of Daniel – Article #15
(continuation of the historical fiery furnace incident in Daniel)
Recall in our previous article (#14) we ended with the well-known story behind the writing of “It Is Well, With My Soul.” Even though Horatio Spafford had lost his family at sea, he clung to the prevailing hope in his and hopefully YOUR Savior. He went to sea and was informed by the skipper of the ship he was on at the latitude and longitude in the Atlantic where he lost his family when their ship sank after colliding with another ship, the Loch Earn. Well, things are not going too well for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. BUT….their confidence in God does not waiver.
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
It is only now do we read that Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury and his continence changes. Prior to this point he likely wanted to see these men escape from this. They were high officials within his administration. But now he really is cross and any compassion gives way to rage. He had total authority. None like him on earth. He could afford to lose three of his top administrators better than losing his control over the people and his kingdom.
Furnace heated 7 times greater- interesting!
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
At this point we know the facts and are expectantly awaiting for the victory. However Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego did not; they must have thought that this is it! Maybe God wasn’t going to deliver them, maybe their lives were to be ended at this point. They may have been aware of the history of Job who said in faith: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” (Job 13:15) Later in the book of Romans Paul was to say: “For me to die is gain but to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21).
This was a demonstration of total confidence in God. They said that even if their God does not rescue them., they will NOT compromise their faith in the God of Israel. Like David facing Goliath; he did not hesitate and in fact, charged into the face of danger and the threat to his people even though he was but a young lad.
If God needs to knock off of us some rough edges He is doing it out of love and compassion. Yes, these things can be painful at the time. Consider Mary and Martha: Jesus let their brother (Lazarus) die, not just so He could do a miracle (John 11:40), but so that they would believe in Jesus and therefore they themselves would never die (John 11:25) – an infinitely greater gift than seeing their brother raised, but they didn’t understand at that time.
(Daniel 3:20 continued) In Hebrews we read: “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you art rebuked by him: For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and challenges every son whom he receives. If ye endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father refuses to chasten? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby”. (Hebrew 12:5-11).
Even Jesus said: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) so we should expect ‘tribulation’ from the world and chastening from the hand of God. It is the former that is the case with these three men, but like Peter and the apostles in Acts 5: “…and when they (Sanhedrin) had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” (Acts 5:40-41)), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego counted it an honor to stand for the name of the Most High God, for He alone is the One who rules in the kingdoms and nations of men. Vengeance will be mine says the Lord God (Romans 12:19).
When a metal smith is refining gold in a refining pot, he keeps skimming off the dross (the impurities) that are brought to the surface by the heat. The way of knowing when it is pure is when he can look into the pot and see an unblemished refection. We are the pot of gold. He is the Refiner. The scum on the top is impurity needing to be removed.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and are cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Usually victims were stripped to humiliate them, yet here the king is so cross he just wants them thrown in.
Hosen = undergarments, Hats = a turban of some description; other garments = robes of office; coats = usual outer garments. In a WWII sense, and an eerie parallel- Hitler’s final solution to the “Jewish” problem. We could also discuss that the Swastika was originally a Jewish religious symbol, but not in this article. It would be a distraction even though fascinating.
Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire destroyed those “mighty men” men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
This gives us an idea just how hot this furnace may have been and they were not even in the furnace; just next to it. From the furnaces that have been found in this region, it may mean that the opening was at the top with a casting window or windows to the side. The intense heat was just too much for these mighty men who were overcome by the flames. The argument against this thought may be verse 26 when the king “comes near to the mouth of the furnace.” At least close enough to get a better view.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down (nef-al’) bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
This verse could lend support to the idea that the opening was at the top. Nef-al’ according to Strong’s translation may also mean they “bent the knees” as in realizing the heat did not affect them and the bended knee was in honor and respect for the God who had already saved them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spoke saying unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
The word ‘Astonished’ is ‘tevah’ in Aramaic. It conveys the idea of ‘sweeping to ruin’, to ‘take alarm’, utter helplessness. We might say that the rug was pulled from under him, that he was well and truly knocked sideways! The answer from his counselors would suggest that they were looking the other way and were not seeing what the king was. Imagine their surprise when the king then says…
He answered and said, But I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt…..
By going through this furnace the only thing that was missing was their bindings! How precious that is to us, when in our own furnaces to realize that all that gets burnt is what was binding us before we went in. To be “set free” is an excellent parallel. Galatians 5:1. In other words, the droth at the top of the potters gold purification process and that is holding us back from purity has been skimmed off.
…..and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God
The Aramaic actually says ‘the son of the gods’ – Plural. But we need to remember that the Holy Spirit is the real author of scripture. In Genesis 1:1 we read: ‘In the beginning God’ – singular, and we are comfortable with that, except the word in Hebrew is *‘Eloheim’. Whenever a Hebrew word ends with an ‘im’ ending it is plural meaning more than one (eg. Cherub – singular, Cherubim – plural). Thus Genesis 1:1 should read “In the beginning the God Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, this is the same throughout the Old Testament whenever ‘Eloheim’ is used. Yet it is always taken as singular in the Hebrew and hence it is translated so. Thus we have in the first verse of the Bible a subtle hint of the Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit. The same is also true in this verse in Daniel; what we have is what scholars call a ‘theophany’ – an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. (See also Joshua 5:13-15 and compare with Exodus 3:4-6)
*Note: The Aramaic word used is equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Eloheim’ and is not the same as ‘Bar-Eloheim’ (sons of God) usually translated ‘angels’.
Rev Dr. Jstark