be not delivered from the fiery furnace they would still be delivered. In either case they would not bow down to the golden image, their loyalty was to the God of heaven only. Their faithfulness to God did not depend upon their deliverance. Theirs was not a selfish obedience to God, but an obedience that sprang from a principle. So it will be with God's people in the last days.
THE FIERY FURNACE
10. How did Nebuchadnezzar respond? Daniel 3:19: "The was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed...he spake and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated."  
11. What happened to the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace? Daniel 3:22: "...the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego."  
12. How were the three Hebrews thrown into the furnace? Daniel 3:23: "And these three men...fell down bound into the midst of the burning furnace."  
13. When Nebuchadnezzar looked inside the furnace, what did he see? Daniel 3:24, 25: "...Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." When the Hebrews were thrown into the fiery furnace the only thing destroyed was the the ropes that bound them. Rather than harming them, the fire loosed them.
14. How many men did Nebuchadnezzar see in the fire? Daniel 3:25: "...Lo, I see four men loose..." Although three men were thrown unto the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar now saw four men.
15. Who was the fourth one in the fire with the three Hebrews? Daniel 3:25: "...and the form of fourth is like the Son of God." What a beautiful truth! God did not free the three Hebrew youth from going through the fire, but He walked through the fire with them! We may undergo many trials in our lives, there may be many difficulties, but the assurance of Scripture is that the Son of God walks with us through the fire. In the last days when God's people go through the terrible trials that will come, they can have the same assurance that the three Hebrews had and know that the Son of God will walk through the fire with them.
16. How did Nebuchadnezzar address Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when he called them out of the fire? Daniel 3:26: "Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said...ye servants of the most high God, come forth..." This experience gave Nebuchadnezzar a tremendous revelation of the true God. God patiently worked to win Nebuchadnezzar to Himself. So God works to win every human heart.
17. After seeing this display of God's power, what decree did Nebuchadnezzar make? Daniel 3:27-30: "Therefore I made a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort." God does not accept forced worship. Even if the government decrees that everyone should worship God, the only service acceptable to God is that which springs from a heart filled with love.
REVELATION 13 AND THE IMAGE TO THE BEAST
  What happened to the three Hebrews in ancient Babylon is comparable to events that will transpire in the last days. Revelation 13 pictures for us a parallel scene to Daniel 3. Let's notice the similarities.  
18. What does the two-headed beast command the people of earth to do? Revelation 13:11, 12: "...and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast..." The issue in the last days has to do with worshipping the beast. The command to false worship is a key thought in the books of Daniel and Revelation.
19. After bringing fire down from Heaven and performing other miracles, what does this beast declare the people should make? Revelation 13:13, 14: "...that they make an image to the beast..." Once again in Revelation an image is erected.
20. What are people asked to do to the image of the beast? Revelation 13:15: "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."  
21. What will happen to those who refuse to worship the image of the beast? Revelation 13:15 "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."  
22. What other restrictions will be placed upon those who refuse to worship the beast and receive his mark? Revelation 13:16, 17: "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." Economic restrictions and finally a death penalty are passed upon those who refuse to worship the image of the beast or receive the mark of the beast. Lessons 10 and 24 will clearly identify the beast and his mark, as well as the image to the beast. In this lesson we can already see that the issues are identical to Daniel 3. In both chapters people are commanded to worship an image, and are threatened with death, but they remain faithful to the commandments of God.
23. When the beast calls for people to worship its image, whom does God ask them to worship? Revelation 14:7: "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." At the same time a decree is given to worship the image to the beast, God sends a message into all the world that calls people to worship the Creator. The issue of the last days is the same as the issue in Daniel's day, that of worshipping God according to His commandments.
24. Where will those who get the victory over the beast and his image ultimately stand? Revelation 15:2: "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." Just as God had victorious people in Daniel's day. He will have a victorious people in the end time. Their concern will not be deliverance, but faithfulness to God. They will remain as true to Him as did the three Hebrews. They will serve God even in the face of death.
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