Revelation Chapter 15 to 18 and The Song of Moses and the Lamb

The Holy City

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).

The Song

The words of “the song of Moses” and “the song of the Lamb” in Revelation 15:3‑4 remind us of the song of deliverance and victory in Exodus 15, sung by Moses, Miriam, and the children of Israel, after crossing the Red Sea, after coming out of Egypt. Moses composed a hymn of praise in which the people joined, while Moses’ sister Miriam and the singing women prepared a response to various parts of the hymn of praise (Exodus 15:1‑20).

If it was appropriate that the Israelites give glory to God for their deliverance from Egypt, it is much more appropriate that spiritual Israel recognize the still greater deliverance from the power of Satan and the bondage of sin (R3998:6) and in the reassurance of our Heavenly Father’s grace permitting us to be called out of “Babylon” (Revelation 18:4), and recognize and thus stay away from the “antichrist” systems of belief. As the Apostle John said, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Song expresses the feeling of the heart, and there can be no song of joy, no song of the Lord in the hearts of spiritual Israel, if we feel that we are not pleasing to our heavenly Father, if we feel that we are not living in harmony with his will and purpose for us, for only in the sunshine of His love and favor is there joy forevermore in the heart and a song upon the lips of His child. If we are living up to our privileges in Christ Jesus, we will be constantly rejoicing, and the song of the Lord will well up from our hearts and will constantly be upon our lips” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

King Ahaz fostered idolatry (2 Chronicles 28:2-4) and sent silver and gold from the sacred temple to the king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:8). He constructed an altar patterned after a heathen one, replacing the customary temple altar (1 Kings 16:10-15), profaned sacred vessels, and closed the temple (2 Chronicles 28:24).

“All this and his closing the doors of the house of God robbed Israel of her song. And if the song of the Lord shall ever go out of the life of spiritual Israel, it will be because of our closing the door of the temple of our hearts to God’s holy spirit, a gradual closing of the door by a growing neglect of the study of God’s Word. Earnest prayer to the Lord might become too much of a task. The worship of the Lord might lose its attraction. Then would the door to the temple of our heart be closed, and the song of the Lord would cease. How then could one get the song back that he knew when first he loved the Lord? [2 Chronicles 29:27] provides the answer: ‘And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also.’ What a beautiful picture is the burnt offering of our [devoted appreciation] and of … acceptance by our heavenly Father'” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

We are now learning this song Brethren in Christ!

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [over sin, and thus victory over the world, Egypt] through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

“With the rosy view of the future which the Bible so surely gives, darkness and clouds, sorrows and tears for the immediate present cannot daunt us” (R5799:5).

The song of Moses and the Lamb practiced by the prospective Bride of Christ class while they are training on earth in the Priesthood of Christ, may be heard by others. They preach in perfect accord with the Law and the Gospel (R497:3). They “sing” about the good tidings announced in connection with our Lord’s birth, his ministry; and the testimony of the apostles respecting the Lamb of God and the great work to be accomplished by him (R2569:6). The song of the Lamb is the clearer revelations contained in the writings of the New Testament (C237, Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 8:5).

This song described in Revelation 15:3,4 is the beautiful and harmonious expression (R497:3) about restitution (R130:3), reflecting an intellectual (R3177:5, R5441:6) understanding of God’s marvelously harmonious Plan. It is a balance of the Old Testament prophecies (the song of Moses) and the New Testament content (the song of the Lamb).

The song, practiced now by the “called” of God (Romans 1:7, Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalonians 4:7) who are seeking to be the Bride of Christ, is driven by their love of God’s perfect standard of righteousness and their delight to do God’s will as they daily mortify the deeds of the flesh, for their eyes of faith are fixed on Christ (Hebrews 12:2,3, 2 Corinthians 4:18) and the one hope found in Christ (Ephesians 4:4). Their joys in the precious promises of God are theirs by faith (Romans 15:13). They seek to gain Christ and Christ alone. They willing lay down their lives as living sacrifices pleasing and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1), cheerfully enduring (Revelation 3:10, Luke 21:19) the testings of faith patiently; an enduring of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the divine wisdom and love. They are fully depending on God’s strength and His leadings in all the affairs of life, and are running the race of the high calling to “win the prize… in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 9:24).

PHILIPPIANS 3, 7-11.jpg

The song of Moses and the Lamb is “to be sung by the immortalized bride [the 144,000 in glory] on the sea of glass” (HG16:5) who are the overcomers of the Gospel Age (R3078:3). However, those who understand the work of God, and are sympathetic to it, and “who can exercise faith in the Lord” may sing it even now while the work progresses but it is not its complete fulfillment: that will be attained when all the people of God shall have been found  at the end of the Millennial age” (R3999:1). Let us keep practicing and training our “voices” of character, mind, and heart so that we can sing this song in glory, as did the angelic sons of God who “shouted for joy” in the dawn of earth’s creation (Job 38:7).

Those who sing this song teach others through their behaviour, actions, and words to do the same until “all nations will come and worship” (Revelation 15:4) in the presence of God “Who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Before they can believe they must hear (Romans 10). The billions who have died in ignorance must be made alive before they can hear. Their blessing will come during the Millennium when they “shall learn of the divine mercy, … and they shall bow to the Lord to confess his goodness and his love and enjoy … the opportunity of full reconciliation to God and full return to the perfect conditions of mind and of body, and to life everlasting, lost by Adam’s disobedience, and brought back by the great Redeemer for as many as will receive it upon God’s terms” (R3282). Then all will “come to a knowledge of the truth: For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:4,6, R76). Once the glory of the Lord shall have filled the Temple, all peoples shall sing this song, just as all of Israel sang the song of Moses when delivered out of Egypt, representing the escape from sin and death (R3283:4).

Great and marvelous thy works, just and true are thy ways!

The Levites who sang at the dedication of the Temple did not sing of divine wrath never ending, but of divine mercy forever (Psalm 136, R3283:4). We can sing now of God’s righteousness and just dealings with the nations, because we have come to see how He permitted evil and death by looking at the work of the next, as well as that of present and past ages (R497). The more advanced our concept of right, truth, holiness, and purity, the more we appreciate the divine view of sin (R3729:4).

Having The Harps of God

In Revelation 15:2, the singers have “harps of God in their hands” with all its strings attuned (R5441:6, 926:4). Our harps are “called The word of God, and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Job, Moses, and all the Prophecies are but strings to our harp; they only require keying up and they will produce the sweetest harmony to this ‘Song of Moses and the Lamb,’ for as Peter says, God hath spoken of the restitution by the mouth of all these holy Prophets (Acts 3:21)” (R130).

Revelation 15:2-4

In Revelation chapter 15 and 16, the seven vials of the wrath of God, that close out this age and introduce the next, are described as poured out by seven angels in divine service. The blessings of the kingdom follow this work, and wait for its completion. In the meantime, those who appreciate the aim and result can sing with thanks and praise for the Divine action.

The “sea of glass” perhaps refers to the large “sea” or laver of water before the temple of God (2 Chronicles 4:2). The laver contained water for washing, and thus draws to our mind the cleansed or justified class of believers who stand above the world with a higher prospect and understanding. The “sea of glass mingled with fire” suggests the judgments of God that proceed during the Harvest, as described in the pouring of the seven vials. “Above the troubled people are the overcomers — calm, serene, untroubled. Their position shows that their standing is by faith (Matthew 14:29). To the eye of faith all is transparent as glass” (R497).

Brother Charles T. Russell wrote in an August 1880 Zion’s Watchtower article (R130): “We believe that this fire [trouble] has been mingling or coming among the people since 1873, and that it is to continue until 1914” (R130). Pastor Russell understood the period of the last plague “to be the closing act in the drama of this age” (R497). “An important difference exists between our view and that of many others however, in that they suppose the end of the age to be accompanied by the destruction of the people, and of the earth itself; while we understand that it is the ending of the present reign of evil, and a necessary preparation of mankind for the reign of righteousness” (R497).

Since Pastor Russell’s passing in 1916, clearer prophetic insight for the last 102 years has been permitted due to the unfolding of Biblical Prophecies. It is now apparent that the “time of trouble” (Daniel 12:1) that began in 1914 is a process consuming many decades. Elijah’s vision of the time of trouble shows three waves of activity (1 Kings 19:11,12).

(1) The winds of war came in two stages, World War I followed by World War II.

(2) The earthquake breaking up the colonial powers proceeded thereafter, perhaps until the break up of the Soviet Union in 1989.

(3) The fire of Islamic insurgency continues until Armageddon and its consequent effects, which close out the “time of trouble” and introduce the long sought Millennial Kingdom.

The ending part of this “time of trouble” will be punctuated with the seventh plague (beginning with Armageddon), and the loosing of the four winds of Revelation chapter seven. These will come after the saints have been “sealed,” apparently referring to the completion of the Bride class in glory. Recall that in Exodus 12:29, the firstborn were delivered from the power of the death angel, as the last plague was poured. So the “Church of the firstborn” are “passed over” from death to life at the outset of the final judgments against this “world,” or order of things.

The Crossing of the Red Sea Versus the Deliverance of the Saints of the Gospel Age

In Revelation there are seven last plagues, whereas in Exodus there were ten plagues. It seems to many brethren therefore that the first three of the ten in Egypt refer to distresses on Christendom that precede the seven last plagues of Revelation. These may be the (1) Reformation, (2) the French Revolution, and the (3) Adventist Movement, which all prepared the way for the end of the age.

After crossing the Red Sea, the awesome and eerie calmness of the sea, when restored to its normal height, could be likened to a sea of glass without a ripple (Matthew 8:26), as Israel looked down in hushed and prolonged silence upon the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. Just as the seventh plague of Revelation 16 is in three parts — Armaggedon, Earthquake, Hail — so the end of Papacy is described in three parts in Revelation 18:8Death, Mourning, Famine.

The 144,000 members of the Bride of Christ will be complete in glory at the opening of the 7th plague of Revelation 16. Some members of the Great Company class will linger here, passing through this “great tribulation” while washing their robes (Revelation 7:14).

In this Exodus 15 account, Moses is a type of Christ, and the Israelites picture of the Lord’s people who sing the song of praise. Standing beside the sea, but at a higher elevation, the Israelites were witnesses of God’s judgment on Pharaoh and his host (Psalm 136:15).

The saints living at the end of this Gospel age must be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10); they must be victors in every test. The enemies which have confronted the saints are many. Revelation 15 mentions these —

The beast, Papacy, which is described symbolically in the opening verses of Revelation 13.

The image of the beast. Here are some suggestions respecting this. “The Image was formed by the organization of the ‘Evangelical Alliance’ in 1846 … [thus] the overcomers of the ‘Image’ could not occupy this position of favor and exaltation prior to that date. This furnishes a general reason for believing that the plagues must commence this side of the date mentioned, since it is during the pouring out of the plagues that the overcomers occupy this condition upon the ‘sea of glass'” (R497). The image may refers to “organized sectarian Protestantism” (R497), perhaps allied in spirit.

The image of the beast is later referred to as the false prophet (Church of England) which is one of the three entities combining in plague six (Revelation 16:12-14) as a prelude to Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).

There is a comparison to be made between the golden image of Daniel 3:1, and the image of the beast in Revelation 13:18. In both instances the numbers mentioned are multiples of six. Both refer to statues that are set up. Both have to do with religious worship, and in each case the penalty for failure to do so is death.

King Nebuchadnezzar represents the civil or “dragon” element of society (Revelation 16:3) and it is these world governments (political power under the influence of Satan) that will try to co-operate together with the actions of the “beast” and its “image” (that represent the clerical or religious element on earth) to try to stabilize the crumbling societies of the world when things really start to pull apart — the brunt of this we believe, will occur in just over a decade from now).  These co-operative efforts will be born out of weakness, not strength but their efforts and croaking together “like frogs” (Revelation 16:13) will prove abortive (Revelation 16:18,19).

Babylon is pictured as a harlot in Revelation 17. The harlotry of the apostate church is due to her having a unification (adulterous marriage) with the governments of this world. On the other hand, the true saints (who are represented as the wise virgins in Matthew 25:1-13), strive to keep themselves separate from all entanglements with the world.

Revelation 10:1 in the sixth trumpet (the longest of all the trumpet descriptions, Revelation 9:13-11:14) depicts an angel with a rainbow — an emblem that the distress (of the 1260 years and its persecution unto death by Papacy) is past, just as the rainbow in the cloud after the Flood meant that the experience would not be repeated. This indicates that the persecution of the saints by Papacy, in the manner that it was exhibited during the 1260 years of Papal power, is over, not to be repeated.

In Revelation 17 the Papal system (represented as the “whore”) is destroyed. The 10 horns and the beast (that is, the people, the body of the beast ridden formerly by Papacy, the woman) will eat and devour and burn the whore. The “hour” in Revelation 17:12 is the time of her final judgment, depicted in the Old Testament as Jezebel being eaten by the dogs. Compare Revelation 18:10, “Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”

 The “mark” of the beast is an identifying mark that the recipient is in sympathy with Papacy. The mark could be either in the forehead (belief and mental agreement with Papacy), or in the hand (sympathetic activity with Papacy) — Revelation 13:16.

 The “number of his name — which is 666. The number six represents something sinful or away from the holy influence of God, and the triple appearance here intensifies the connection (Revelation 13:18). Compare Lamech’s “number” or lifespan of 777, whom some believe is related to the true church.

For many centuries the Papal System persecuted the saints of God. Revelation 13:7,6,5 — “It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them … he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God … power was given unto him to continue 42 months.”

The number 666 some think is reflected also in the Latin title which the pope has taken to himself, “Vicarius Filii Dei,” that is, “Vicar of the Son of God.” Of the Latin letters in this title, those which the Latins also used to represent numerals, add up to 666. (In Latin the “U” of Vicarius becomes a “V,” and the double U [W] is actually a double V. Br. Frank Shallieu, “The Keys of Revelation,” page 361).

The Trinity: “The number 666 is composed of three 6’s. The fact that it is one number, yet contains three integers, may suggest the doctrine that from the time of Arius has been embraced by the nominal Church… The pagan Trinitarian doctrine, as shown so profusely by Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons,” existed many centuries prior to the introduction of Christianity into the world. This unholy and unscriptural doctrine found its way into nominal churchianity about the time of Constantine. It not only existed in Babylon but also was expressed in the complicated theology of Hinduism and Brahmanism (Br. Frank Shallieu, “The Keys of Revelation,” page 366).

“Just and true are your ways”

“Who, but those who see the restitution to be accomplished in the next age, could sing this part of the song? Not one; Christendom in general fears to think of God’s justice in dealing with the nations in general, the great majority of whom have gone down into death without any knowledge of the only name whereby we must be saved. The righteousness, and justice, and love of God’s dealing, can only be seen by looking at the work of the next, as well as at that of present and past ages. Yes indeed we rejoice to proclaim to all who have an ‘ear to hear’ — Just and true are Jehovah’s ways in ruling the nations” (Br. Charles Russell, R497).

‘For all the nations shall come and worship in thy presence, because thy righteous acts are manifested.’ This is the last note of the song, and is full of force and meaning. How few are proclaiming, either publicly or privately, this part of the song. Some believe that many of the nations now dead are in a place of mental or physical torture, there to remain to all eternity. Others claim that they are dead, and will never again have life; others that those who are dead, will be raised from death to pass a mock trial, and be destroyed. But how few can sing this song of restitution, declaring that all nations shall yet come from death, and shall worship their Lord and Redeemer, when brought to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Even Sodom, a nation long since destroyed, shall come and worship (Ezekiel 16:48‑63)” (R497).

“King of the Ages”

“The Sinaitic manuscript renders the phrase “King of saints” as “King of the ages,” which appears to be the proper thought. The emphasis indicates that as God brings to a successful conclusion His purposes with respect to the Gospel Age, so likewise He will bring to a triumphant climax at the end of the Millennial Age His purposes in regard to mankind. This is the song and this is the confidence of the saints in verse 3. The fulfillment of Revelation 15:4 is yet future — the very near future it is believed!” (Br. Frank Shallieu, The Keys of Revelation, page 400).

Christ returned in 1874, and the Time of Trouble began in 1914 (Daniel 12:1). When the final stage of the trouble has come upon Christendom, after Israel’s deliverance, and the subsequent “earthquake” and “hail” that complete the seventh plague (Revelation 16:18-21), the revelation will dawn upon the people of Earth that God has intervened in a remarkable way. Thereafter, in Christ’s 1000 year reign of righteousness, all humanity will seek and obey the laws of the Kingdom (Psalms 96:11,13).

Tune Your Harps

Dearly Beloved Brethren in Christ —

“tune up your harps, and sing aloud our glad song of ‘Jubilee.’ Sing to your dear friends who love God, despite what seems to them his injustice. But if they will not hear sing to the world. It will be a ‘Bow of promise’ to them when they go further down into the time of trouble. And if you cannot do this sing it loudly in your own heart. It will joy and comfort bring you, to think of our Father’s love and realize that ‘His mercy endureth forever’ (Psalm 136). It will open and warm your heart and enrich it with love, both for your Father and for those who are the objects of His care and love” (R130).

Let us present ourselves as peace offerings, such as the Ram of Consecration, so that our lives may ascend as a sweet savor, to our Heavenly Father. Our consecration “is not to this condition or to that condition, to this prize or to that prize, but it is to our heavenly Father, to the One on high, an ascending consecration to God alone .. a full, entire, and complete consecration, nothing held back; not a part or partial … offering, but a whole.” “For our consecration to be acceptable in the sight of God, we must be stripped of all fleshly coverings. Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

As we onward sojourn without murmuring, seeking the Promised Land of Zion above, may we with great joy in the one Love, one Hope, and one Faith, and testifying and proclaiming of God’s acts of justice, love, wisdom, and power, continue to gladly and with thanksgiving in and for all experiences, sing:

“‘Not my own!’ my time, my talent,
Freely all to Christ I bring,
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King.”

Have You Lost the Song?

Dear friend — If you ever feel you have lost the song of the Lord, or if you feel you are walking through a valley which is overcast with the shadow of death, then may you gain great encouragement through the words of Brother H. V. Warren’s article “The Song of the Lord” in The Herald of Christ Kingdom Magazine (A direct website link of this article is cited in the Reference section below).

“When the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also” (2 Chronicles 29:27).

———————————-

References, Acknowledgment and Suggested Further Reading:

“R” – represents the references to the article numbers of the Reprints of the Original Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
http://www.htdbv8.com/reprintA.html

Harvest Gleanings (HG)
http://www.htdbv8.com/HG/HG1.pdf

Br. David Rice — Editing.

Br. Frank Shallieu — “The Keys of Revelation,” pages 398‑400.

Br. Jim Parkinson, “The Exodus Plagues,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, January / February 2018.
https://herald‑magazine.com/2018/01/01/the‑exodus‑plagues/

V. Warren, “The Song of the Lord,” in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, July / August 1978
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1978_4.htm#_Toc36734285

“God’s Comprehensive Law,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Volume 14. August 1‑15, 1931 No. 15/16
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1931_8.htm#_Toc23239884

Br. William J. Hollister, Notes on the Book of Revelation, Miami, Florida, May 1, 1960 (found in the Bible Study Library).

Christ’s Parousia (Second Presence) In 1874
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/10/christs-parousia-second-presence-in-1874/

Moses and The Lamb — Hymns of Dawn No. 17
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/05/19/moses-and-the-lamb-hymns-of-dawn-no-17/

Revelation Chapter 15 to 18 and The Song of Moses and The Lamb
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/05/21/revelation-chapter-15-to-18-and-the-song-of-moses-and-the-lamb/

All For Jesus – Hymns of Dawn No. 8
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/19/all-for-jesus-hymns-of-dawn-no-8/

Church Union and the Antichrist Booklet: https://chicagobible.org/product/church-union-the-antichrist/

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DANIEL 3:17 – Our God Whom We Serve Is Able To Deliver Us

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“Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us.” Daniel 3:17

The King of Babylon – King Nebuchadnezzar

Probably twenty years elapsed after Daniel and his companions reached Babylon in captivity before the scenes of the lesson in Daniel Chapter 3 were enacted. Meantime Daniel had been raised to a very high position in the empire, as the King’s counselor, while his three Jewish companions—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednegohad been made magistrates in the provinces of Babylon. We know that their prosperity did not tend to make them careless of their duties and responsibilities toward God, for otherwise they would not have been able to stand the severe test recounted in this lesson, and which proved a great blessing to them because of their fidelity to the Lord.

King Nebuchadnezzar just before this had won some great victories over surrounding nations—Egypt, Syria, etc.—as he had previously done with Judah, and as the Lord had predicted in the dream which Daniel had interpreted for the King, which showed the Babylonian Empire as the golden head of earthly dominion. His great success no doubt had tended to feelings of pride and a desire for display. Yet these were probably not the only motives which led to the program of the great festival in honor of his victories, and the erection of the great image which all were commanded to worship.

With a view to unifying the Babylonian empire by unifying the religious views and worship of the various peoples under his sway, Nebuchadnezzar had a great feast arranged, of which the very center of attraction was the great image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Nebuchadnezzar's image

In Daniel 3:1 we read that this image, with its pedestal, was sixty cubits high (approximately 27 metres or 8 storeys high) and six cubits wide (approximately 2.7 metres wide). It was of gold, probably either made hollow or on a base of clay cement. It was located in the Plain of Dura, about the centre of the walled enclosure twenty-four miles square, known as the city of Babylon. As it is a level country, and as the structures were comparatively low, the image could probably be seen from every part of the great city.

The Festival

The appointed time for the festival having come, leading representatives, judges, treasurers, governors, sheriffs, etc., from all the divisions of the empire, clad in the gorgeous garments of the East, were present. A great band had been prepared, composed of all the musical instruments popular at that period.

As the people stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the herald proclaimed aloud:

“‘You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace'” (Daniel 3:4-6).

By falling down and worshiping the image, the people would thus be indicating their loyalty, not only to King Nebuchadnezzar, but also to his gods who he believed had given him the wonderful victories which they were celebrating.

This was a crucial test for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They knew that the King’s powers were autocratic, and that to cross his will meant death in some form, yet they wanted to be true to God, whatever the cost. It might be that their refusal to prostrate themselves before the image would pass entirely unnoticed by others, or it might be that, even if noticed, the incident might never reach the ears of the King, but such circumstances could make no change in the matter of their duty; whatever others might do, they must not bow the knee to any but the true God. Daniel is omitted from mention here, possibly because, occupying a different position as one of the king’s personal staff and household, his conduct would not come so directly in contrast with the general conduct.

The Hour of Trial

Finally, the hour of trial came, when the great King of Babylon was recognized not only as civil but also as religious ruler, and the image which he had set up was worshiped by the various representatives of his empire—except Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. Their neglect to bow was quickly brought to the attention of the King, for no doubt these, like all good men, had their enemies: some enemies through jealousy and rivalry for the King’s favor; other enemies because, perhaps, they had been interrupted or hindered in dishonest practices and contracts with the government. The matter seems to have astounded the king, and hence his inquiry, Is it true, can it be true? Surely, no sane men would be so foolhardy as to oppose my decree, and that in my very presence, and upon such a fete-day as this? Not waiting an answer as respects matters of the past, the king voluntarily proposed for them a fresh test of loyalty and submission.

Perhaps the king’s mind shot a glance backward fifteen years, to the time when the God of the Hebrews, through Daniel, had told and interpreted his dream, a matter which none of the other gods of his wise men could do; and as though he had this in mind, and wishing to impress the matter upon these three Hebrews who had dared to challenge his power, he made the boast, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” In his arrogance of mind and under the flush of his mighty victories over the greatest nations and mightiest kings, Nebuchadnezzar felt prepared to have a contest even with the unseen and to him unknown invisible powers. He would not be backed down in his own capital city; he would demonstrate his power to inflict a penalty, regardless of what any of the gods might do in retaliation.

The answer of the three Hebrews was a wise one; seeing from the king’s mood that the discussion of the subject would be useless, they did not attempt to retaliate by threatening him with divine vengeance; neither did they attempt to convert the King to Judaism, knowing well that the provisions of the Jewish covenant were not for Gentiles. They simply responded that they were not anxious to avail themselves of the opportunity to argue the matter with the King. They assured him of their full confidence that their God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, and out of the hand or power of even the greatest king of the earth; but they answered:

 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Angered that his great festal day should be thus marred by even the slightest opposition to his will, the king did not wait to give another opportunity wherein the Hebrews might relent. He saw that it was useless, that they were men of character and determination, and he resolved that he would make an example of them before all the people. The form of his visage or his countenance changed toward these men; whereas once he had admired them, as amongst his ablest counselors and magistrates, and an honor to his empire, now he hated them, as opponents whose course, if not interrupted, might introduce disorder into his empire, and lead to more or less sedition, if copied by others. In his rage he commanded that the furnace be heated seven times, or to its utmost capacity. The furnace, already heated for the occasion, may have been the one used in melting the gold for the image, and must have been of immense size.

Probably as a mark of his great authority, and to show that even the very greatest of his subjects were subordinate to his supreme authority, the king commanded that these three recalcitrant officials be cast into the fiery furnace by prominent officers of his army—no doubt to teach a lesson respecting the power of the army, and the willingness of its chief representatives to serve the king, as against everybody else.

The Hebrews, bound in their official garb, were evidently cast into the furnace from the top, because it is stated that they fell down bound, while the heat was so intense that it even killed those who cast them into the furnace, possibly by the inhalation of the flames, which might kill them instantly.

The King seemed to be having matters his own way, as usual; even the mighty God of the Hebrews had not delivered these men from his power. And yet the King was solicitous and eyed the furnace, and to his surprise beheld those who had been cast into the furnace bound, walking about free in the flames—seemingly uninjured. More than this, he saw a fourth person there, of most remarkable appearance, which caused the King to think and speak of him as one of the gods. No wonder he was astonished; he was evidently contending with a God of whose powers he had been ignorant.

Nebuchadnezzar realized he had made a great mistake in attempting the destruction of three of his most eminent magistrates, and that he was thus defying the great God. He was prompt to make acknowledgement, and approached the furnace, calling out, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” In the presence of the king’s courtiers they came forth, and all beheld them that the fire had done them no injury, not even having singed their clothes or their hair. This was indeed a stupendous miracle, and doubtless was valuable in its influence, not only upon the Gentiles, but also upon the Hebrews residing throughout Babylon, who would thus hear of the power of Jehovah in delivering those faithful to him.

Whether this had a bearing on the subject or not, we know well that, while idolatry had been one of the chief sins of the Israelites before this captivity, there was comparatively little of idolatry in its crude forms in that nation afterward.

Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgement of the God of the Hebrews, who sent his messenger and delivered his servants that trusted in him, is very simple and very beautiful. He rejoiced in the noble character of these men, and at once made a decree:

“Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way(Daniel 3:30).

And furthermore, he promoted these faithful men to still higher positions, for they had still more of his confidence respecting their integrity.

Men who would thus hazard their lives for conscience’ sake could be trusted in the most important positions.

Lessons From This Bible Account

The Lord’s people may find in this Biblical story many valuable lessons and suggestions. Not all of God’s people are in such prominent positions as were these Hebrews; and not many have testings of exactly the same kind as were theirs, with a literal fiery furnace before their eyes. Nevertheless, there are trials before the Lord’s people today that are fully as severe.

Babylon the literal was in ruins long before the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos was shown in prophetic vision the mystic or symbolic Babylon “which reigneth over the kings of the earth” today. The provinces of Babylon today are the various civilized nations—really “kingdoms of this world;” but deluded into calling themselves and thinking themselves kingdoms of Christ—“Christendom.” And parallels to the King and the image are also presented in Revelation—they are religious systems symbolically described as “the beast [Papacy] and his image” (Revelation 13:15-18).

The worship of this symbolic beast and his image are to be the great test or trial upon professing Christians in every province of symbolic Babylon in the end of this age and indeed, the testing is even now in progress. Only those who refuse to render worship to those powerfully influential religious systems (symbolized by “the beast and his image”) will be counted by the Lord as “overcomers” and be made his joint-heirs as members of his elect Church (Revelation 20:4).

As already pointed out, the “beast” represents not Roman Catholics (the people) but the Roman Catholic system, as an institution: and the image represents not Protestants (the people) but the consolidation of Protestant systems, as an institution. Those who absolutely refuse to worship its images are already exposed to fiery trials;—social ostracism and financial boycotts. Prominent amongst these is:

The Roman Catholic idolthat church sets itself as the representative of God, and demands worship, obedience and contribution to its funds;

The Greek Catholic Church idol: the Anglican is another; and the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.all similarly demand worship, obedience and revenue. They have “pooled their issues,” to a certain extent, so as not to war upon each other’s devotees, but they unite in warfare against all who do not bow the knee to some such idol (who reverence and worship only the Almighty God, and recognize his only begotten Son as the only Head and Lord of the true Church, whose names are only written in heaven—not on earthly rolls of membership (Hebrews 12:23).

In the “dark ages,” when Papacy had a monopoly of the “church” business, it meant torture and the stake, as well as social ostracism. Today, in many instances there are evidences that the same spirit prevails, merely restrained by changed circumstances and lack of power. Thousands today are worshiping at the various shrines of Christendom who in their hearts long to be free from the sectarian bondage of fear—who fain would serve the Lord God only, had they the courage. And there are some the world over who, with a courage not less than that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, declare publicly that the Lord God alone shall have the worship and the service which they can render. None, perhaps, know better than the writer the various fiery experiences to which these faithful few are exposedboycotted socially, boycotted in business, slandered in every conceivable manner, and often by those of whom they had least expected it, who, according to the Lord’s declaration, say “all manner of evil against them falsely” (Matthew 5:11,12).

But with these, as with the three Hebrews of our lesson, the chief trial is in connection with their faith; after they have taken a firm stand for the Lord and his truth they may indeed be bound and have their liberties of speech and of effort restrained, and they may indeed be cast into the fiery furnace, but nothing more than these things can be done to them. As soon as they have demonstrated their fidelity to God to this extent, their trials and troubles are turned into blessings and joys. As the form of the Son of God was seen with the Hebrews in the fiery furnace, so unseen, the Lord is present with those who trust him and who, because of faithfulness to him and to his Word, come into tribulation. How beautifully this is expressed in the familiar hymn,

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

And sometimes even the worldly can realize that the Lord’s people in the furnace of affliction are receiving a blessing, and sometimes thus our Heavenly Father’s name is glorified in the world, as in Nebuchadnezzar’s experience.

Sometimes the Lord’s people who are bound, restrained of liberty to proclaim the truth, find, as did those Hebrews, that the fire burns the cords and sets them free, and really gives them larger opportunities to testify to the glory of our God than they could have had by any other course.

The Lord’s providences vary, and it is not for his people to decide when shall come remarkable deliverances, and when they shall apparently be left entirely to the will of their enemies without any manifestation of divine favor on their behalf.

Note, for instance, the fact that, while the Lord interposed to deliver these three Hebrews from the fiery furnace, he did not interpose to prevent the beheading of John the Baptist, although of the latter it is specifically declared, “There hath not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” We remember that, while Peter was delivered from prison by the angel of the Lord, James was not delivered, but was beheaded. We remember also that Paul’s life was miraculously preserved on several occasions, and that the Apostle John, according to tradition, was once cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, but escaped uninjured, while on other occasions dire disaster came upon the Lord’s faithful ones, and that quickly, as in the case of Stephen, who was stoned.

It is not, therefore, for us to predetermine what shall be the divine providence in respect to ourselves; we are to note the point of right and duty and to follow it regardless of consequences, trusting implicitly in the Lord. This lesson is most beautifully set forth in the language of the three Hebrews, who declared to King Nebuchadnezzar that their God was entirely capable of delivering them from his power, but that, whether he chose to do so or not, they would not violate their conscience.

It is just such characters that the Lord is seeking for, and it is in order to their development and testing that multiform evil is now permitted to have sway.

While such testings have been in progress to a considerable extent throughout this entire Gospel age, the Scriptures clearly indicate to us that in some special sense all of the Lord’s people will be tested in the “harvest” or closing time of this age. Our Lord speaks of it, likening our Christian faith to a house, and represents the trials in the end of this age as a great storm which will beat upon every house, with the result that all that are founded upon the rock will stand, and all founded upon the sand will collapse. The Apostle Peter speaks of this trial-time, saying:

“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which shall try you, as tho some strange thing happened unto you” (1 Peter 4:12).

We are to expect a testing in the end of this age, just as there was a testing of the Jewish nominal church in the end of its age. As in that testing there was a thorough, complete separating of the “wheat” from the “chaff,” so here the separating will be complete between the “wheat” and the “tares,” as our Lord declares (Matthew 13:24-30). Throughout the age the “wheat” and the “tares,” by divine arrangement, have been permitted to grow side by side; but in the “harvest” the separation must occur, that the “wheat” may be “garnered,” received to the Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul, also, speaks of this time of fiery trial, and, likening the faith and works of a zealous Christian to a house built of gold, silver and precious stones, he declares that the fire of this day, in the end of this age, shall try every man’s work of what sort it is, and shall consume all but the genuine faith and character structures (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). But we are to remember that such loyal characters grow not suddenly, in a few hours or days—mushroom-like,—but are progressive developments, fine-grained and strong like the olive tree.

We who have become “new creatures” reckonedly, in Christ, know that we are to be tested (if our testing has not already commenced), and should realize that only as we practice self-denials in the little things of life, and mortify (deaden) the natural cravings of our flesh in respect to food, clothing, conduct, etc., will we become strong spiritually and be able to “overcome.”

Many deal slackly with themselves in respect to little violations of their consecration vow, saying,—“What’s the use” of such carefulness and so different a life from that of the world in general? Ah! there is great use in it, for victories in little things prepare for greater victories and make them possible: and on the contrary, surrender to the will of the flesh in the little things means sure defeat in the warfare as a whole. Let us remember the maxim laid down by our Great Teacher—that he that is faithful in the things that are least will be faithful also in the things which are great. And this is the operation of a law, whose operations may be discerned in all the affairs of life.

Our Lord expresses the same thought, saying,—To him that hath (used) shall be given (more), and from him that hath not (used) shall be taken away that which he hath. If we start on a Christian life ever so weak in the flesh and weak in spirit, we will find that faithfulness in the little things will bring increasing strength in the Lord and in the power of his might. But it is in vain that we pray, “Lord, Lord,” and hope for great victories and the “crown of rejoicing,” if we fail to do our best to conquer in the little affairs of daily life. In other words, our testing is in progress from the moment of our consecration, and the little trials are but preparations for greater ones which, when faithfully attained, we will be able to reckon with the Apostle as light afflictions which are but for a moment, and which are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

The answer of the Hebrews to Nebuchadnezzar,—“Our God whom we serve,” is worthy of note. They not only acknowledged God and worshiped him, but they additionally served him, according as they had opportunity. And so it will be found today: those who have the necessary strength of character to refuse to worship human institutions and thereby to “suffer the loss of all things,” counting them but as loss and dross, that they may win Christ and be found finally complete in him, as members of his glorified body, and joint-heirs in his Kingdom, not only practice self-denials, but gladly serve and confess the Lord in their daily life. Rightly appreciated, a profession of love for the Lord would always be a profession of service to his cause. Whoever is not rendering some service to our King in the present time of multiplied opportunities has at very most the “lukewarm” love that is offensive to the Master (Revelation 2:4; 3:16).

Let us resolve, dear brethren, as did the three Hebrews of this lesson, that we will worship and serve only the Lord our Godthat we will neither worship nor serve sectarianism, in any of its many forms, nor mammon, with its many enticements and rewards, nor fame, nor friends, nor self. 

God “seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth,” is the declaration of our Lord and Head (John 4:23,24).

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Taze Russell – The above content is based on Reprint 2494-2497 – from The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Suggested Further Reading

Daniel The Beloved
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/bio_3.htm

Daniel and the Lions
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTMAY98.PDF

Daniel In Babylon
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/proph_31.htm

Trials
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB98.PDF

Time and Prophecy 
http://2043ad.com/timeandprophecy.pdf

The Doctrine of the Trinity – Mystery or Confusion
http://www.heraldmag.org/1999/99nd_3.htm

The Origin of the Trinity – From Paganism To Constantine
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm

Facts About the Trinity http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/doctrine/FACTS%20ABOUT%20THE%20TRINITY.htm

God and the Trinities
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_42.htm

Father, Son and Holy Spirit
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/23/father-son-and-holy-spirit/

What Is the Heavenly Father’s Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/27/gods-name-what-is-the-heavenly-fathers-name-that-we-are-to-hallow-and-why/

Jesus – The Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

The Doctrine of Christ – Booklet
http://www.biblestudents.com/docs/DoctrineChrist.pdf

Daniel the Beloved of Jehovah (paper back book) by R.E. Streeter –

Streeter-Daniel-Paperback_cropped_with_shadow-424x600

This book can be purchased through the Chicago Bible Students bookstore at the following link:

https://chicagobible.org/product/daniel-the-beloved-paperback/

 

book-of-daniel-activity-book-biblestudentsdaily-com

The Book of Daniel- Children’s Activity Book – free online here for use in proclaiming the glorious Gospel message:

https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/02/05/the-book-of-daniel-childrens-activity-book/

 

 

 

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