Bow the Knee or Burn? (Daniel Chapter three)

In 586 BC after three separate invasions of Israel the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar finally destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in their fourth invasion of Israel. Multitudes died at the hands of the Babylonians as Jewish blood drenched the soil while other Israelites were exiled to Babylon. There in Babylon the Jewish survivors were enslaved, their religious system destroyed and their freedom to worship God alone was gone.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a despot who would tolerate no rivals or equals, a man who had deified himself and demanded to be worshipped as a god. He was a ruler who manifested the character of Nimrod himself who originally founded Babylon and Assyria and built the Tower of Babel. Babylon in fact had its roots in Nimrod’s ancient empire. In Babylon you could have any religion you liked, and there were many religions, provided the god you worshipped was not greater than the King himself.

Nebuchadnezzar was the head of the pantheon of gods in Babylon. In his estimation of himself there was no other god higher than himself. Nebuchadnezzar, like many other rulers in the Bible and in history, was a major type of the Antichrist to come and what happened at that time in history will happen again under the reign of the Antichrist just prior to the close of this present age. There will be another “King of Babylon” with his beast empire. Today the beast empire in the image and likeness of ancient Babylon is the empire of Islam.

No compromise!

In the time of Nebuchadnezzar there was a faithful remnant that worshipped the Lord exclusively and would not worship any other god. While the majority of the Jewish people went along with the prevailing religious, socio-economic and political system this faithful remnant refused to compromise their commitment to the Lord and to His Word.

The ‘badge’ of servitude

In the last days just before the Lord Jesus comes back there will be one in the character of Nebuchadnezzar who will enforce his will and his brand of religion and political ideology on the whole world demanding to be worshipped as God. The Bible calls him “the Man of Sin or “the Man of Lawlessness” or the one “doomed to destruction.” This man we are told will set up an image of his empire and demand that the whole world worship his image. This “image” of the beast empire of Ancient Babylon was to be a gold statue of the King Himself, something that bore the likeness to his empire. As far as Nebuchadnezzar was concerned he was the empire! The Antichrist will also have his image which will represent the name or the number of his empire and by extension point to himself as divine. In that day much of the political, secular, social and the religious world will be forced to worship him and show allegiance to the ideology and laws governing his empire. Again the empire that fits the bill today is Islam. When you see the Muslim warriors with their head and arm bands with inscriptions printed on them you see people who have already given their allegiance to the Beast Empire and to its god Allah. They are wearing the “badge of servitude.” They are in fact bearing “the image of the beast.” On the headband you have printed the Islamic creed.

However, there will be a faithful Jewish and Christian remnant who will not accept the Antichrist’s mandate for the world and though they will suffer greatly at his hands they will ultimately receive a glorious rapture and resurrection at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. With their own eyes they will see the Antichrist, his armies, his followers and the false prophet burn in the lake of fire in perpetual and conscious torment! (Isaiah 66:24) (Revelation 14:9-11; 19:20).

No ‘fence sitters’

This account in Daniel chapter three foreshadows these tumultuous and far reaching events to come in the future, events that will force multitudes in the world at that time to make a decision, Christ or the Antichrist? In that day there will be no “fence sitters!” especially in the professing Christian Church. Indeed the words of the prophet Joel ring true, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” So then with these thoughts in mind let’s now look at the text itself keeping in mind that in reading this text we are not only looking at past history but future history as well.

(Vs.1) “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.”

Now the dimensions of this image using the number six in the original language of the text itself actually add up to the number 666 which in the Bible is always connected to the antichrist and his empire. It is always the number of “man” but man in united rebellion against God (Revelation 13:18). The original text in Revelation does not say “it is the number of as man.” It says, “It is the number of man.” Rather it refers to the empire ruled over by the Antichrist and not just to the Antichrist himself. The number 666 represents the godless beast empire of the Antichrist. This image of gold the King of Babylon had built represented Nebuchadnezzar’s empire as well as the king who had deified himself and demanded to be worshipped as a god. He set up this image in the same geographical location where Nimrod set up the Tower of Babel. Like Nimrod, his ancient predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar wanted to have a global empire with its own laws and customs with him ruling with absolute power as a despot whose word was to be obeyed without question.

The Antichrist will demand the same allegiance and obedience and submission of all throughout the length and breadth of his empire. Today this is also the goal of Islam. Islam has a global agenda. They are looking for the ultimate potentate in the 12th Mahdi whom they say will lead the whole Muslim world in a global Jihad. Multitudes in Islam today want the restoration of the Caliphate! The number 666 is a sacred number to Muslims and the number they designate to the Koran.

(Vs.2-3) “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counsellors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counsellors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces were assembled for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”

King Nebuchadnezzar saw himself as a god to be deified and worshipped. Everyone in his kingdom was to assemble before his image; everyone was to bow down in homage and to worship him as their god. Whether it was those in high positions or among the common everyday people, whether political or religious all were to bow down without exception. Of course this decree also fell upon the Israelites who were at that time also captives in Babylon. Even though they still practiced their worship of the Lord somewhat secretly they were now being forced to worship someone who had put himself in the place of God. In fact the word “antichrist” in the Bible has two meanings. Firstly it means, “Against Christ” and secondly: “In the place of Christ.” Nebuchadnezzar had put himself in the place of God and was demanding to be worshipped as God by everyone in his kingdom.

Babylon itself was a political, socio-economic, militaristic and religious empire and secular government and religion worked hand in hand and side by side. The multi-religious world of Babylon was both a religious and secular society but subservient to its supreme ruler and despot King Nebuchadnezzar. Again this ideology of Nebuchadnezzar was also the ideology of Mohammed. After a period of religious toleration in Babylon even the Jewish people were now forced to worship King Nebuchadnezzar as a god.

Ultimately, wherever the Antichrist’s empire has been established the people of those regions will have to bow down to the Antichrist and worship him as God. As it is written about the deeds of his beast empire; “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” (Revelation 13:7-8) Today in every Muslim country Christians are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, maimed and killed because the Koran and the Hadith command these things to be done in the name of Allah to all who will not submit to Islam. When will the Western democracies wake up to the roar of the “lion from the North?” When will they feel the “heat” coming from the “boiling pot in the North?” The Babylonians today are the Islamic Jihad minded hordes of Allah. Now let’s continue…

(VS.4-7) “Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”

In the Bible we are told that when Lucifer had been created, before he fell, that in him was “the workmanship of his tabrets and pipes” in other words God had given him the ability to create beautiful music for worship where he resided in the “Eden of God”. Having also “the perfection of wisdom and beauty” he had the ability to create music that could be used to worship God. Of course when he fell through the pride of his heart, his beauty, his wisdom and his ability to create beautiful music became centred on himself. Consequently he became the source of all false religious worship down through history as well as the source of the music used in that false religious worship. Music is a very powerful “aphrodisiac” when used in a way that does not bring glory to the Lord. Every false religion in history in some way has used the power of music to mesmerise and captivate the human imagination, especially the human will. Of course it also has the power to excite the fleshly lusts that lead into all kinds of idolatry, debauchery and carnality! Just look at the world of Rock music today especially with its idolization of Rock stars! Is it any different in many of the Mega-Churches we see today where Christian artists are treated like Rock Stars?

Israel also used music as part of their worship of the Lord and now in Babylon they were being seduced into embracing music that did not glorify God but glorified Nebuchadnezzar. Indeed the people of God were not only in captivity to this beast empire but were also being persuaded to worship Nebuchadnezzar through music. How many of them were actually under the spell of spiritual deception? Undoubtedly many were! Today the spirit of false religion that characterized Ancient Babylon” has definitely infiltrated the Church through much of the music used in worship or at Christian concerts with their shallow lyrics and emphasis on “emotions” and “experiences!” Music itself will be a major instrument Satan will use to bring about the worship of the Antichrist in the Church when he comes to power.

The spiritual seduction you see in the professing Christian Church today is the prelude to the coming of the man of Sin. Once he arrives on the scene things will be vastly different in many western democracies than they are now. Already as I have mentioned elsewhere in this website there is a “Trojan Horse” in the western democracies today. This is an “Islamic Trojan Horse.”

Furthermore, as we see interfaith and ecumenical compromise within the professing Christian Church we could well say that the Western Church, by enlarge today, is in the “Babylonian Captivity!” Western democracies and interfaith religions seek to assimilate and tolerate Islam not facing the fact that Islam cannot assimilate itself into other cultures or tolerate other Religions. Neither can they absorb these into their own understanding of society as set forth in the Koran and in other Islamic literature. Wherever Islam prevails in the world, it “crushes and devours its victims and tramples underfoot whatever is left” (Daniel 7:7).

Well Nebuchadnezzar knew the power of music to enchant and mesmerise the populace and so will the Antichrist. All music must centre on the Lord and glorify Him not man! Much of the modern music being used today in worship no longer reflects the great doctrines of the Bible but is man-centred and not God-centred! Spiritual deception is “the name of the game” and music the medium that Satan is using in many churches today to promote his agenda. Ultimately Satan wants to be worshipped as God in the professing Christian Church and he will receive this worship in many churches when he personally comes to dwell in the Antichrist. Now let’s read on…

(Vs.8-12) “For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews. They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”

Now there were “certain Jews,” certain, because they stood out from the secular and religious crowd, bold and courageous men who would not go along with the kings decree. These were the same ones who along with Daniel had previously decided not to defile themselves with the royal food and wine. These men were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, faithful men who would not compromise their faith in their Lord nor conveniently put to one side their loyalty to His Word. Even though were well respected and even honoured in the government of Babylon they, like everyone else, were not exempt from worshipping the king and his image. Even though they faced death they would not cave in or bow the knee to Babylon. From their earliest years they had been trained by the Lord to be disciplined and upright and men who were undoubtedly filled with the Spirit of God, hence, their boldness in facing a time of crisis which in fact was for them a life and death situation. For them it was not a life to be preserved in this world but one to look forward to in the world to come!

Persecution from the devil is firstly perpetrated against the faithful Remnant. Because they refuse to embrace compromise they are attacked and maligned not only by secular government but also by those who are religious but not Godly. Hence we see in the accusers of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego a type of “the accusers of the brethren,” Satan’s agents, to destroy those who belong to the Lord. In almost every case persecution will start with false brethren in the Church who have already gone to “Babylon.” As in the case of Daniel it was the religious leaders who brought him up on false charges. In the case of the Old Testament prophets, The Lord Jesus and the disciples the same thing also happened to them. It was the religious leaders who persecuted them. In fact all false religion will always persecute and alienate those who want to remain faithful to the Word of God.

In these last days as the last apostasy widens many who profess to be Christians are already betraying their brethren by compromising with the ideologies, the philosophies and with the standards of the world and especially with the Word of God the Bible. Like most of the exiles in Babylon they are bowing down to the “images” and “gods” of the “Babylon” of this world. These “gods of Babylon” today see people pre-occupied with Money, Sport, Entertainment, physical beauty and body image, business, pleasure, religious activity, buying and selling and marrying and giving in marriage. Such was the character of Babylon and such is the state of the western democracies today including many involved in religious activity that hold to a form of godliness but deny its power to save them from sin. They perpetuate this backslidden spiritual condition by continuing to live according to the precepts and standards of this world instead of living according to the precepts and standards of God’s Word the Bible.

Indeed the apostle Paul tells us, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult (perilous) times (times of stress) will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. Have nothing to do with them.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) As it is also written in the prophet Jeremiah, “Flee from the midst of Babylon, And each of you save his life! Do not be destroyed in her punishment. For this is the LORD’S time of vengeance; He is going to render recompense to her.” (Jeremiah 51:6) Biblically Babylon can be understood in three ways and all interpretations are valid. You have the Ancient nation of Babylon itself, you have “Mystery Babylon” portrayed as a Harlot and then you have the “Babylon” of this world. Fourthly, I would also suggest you have a forth type of “Babylon” in Islam itself that the Bible says will field an army of two hundred million in number (Revelation 9:16). We are also told in the same chapter that this army with its powerful weaponry will kill a third of mankind. These are the “Kings of the East” who will come across the dried up Euphrates River (Revelation 16:12). Ultimately this vast army will meet its demise at the hands of the returning Warrior Messiah our Lord Jesus Christ!

So then in this account in Daniel we have literal Babylon but a foreshadowing of a “Babylon to come” in the form of a Political, Socio-economic militaristic religious entity which today is clearly Islam. The Islamic empire we see arising in the earth today has its roots in Babylon even going all the way back to the kingdom of Nimrod the original founder of Babylon and Assyria and in the same physical location where this account in Daniel is taking place (Genesis 11:2).

Ultimately those that profess to be believers who compromise with “Babylon” will bow down to worship the image of the beast! They will embrace his ideology, hence bearing his image! Whether they are embracing false doctrines or compromising their ethical and moral standards or rejecting the Word of God or embracing mesmerising and sensual music they are already enslaved to “Babylon.” Unfortunately many churches and denominations are going that way. When the Antichrist “sits in the temple of God” demanding to be worshipped as God he will also demand to be worshipped in the professing Christian Church.

Remember Ancient Babylon was a religious and secular power and a militaristic power and so is Islam today! As we see more and more church leaders today bowing the knee of compromise with Islam we see the people of God “bowing the knee to Babylon!” However, there are always those who would rather “burn than bow the knee” such as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. Today there are unnumbered multitudes of faithful “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-negos” in Islamic countries today facing exactly what these three men of God faced in Babylon. Now look at what Nebuchadnezzar did to these “faithful warriors of the Lord Jesus Christ”…

(Vs.13-15) “Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Whenever Satan cannot get true believers to compromise their faithfulness to the Lord he always uses persecution. This has been the pattern of Church history! In fact it started with Cain and Abel. In the New Testament we are told that Cain belonged to the evil one clearly denoting that his actions towards his brother Abel were incited by Satan (1 John 3:12-13). Cain was a false brother. In the time of Antiochus Epiphanes when he was persecuting the “saints” many false brethren joined the ranks of the Maccabees to betray them to Antiochus’ beast empire. As we read also in Daniel; “Many who are not sincere will join them” (Daniel 11:34b). Antiochus was a major type of the Antichrist to come. The character and conduct of Antiochus teach us about the character and the conduct of the Antichrist and how he will treat faithful believing Christians and Jews. According to Islam Jews and Christians are called “monkeys and pigs.” In fact Muslims are encouraged to persecute and kill those who believe in the Tri-unity of the Godhead and all and everyone who will not bow the knee to Allah and to Mohammed.

Such was the character of the Babylonian empire and such is the character of the beast empire of Islam today. Such was the nature of Nebuchadnezzar and such will be the nature of the Antichrist. In the Bible the King of Babylon is used as a metaphor for the Antichrist and Satan himself (Isaiah 14:9-17). Of course the Antichrist will be indwelt personally by Satan. He, like Judas Iscariot, will also be “the son of perdition.”

Persecution will often come from false brethren in the Church and culminate in persecution by the secular government. This has been the main pattern of persecution in the Bible and in the history of the professing Christian Church down through the centuries even to the present day and Nebuchadnezzar was no exception to meting out persecution. So he called Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to stand before him and questioned them as to why they refused to bow down to his image. Added to this he gave them only one of two choices, “bow the Knee or burn!” there was no other options available to the three Hebrew believers.

The Lord Jesus Himself said that this same kind of thing would happen to His followers; especially in the last days. He said, “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:12-19)

While persecution has always been perpetuated against faithful believers it will intensify just before the Lord Jesus comes back. The context of Luke chapter twenty one and in Matthew chapter twenty four and in many other passages of the Bible they clearly foresee the persecution of faithful believers on a worldwide scale at the end of this present age. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego foreshadow the faithful remnant that will pass through the fire of persecution in the last days. Already for most Bible Believing Christians in the world today this is a reality and it is coming to the Western Church in the days to come. Whatever trials and difficulties faithful believers experience in this life they can be preparation for the persecution to come.

Now Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had it quite good in their life in the palace and God had blessed their lives and activities in the secular world because of their faithfulness to Him and this is often the case where faithful believers are not threatened by persecution, however, the day came when all that they had acquired and achieved in Babylon was no longer of any value to them. Even though they had been enjoying material prosperity to a great degree and recognition as gifted government officials they were not slaves to their possessions or to their position in society. Instead they were “longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God was not ashamed to be called their God, for He had prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16)  When the time came to let go of the things of this world they “unhitched the trailer” of their possessions. All that time in Babylon from their youth upward their eyes had not been fixed on what was temporal and visible but on what was invisible and eternal. The spiritual unseen realities were of more lasting value than the things they possessed. Their eyes were fixed on the Lord the author and finisher of their faith. What was unseen was a greater reality to them than what was seen. Their hope was not in this world but in the world to come. They were “looking forward to that eternal city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10) Now let’s read on…

(Vs.16-18) “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had already made up their minds beforehand how to answer the king. They knew full well that the Lord was able to deliver them in this life if He chose to do so and that He would ultimately resurrect them in the last day and this is implicit in their reply to the king. However, they also understood the reality of the situation and the decree of the king which could not be changed. “Bow the knee or burn!” that was the only two options they had left. They had also firmly determined in their hearts that if God chose not to deliver them in this life they would still not recant their faith in Him no matter what the cost! They were resolute in this conviction! They would rather burn than bow the knee. They considered their lives in this world not to be compared with the world to come. Already the mighty Spirit of God was strengthening them at this “hour of trial that had come upon the whole world” at that time. They were being kept by the power of God! They had already received their deliverance in their hearts. Even if they physically died it would be the door into a better world.

(Vs.19-23) “Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. He commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up.”

Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated up seven times hotter than it was usually heated as his fury was unabated. Nebuchadnezzar’s rage was just like the devil himself who rages against faithful believers whom he cannot get to compromise and to go along with the world. The fact that the number seven appears here reminds us that whenever we see this number in the Bible God has a perfect and complete work going on. Indeed we are told in the Bible that faithful believers have “been chosen in the furnace of affliction.” Persecution is always inevitable for faithful believers whether it is by public ostracism, prison, physical persecution or death. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were tied up so they were powerless to escape even if they wanted to escape. So into the fire they went bound hand and foot.

Today millions of faithful believers in Muslim countries are experiencing a similar “fiery ordeal” at the hands of the Islamic beast empire today. Remember that the beast empire in Revelation chapter thirteen is “a wild beast!” Furthermore, this beast empire beheads people especially Christians and Jews, not to mention the terrible atrocities being perpetrated by ISIS. In the Bible we are told that the last beast empire will behead many faithful believers “because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the Word of God and because they had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.” These precious souls will come to life again when Jesus comes back and reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). Not every believer will be killed for their faith; however, many more will suffer beheading before Jesus returns. Islam has a long and bloody history of beheading!

(Vs.24-25) “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”

Now Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were in the hottest part of the furnace but were not consumed or harmed at all by the flames. They were walking around in the fire with their Messiah right beside them. They were free from their bindings, they were truly free! The Lord Jesus, the blessed and eternal Son of the Living God was there with them in His pre-existent form just walking calmly around with them in the flames. They were being kept by their Lord and Messiah in and through the hour of trial engulfing the whole world at that time. They went into the fire but were being preserved and kept in it even though they were passing through the flames. In their case it was a physical deliverance yet for many who face this kind of persecution today they are not delivered in this life, however, the Son of God is with them to keep them in and through the hour of their fiery ordeal as he was with the Christians being used as human torches to light up Emperor Nero’s garden parties in Rome.

In the last days when the Antichrist and his empire are given “power over the saints” for three and a half years there will be many martyrs for the Lord Jesus Christ. Multitudes will actually be beheaded for their testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ and for the Word of God because they have refused to worship the beast and his image. (Revelation 20:4)

What happened to the Lord Jesus in His last days will ultimately happen to His body the faithful Church in its last days. They will be cruelly executed but also raised in glorious resurrection just as He Himself was cruelly executed but was raised to life again by the power of God! The Lord Jesus Himself said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21) When Muslims or the pagan world persecutes and kills Christians and think that in doing this they think they are doing God a service are grossly deceived and heading for retribution.

When you join the army they do not guarantee that you will not be maimed or killed or that the enemy will not take a shot at you and so when you enlist into the ranks of God’s army by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ you will automatically come under fire from the enemy namely Satan and his cohorts. Of course nothing is absolutely guaranteed in this life as many are injured and killed for their faith in the ensuing battle with Satan; however, the resurrection in the Lord Jesus Christ is also assured and guaranteed! The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes (is believing) in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” (John 11:25)

 The days are coming for the Western Church when the Resurrection will be high on the agenda of those who are true and faithful believers and have not taken “the road to Babylon!” However, for the majority of professing Christians when the Antichrist demands the worship of his image they will bow the knee rather than burn! This was the case of the majority of those Israelites who professed to follow the Lord in Ancient Babylon and is a sad reality that we will ultimately see here in the western democracies. Already we see “Babylon” infiltrating the Church. The Western Church to a high degree will have to face the fury of Jihadist, fundamentalist Islam before Jesus comes back. Now let’s look at what happened to out three heroes of faith…

(Vs.26-30) “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar had changed his theology! When he was about to throw the three Hebrews into the furnace he commented, “And what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” However, when He saw the power of God and the power of the resurrection he now proclaimed that they were “servants of the Living God.” We know from the Bible that Nebuchadnezzar was converted and repented of his sin, however, the Antichrist to come will not be capable of doing this but will “go to his destruction.”

When the Lord Jesus comes back to rapture and resurrect the saints the whole world will be astonished at what they see. Satan himself will be taken by the scruff of the neck and thrown into a prison. The Antichrist who persecuted the saints will also be thrown alive into the lake of fire to be tormented forever and ever! The saints who have overcome Satan by their word of Testimony, by their trust in the blood of the Lamb and by their faithfulness to the Lord Jesus even unto death will be physically raised into a glorious resurrection! Those who have been beheaded because they would not worship the beast and his image or receive his mark of ownership will receive a special and privileged resurrection! (Revelation 20:4).

Yes the Antichrist will have power over the saints and that power will persecute the saints for three and a half years. Many faithful Jewish saints will, like their faithful brothers in the Church, lay down their lives for their Messiah in whom they have come to believe. However, they too will experience the Rapture and Resurrection when the Lord Jesus comes back again. In that day the faithful believing Jewish and Gentile remnant will rise or be raptured to reign and rule with their Lord and Messiah over the nations that have survived The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

Right now there is a faithful remnant in Israel chosen by grace that will not go along with the Antichrist’s agenda when he invades the Land of Israel and makes Jerusalem his capital. In that day most of the Jewish nation will capitulate to his demands. When he desecrates the Temple Mount many in Israel will be appalled yet be powerless to do anything seeing they will have already given their allegiance to him and to his system of government. Millions of Muslims around the world are awaiting the coming of the 12th Mahdi whom they believe will lead the whole Muslim world in a global Jihad that will see the Caliphate restored and Sharia law established around the globe. Of course this will never happen.

Historically every potentate or ruler who has sought to conquer the world has not been able to achieve their goals whether it was Nimrod, Napoleon or Adolph Hitler. Even though the Antichrist will be able to subjugate many countries and extend his realm into many lands he will never have global dominion because as the King of the North he will be opposed by the King of the South. Eventually the Antichrist will come to his end with no-one to help him (Daniel 11:45). Satan had his first defeat at Jerusalem and he will also have his second defeat at Jerusalem. Instead of broken crosses there will be broken crescent moons!

There is an interesting passage of scripture in the prophet Micah which reads, “When the Assyrian invades our land and marches through our fortresses, we will raise up against him seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men. They will rule (crush) the Land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He (God) will deliver us from the Assyrian when he invades our land and marches into our borders.” (Micah 55-6) In the context of this passage of scripture the King of Assyria mentioned here is not the king of Ancient Assyria but the Antichrist of whom the Ancient King of Assyria is a type. Even though the Antichrist and his armies will sweep through the Middle-East towards Israel, the people in Israel will raise up seven shepherds, even eight rulers to fight him there. We do not know who they are but they will effectively resist the Antichrist as the Maccabees resisted and ultimately defeated Antiochus.

The reference is made to “Nimrod” (the first major type of the Antichrist in the Bible.) Even though the Antichrist will devastate many lands including Israel the Lord will fight against him with eight leaders of men. These rulers will in effect limit the expansion of the beast empire. With the help of God they will defeat him and his armies. The beast empire will fall on the mountains of Israel from Lebanon and Tyre through the valley of Jehoshaphat into Gaza and then down into Saudi Arabia even into Egypt. At the head of this army of God will be the Messiah Himself (Isaiah 63:1-6) (Isaiah 19:1) (Revelation 19:11-21) (Joel 3:1-3).

When we see the complete and perfect deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego out of the fiery furnace we see the resurrection to life guaranteed to the entire faithful remnant, both Jew and Gentile in Christ. Even though they die yet in the midst of death they still live! In the end God Himself gets all the glory and the praise due to Him. Even the Devil and his angels will be forced to submit to His rule. On the day the Lord Jesus Christ comes back. As it is written, “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 4:9-11). On that day there will be no exceptions! All will bow the Knee to Him!

“Babylon” is with us even today. It not only symbolises the beast empire of the Antichrist but also symbolises the whole world in rebellion against its creator. It also represents the whole world in which we live with its multi-religious, interfaith associations and hedonistic lifestyles especially in the western democracies. Whether it is pre-occupation with sport, entertainment, violent video games, physical beauty, interreligious activity, buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage and interfaith associations it is all part of “Babylon! “However, there is a “Babylonian Kingdom” coming, a beast kingdom in the character of Ancient Babylon that will dominate the world scene and that will force everyone within its empire to worship its image and receive its mark whether they are small and great, rich and poor, free or slave.

However, in that day there will be a faithful remnant in the character of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego that would rather burn than bow the knee! Daniel also tells us that many faithful saints will be wise and will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered and that many would be betrayed by false brethren. As I have already mentioned this happened in the Time of Antiochus to the faithful Jewish believers who would not bow to his demands and it will happen again at the end of this present age when the faithful remnant refuse to bow down and worship the image of the Beast.

In that day the Lord Jesus Himself through the power of His Holy Spirit will be with His people in the fiery furnace of affliction. Even though they physically die they will not be dead but like Shadrack Meshach and Abed-nego they will be very much alive and walking around in the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus their Saviour and Messiah even in the midst of their fiery trial. When the Roman Emperor Nero was burning Christian believers on fiery crosses to light up his garden parties the Apostle Peter wrote these words, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)

If you are a believer living in the western democracy and have never suffered persecution you may feel that you would not be brave enough to face what many have faced and are in fact facing today. However, if you are remaining faithful to the Lord Jesus and faithful to His Word and learning to live moment by moment in the strength and power of the blessed Holy Spirit of God then you will be able to endure to the end when the real test of that faith comes and it is coming to the Churches in the Western democracies. In that day you will be blessed because the Spirit and Glory of God will be resting mightily upon you! Peter also writes, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6-13)

There is an historical account of two believers in prison who were to be burned at the stake the following morning. One was an older believer in the Lord while the other one was younger in the Lord and both were contemplating what it would be like when the flames started to engulf their bodies. Now in the prison cell on the night before they were to be executed there was a candle and both of these dear believers tried to keep their finger in the flame to see if they could bear the pain. For both of them it seemed that they would not be able to endure the pain. The next morning when they were to be taken out to be burned alive at the stake the older one was taken first. As he was being led away he said to the younger believer, “If the Lord is with me in the flames I will raise my right hand” and with those words marched out to his martyrdom in the flames. The younger believer watched through the bars of the prison window to see what would happen. As the faggots were set alight and the flames began to consume the older believer in the midst of the flames he raised both hands to the sky for the Lord was with him indeed! With that the younger believer gained the strength and confidence he needed and like his brother in the Lord passed through the flames and into his eternal reward.

In closing the apostle Peter also wrote, “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1 Peter 4:19). This was precisely what Shadrack Meshach and Abed-nego did and in the hour of their greatest test they passed with flying colours! Even so Come Lord Jesus!