The Two Aspects of Life
Daniel 3:25
He answered and said, See, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they have no hurt…

Now, what I want to derive from the passage as an illustration is this — that there are two aspects of life; one which is here described, as Nebuchadnezzar described it to his counsellors, and as they acknowledged that it was; and the other as it appears to the eye of faith, which is represented to us by this king, who had his eyes opened to see that which apparently his counsellors did not see. The three men, then, being cast into the furnace of fire, may be taken as instances of daily commonplace life; that which Nebuchadnezzar himself was enabled to perceive may be taken as that interpretation and glorification of the ordinary facts of everyday life which the Bible, which religion, and which emphatically Christianity is enabled to cast over all the circumstances of our existence here. Now this may be taken as a pattern of all the circumstances of life. There is the ordinary, the commonplace, the matter-of-fact, the prosaic way of looking at everything; and as things are so looked at, they show very much as the natural features of this city do on one of our dull, foggy November mornings. There is nothing to delight, there is no poetry, there is no light about them; they all seem dull, and dead, and leaden. But, then, there is another aspect, and that is such as the king had his eyes open to perceive; and you observe that what he saw was something totally different from what things were to the eyes of his counsellors, and from what they were as he thought they must be. He said, "Lo, I see four men." There is another there. These men are not alone; they are not left to grapple with the violence of the flame; they have a friend with them; and, moreover, as they were cast bound, so now he perceives that they are loosened, he sees them also walking in the midst of the fire. Observe that they were there exposed to all these mighty flames. He allowed them to go down into them, but they were walking about in the fire and they had no hurt. So it is with Christian life. The Christian is not delivered out of temptation; he is not one of those who are never exposed to trial; there is no exemption wrought on his behalf; he has his lot with other men; he takes his part with other men; and sometimes his lot and part are worse than those of other men, or at least they appear to be so. But yet he is enabled to walk about in the midst of the fire. Now there are those persons who always take the commonplace, matter-of-fact view of life, and they are the tedious people. I know no people so tedious, so difficult to get on with, as those who always see things in their dull, grey light, precisely as they are; whereas those who can throw into the commonplace and into the ordinary the glamour of a Divine existence and of a higher life, who can throw poetry into the scene — those are the people who are interesting, those are the people who know with whom it is a joy and a privilege to be. Then, again, observe very often we may be in the midst of danger and not know it. Who can tell how many dangers he has been preserved from? It is quite possible that many of us from time to time walk over difficulties and dangers of which we have no notion, and we probably never discover that we have been preserved from difficulty and danger. Is not this the case with many of us? Or, on the other hand, it is possible for us to walk in the midst of danger and to know that we are in the midst of danger, as these men knew they were; and then sometimes we are not conscious of that unseen, invisible protection which is nigh unto us. Now I want you to learn to see this, to believe in it. We, as Christians, walk by faith, and not by sight, and there should be no emergency and no trial into which the Christian comes in which he should feel himself left alone; he should always know that there is someone there with him, a mighty friend, the strongest of the strong, and that the form of that unseen one is like the Son of God. Oh, it is only the Word of God, it is only the power of religion, it is only the truth of Christianity and the presence of the grace of God, which can thus throw .into the ordinary, the dull, and the commonplace the light of the glory of the Sun of Righteousness, which tips everything with gold, and makes everything to shine as with the light of the glory of Kenyon. That, and that alone, can make life glorious; that, and that alone, can steel your heart so that you may bear up under all opposition, and under all trials, and may quit yourselves like men in the day of the Lord. That question, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" could be answered only in one way — "True, O king!" But it was the grace of God, it was the mystery of the promise of God and the presence of God which enabled that great king to say, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, anal they have no hurt; the smell of the fire has not passed on them. It had no power to damage or injure them because there was One with them who was mightier than the flames, and the form of that fourth Mighty One was like the Son of God." Now, it is a very remarkable thing that in this Book of the Prophet Daniel, the fourth and last of the four great prophets, we have such an extraordinary foretaste, if I may say so, of the coming Gospel of Jesus Christ. But when the king here says, "The fourth is like that of the Son of God." it is impossible, and we see ourselves that it is impossible, that he can mean one of those persons who are called by a figure of speech "sons of God." He must mean the Son of God, who is, by eminence and excellence, the only begotten Son of' God, the one who is made in God's imago and God's likeness, who is of God and from God, and who stands in the exact relation to God that a child stands to his father. Such, then, is the glorification which is offered to every Christian for all the times of life. Life, no doubt, for everyone under the most advantageous circumstances, has its dull aspect. "We all knew what it is to travel along a road which has no variety, which is nothing but monotonous from beginning to end, and we feel the effect of such journey on our spirit. Life has such journeys for us all, even under the most favourable circumstances. What we want is not to have those circumstances altered — because it may be that they never will be altered, and certainly when we most feel their monotony they are not so likely to be altered — but what we want is something which will make us proof against their dulness and monotony, something which will give us strength to cope with them, something which will shed the sunlight of eternal day over the darkness and gloominess of the morning spread upon the mountains, and will kindle for us by it a glorious day in which and through which we may walk from hour to hour with the presence of Him whose form is like that of the Son of God. Now, have you this presence of the Son of God with you? I am quite sure you want Him. I am sure there is no one whose heart does not yearn after a friend. Sometimes one solitary friend is worth a mine of wealth to us, and if we have got one such friend we may count ourselves rich. Now, there is such a friend for every one of us in the person of the Son of God, who is also the Son of man, "so pitying found." That Son of man and Son of God is very near to every one of us; and if we would see Him we must have our eyes open as this great king's eyes were opened. It is only by faith that we can behold Him. We are not told that these three men even knew that there was a fourth with them. It was only given to one man to see that fourth, and it was only given to him to recognise in Him the form "like that of the Son of God." The Son of God may be with us now. He is with us now, because He has promised to be with us. What we want to make us strong is to know that He is with us, and to feel that the form of that Son of God is indeed the form of the Son of man, who was crucified for us, who rose from the dead for us, and who now sitteth at the right hand of God, evermore to make intercession for us. But, pray that your eyes may be opened, that in every want that you have in this life, in every trial and temptation, you may ever feel that the Son of God and the Son of man is with you.

(Dean Stanley.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: He answered, Look, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are unharmed; and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods.

The Three Children in the Furnace
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