Daniel 3; Daniel 4

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet high and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the area of Babylon. 2 Then he called for the leaders: the governors, assistant governors, captains of the soldiers, people who advised the king, keepers of the treasury, judges, rulers, and all other officers in his kingdom. He wanted them to come to the special service for the statue he had set up. 3 So they all came for the special service and stood in front of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then the man who made announcements for the king said in a loud voice, "People, nations, and those of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 When you hear the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, zithers, harps, pipes, and all the other musical instruments, you must bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Anyone who doesn't bow down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace." 7 Now people, nations, and those who spoke every language were there. When they heard the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, zithers, pipes, and all the other musical instruments, they bowed down and worshiped the gold statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 8 Then some Babylonians came up to the king and began speaking against the men of Judah. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! 10 O king, you gave a command that everyone who heard the horns, lyres, zithers, harps, pipes, and all the other musical instruments would have to bow down and worship the gold statue. 11 Anyone who wouldn't do this was to be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 O king, there are some men of Judah whom you made officers in the area of Babylon that did not pay attention to your order. Their names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They do not serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up." 13 Nebuchadnezzar became very angry and called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When they were brought to the king, 14 Nebuchadnezzar said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you do not serve my gods nor worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 In a moment you will again hear the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, zithers, harps, pipes, and all the other musical instruments. If you bow down and worship the statue I made, that will be good. But if you do not worship it, you will immediately be thrown into the blazing furnace. What god will be able to save you from my power then?" 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, saying, "Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves to you. 17 If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from the furnace. He will save us from your power, O king. 18 But even if God does not save us, we want you, O king, to know this: We will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and he changed his mind. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up and thrown into the blazing furnace while still wearing their robes, trousers, turbans, and other clothes. 22 The king's command was very strict, and the furnace was made so hot that the flames killed the strong soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace. 23 Firmly tied, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the blazing furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was so surprised that he jumped to his feet. He asked the men who advised him, "Didn't we tie up only three men and throw them into the fire?" They answered, "Yes, O king." 25 The king said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire. They are not tied up, and they are not burned. The fourth man looks like a son of the gods." 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went to the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out! Servants of the Most High God, come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. 27 When they came out, the governors, assistant governors, captains of the soldiers, and royal advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies. Their hair was not burned, their robes were not burned, and they didn't even smell like smoke! 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their God has sent his angel and saved his servants from the fire! These three men trusted their God and refused to obey my command. They were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god other than their own. 29 So I now give this command: Anyone from any nation or language who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn apart and have his house turned into a pile of stones. No other god can save his people like this." 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the area of Babylon.
1 King Nebuchadnezzar sent this letter to the people, nations, and those who speak every language in all the world: I wish you peace and great wealth! 2 The Most High God has done miracles and wonderful things for me that I am happy to tell you about. 3 His wonderful acts are great, and his miracles are mighty. His kingdom goes on forever, and his rule continues from now on. 4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was happy and successful at my palace, 5 but I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying on my bed, I saw pictures and visions in my mind that alarmed me. 6 So I ordered all the wise men of Babylon to come to me and tell me what my dream meant. 7 The fortune-tellers, magicians, and wise men came, and I told them about the dream. But they could not tell me what it meant. 8 Finally, Daniel came to me. (I called him Belteshazzar to honor my god, because the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) I told my dream to him. 9 I said, "Belteshazzar, you are the most important of all the fortune-tellers. I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, so there is no secret that is too hard for you to understand. This was what I dreamed; tell me what it means. 10 These are the visions I saw while I was lying in my bed: I looked, and there in front of me was a tree standing in the middle of the earth. And it was very tall. 11 The tree grew large and strong. The top of the tree touched the sky and could be seen from anywhere on earth. 12 The leaves of the tree were beautiful. It had plenty of good fruit on it, enough food for everyone. The wild animals found shelter under the tree, and the birds lived in its branches. Every animal ate from it. 13 "As I was looking at those things in the vision while lying on my bed, I saw an observer, a holy angel coming down from heaven. 14 He spoke very loudly and said, 'Cut down the tree and cut off its branches. Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals under the tree run away, and let the birds in its branches fly away. 15 But leave the stump and its roots in the ground with a band of iron and bronze around it; let it stay in the field with the grass around it. "'Let the man become wet with dew, and let him live among the animals and plants of the earth. 16 Let him not think like a human any longer, but let him have the mind of an animal for seven years. 17 "'The observers gave this command; the holy ones declared the sentence. This is so all people may know that the Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth. God gives those kingdoms to anyone he wants, and he chooses people to rule them who are not proud.' 18 "That is what I, King Nebuchadnezzar, dreamed. Now Belteshazzar, tell me what the dream means. None of the wise men in my kingdom can explain it to me, but you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you." 19 Then Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was very quiet for a while, because his understanding of the dream frightened him. So the king said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning make you afraid." Then Belteshazzar answered, "My master, I wish the dream were about your enemies, and I wish its meaning were for those who are against you! 20 You saw a tree in your dream that grew large and strong. Its top touched the sky, and it could be seen from all over the earth. 21 Its leaves were beautiful, and it had plenty of fruit for everyone to eat. It was a home for the wild animals, and its branches were nesting places for the birds. 22 O king, you are that tree! You have become great and powerful, like the tall tree that touched the sky. Your power reaches to the far parts of the earth. 23 "O king, you saw an observer, a holy angel, coming down from heaven who said, 'Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and its roots in the ground with a band of iron and bronze around it; leave it in the field with the grass. Let him become wet with dew and live like a wild animal for seven years.' 24 "This is the meaning of the dream, O king. The Most High God has commanded these things to happen to my master the king: 25 You will be forced away from people to live among the wild animals. People will feed you grass like an ox, and dew from the sky will make you wet. Seven years will pass, and then you will learn this lesson: The Most High God is ruler over every kingdom on earth, and he gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses. 26 "Since the stump of the tree and its roots were left in the ground, your kingdom will be given back to you when you learn that one in heaven rules your kingdom. 27 So, O king, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Stop doing wicked things and be kind to the poor. Then you might continue to be successful." 28 All these things happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later as he was walking on the roofn of his palace in Babylon, 30 he said, "I have built this great Babylon as my royal home. I built it by my power to show my glory and my majesty." 31 The words were still in his mouth when a voice from heaven said, "King Nebuchadnezzar, these things will happen to you: Your royal power has been taken away from you. 32 You will be forced away from people. You will live with the wild animals and will be fed grass like an ox. Seven years will pass before you learn this lesson: The Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth and gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses." 33 Immediately the words came true. Nebuchadnezzar was forced to go away from people, and he began eating grass like an ox. He became wet from dew. His hair grew long like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails grew like the claws of a bird. 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven, and I could think normally again! Then I gave praise to the Most High God; I gave honor and glory to him who lives forever. God's rule is forever, and his kingdom continues for all time. 35 People on earth are not truly important. God does what he wants with the powers of heaven and the people on earth. No one can stop his powerful hand or question what he does. 36 At that time I could think normally again, and God gave back my great honor and power and returned the glory to my kingdom. The people who advised me and the royal family came to me for help again. I became king again and was even greater and more powerful than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, give praise and honor and glory to the King of heaven. Everything he does is right and fair, and he is able to make proud people humble.
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