Bible Society of South Africa

Bible Reading Plan – Day 242

Bible text(s)

Nebuchadnezzar Commands Everyone to Worship a Gold Statue

1King Nebuchadnezzar had a gold statue made, 27 metres high and nearly three metres wide, and he had it set up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2Then the king gave orders for all his officials to come together — the princes, governors, lieutenant-governors, commissioners, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other officials of the provinces. They were to attend the dedication of the statue which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3When all these officials gathered for the dedication and stood in front of the statue, 4a herald announced in a loud voice, “People of all nations, races, and languages! 5You will hear the sound of the trumpets, followed by the playing of oboes, lyres, zithers, and harps; and then all the other instruments will join in. As soon as the music starts, you are to bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6Anyone who does not bow down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” 7And so, as soon as they heard the sound of the instruments, the people of all the nations, races, and languages bowed down and worshipped the gold statue which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Daniel's Three Friends are Accused of Disobedience

8It was then that some Babylonians took the opportunity to denounce the Jews. 9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May Your Majesty live for ever! 10Your Majesty has issued an order that as soon as the music starts, everyone is to bow down and worship the gold statue, 11and that anyone who does not bow down and worship it is to be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12There are some Jews whom you put in charge of the province of Babylon — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — who are disobeying Your Majesty's orders. They do not worship your god or bow down to the statue you set up.”

13At that, the king flew into a rage and ordered the three men to be brought before him. 14He said to them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you refuse to worship my god and to bow down to the gold statue I have set up? 15Now then, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, oboes, lyres, zithers, harps, and all the other instruments, bow down and worship the statue. If you do not, you will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. Do you think there is any god who can save you?”

16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered, “Your Majesty, we will not try to defend ourselves. 17If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. 18But even if he doesn't, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.”

Daniel's Three Friends are Sentenced to Death

19Then Nebuchadnezzar lost his temper, and his face turned red with anger at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20And he commanded the strongest men in his army to tie the three men up and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21So they tied them up, fully dressed — shirts, robes, caps, and all — and threw them into the blazing furnace. 22Now because the king had given strict orders for the furnace to be made extremely hot, the flames burnt up the guards who took the men to the furnace. 23Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, still tied up, fell into the heart of the blazing fire.

24Suddenly Nebuchadnezzar leapt to his feet in amazement. He asked his officials, “Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the blazing furnace?”

They answered, “Yes, we did, Your Majesty.”

25“Then why do I see four men walking about in the fire?” he asked. “They are not tied up, and they show no sign of being hurt — and the fourth one looks like an angel.”

The Three Men are Released and Promoted

26So Nebuchadnezzar went up to the door of the blazing furnace and called out, “Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego! Servants of the Supreme God! Come out!” And they came out at once. 27All the princes, governors, lieutenant-governors, and other officials of the king gathered to look at the three men, who had not been harmed by the fire. Their hair was not singed, their clothes were not burnt, and there was no smell of smoke on them.

28The king said, “Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued these men who serve and trust him. They disobeyed my orders and risked their lives rather than bow down and worship any god except their own.

29“And now I command that if anyone of any nation, race, or language speaks disrespectfully of the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he is to be torn limb from limb, and his house is to be made a pile of ruins. There is no other god who can rescue like this.”

30And the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in the province of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream

1King Nebuchadnezzar sent the following message to the people of all nations, races, and languages in the world:

“Greetings! 2Listen to my account of the wonders and miracles which the Supreme God has shown me.

3“How great are the wonders God shows us!

How powerful are the miracles he performs!

God is king for ever; he will rule for all time.

4“I was living comfortably in my palace, enjoying great prosperity. 5But I had a frightening dream and saw terrifying visions while I was asleep. 6I ordered all the royal advisers in Babylon to be brought to me so that they could tell me what the dream meant. 7Then all the fortune tellers, magicians, wizards, and astrologers were brought in, and I told them my dream, but they could not explain it to me. 8Then Daniel came in. (He is also called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god.) The spirit of the holy gods is in him, so I told him what I had dreamt. I said to him: 9Belteshazzar, chief of the fortune tellers, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and that you understand all mysteries. This is my dream. Tell me what it means.

10“While I was asleep, I had a vision of a huge tree in the middle of the earth. 11It grew bigger and bigger until it reached the sky and could be seen by everyone in the world. 12Its leaves were beautiful, and it was loaded down with fruit — enough for the whole world to eat. Wild animals rested in its shade, birds built nests in its branches, and every kind of living being ate its fruit.

13“While I was thinking about the vision, I saw coming down from heaven an angel, alert and watchful. 14He proclaimed in a loud voice, ‘Cut the tree down and chop off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Drive the animals from under it and the birds out of its branches. 15But leave the stump in the ground with a band of iron and bronze round it. Leave it there in the field with the grass.

“ ‘Now let the dew fall on this man, and let him live with the animals and the plants. 16For seven years he will not have a human mind, but the mind of an animal. 17This is the decision of the alert and watchful angels. So then, let all people everywhere know that the Supreme God has power over human kingdoms and that he can give them to anyone he chooses — even to those who are the least important.’

18“This is the dream I had,” said King Nebuchadnezzar. “Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means. None of my royal advisers could tell me, but you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Daniel Explains the Dream

19At this, Daniel, who is also called Belteshazzar, was so alarmed that he could not say anything. The king said to him, “Belteshazzar, don't let the dream and its message alarm you.”

Belteshazzar replied, “Your Majesty, I wish that the dream and its explanation applied to your enemies and not to you. 20The tree, so tall that it reached the sky, could be seen by everyone in the world. 21Its leaves were beautiful, and it had enough fruit on it to feed the whole world. Wild animals rested under it, and birds made their nests in its branches.

22“Your Majesty, you are the tree, tall and strong. You have grown so great that you reach the sky, and your power extends over the whole world. 23While Your Majesty was watching, an angel came down from heaven and said, ‘Cut the tree down and destroy it, but leave the stump in the ground. Wrap a band of iron and bronze round it, and leave it there in the field with the grass. Let the dew fall on this man, and let him live there with the animals for seven years.’

24“This, then, is what it means, Your Majesty, and this is what the Supreme God has declared will happen to you. 25You will be driven away from human society and will live with wild animals. For seven years you will eat grass like an ox, and sleep in the open air, where the dew will fall on you. Then you will admit that the Supreme God controls all human kingdoms, and that he can give them to anyone he chooses. 26The angel ordered the stump to be left in the ground. This means that you will become king again when you acknowledge that God rules all the world. 27So then, Your Majesty, follow my advice. Stop sinning, do what is right, and be merciful to the poor. Then you will continue to be prosperous.”

28All this did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29Only twelve months later, while he was walking about on the roof of his royal palace in Babylon, 30he said, “Look how great Babylon is! I built it as my capital city to display my power and might, my glory and majesty.”

31Before the words were out of his mouth, a voice spoke from heaven, “King Nebuchadnezzar, listen to what I say! Your royal power is now taken away from you. 32You will be driven away from human society, live with wild animals, and eat grass like an ox for seven years. Then you will acknowledge that the Supreme God has power over human kingdoms and that he can give them to anyone he chooses.”

33The words came true immediately. Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of human society and ate grass like an ox. The dew fell on his body, and his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers and his nails as long as birds' claws.

Nebuchadnezzar Praises God

34“When the seven years had passed,” said the king, “I looked up at the sky, and my sanity returned. I praised the Supreme God and gave honour and glory to the one who lives for ever.

“He will rule for ever,

and his kingdom will last for all time.

35He looks on the people of the earth as nothing;

angels in heaven and people on earth

are under his control.

No one can oppose his will

or question what he does.

36“When my sanity returned, my honour, my majesty, and the glory of my kingdom were given back to me. My officials and my noblemen welcomed me, and I was given back my royal power, with even greater honour than before.

37“And now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, honour, and glorify the King of Heaven. Everything he does is right and just, and he can humble anyone who acts proudly.”

Daniel 3:1-4:37GNBOpen in Bible reader
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