King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide a and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
Then he sent messages to the princes, prefects, governors, advisers, counselors, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up.
When all these officials b had arrived and were standing before the image King Nebuchadnezzar had set up,
a herald shouted out, "People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king's command!
When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other instruments, c bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's gold statue.
Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."
So at the sound of the musical instruments, d all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
But some of the astrologers e went to the king and informed on the Jews.
They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Long live the king!
You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the musical instruments. f11
That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace.
But there are some Jews -- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego -- whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They have defied Your Majesty by refusing to serve your gods or to worship the gold statue you have set up."
Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought before him. When they were brought in,
Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up?
I will give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments, all will be well. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. What god will be able to rescue you from my power then?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
But even if he doesn't, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."
Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.
Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully clothed.
And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames leaped out and killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in!
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell down into the roaring flames.
But suddenly, as he was watching, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, "Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?""Yes," they said, "we did indeed, Your Majesty."
"Look!" Nebuchadnezzar shouted. "I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire. They aren't even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being g !"
Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire.
Then the princes, prefects, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn't even smell of smoke!
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be crushed into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!"
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)