He answered and said, See, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they have no hurt…
The concluding words should read not "the Son of God," but "a Son of God." Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen, ignorant of the high religious teachings of the Jews, and certainly not acquainted with the Christian doctrine of the second Person in the Trinity. The fourth figure in the furnace struck him as Divine in its beauty, majesty, glory, a godlike form.
I. A REVELATION IN A FIERY FURNACE. Whether the startling appearance were an angel, or Christ before His incarnation, or any other mode of Divine manifestation, it was in any case a revelation of God.
I. God only needs to be revealed to be seen. He exists always; He is seen at rare intervals. He is not more existent when seen than when unseen. The veil hides His light, but does not extinguish it. All we need is that the veil should be lifted. Then the ever-present God will be recognised.
2. God is revealed in the fiery furnace of trouble. Invisible writing starts into appearance when held to the fire. Characters suddenly flash out in their true light at seasons of storm, terror, and pain. God reveals Himself in critical moments of agony and need.
3. The revelation in the fiery furnace is seen by the outside world. The three youths are not alone favoured with the cheering vision of the Heavenly presence. Nebuchadnezzar also sees the wonderful appearance. Indeed, it is he only who is expressly stated to have observed this additional figure in the furnace. God was revealed by means of the faithful Jews, but so that the heathen world might behold Him. The vision of God in the passion of Christ is open to the gaze of the world, and may arrest the attention of those who are blind to the daily revelation of the Divine in nature. May not this fact be an explanation of the mystery of suffering? We take too narrow and personal a view of the mission of pain. It has larger and wider ends than the sufferer's own private advantage. May not others be called to endure pain that through the flames that kindle about their own souls the light of Goal may flash out upon their fellow-men?
II. DIVINE FELLOWSHIP IN HUMAN TROUBLE.
1. God is with His people in their troubles. He does not only look down from Heaven. Pity from the serene altitude of perfect bliss may only aggravate the torture of those who are writhing in the torture-chamber of affliction. But we are told of God that in all His people's afflictions He is afflicted. Christ came into the world to suffer with men. He was with St. Stephen in the council chamber, with St. Paul in the gaol at Philippi.
2. The comforting Divine presence is dependent on the fidelity of God's people. There are troubles in the midst of which we dare not expect to see the cheering radiance of our Saviour's countenance. If He appears in them at all, our consciences tell us that it must be with a look of grief or anger, and a voice saying, "What doest thou here?" The trouble which we bring upon ourselves by heedless indifference or culpable disobedience to the will of God invites no comforting Divine fellowship.
3. The Divine presence in trouble is a security against all real harm. The cruel flames play about their would-be victims as harmlessly as forest leaves. Sects the presence of Christ and all will be well.
(W. F. Adeney, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.