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THE FOURTH MAN



 

In 605 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar and his powerful Babylonian army defeated Judah’s armies and captured and enslaved some of the Jewish people, including “Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel 1:6). A few years later, in 586 BC, the Babylonians “burned God’s temple. They tore down Jerusalem’s wall, burned all its palaces, and destroyed all its valuable articles” (2 Chronicles 36:19) and deported all those who had survived the hostile invasions.

 

In Babylon, the Israelites lived as slaves and were forced to bow to the pagan gods of their captors. When prideful Nebuchadnezzar erected “a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet wide … on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon”(Daniel 3:1), everyone was required to pay homage. “People of every nation and language, you are commanded: When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, you are to fall facedown and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:4-6).

 

Among the Jewish exiles, there were some who refused. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who had been given the Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1:6-7), remained true to Jehovah. Standing before the Babylonian potentate, the three Jewish boys said, “Nebuchadnezzar … if the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. 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 3:16-18).

 

Furious, the king “gave orders to heat the furnace seven times more than was customary, and he commanded some of the best soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:19-20).

 

Bigger than NFL linebackers, the Babylonian soldiers that manhandled the Hebrew boys into the furnace, fell dead near the raging flames! Even so, the execution was carried out. The three Jews are tossed into the furnace where their deaths were a certainty.

 

But no! Witnessing the vile act, “King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, ‘Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?’ ‘Yes, of course, Your Majesty,’ they replied to the king. He exclaimed, ‘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).

 

The Fourth Man! Jesus!

 

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and the rivers will not overwhelm you, when you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched and the flame will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1–3).

 

“The fire had no effect on the bodies of these men: not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27). Why? Because the Fourth Man, Jesus, was the First Man into the blaze!

 



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