Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 147 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Daniel 3 today and our focus is on: Who Was the Fourth Man in the Fiery Furnace? Was Jesus in the Fiery Furnace? ? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in   Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Today we read one of the top ten – maybe top 5 – most famous Bible stories of all time. If you’re like me, and grew up with flannelgraph Bible stories in Sunday school, you probably heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego quite a lot. Let’s read it!

It is a great story of the faithfulness of God, and it has one of the best Bible mysteries of all contained within: Who was the fourth man in the fiery furnace? It’s a great question.

A preacher in the south once shared this very encouraging anecdote:

Many years ago, struggling with what turned out to be terminal cancer, Ms. Betty, a member of my little church in Prospect Hill, N.C., said to me “Bro. John, this isn’t what I wanted.  This isn’t what I had planned for this stage in my life.  And yet, through it all, these have been the best days of my life, and right now I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been before.  Just because the things I used to rely on have all been taken away from me, I have had to learn how to lean on Jesus, and I’ve found him more real, more precious, more near to me than I had ever before known him to be.  I know God better right here in this hospital bed than I’ve ever known him before, and  there’s one thing that I know with absolute certainty: It is well with my soul.”

My brothers and sisters, in days like these, there lies our hope.  There’s a Fourth Man in the fire, and his name is Jesus—Immanuel, God with us.  Here’s the meaning in the meltdown: God is with us.  God is for us—even, and especially, in the meltdown of this world and all the things we have thought that we could count on.  Source: https://www.hendrix.edu/steelcenter/steelcenter.aspx?id=3591#:~:text=When%20the%20three%20Hebrew%20children,fire%20was%20none%20other%20than

Is Brother John right? Is Jesus the one in the fiery furnace? Well, first of all, let me say that brother John and Ms. Betty are absolutely correct about the faithfulness and nearness of Jesus. Ms. Betty is also spot-on about the power of suffering to drive us closer to God – this is a wonderful testimony. That said, I’m not 100 percent sure that it was Jesus in the fiery furnace because the Bible never tells us for sure. Instead, we have Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king, as the only recorded eyewitness of the fourth man in the burning furnace. His description is interesting, ““Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” and, “Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel” This description might immediately make us think of Jesus, but we should know that heavenly beings were called ‘sons of God’ in the Old Testament, as in Job 1, “One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord” (Job 1:6)

Further compounding our mystery is the fact that the resurrected and glorified Jesus and angels can look quite similar, at least according to John in the book of Revelation:

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face was like the sun, his legs were like pillars of fire, Revelation  10:1

Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes wrapped around their chests.

Revelation 15:6

That is a description of an angel, here is another, from Matthew:

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they became like dead men.

Matthew 28:1-4

– compare those with John’s description of the resurrected Jesus:

13 and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man, dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest. 14 The hair of his head was white as wool—white as snow—and his eyes like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. 16 He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength.

Revelation 1:13-16

So both angels and Jesus shine brightly – one like the sun at full strength, the other like lightning. Both angels and Jesus can wear golden sashes, and the legs of the angel were like fire, whereas the legs of Jesus like bronze that was fired in a furnace. Jesus has a face like the sun shining at full strength, and apparently angels can have faces that shine like the sun also. John fell at the feet of the resurrected Jesus like a dead man, and the guards fell down like dead men at the appearance of the angel at the tomb Finally, the hair of Jesus was white as snow, and the robes of the angels were white as snow.

I am NOT saying that Jesus is an angel, or anything like that. A big portion of the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is vastly superior to the angels, and that is beyond a shadow of a doubt. My point is that, given Nebuchadnezzar’s description, we can’t be sure if the being in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was Jesus or an angel. And you know what? I’m not sure it matters a great deal, because the fact is that either one sends the same message: God almighty cares for His people and upholds them supernaturally.

As George Whitefield wonderfully wrote to a dear friend in a letter:

Never fear, Madam, though storms and billows, afflictions and temptations abide you; he that enabled the three children to pass unhurt through the fiery furnace, and kept his beloved Daniel from being devoured in a den of lions, can and will preserve you unspotted and undefiled, though surrounded on every side.

George Whitefield, The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield, vol. 3 (London: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1771), 51.

Bible Memory verses for the month of May: Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   

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