Christ is the express image of the Father, and the radiance of his glory, and sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3). Jesus Christ said: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). “He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:23). Those who see the glory of the Son, see the glory of the Father. “The Word became flesh, and lived among us … full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
The prophet Jeremiah made a fantastic revelation. Let us read: “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, came this word to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, ‘Thus says Jehovah to me: Make bonds and bars, and put them on your neck; and send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the children of Ammon, and to the king of Tyre, and to the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah; and give them a command to their masters, saying, Thus says Jehovah of Armies, the God of Israel, You shall tell your masters: I have made the earth, the men and the animals that are on the surface of the earth, by my great power and by my outstretched arm; and I give it to whom it seems right to me. Now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the animals of the field also have I given him to serve him. All the nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the time of his own land come: and then many nations and great kings shall make him their bondservant. It shall happen, that the nation and the kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, says Jehovah, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand’” (Jer. 27:1-8). And in verses 12 and 13 of this same chapter, Jehovah sent word to Zedekiah, king of Judah, telling him to bring all necks under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, for, whoever refused, would die. (Jer. 27:12-13).
The prophet Daniel, contemporary to Jeremiah, tells the same story with added dramatic and revealing details. Nebuchadnezzar dreamt a dream, and when he woke up in the morning, his spirit was disturbed, for he did not remember the dream. The king sent for the magicians, astrologers and diviners for them to declare to him what was the dream that was disturbing his spirit (Dan. 2:1-3). Not one of them could do such a feat, and were therefore condemned to death. Daniel and his companions were also condemned (Dan. 2:13). Daniel prudently sent word to the king asking for some time so the god of heaven could reveal the dream. The king granted him his request (Dan. 2:14-19). God showed everything to Daniel: the dream and its interpretation. When he was in the presence of the king, Daniel said: “You, O king, saw, and behold, a great image. This image, which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before you; and its aspect was awesome. As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron, and part of clay” (Dan. 2:31-33). “You, O king, are king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, the animals of the field and the birds of the sky has he given into your hand, and has made you to rule over them all: you are the head of gold” (Dan. 2:37-38). It is important to notice that all this glory was given to Nebuchadnezzar because he was pleasing in the eyes of Jehovah, for he was his servant (Jer. 27:5-6).
Then Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, servant of Jehovah, whose acts pleased Jehovah, built a stature of 27 meters of height and 70 of width, all made of gold, gratefully subjecting to Jehovah in gratitude to the god who had given him all that power. They called the satraps, the prefects and the governors of the provinces to come to the consecration of the statue that king Nebuchadnezzar had built (Dan. 3:1-2). “Then the herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, peoples, nations, and languages, that whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up; and whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Dan. 3:4-6). This was the decree: The one who honored Nebuchadnezzar would be honoring Jehovah, who had made him king of kings, and head of the nations. The one who knelt before Nebuchadnezzar would be kneeling before Jehovah, who established him and gave him all the glory; whoever worshipped the image of gold, would be worshipping and glorifying the god that establishes kings and removes them when he wishes (Dan. 4:17).
Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, were accused of worshipping and serving another God that was not one of the gods of Nebuchadnezzar. This king, furious and angry, sent for the three young men and told them: The moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe, and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image that I have made; but if you will not worship the statue that I have made, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. And what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands? (Dan. 3:12-15). The three young men answered the king: “We have no need to answer you 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 your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up” (Dan. 3:16-18). The king, filled with wrath, gave orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated (v.19). The king was sure that Jehovah was not going to help them, for it had been Jehovah who had given him all power and glory and said: The nation that does not put his neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish with the sword, with hunger, and with pestilence (Jer. 27:8). And he told the Jews that they would die if they rebelled (Jer. 27:12-13). Jehovah was with Nebuchadnezzar, not with the Jews, who Jehovah abandoned to the monstrous Chaldean captivity (Lam. 5:1-16). The three young men were cast into the furnace of blazing fire. The furnace was so hot that the flames killed the men who carried them (Dan. 3:22). But, surprise! The king, looking to the middle of the blazing furnace, saw four men walking about in the deadly flames, and the fourth man was like the son of the gods (Dan. 3:25). Jehovah decreed the death of the three young men by the fire, but Jesus cancelled that intention, and saved them from death in the fire.
The furnace of blazing fire symbolized the sufferings, and the torments that the true Christians go through in this dark world. Therefore Paul said: “Through many afflictions we must enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And once more: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us” (Rom. 8:18). The faithfulness of Daniel and his three friends compelled Jesus to deliver them. Daniel was much loved, for besides being faithful he was a man of prayer (Dan. 9:23).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira