"Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, “that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; “and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:1-6 NKJV
I am sure I have mentioned before how fortunate I feel to have been raised in a Christian home and attending church all of my childhood. I have so many memories of sitting in Sunday School and being fascinated by the stories from the Bible we were taught every week. One book in particular which most all of us can claim to be familiar with is the book of Daniel. The stories of his capture and being taken into the king’s court as a youth, interpreting the king’s dreams, being thrown into the lion’s den, the fiery furnace, and the handwriting on the wall are just a few which I remember. Did I mention the fiery furnace? Good, because as I was studying this week I learned yet again something I had never considered before, and something which affirmed my belief in the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.
As most of us probably know, the story revolves around the decision by King Nebuchadnezzar to build an image of gold and compel everyone in the country to bow down and worship before it. Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, chose not to comply and were thrown into the furnace of fire as a punishment for their refusal to worship. As we all know, they not only did not die, but were joined by someone Nebuchadnezzar described as looking like ”a son of the god’s”. As often as I have read and listened to this story, however, although I had considered that Daniel was not present when it all happened, I had never really considered just why he was not and if there was a particular reason why.
As I looked into that this past week I was a little surprised to find that many believe that this was an example of Old Testament typology, or a picture if you will, illustrating a future event. The event they believe this story shows us is the rapture of the Church, and the trouble facing those who are left behind. As I thought about it, it certainly did begin to make sense, especially if you look and compare what happened in Babylon with Daniel being gone and out of the picture and those left behind having to make a choice with what we are told will happen during the tribulation period after the Church is gone.
"Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Revelation 13:11-17 NKJV
Jack Kelley of “Gracethrufaith” describes these events in his commentary on the book of Revelation this way;
"He heads up the one world religion, and makes certain that it’s united in its worship of the anti-Christ. Building a great image of him, he uses supernatural power from Satan to give it a semblance of life and makes everyone worship it on pain of death. Because no one can tell if another person is really worshiping or just going through the motions, he devises a test. Those who are loyal to the anti-Christ and truly worship him, must agree to take a mark to prove it. It will not only demonstrate their sincerity, but allow them to participate fully in mainstream life without fear. Refusing the mark means they’ve given their heart to Jesus. If they’re caught, the penalty is death. And even if they’re not, they will face a nearly impossible challenge in just staying alive."
Am I the only one who finds this interesting? I truly had never looked at the story of the fiery furnace as a type of the worship of the beast during the tribulation, and certainly not considered that the absence of Daniel was a type of the rapture of the Church. This though, is why we study the Bible, and why I enjoy so much taking the time to allow the Spirit to teach. Of course, what I also learn is that I don’t know nearly as much as I might think I do, and there never seems to be an end to just how much there is for me to learn. What I find more interesting though is just how often the Spirit has been drawing my attention lately to the subject of the rapture of the Church. I just can’t help but wonder.