A Gold Statue and a Blazing Furnace
1King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue. It was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. He set it up on the plain of Dura near the city of Babylon. 2Then the king sent for the royal rulers, high officials and governors. He sent for the advisers, treasurers, judges and court officers. And he sent for all the other officials of Babylon. He asked them to come to a special gathering to honor the statue he had set up. 3So the royal rulers, high officials and governors came together. So did the advisers, treasurers, judges and court officers. All the other officials joined them. They came to honor the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They stood in front of it.
4Then a messenger called out loudly, “Listen, you people who come from every nation! Pay attention, you who speak other languages! Here is what the king commands you to do. 5You will soon hear the sound of horns and flutes. You will hear zithers, lyres, harps and pipes. In fact, you will hear all kinds of music. When you do, you must fall down and worship the gold statue. That is the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6If you don’t, you will be thrown into a blazing furnace right away.”
7All the people heard the sound of the horns and flutes. They heard the zithers, lyres, harps and other musical instruments. As soon as they did, they fell down and worshiped Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. They were people from all nations no matter what language they spoke.
8At this time some people who studied the heavens came forward. They spoke against the Jews. 9They said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, may you live forever! 10Your Majesty has commanded everyone to fall down and worship the gold statue. You told them to do it when they heard the horns, flutes, zithers, lyres, harps, pipes and other musical instruments. 11If they didn’t, they would be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12But you have appointed some Jews to help Daniel govern Babylon and the towns around it. Their names are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They don’t pay any attention to you, King Nebuchadnezzar. They don’t serve your gods. And they refuse to worship the gold statue you have set up.”
13Nebuchadnezzar was very angry. He sent for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So they were brought to him. 14The king said to them, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, is what I heard about you true? Don’t you serve my gods? Don’t you worship the gold statue I set up? 15You will hear the horns, flutes, zithers, lyres, harps, pipes and other musical instruments. When you do, fall down and worship the statue I made. If you will, that’s very good. But if you won’t, you will be thrown at once into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to save you from my power?”
16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him. They said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to talk about this anymore. 17We might be thrown into the blazing furnace. But the God we serve is able to bring us out of it alive. He will save us from your power. 18But we want you to know this, Your Majesty. Even if we knew that our God wouldn’t save us, we still wouldn’t serve your gods. We wouldn’t worship the gold statue you set up.”
19Then Nebuchadnezzar was very angry with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The look on his face changed. And he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20He also gave some of the strongest soldiers in his army a command. He ordered them to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Then he told his men to throw them into the blazing furnace. 21So they were tied up. Then they were thrown into the furnace. They were wearing their robes, pants, turbans and other clothes. 22The king’s command was carried out quickly. The furnace was so hot that its flames killed the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into it. 23So the three men were firmly tied up. And they fell into the blazing furnace.
24Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet. He was so amazed he asked his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men? Didn’t we throw three men into the fire?”
They replied, “Yes, we did, Your Majesty.”
25The king said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire. They aren’t tied up. And the fire hasn’t even harmed them. The fourth man looks like a son of the gods.”
26Then the king approached the opening of the blazing furnace. He shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, come out! You who serve the Most High God, come here!”
So they came out of the fire. 27The royal rulers, high officials, governors and advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire hadn’t harmed their bodies. Not one hair on their heads was burned. Their robes weren’t burned either. And they didn’t even smell like smoke.
28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “May the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be praised! He has sent his angel and saved his servants. They trusted in him. They refused to obey my command. They were willing to give up their lives. They would rather die than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29No other god can save people this way. So I’m giving an order about the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. No one may say anything against him. That’s true no matter what language they speak. If they say anything against him, they’ll be cut to pieces. And their houses will be turned into piles of trash.”
30Then the king honored Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He gave them higher positions in the city of Babylon and the towns around it.
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