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The Fourth Looks Like a Son of the Gods

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and apply it and share these truths with others. The title for the lesson is, “The Fourth Looks Like a Son of the Gods.” And the text is the Old Testament book of Daniel chapter three beginning in verse 19 through verse 27. Listen to the Word of God.

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.

So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.

The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And these three men firmly tied fell into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisors: Weren’t there three that were tied up and threw into the fire? They replied: Certainly, oh King. He said: Look. I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed. And the fourth looks like a son of the gods.

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come out, come here. So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire. And the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisors crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed.  Their robes were not scorched and the was no smell of fire on them.

An amazing true story from the Word of God. The story of the fiery furnace and the brave faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is very familiar to many of us. Many wonder: What about Daniel? Where or what was his reaction to Nebuchadnezzar’s command to fall down and worship the image of gold? Well possibly as Daniel wrote the book of Daniel he here in this narrative focused on the faith of his three companions, not his own faith. Undoubtedly, Daniel took the same position not to worship the image. It is also very possible that Daniel was away during the dedication of this image, having been sent by Nebuchadnezzar on some administrative duty to another part of his empire which was very huge.

The uncompromising faith of these three is probably alluded to in the great hallmark of the heroes of the faith in Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 34 which simply says: Quenched the fury of the flames, brave examples to each of us as believers today.

Let’s look closer at this key portion of this passage of great trust in God, even in spite of the flames of fire.

In Daniel chapter three and verse 19 it says, in part: He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. This furnace was probably a kiln, like an oven, usually used for the hardening and burning or drying of such as grain, grain meal or clay or metals.  But the ancient Babylonians used the furnace also for capital punishment.

Consider Jeremiah chapter 29 and verse 22 that says, in part:  Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the King of Babylon burned in the fire.  Now here Zedekiah and Ahab are false prophets, not kings.

This furnace or oven, as similar remains have been found by archaeologists, were shaped like a vertical tunnel with an opening at the top, with a door at the ground level like a dome supported by columns and charcoal, probably, normally served as fuel. And seven times hotter a stone or brick furnace with an air draft could be made hotter by more fuel and more air. And the number seven represents completeness, that is to the nth degree.

In verse 20 it says that he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. Well, why the strongest soldiers? Well, evidently, Nebuchadnezzar expected these three Jews to resist, to attempt to escape.  Probably you and I would have tried to do that. And also the flames and the heat were so intense, they couldn’t get too close, but had to throw them into the furnace which takes strength and agility and therefore three strong soldiers.

But there is no indication in the text that the three Jews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, resisted or fought off being tied up, but, instead, committed themselves to the will of their and our great God.  Now that is trust. That is faith.

What would we have done?  Would we have trusted as these three young men did, believers in Jehovah, in Yahweh, the same God as we have, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God the Father?

In verse 22 it says, in part: The furnace was so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, probably on the ramp to this inferno, this blazing inferno, evidently with flames of fire that shot out of the furnace and burned to death, incinerated the soldiers that were to throw in the three Jews.

And so in the rage of Nebuchadnezzar he should have had a slow fire  prepared to slowly burn and kill the three Jews. Hotter than hot fire would have instantly killed them, incinerated them, as it killed Nebuchadnezzar’s strong soldiers. You and I know that rage often dulls our thinking and we should not allow rage to overtake our clear thinking.

In verse 23 it say, in part:  Three men firmly tied fell into the blazing furnace. Evidently the soldiers burned to death before they could throw the three men in, but they were close enough to the top opening of the furnace and being tied up they still fell in.

Imagine the next set of strong soldiers thoughts had they not fallen in.

In verse 25 it says, in part: Look. I see four men walking around in the fire unbound and unharmed. Well, how could King Nebuchadnezzar have seen this inside the furnace? Well, since furnaces were also used for smelting or melting and fusing of ores and metals, there was an opening in the wall of the furnace to enable smelters to check on the progress of their smelting. Through these holes in the furnace walls they could also use bellows, an apparatus to produce strong currents of air, that is, to fan the flames for more heat that might be required.  So through these holes the king could see inside the furnace.

Obviously this was also a huge furnace, built for a king of an empire large enough for grown men to walk around in it.  All of these details unfolded exactly as the one true God of the universe intended to humble and educate a pagan king regarding the one sovereign God, our same God today who can do all things in his will.

Not only did the raging fiery furnace not harm these men inside, but even unbound them. That is, the three that had been firmly  tied, because nothing is impossible with almighty God yesterday, today and tomorrow.

In verse 25 it ends with: The fourth looks like a son of the gods.  This phrase comes from the mindset of a pagan, Gentile king who believed in many gods. He was polytheistic, a pagan. Obviously to survive within a fiery furnace, walking around in a fire, this must have been a supernatural being protecting the other three. In fact, according to Daniel chapter three and verse 28 it says, in part: Then Nebuchadnezzar said: Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants. So Nebuchadnezzar believed in angels as well as many gods.

So whom exactly was this fourth that looks like a son of the gods? He could have been one of gods angels, Nebuchadnezzar’s believe, whom temporarily took on the body of a man in order for Nebuchadnezzar and the three Jews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to see him by sight. He also could have been possibly a pre-incarnate appearance of the pre-existent eternal person of the godhead we know as Jesus Christ, the eternal one, the one and only unique, only begotten Son of God.

Really? A pre-incarnate, that is before he became flesh permanently or are there actually previous appearances of the Son of God found elsewhere in Scripture? Well, one example, one prominent example, consider the book of Joshua chapter five and verse 13 where it says, in part: When Joshua was near Jericho he looked up and saw a man, Joshua chapter five and verse 14 reads in part: A commander of the army of the Lord. Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence. Now verse 15 of Joshua chapter five. Notice this commander did not rebuke Joshua for falling face down in reverence, but said, instead: Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.

Then in Joshua chapter six and verse two it reveals: Then the Lord, capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D, covenant name of God, said to Joshua:  So, evidently this was the Lord. This was God who came in a body, perhaps the second person of the trinity or of the godhead, even as we know today, Jesus the Son of God, the unique Son of God.


You remember in the book of Revelation when the revelator John, when the apostle John would fall on his face as if to attempt to worship an angel, the angel of God always rebuked John the apostle and said not to worship him, because he was not God. And then it is wrong to worship angels as created beings only, to worship only God. And yet this man, this Son of God did not rebuke Joshua when he fell face down in reverence, but  instead said that the place where you are standing is holy.

And so very probably this was in the book of Joshua chapter five a pre-incarnate revelation, appearance of the Son of God, the unique, only begotten Son of God.

Now back to Daniel chapter three and verse 27. It says: No smell of fire was on them.  Imagine a tremendous miracle, a supernatural act of God, because when God works every detail brings him glory.

Warren Wiersbe, a very fine expositor of Scripture, gives this application especially for us today from this passage of Scripture in Daniel chapter three. And I quote Warren Wiersbe: I have heard people make promises to God so they can persuade him to heal them or change their circumstances. But this isn’t believing in God. It is bargaining with God. True faith confesses the Lord and obeys him regardless of the consequences. From the very beginning of their time in Babylon, Daniel and his three friends—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—determined that they would be different and the Lord enabled them to maintain that determination, end of quote.

And so today when we truly trust God, we give God greater opportunity to work and show himself in his glory, not only to us, but to those around us as we witness, as we testify to the mighty works of God in our own individual lives. And God is still the same as he was yesterday, today and tomorrow in his power, in his greatness and his glory.


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10