AFTER Daniel had related the dream, he told Nebuchadnezzar what it meant. He said that the great image represented four great kingdoms that were to come up one after another, and have power to rule the whole earth. The head of gold represented Babylon, the kingdom over which Nebuchadnezzar then reigned. The other three kingdoms, represented by the silver, the brass, and the iron, of the image were not named at this time; but it was shown that the fourth kingdom would be very strong, that it would be divided into ten kingdoms; and that in the days of the kings that should rule over these ten kingdoms, the God of Heaven would set up a kingdom that should destroy all the others and stand forever. This fifth kingdom the kingdom of God was represented by the stone that smote the image on the feet.

Some time after this, Nebuchadnezzar made a monstrous image of gold, and set it up on the plain of Dura. The image was more than ten feet across, and so tall that its head was more than a hundred feet from the ground. It probably stood on a very high pedestal. Then Nebuchadnezzar sent throughout all his vast empire, and called in all the governors of provinces, and all the other chief men of his realm, to be present at the dedication of the image, which he had made.

When they had all come together, a herald cried aloud: "To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up; and whoso falleth not down and worshipeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace." Then all the people, except the Jews, did as the king had commanded, falling down before the image and worshiping it whenever they heard the sound of the music. But "certain of the Chaldeans" came to the king, and accused the Jews of disobeying his orders. They made a special charge against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who had been set over the affairs of the province of Babylon; and for the king's officers to treat his orders with contempt would cast a worse influence than for any of the common people to do so.

Then Nebuchadnezzar was very angry, and threatened Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, saying that if they would fall down and worship the image, it would be well with them; but if they would not, they should be cast into the furnace of fire. To make them still more afraid, he said, "And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" In reply, these faithful men told him that their God was able to deliver them if he thought best; but whether he did or not, they would never worship the image, or any other god but the God of Heaven." Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, . . . and he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace," which he had heated seven times hotter than usual. The soldiers obeyed the command of the king, but in coming to the mouth of the furnace to throw in their victims, they were themselves slain, so great was the heat of the furnace.  Nebuchadnezzar expected to see these Hebrews destroyed almost in an instant; but to his astonishment he saw them walking unharmed in the midst of the fire, and with them a fourth, whose form was so glorious that Nebuchadnezzar said it was like the Son of God. Then the king told them to come forth, and when they had done so, " The princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them."