The Bible

 

但以理書 3 : The Fiery Furnace

     

Study the Inner Meaning

1 王製造金像並下令全國敬拜尼布甲尼撒王造了一座金像,高二十七公尺,寬三公尺,豎立在巴比倫省的杜拉平原上。

2 尼布甲尼撒王派人召集總督、總監、省長、參謀、財政大臣、法官、裁判官和各省所有的官員,要他們參加尼布甲尼撒王為所立的像舉行的揭幕典禮。

3 於是總督、總監、省長、參謀、財政大臣、法官、裁判官和省內所有其他的官員,都聚集起來,參加尼布甲尼撒王為所立的像舉行的揭幕典禮;他們都站在尼布甲尼撒所立的像前。

4 那時,傳令官大聲呼叫說:“各國、各族、說各種語言的人哪!這是傳給你們的命令:

5 你們一聽見角、笛、琵琶、弦琴、豎琴、風笛和各種樂器的聲音,就要俯伏,向尼布甲尼撒王所立的金像下拜。

6 凡不俯伏下拜的,就必立刻扔在烈火的窯中。”

7 因此,各國、各族和說各種語言的人,一聽見角、笛、琵琶、弦琴、豎琴和各種樂器的聲音,就都俯伏,向尼布甲尼撒王所立的金像下拜。

8 迦勒底人指控但以理之三友那時,有幾個迦勒底人前來,誣衊控告猶大人。

9 他們對尼布甲尼撒王說:“願王萬歲!

10 王啊,你曾下令,凡聽見角、笛、琵琶、弦琴、豎琴、風笛和各種樂器聲音的人,都要俯伏,向金像下拜。

11 凡不俯伏下拜的,就必被扔在烈火的窯中。

12 但有幾個猶大人,就是王所派管理巴比倫省政務的沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌,王啊!這些人不理會你的命令,不事奉你的神,也不向你所立的金像下拜。”

13 王怒責三人當時尼布甲尼撒勃然大怒,吩咐人把沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌帶來;他們就被帶到王面前。

14 尼布甲尼撒問他們說:“沙得拉、米煞、亞伯尼歌啊!你們真的不事奉我的神,也不向我所立的金像下拜嗎?

15 現在,如果你們想清楚,一聽見角、笛、琵琶、弦琴、豎琴、風笛和各種樂器的聲音,就俯伏向我所做的像下拜,那還可以。如果你們不下拜,就必立刻扔在烈火的窯中。哪裡有神能救你們脫離我的手呢?”

16 拒絕拜金像沙得拉、米煞、亞伯尼歌回答王說:“尼布甲尼撒啊!這件事我們無需回答你。

17 如果我們被扔在火窯裡,我們所事奉的 神必能拯救我們;王啊!他必拯救我們脫離烈火的窯和你的手。(本節或譯:“如果我們所事奉的 神能拯救我們,王啊!他必拯救我們脫離烈火的窯和你的手。”)

18 即或不然,王啊!你要知道,我們決不事奉你的神,也不向你所立的金像下拜。”

19 三人在烈火的窯中毫無損傷當時尼布甲尼撒向沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌大發烈怒,連臉色也變了,吩咐人把窯燒熱,比平常猛烈七倍。

20 又吩咐他軍隊中幾個最精壯的士兵,把沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌綁起來,扔在烈火的窯中。

21 於是這三個人穿著外袍、長褲、頭巾和身上其他的衣服,被綁起來,扔在烈火的窯中。

22 由於王的命令緊急,窯又燒得非常猛烈,那些把沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌抬起來的人,都被火燄燒死了。

23 而沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌這三個人仍被綁著,落入烈火的窯中。

24 王親歷其境就稱頌 神那時尼布甲尼撒王非常驚奇,急忙起來,問他的謀臣說:“我們綁起來扔在火裡的,不是三個人嗎?”他們回答王說:“王啊!是的。”

25 王說:“但我見有四個人,並沒有綁著,在火中走來走去,也沒有受傷,並且那第四個的樣貌好像神子。”

26 於是尼布甲尼撒走近烈火的窯口,說:“至高 神的僕人沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌啊!你們出來,到這裡來吧。”沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌就從火中出來。

27 那些總督、總監、省長和王的謀臣,都聚攏來看這三個人,見火無力傷他們的身體;他們的頭髮沒有燒焦,衣服沒有燒壞,身上也沒有火燒的氣味。

28 尼布甲尼撒說:“沙得拉、米煞、亞伯尼歌的 神是應當稱頌的,他差遣使者拯救那些倚靠他的僕人;他們違抗王的命令,寧願捨命,除了自己的 神以外,不肯事奉敬拜任何其他的神。

29 我現在下令:無論各國、各族、說各種語言的人,凡說話得罪沙得拉、米煞、亞伯尼歌的 神的,必被碎屍萬段,他的家也必成為廢墟,因為沒有別的神能這樣施行拯救。”

30 於是王在巴比倫省提升了沙得拉、米煞和亞伯尼歌。

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 1326

最后的审判 54

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 174


Other references to this story:

Apocalypse Revealed 717

真實的基督徒信仰 754


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 1029

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 37

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Bible Study Videos:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

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列王纪下 18:35

以斯帖记 3:5

約伯記 5:19

詩篇 22:5, 34:8, 37:39, 66:12, 115:4

以賽亞書 43:2

耶利米書 29:22

但以理書 2:4, 5, 49, 6:13, 14, 21, 23, 28

馬太福音 10:18, 28

使徒行傳 4:19, 5:33, 12:11

希伯來書 11:34

彼得後書 2:9

啟示錄 12:11, 13:15

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Blessings: Worship of the Heart
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Correspondences of Fire
Illustration of three stories in the Word that relate to fire. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Faith Conversations
Daniel stood up for his beliefs while captive in Babylon. Can you be true to your beliefs when talking to others about your faith?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Fiery Furnace
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Fiery Furnace Diorama
Use an oatmeal box and clay figures to make a diorama of the fiery furnace. 
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Four in the Fiery Furnace
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Nebuchadnezzar, the Golden Statue, and the Fiery Furnace
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Overview of Daniel: A Man of Conscience for ages 3-14
Overview of a series of scripted lessons for the first six chapters of the book of Daniel. Suitable for Sunday schools, families and classrooms. Levels A, B and C provide materials for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Quotes: Worship of the Heart
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego in the Fiery Furnace
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Fiery Furnace
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Fiery Furnace
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Fiery Furnace
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Fiery Furnace
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Fiery Furnace (3-5 years)
Use crayons to make a picture of the four men in the furnace, then use fire-colored watercolor paint to make the flames around them. 
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Fiery Furnace (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fiery Furnace (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Fiery Furnace (sheet music)
Song | Ages 4 - 14

Commentary

 

The Fiery Furnace      

By Rev. Dr. Andrew T. Dibb

The third chapter of Daniel follows the same pattern as the first two: Nebuchadnezzar begins by making threats against those who do not bow to his every whim, and ends with his humbly admitting the Lord's power.

The similarities between the dramatic vision of the statue in chapter two and actually building an image in chapter three are not, however, mere repetition. Close attention to the detail in this chapter will show how in its pursuit of domination the selfish side of human nature continues to try to dominate, even though we might consciously submit to the Lord.

This third chapter opens with a huge image created by Nebuchadnezzar. The actual dimensions are important, not because of their physical impact, but because of the spiritual concepts they contain. Similarly, the impossibility of it being made from gold should not interfere with the spiritual exposition of the verse. The literal sense of the story is important only as a means of bringing out the spiritual sense.

This entire image was made of gold. But like the head of the statue in the previous chapter, this is not the gold representing love to the Lord, but self love. Every good correspondence also has an opposite sense.

The statue is described as sixty cubits tall, and six cubits wide. The recurring number "six" takes meaning from its contrast to the number immediately following. "Seven" is a state of fullness and completeness—the Lord rested on the seventh day of creation, clean animals entered the ark in sevens, we should forgive others "up to seventy times seven." As seven contains this sense of completeness, six represents a state of incompleteness.

"Six" is often used to describe the process of regeneration, especially in the creation series, and in the Ten Commandments. In the six days of creation, people are tempted and in a state of conflict, which must be overcome for the person to regenerate (AC 8494, 8539:2, 8888). The conflict illustrated in this chapter is between our sense of selfishness and our emerging conscience.

The number sixty is the fullness of this conflict, as sixty is a six multiplied by ten. If six represents the conflicts of temptation, ten represents completeness (AC 3107, 4638, 8468, 9416), or fullness of that conflict.

Ideally, the states of goodness, truth and their mutual expression should be equal. The shape representing a regenerate person would be a perfect cube, as described by "the Holy City coming down from God out of heaven" (Revelation 21:2).

But Nebuchadnezzar's image vastly different from this ideal: it was tall and narrow — ten times taller than it was wide, and no depth is described. It comes across as one dimensional, disproportionate, its most compelling feature the gold from which it is made.

As in the second chapter, Nebuchadnezzar calls together his advisers: before, it was astrologers and wise men. In this chapter he calls together the governors of his kingdom: the satraps, administrators and so on. When the Word speaks of governors, it speaks of our loves, because we are ruled and governed by loves. The list here gives a hierarchy of loves from the top, or ruling loves, down to the lesser affections we have.
We are shown our state when that ruling love is Nebuchadnezzar: he dominates the scene, his word is law. He controls a vast empire and has absolute control over life and death. Thus Nebuchadnezzar can summon his governors and order them around with the same ease with which he called together the wise men and demanded the impossible from them.

At the sound of music, his whole empire was to fall down and worship the gold image erected by the king. Music is used as a means of summoning the rulers of the land because if those men represent our various loves and affections, so music speaks to our loves.

If Nebuchadnezzar represents our selfishness and love of control, the Chaldeans come into the picture as a confirmation of this selfishness. The essence of profanation—evil pretending to be good—is the misuse of goodness and truth for one's own ends. Any state of genuine good or truth resisting this misuse would come into conflict with it.

Thus the Chaldeans with great enthusiasm name Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego who do not serve the king nor worship his golden image. By using their Babylonian names, they are refusing to recognize truth as coming from the Word. This is the very heart of profanation: to know something is from the Word, even to acknowledge it as such, and yet to deny it—just as those Chaldeans must have known that the three men were Jews, and that their Babylonian names were not truly their own. It is the ultimate denial of their identity, just as profanation is the ultimate denial of the Lord.

Nebuchadnezzar's life is first of military conquest and the expansion of his empire. This conquest comes with the dominion of religious things. Thus it was not out of character for him to command worship. As the love of self progresses, it demands greater and greater things, until it demands to be treated as the Lord Himself (AR 717).

"The evil of the love of self is not, as is generally thought, that external elation which is called pride, but it is hatred against the neighbor, and thence a burning desire for revenge, and delight in cruelty. These are the interiors of the love of self. Its exteriors are contempt for others in comparison with self, and an aversion to those who are in spiritual good, and this sometimes with manifest elation or pride, and sometimes without it. For one who holds the neighbor in such hatred, inwardly loves no one but himself and those whom he regards as making one with himself, thus he loves them in himself, and himself in them for the sole end of self" (AC 4750:5).

Each person in this world is capable of giving freedom to these feelings, and if we do, soon we find ourselves doing what Nebuchadnezzar did: demanding that people see the world through our own personal spectacles, and roundly damning them to hell if they do not.


As we saw earlier, Daniel represents the conscience developing in opposition to our selfish states. Conscience is the activity of truth leading and guiding our minds towards a life in harmony with the Lord's. The conscience, however, must be made up of individual truths, truths applicable to different parts of our lives. We have a set of truths to govern marriage, work ethic, social interaction, and so on.

These individual truths are Daniel's Hebrew companions. Each time we have seen them, they have stood on their belief in God, but each time at Daniel's leadership. This time they stand alone, willing to confront the imperial wrath and face death for their belief.

The consequences were, of course, dire. Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage, demanding that the young men be cast into a fiery furnace, heated to seven times its normal heat. The young men were prepared to accept this punishment rather than retract their belief in the Lord.

Nebuchadnezzar tried to scare the three men by heating the furnace to hotter than normal, which well describes the actions of evil spirits in temptation who,

"act against the affections of truth that make the conscience: as soon as they perceive anything of conscience, of whatever kind, then from the falsities and failings in the man they form to themselves an affection; and by means of this they cast a shade over the light of truth, and so pervert it; or they induce anxiety and torture him" (AC 1820:4).

The time the young men spend in the furnace represents a state of temptation, which occurs for the sake of regeneration (AE 439). Most simply defined, temptation is a battle between two sides within us, where the natural, or selfish side is subdued. Up until then, selfishness is seen as simply being a part of us, the way we are (AC 1820). In temptation, this self-image is changed, and we learn to see ourselves in the light of heaven (AE 439).

The power of the evil spirits is greatly illusory. Just as Nebuchadnezzar fell back after resistance, so the spirits also withdraw when we resist them. The greatest temptation we face is believing the Lord is unable to help us in our times of great need. If we cling to the believe that He can and does give help, then facing our inner selfishness becomes less difficult. The image the men were commanded to worship was, after all, an immobile object of gold, disproportionate and one-dimensional. Our selfishness is like that: seemingly monolithic, and yet devoid of any real life. Its attractions fade when seen in the light of heaven. Spiritual resistance is not so difficult, and the results give strength:

"Victories are attended with the result that the malignant genii and spirits afterward dare not do anything; for their life consists in their being able to destroy, and when they perceive that a man is of such a character that he can resist then at the first onset they flee away, as they are wont to do when they draw near to the first entrance to heaven, for they are at once seized with horror and terror, and hurl themselves backward" AC 1820.

Nebuchadnezzar is brought to awareness and appreciation of the power of the Lord, this time, with his own senses. There is a power in his acquiescence after witnessing the four men in the fiery furnace that is far more dramatic than his incredulity after Daniel foretold the dream in chapter two. This time he actually saw the power of the furnace, so strong that those who cast the three men in were killed by its heat, yet he saw the three men walk out unscathed. This proved the power of God to him more than anything before.

We see something of this process in the final verses of Chapter three, where Nebuchadnezzar praises the Lord, showing a new humility impossible for him before. As a result, the affection of truth begins to rule in place of the former selfish loves. Thus we see Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego promoted in the province of Babylon, presumably in place of the Babylonian satraps, administrators, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the officials of the province who responded to Nebuchadnezzar's call to worship the gold image.


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