A Daily Dose of Good News
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
At 10:30 today, this devotional will be offered online at
A printer-friendly version of today’s devotion is available at DDGN 20201020
Good morning! It’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News, as we continue in Daniel 3:19 and continuing through the rest of the chapter. For those of you who joined us yesterday, or even if you didn’t, we talked about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and how they would not bow down to the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar made. So, he calls them before him, confronts them, and they say: ‘We’re not going to bother to defend ourselves. We’re not going to worship this idol’. We’re going to find out what happens next… King Nebuchadnezzar was pretty mad earlier. Let’s see what happens after they say no to him…
Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Here ends the reading. So, it’s a happy ending after all. But let’s look at a few different components of that text. First of all, King Nebuchadnezzar is angry, and in his anger, he orders that the furnace be heated seven times more than is normal. For Christians, for Jewish people, the number seven tends to be symbolic of God and God’s perfection – God made the world in seven days. So it’s a Biblical reference that is a bit of foreshadowing that God’s in the picture here. While King Nebuchadnezzar does it to harm them, God is going to protect them and save them. That number seven is a bit symbolic of holy things are going to start to happen.
In his anger, he doesn’t strip the men before he throws them in the furnace, so they’re wearing all of their clothes. Then, as he looks, he sees them walking in the fire and not burned. That is a theme that the Jewish people would have heard before. In the first five chapters of our Bible, of what is the Torah for Jewish people, would have been the story – back in Exodus at the beginning of chapter 3. It may be familiar to you too, but this earlier story would certainly be on the minds of the Jewish people (as they heard this story): when Moses sees the burning bush, and the bush is on fire, but not consumed. So, backtracking for a moment, to that text…
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
So this story, would have reminded the Jews of the burning bush and the angel that was present in this. So, they would have heard this fourth person as an angel in this Daniel text. That’s how they would have interpreted this portion of the text. Now, Christians would interpret this fourth person as, not an angel, but as Jesus, walking with them, saving them, and redeeming them out of the flames. Often Jesus is referenced in a similar way in the book of Revelation as someone who has the appearance of a God. Like a person who has the appearance of a God. So, there’s some continuity in the Bible in these different texts.
At the end, King Nebuchadnezzaris persuaded that this is definitely God, because only God can save in this way. Again the Jewish people, while they looked at the beginning first five books of our Bible, they also looked at the writings by the prophets. So, this portion would also be reminiscent of that. One of the prophets is Isaiah, and in chapter 43, here’s another thread that goes along with it…
But now thus says the Lord,
He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
So, congratulations on having a God whom you worship, who loves you and who saves you from any and all calamities, no matter how fierce, threatening and scary they might be. That’s your God. That’s your God that saves you out of the fire and you can walk in those places, trusting in God, knowing not a hair of your own head, will be singed. Your clothes won’t be burnt, and that God will take care of you, in all things. God’s peace, everybody. Bye-bye.