In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.
So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king,
he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means. "
Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it."
The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.
But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me."
Once more they replied, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it."
Then the king answered, "I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided:
If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me."
The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.
What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men."
This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.
So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.
He asked the king's officer, "Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?" Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel.
At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven
and said: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king."
Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, "Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him."
Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, "I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means."
The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), "Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?"
Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about,
but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:
"As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.
As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.
"You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue--an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.
The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,
its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.
While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
"This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.
You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory;
in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
"After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.
Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron--for iron breaks and smashes everything--and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.
Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.
As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.
And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands--a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. "The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy."
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him.
The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery."
Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.
Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia--your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,
for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.
We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.
For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.
On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed--God is our witness.
We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you,
but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.
For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews,
who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men
in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.
For we wanted to come to you--certainly I, Paul, did, again and again--but Satan stopped us.
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.
So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language:
As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.
They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever!
You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold,
and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.
But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon--Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up."
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king,
and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?
Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual
and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king."
He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,
and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.