He answered and said, See, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they have no hurt…
The events here recorded probably occurred in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. He had just returned from triumphant war, bringing with him the spoil of subjugated nations, and captives without number. At this juncture he was inclined to make a pause. He thought the time was come for the inauguration of a new era. First, however, he must be certain of the allegiance of these races. The foundation must be firmly laid before he proceeds to erect the superstructure on it. So he decided on the ceremonial which took place on the vast plain of Dura. He was known to be a devout man in his way; an enthusiastic worshipper of his god Merodach. The ceremony was no mere idle pageant; it was not only a matter of state policy, it was an act of gratitude, due to the deity to whom he believed himself to owe his victories and his throne. It is well to bear this in mind if we would enter into the real difficulties of both the monarch and his recalcitrant Jewish monarchs. The line of conduct to which the three Jews felt themselves compelled was looked on by Nebuchadnezzar as open rebellion, and an insult both to himself and his god. These Jews had a most painful and distressing alternative before them — either to act in opposition to their own deepest convictions by worshipping an idol, or else to submit to a horrible death. We can imagine their mutual anxiety, conference, and prayer. When the public refusal was made the monarch was infuriated. To be bearded by his own officials at such a moment, in presence of such a multitude, would have tried the patience of more patient men than he was. He had a passionate temper. The king felt that he was committed to a struggle with the God of the Hebrews.
1. We are inclined to praise the indomitable resolution of these young men; but we must go behind them, and realise their trust in the unseen Jehovah, and in the promises of His word. It was that made them manly. The three young men found their way into a spiritual position, which enabled them to endure the wrath of the king, because they could see a greater, although an invisible King behind him.
2. In this chapter we have a duel between the world-power and the Lord God himself. We have in it the Church of God almost at its lowest ebb. We have the world in all the plenitude of its power, and in all the insolence of its authority. Can we over-estimate the value of such a testimony as this to the faithfulness of God? Take away this story of the three children from the Bible, and how infinitely great would have been the church's loss!
3. A thought for ourselves. In some shape we may all of us have to pass through the fire. Any one of us may be tried by the seductions of his senses; the snares of business life, bitter loss and dissappiontment, or the keen edge of long-protracted bodily agony. Let us see to it that we have with us, as we may have, the presence of the personal Christ, of Jesus the great High Priest, the Angel of the Covenant. Then we shall pass through the flame, and it will not gather upon nor burn us. So shall we, in our small way, bring glory to God and strength be ether people.
(Gordon Calthrop, 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.