Nebuchadnezzar Commands Everyone to Worship a Gold Statue 3 1King Nebuchadnezzar had a gold statue made, ninety feet high and nine feet 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 worshiped 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 forever! 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.[B] 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 burned 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. The Prayer of Azariah 24The three young men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,[C] started walking around in the flames, singing hymns to God, and praising him as Lord. 25Then Azariah stood still and there in the fire he prayed aloud: 26“O Lord, the God of our ancestors, we praise and adore you; may your name be honored forever. 27You have treated us as we deserve. In everything you have done to us you are always honest, and when you bring us to judgment, you are always fair. 28You did what was right when you brought disaster upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our ancestors. We deserved that judgment because of our sins. 29We disobeyed you, we turned our backs on you, and we are guilty of every sin. 30We did not do the things that you commanded us to do. If we had obeyed your laws, we would have prospered, 31but now we deserve the judgment and punishment that you have brought upon us. 32You have handed us over to lawless, hateful, and defiant enemies—to the most wicked king in the world. 33And now all of us who worship you are humiliated; we are too ashamed to open our mouths. 34“Yet for the sake of your own honor, do not break your covenant with us and abandon us forever. 35Do not withhold your mercy from us. Keep your promises to Abraham, whom you loved, to Isaac, your servant, and to Jacob, the father of your holy people Israel. 36You promised to give them as many descendants as the stars in the sky or as the grains of sand along the seashore. 37But now, Lord, we are fewer in number than any other nation; wherever we are, we live in disgrace because of our sins. 38We are left without a king, without any prophets or leaders. There is no longer a Temple where we can go to offer you burnt offerings, sacrifices, gifts, or incense, no place where we can make offerings to you and find your mercy. 39But we come to you with repentant hearts and humble spirits, begging you to accept us just as if we had come with burnt offerings of rams and bulls and thousands of fat lambs. 40Accept our repentance as our sacrifice to you today, so that we may obey you with all our hearts. No one who trusts you will ever be disappointed. 414241-42Now with all our hearts we promise to obey you, worship you, and come to you in prayer. Treat us with kindness and mercy, and let us never be put to shame. 43O Lord, rescue us with one of your miracles; bring honor to your name. 44“Bring disgrace and shame on all who harm us. Take away their might and power and crush their strength. 45Let them know that you alone are Lord and God and that you rule in majesty over the whole world.” 46The king's servants who had thrown the three men into the furnace kept the fire hot by feeding it with oil, tar, flax, and brushwood. 47The flames blazed up to a height of seventy-five feet 48and even spread out and burned up the Babylonians standing near the furnace. 49 But an angel of the Lord came down into the fire where the three men were. He pushed aside the flames 50so that it felt as if a cool breeze were blowing, and the fire did not touch the men at all or hurt them in any way. The Song of the Three Young Men 51There in the furnace the three young men again started singing together in praise of God:   52“We praise you, O Lord, the God of our ancestors. 53May your glorious, holy name be held in honor and reverence forever. 54May hymns be sung to your glory forever and may your holy presence be praised in that temple, 55where you sit on your heavenly throne above the winged creatures and look down to the world of the dead. May you be praised and honored forever. 56May you be praised as you sit on your royal throne. May hymns be sung to your glory forever. 57May you be praised in the dome of the heavens. May hymns be sung to your glory forever.   58“Praise the Lord, all creation; sing his praise and honor him forever. 59Praise the Lord, skies above; sing his praise and honor him forever. 60Praise the Lord, all angels of the Lord; sing his praise and honor him forever. 61Praise the Lord, all waters above the sky; sing his praise and honor him forever. 62Praise the Lord, all heavenly powers; sing his praise and honor him forever. 63Praise the Lord, sun and moon; sing his praise and honor him forever. 64Praise the Lord, stars of heaven; sing his praise and honor him forever. 65Praise the Lord, rain and dew; sing his praise and honor him forever. 66Praise the Lord, all winds; sing his praise and honor him forever. 67Praise the Lord, fire and heat; sing his praise and honor him forever. 68Praise the Lord, bitter cold and scorching heat; sing his praise and honor him forever. 69Praise the Lord, dews and snows; sing his praise and honor him forever. 70Praise the Lord, nights and days; sing his praise and honor him forever. 71Praise the Lord, daylight and darkness; sing his praise and honor him forever. 72Praise the Lord, ice and cold; sing his praise and honor him forever. 73Praise the Lord, frost and snow; sing his praise and honor him forever. 74Praise the Lord, lightning and storm clouds; sing his praise and honor him forever.   75“Let the earth praise the Lord; sing his praise and honor him forever. 76Praise the Lord, mountains and hills; sing his praise and honor him forever. 77Praise the Lord, everything that grows; sing his praise and honor him forever. 78Praise the Lord, lakes and rivers; sing his praise and honor him forever. 79Praise the Lord, springs of water; sing his praise and honor him forever. 80Praise the Lord, whales and sea creatures; sing his praise and honor him forever. 81Praise the Lord, all birds; sing his praise and honor him forever. 82Praise the Lord, all cattle and wild animals; sing his praise and honor him forever.   83“Praise the Lord, all people on earth; sing his praise and honor him forever. 84Praise the Lord, people of Israel; sing his praise and honor him forever. 85Praise the Lord, priests of the Lord; sing his praise and honor him forever. 86Praise the Lord, servants of the Lord; sing his praise and honor him forever. 87Praise the Lord, all faithful people; sing his praise and honor him forever. 88Praise the Lord, all who are humble and holy; sing his praise and honor him forever. 89Praise the Lord, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael; sing his praise and honor him forever. He rescued us from the world of the dead and saved us from the power of death. He brought us out from the burning furnace and saved us from the fire. 90Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his mercy lasts forever. 91Praise the Lord, all who worship him; sing praise to the God of gods and give him thanks, for his mercy lasts forever.”   92Suddenly Nebuchadnezzar leaped 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.” 93“Then why do I see four men walking around 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.”[D] The Three Men Are Released and Promoted 94So 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. 95All 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 burned, and there was no smell of smoke on them. 96The 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. 97“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.” 98And the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in the province of Babylon.
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