Do you remember Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah?
Their story is recorded in the Book of Daniel which begins with the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the evil Babylonian empire. Exiled far from home, the three young captives from Judah, along with their friend Daniel, were conscripted for service in Nebuchadnezzar’s court.
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were “Israelites from the royal family and from the nobility—young men without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:3-4).
They were extraordinary young men, probably just teenagers and God gave them “knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom” (Daniel 1:17). They were just boys, but “in every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom” (Daniel 1:20). Before long, the king appointed them to “manage the province of Babylon” (Daniel 2:49)
As the Israelite boys rose to places of power and prestige in a pagan empire, you can imagine, the displaced Babylonian officials weren’t pleased with their rival’s success.
When Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah refused to worship the statue of wicked Nebuchadnezzar, the jealous Babylonians tattled on the Israelites. The disloyalty of the young Israelites totally ticked-off the king! In a “furious rage” Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the three Hebrews appear before his throne. “Is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up?”(Daniel 3:13-14).
The crazed king cursed the boy’s disobedience! “Fall down and worship the statue I made. If you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” (Daniel 3:15).
Calmly and confidently, the faith-filled boys responded. “Who can rescue us? Our God can… and our God will!” They continued… “But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up” (Daniel 3:15).
With the fiery death-chamber charged “seven times more than was customary” (Daniel 3:19), the three were violently sent to their final fate… but wait… “Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?” the king barked. “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:24-25).
“Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and called… ‘you servants of the Most High God—come out!’ … Not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:26-27). Wow!
Who was the man in the fire with Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, the One who appeared as “a son of the gods”? Who was present to mercifully, miraculously shield and save? I’m certain it was the pre-incarnate Jesus! I’m equally as certain that He, Jesus, the God of Amazing Grace, still appears each time we faithfully face fiery tests and trials today.