A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts: Part I: A History of the Times…And the Setup for Coming Attractions: | Part II: Events Prophesied…Prophecies Fulfilled.
… These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.
Daniel 3:21 – 23
Then these men were bound in their coats; their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace
Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the fiery furnace.
Think of the hottest steel plant furnace you have ever seen. Now imagine the temperature as seven times hotter-an increase of 700 percent. Anger often displays itself in overstatements, and Nebuchadnezzar was furious. A small fire would have sufficed. Heating the furnace twice as hot would have roasted these rebellious spirits, killing them ever so slowly. But true to his volatile nature, Nebuchadnezzar was determined to incinerate them, attempting to show the world that he was in charge. . . and that no God of Israel would be a match for his prowess. This would be one more graphic display of a king’s power-and a prediction of the earthly power of the Antichrist to come.
Can you feel the heat? But think also of this: Fire not only purifies gold, but it also gets rid of the dross-the flaws and the alien material that cling to the precious metal. That’s why gold is so valuable. It’s pure. Unadulterated. Free of foreign matter. It was the same that day when the three Hebrew children were shoved into the furnace. The dross-the “mighty” men of the kingdom commissioned by the king to do the terrible deed- were destroyed the moment they opened the fiery furnace door, while Daniel’s friends-wearing highly flammable clothing and bound head to foot-found themselves in for further purification of their lives.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said 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.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
And 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 an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
The Fourth Man in the Fire
Nebuchadnezzar didn’t retreat to his private quarters to wait for an official report on the demise of the three Hebrew children later in the day. He sat there in rapt attention, eagerly watching what his decree would do to anyone who refused to bow to his image. The king was not prepared for what he was about to encounter. Scripture says that he jumped up, astonished at what he saw.
As he did, he asked his high officials what was certainly a logical question: “Didn’t we just put three men into the furnace? Why then do I see four men-all unhurt? Are my eyes playing tricks on me? And look. . . no one is bound. Didn’t I see you tying them up? Then, why aren’t they on fire? This makes no sense. They’re still walking around as if nothing happened. But what’s really got me confused is that fourth man. Who is he? How did he get in there?”
Perhaps the most telling comment of all comes from the mouth of the king when he says, “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (3:25). A more accurate translation of what the king said would be “like a son of the gods.” The Babylonians believed that their gods had progeny, so Nebuchadnezzar was commenting on what he thought was a supernatural being in the fire-the fourth man-a son of one of the Babylonian deities. Still unwilling to admit that the one true God might be involved in this miracle, the king continues to credit pagan deities for this bewildering turn of events.
The King on a Losing Streak
Braving the intense heat, and now bewildered, Nebuchadnezzar approaches the furnace door and personally calls for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out, addressing them as “servants of the most high God.” Has the king come a step closer to believing in this God of the Hebrews? How many miracles-or dream interpretations- will it take for this stubborn king to see the light? It does appear that Nebuchadnezzar is becoming somewhat impressed with the power of the God of Israel-the God, he realizes, who has now overruled his decree, leaving these Jewish boys unscathed.
At this moment he must also be rethinking Daniel’s prophecy-the dream of the statue that would be pulverized by a rock and encompass the whole earth.
The scoreboard in the furnace room now reads:
The king is on a losing streak. He does not know that the fourth person in the fire is the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. He does not know that Jesus has existed from all eternity-“from everlasting” (Micah 5:2)-and that He is “the mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus Will Never Leave Us
Jesus Christ is the “Son” from all eternity. So, therefore, it really is no surprise that He should appear as a protector of the three Hebrew children during their ordeal. Christ existed before He came to earth. He truly is from everlasting. He is God, the second member of the Trinity. But how did He appear in the fiery furnace, one asks? By a Christophany, an appearance of Jesus Christ occurring in the Old Testament.
And now we see Him, this time in the fiery furnace with three men who’d been faithful to their God. What is the message for you and me in this passage? Simply this: Whatever our trials may be, Jesus is always in our midst, administering comfort to us in our greatest hour of need. Hebrews 13:5 states: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” That’s the message for you and me. We don’t have to go through our fiery furnaces alone. Jesus says, “I’ll go through them with you.”
Daniel 3:28 – 30
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship and god, except their own God.
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nations, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill, because there is not other God that can deliver after this sort.
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
Here, again, God blesses those who are faithful to Him. The king has little choice but to praise God for delivering Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He now admits that an angel- which can also be translated “deity”-was sent to deliver them from the furnace. Now King Nebuchadnezzar switches gears again, this time decreeing that anyone who speaks against the great God of Israel shall be cut to pieces, and their houses made into dunghills-a threat, you’ll remember, reserved earlier for the wise men and magicians who could not interpret his dream.
The Flaming Flame Will Not Be Quenched
Again, this is more than just a story. The deeper meaning of this passage-and of this entire chapter-is this: During the Tribulation period the false prophet will set up an image of the Antichrist and make people bow to it. If they do not worship the image, they will be put to death. During that same Tribulation period the entire world will become a fiery furnace. Psalm 97:3 says, “A fire goeth before him.” Ezekiel 20:47 reads, “The flaming flame shall not be quenched.” Zephaniah 1:18 tells us, “The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy.” Malachi 4:1 reads, “The day cometh that shall burn as an oven.”
The Great Tribulation is going to be a horrendous time for earth’s inhabitants. But remember . . the three Hebrew children went through their fiery trial unscathed. Their clothes were left intact, and not even a hair on their heads was singed. There was no smell of fire or smoke on their bodies-all a dramatic picture of the remnant of Jews who are going to be spared during the Tribulation hour as well as millions of newly converted Christians. God always has, and always will, have a way of protecting His own. There is a terrible time coming. Jeremiah 30:7 says,
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.“
That’s the good news. In Daniel 12:1 we also read:
“There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.“
Yes, this will be a time of great difficulty for the Jews. But there are also two great statements of encouragement: “they shall be saved out of it” and “thy people shall be delivered.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:22,
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.“
This is a key verse because of the word elect. Some Christians believe the Church will be compelled to endure the Tribulation hour because the elect are present. But it’s important to determine which group of “elect” God has in mind. The elect group mentioned here is that group meeting on the Sabbath day, in synagogues, and fleeing from Judea to the mountains of Petra. This cannot be a reference to Christians, but rather to the Jewish elect, referred to in Isaiah 42:1, 45:4, 65:9, and 65:22. Yahweh is speaking here about His wife Israel. They are going to be spared the wrath of the Tribulation period, and this is what the Hebrew children represent and, essentially, what the entire chapter portrays.
Now, as we move on to chapter four of the Book of Daniel, will we continue to encounter a hostile, volatile King Nebuchadnezzar? Or will we begin to see some permanent changes in his attitude toward Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to the one whom he now admits to be the true God? I think you’ll be amazed-not only at how the drama unfolds, but how chapter four takes us another step closer to the further unsealing of final end-time mysteries.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE