Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The 4th Man

23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 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.”
Daniel 3:23 - 26(NIV)

Right now, I'm trying to imagine what kind of thoughts could have been going through King Nebuchadnezzar's mind. They couldn't have accidentally thrown four men into the furnace. He Himself gave the order and watched it being carried out. More so, no one would dare defy the king! Except of course those three Hebrew men. And even if they somehow were four, how come they are walking around in a furnace. WALKING, I say! I mean, we all know what fire does or at least, what it's supposed to do. How then do they walk about in it. The fire was obviously burning for it had killed the men who had gone to carry out the king's order. So, how come the fire no longer burns? And where did this 4th man come from?

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,   you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze."
Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

King Nebuchadnezzar was obviously not aware of this text. I believe the Hebrew men were and were willing to put all on the line on the basis of their belief. 

"14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand."

More than that, they were willing to pay the ultimate price in the event that things didn't go according to plan knowing that God's ways sometimes aren't ours. Such love! Such devotion! From men, I dare say did not know Christ nor bear witness to the resurrection power. I read Daniel 3 and I see that they were well aware of all the facts. Not that they would be thrown into the fire if they didn't bow to the image of gold King Nebuchadnezzar had set up for the king's word is law but that God, the King of the heavens and earth had commanded:  

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..."
Exodus 20: 4 - 5 (NIV)

I really do not envy the position that their belief in and obedience to God had placed them in - piss off the earthly king and die by fire or disobey God and be considered as one who hates Him. Tough choice right? But they chose right. And even though they did get thrown into fire which was 7 times hotter than normal and which killed the men that took them in while everyone watched, the expected didn't happen for in that fire, that same fire that was supposed to kill them, a 4th man appeared; one who even the heathen king Nebuchadnezzar realized was no mere mortal. He looked every part like "a son of the gods", walking in fire as though He created it - for indeed he did create it- in whose presence no form of bondage remains for the three men walked around "...unbound and unharmed...". 

That is the Son of God, Most High, the very essence of God Himself responding to deep acts of love and reverent devotion! Save he did save those Hebrew men,

26 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, 
27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers 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 there was no smell of fire on them.

to the glory of His name, 
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

rewarding them for their devotion. 
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

What will you do today to call down the presence of the 4th man?

For the glory of God,

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