The king’s image was probably not solid gold (cf. Isa. 40:19; Hab. 2:18, 19), but it was gold from top to bottom. That was his way of telling God that no “inferior” kingdoms were about to come along and conquer his kingdom as God had predicted (cf. Dan. 2:36-38). That makes him a type of the Antichrist. God predicts his rise and fall too, and he won’t like it either, and will also erect an image (Rev. 13:11-14).
The dimensions of the king’s image are too narrow to be a man. It was probably a phallic symbol. He commanded people to worship it or die in a fiery furnace (3:2-6). That was how the Babylonians executed people (Jer. 29:22). He was establishing a state religion, like they did at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:4), with a “city” to head their religion. Rome was a similar state religion for centuries that used to kill people who didn’t accept her religion. The Tower of Babel was located on a plain in Shinar (11:2), and so was Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Dan. 1:2; 3:1), possibly the same plain! And possibly the same one where Antichrist will erect his image in “Babylon” (Rev. 17:5) and command men to worship it or die (13:12-15), establishing his state religion. Six times we are told the king “set up” this image, this image that was 60 cubits by 6 cubits, and there are six musical instruments mentioned in this passage, making all of this a type of the number of the beast (Rev. 13:18).
The “Chaldeans” (Dan. 3:8) who ratted out the three amigos were the ones Daniel asked the king to spare (Dan. 2:10-12), but he and his friends made them look bad when they interpreted a dream the Chaldeans couldn’t. They were also jealous that the king gave them positions in the government of Babylon (Dan. 2:49). Daniel was probably away on state business during all this (cf. Dan. 8:1, 2), making him a type of Christ, who will be away on God’s business when His friends in Israel (John 15:15, 16) are ordered to worship Antichrist’s image. When his friends were “brought before the king” (Dan. 3:13), that’s a type of Luke 21:12.
Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego (Dan. 3:14) were not their real names. The king replaced their Hebrew names with heathen names (1:6, 7). But you’ll notice that Daniel didn’t insist on using their Hebrew names, so don’t let anyone insist that you call the Lord Jesus by His Hebrew name of Yashua!
But what happened to the king who recognized Daniel’s God (cf. 2:47)? He’s made two more trips to plunder Jerusalem and her temple, and in those days if you conquered a nation, it was thought your god was more powerful than his.
When the Hebrews refused to bow to the king’s image (3:17, 18), they became a type of Tribulation Jews (Rev. 15:2). When verse 17 says “He will deliver us,” they didn’t know if God would deliver them out of the king’s hand by preserving them in the fire or just taking them to paradise. You and I have the same promise of deliverance from all our troubles as well. Paul knew God would deliver him, because he trusted the God who raises the dead! (II Cor. 1:9, 10).
The fiery furnace was a type of the Tribulation (Mal. 4:1), and heating it “seven times hotter” than normal was a type of the seven years of the Tribulation (cf. Lev. 26:27-33). Our heroes were thrown into the furnace “bound,” but were instantly walking around “loose”—meaning all that burned up were the ropes that bound them! That makes them the answer to the question in Isaiah 33:14, 15.
How’d the king know God had a son (Dan. 3:25)? Ever since Daniel interpreted his dream, he had his wise men studying Daniel’s Scriptures (cf. Prov. 30:4). And since the fourth guy in the furnace was probably shining brighter than the fire in the furnace (cf. Acts 26:13), the king figured out who he was.
It’s precious to see that Nebuchadnezzar had to command them to come out (3:27)! They’d rather be in the fire with the Lord than out of the fire with the king! Can you say the same thing about the fiery trials you’re going through? They were probably the ones in Hebrews 11:34, as they enjoyed the Lord’s promise to be with them (Isa. 43:2, 3). When the king promoted them to new positions in the government, that’s a picture of how Tribulation saints who endure the fire of the Tribulation faithfully will be rewarded with positions in the Lord’s government (cf. Rev. 3:21).
Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The King’s Tall Order – Daniel 3:1-30