BackFire!

After all of the events that occurred so far in Daniel chapter three, what was the net result? Daniel 3:28-30 tells us, “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.” (NASB)

First, we see Nebuchadnezzar blessing the God of Israel. Sadly, he stops short of declaring that God is the God that all should worship. Hence, although Nebuchadnezzar knew (after two events now) that God was far superior to him or his gods, he still was not ready to give up his polytheism [the belief in or worship of more than one god]. He simply wanted to add, as it were, the God of Israel to his own list of gods. He acknowledges that God had “sent His angel” who delivered His servants due to their trust in Him. Nebuchadnezzar even acknowledges that this meant them violating his own command, despite the consequences.

If you recall, in Daniel 3:25, the term “like a son of the gods” is used. We mentioned that two predominant thoughts regarding the identity of the fourth person in the furnace were either an angel or the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. We also stated the Aramaic word used for this term was el-aw, which corresponded with the Hebrew word eloah, meaning God. We also said that Ezra used the exact same Aramaic word over forty times in referencing the God of the Jews. Now, however, we see in Daniel 3:28 that Nebuchadnezzar uses the Aramaic word malak which is actually translated as angel. Interestingly, when we arrive at Daniel 6:22, Daniel employs the same Aramaic word for angel in stating that the angel shut the mouths of the lion’s while Daniel was in the lion’s den.

The smart thing to recognize in all of this is simply to ask oneself the following questions.

  1. Could God have accomplished the miracle by using an angel? The answer to that is a resounding -Yes.
  2. Based on the text of Scripture did God use an angel? We cannot categorically answer that question.
  3. Did God appear Himself in the form of a Theophany [Theophany refers to the manifestation of God to a person or persons]? We cannot say for sure.
  4. Did the pre-incarnate Christ appear in the form of a Christophany [A Christophany is an appearance or non-physical manifestation of Christ]? Again, we do not know for sure.

Whomever the fourth person was in the furnace is of no relevance to the facts of what happened and the result of the miracle. The one thing we can be sure of is that God produced the miracle. Confirmation of that is also seen by the declaration by Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging that fact. My point is this. Focus on the miracle, not the circumstances, of how it happened. It happened by means of God and that is all we need to be concerned with. Too many Christians ask, “How did this happen or how did that happen?”. Or “was it this or that way?” Questioning the Biblical text in this way only causes confusion and, worse, doubt. The overriding point is if God wanted us to know the full facts He would have told us. What He has revealed is sufficient – or should be. If it is not, then a person needs to question their belief structure. I say that as a kind warning. If you find yourself questioning God’s word in such a way, are you going to question Him if you are faced with a circumstance that could mean giving up your life by remaining loyal to Him?

Nebuchadnezzar’s decree was simply adding God to his polytheistic belief system [a polytheist is one who believes in more than one god]. Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgment of God’s power was evident by his decree of punishing anyone who spoke against the God of the three young Hebrews. In short, Nebuchadnezzar was not showing allegiance to God but rather placing Him within his group of gods that he worshipped. You see that by Nebuchadnezzar saying that there was no other god who could deliver in the way God did. One could imagine this king thinking that God was useful for somethings so he would simply place Him in the list of all the other gods, in case he needed Him in the future. This was, of course, folly on Nebuchadnezzar’s part. Trying to place the Most High God within the pantheon [all the gods of a people or religion collectively] was totally misguided. He would again be taught a lesson in this regard also.

For the moment, Nebuchadnezzar gave honor to the God of Israel but he also gave honor to the three young Hebrew men whom he ordered to be killed and whom ultimately received God’s miracle by their faith in Him. Whatever positions of importance they held before their arrest, the king now ordered them to be promoted again, to what positions the Scriptures do not reveal. The tyranny of the Chaldeans who orchestrated the arrest of the Hebrews certainly backfired on them in ways they could not have imagined.

In the fascinating study of God’s word we never see or hear of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah ever again. What they did following these events we do not know. Given the miracle that they personally experienced surely strengthened their faith exponentially in their young years that would carry them through all of their lives.