Furious, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought in. When the men were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar asked, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t respect my gods and refuse to worship the gold statue that I have set up? I’m giving you a second chance—but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don’t worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?”
“That’s right, O king,” they said.
“But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”
Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.
All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!
Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.
“Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.”
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
A Dream of a Chopped-Down Tree
King Nebuchadnezzar to everyone, everywhere—every race, color, and creed: “Peace and prosperity to all! It is my privilege to report to you the gracious miracles that the High God has done for me.
“His miracles are staggering,
his wonders are surprising.
His kingdom lasts and lasts,
his sovereign rule goes on forever.
“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home taking it easy in my palace, without a care in the world. But as I was stretched out on my bed I had a dream that scared me—a nightmare that shook me. I sent for all the wise men of Babylon so that they could interpret the dream for me. When they were all assembled—magicians, enchanters, fortunetellers, witches—I told them the dream. None could tell me what it meant.
“And then Daniel came in. His Babylonian name is Belteshazzar, named after my god, a man full of the divine Holy Spirit. I told him my dream.
“‘Belteshazzar,’ I said, ‘chief of the magicians, I know that you are a man full of the divine Holy Spirit and that there is no mystery that you can’t solve. Listen to this dream that I had and interpret it for me.
“‘This is what I saw as I was stretched out on my bed. I saw a big towering tree at the center of the world. As I watched, the tree grew huge and strong. Its top reached the sky and it could be seen from the four corners of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant—enough food for everyone! Wild animals found shelter under it, birds nested in its branches, everything living was fed and sheltered by it.
“‘And this also is what I saw as I was stretched out on my bed. I saw a holy watchman descend from heaven, and call out:
Chop down the tree, lop off its branches,
strip its leaves and scatter its fruit.
Chase the animals from beneath it
and shoo the birds from its branches.
But leave the stump and roots in the ground,
belted with a strap of iron and bronze in the grassy meadow.
Let him be soaked in heaven’s dew
and take his meals with the animals that graze.
Let him lose his mind
and get an animal’s mind in exchange,
And let this go on
for seven seasons.
The angels announce this decree,
the holy watchmen bring this sentence,
So that everyone living will know
that the High God rules human kingdoms.
He arranges kingdom affairs however he wishes,
and makes leaders out of losers.
“‘This is what I, King Nebuchadnezzar, dreamed. It’s your turn, Belteshazzar—interpret it for me. None of the wise men of Babylon could make heads or tails of it, but I’m sure you can do it. You’re full of the divine Holy Spirit.’”