Daniel 3

The king says that everyone must worship his golden image

1 King Nebuchadnezzar caused his workers to make a golden image. It was 30 metres (90 feet) high and 3 metres (9 feet) wide. He built it on the flat land called Dura, in a part of Babylon. 2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar told his officers that they must all come together. He told the officers called rulers, deputies, governors, advisers and sheriffs. He also told all the men who knew the law the same thing. And he told the men who kept the money. And he told the rulers of all the king's other countries. He told them that they must come together. They must meet in front of the image that his men had made. 3 So the officers called rulers, deputies, governors, advisers and sheriffs came to the meeting in front of the image. The men who knew the law came too. The men who kept the money for the rulers of all the king's other countries came too. They all stood in front of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had built.

4 Then an officer shouted aloud. ‘You, people from every country who speak every language, listen. This is what the king says to you. 5 Listen for the sound of music from things called horns, flutes, zithers, lyres, harps or any other kind of music. When you hear it, you must go down on the ground. You must worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has built. 6 “I will punish anyone who does not do that”, the king said. “My servants will throw them immediately into a burning hot fire.” ’ 7 So, when the people heard the different kinds of music, they obeyed. All the people from all nations, with people who spoke every language, went down on the ground. They were worshipping King Nebuchadnezzar's golden image.

Daniel's friends refuse to worship the image

8 Then some wise men came to the king and they told the king about the Jews. 9 They said to the king, ‘We want the king to live for all time. 10 You, the king, made a rule. You said that everyone must listen for the sound from all kinds of music. Then they must go down on their knees and worship the golden image. 11 You said that everyone must obey you. You would throw them into a very hot fire if they did not obey you. 12 There are some Jews who do not obey you. You put them to rule everything that happens in Babylon. They are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and they do not give honour to your gods. They do not worship your golden image.’

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar was very, very angry. So he told his servants that they must bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to him. And they brought these men to the king. 14 Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke to them. He said, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not give honour to my gods? And you do not worship the golden image that I have made? 15 You will hear again the sound of all kinds of music. You must be ready, when you hear the music. You must go down on your knees. Then you will show honour to the image that I have made. If you do not worship my image, my servants will throw you immediately into a very hot fire. And I do not know any god who can save you from my power.’

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered the king. ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we know that we did the right thing,’ they said. 17 ‘You may throw us into the very hot fire. But the God that we obey can save us. He can save us from your power. 18 But if he does not save us, it does not make any difference. We want you to know that we will not obey your gods. And we will not worship the image that you have made.’

The king punishes Daniel's three friends

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was very angry with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. His face became red. He said to his servants, ‘Make the hot fire seven times hotter than usual.’ 20 He told the strongest men in his army that they must tie Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And then he said to them, ‘Throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the very hot fire.’ 21 So the king's servants tied Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were still wearing their clothes. They were wearing their coats, hats and other clothes when the men threw them into the fire. 22 The king told the men that they must do it immediately. And the fire was very hot. So the fire killed the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into it. 23 And Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, whom the king's men had tied up, fell into the very hot fire.

24 What King Nebuchadnezzar saw next surprised him very much. And it made him feel afraid. So he jumped up and he asked his officers, ‘Did we not tie up three men and throw them into the fire?’ ‘You are right, our king,’ they answered. 25 The king said, ‘But I see four men walking about in the fire! They are free and the fire has not hurt them. The fourth man seems like a son of the gods.’

26 King Nebuchadnezzar went to the door where the very hot fire was. He shouted aloud to the men inside, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who obey the true God, you come out here.’ So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire. 27 The king's family and his officers called rulers, deputies, governors and advisers came close. And they looked at them. They saw that the fire had not hurt Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego. The fire had not touched their hair or their clothes. There was not even the smell from the smoke.

Nebuchadnezzar's new rules

28 Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Give honour to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He sent his angel to save his servants. I am the king. But they believed that their God would save them. So they did not obey me. They might have died. But they would give honour only to their own God and not to any other god. 29 No other god can save like this. So I make a rule for the people in every country who speak every language. They must not say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. My servants will cut into pieces anyone who does not obey. I will also destroy those people's houses.’

30 Then the king gave more important jobs in Babylon to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.