At this, Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual,
I. THE SAVIOUR OF THE KING'S IMAGINATION. "Like unto a son of the gods." The king was certainly not acquainted with the Hebrew doctrine of the Messiah, and even if he were, the appellation, "Son of God," would not be familiar to him. The deliverer to him was perhaps an angel, but surely a visitant from the unseen.
II. THE REAL DELIVERER. "The Angel of Jehovah," the Angel-God of the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus, in those temporary and special epiphanies which preceded the great Epiphany of the Incarnation. This "coming down to deliver" does not stand alone. Therefore the other emergences out of eternity into time of the Lord should throw light on this; e.g. two appearances to Hagar (Genesis 16; Genesis 21:19-21). Two in the life of Abraham (Genesis 17, 19, 22). Several instances in the history of Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22; Genesis 31:11-13; Genesis 32:24-32; Genesis 48:15, 16). At the burning bush (Exodus 3.; seq. also Exodus 23:20-25; Exodus 13:20-22; Exodus 14:19, 20; Exodus 40:33-35; 1 Kings 8:10, 11; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3). The same august Personage was at Sinai (comp. Exodus 24. and Exodus 33:11-20 with Galatians 3:19). Several manifestations, too, in the desert-life of Israel (Exodus 16:10; Numbers 12:5; Numbers 14:1-21; Numbers 16:19, 42; Numbers 20:6; Exodus 33:3). So in the life of Joshua (Joshua 5:13; Joshua 6:5). See further epiphanies in Judges 2:1-5; Judges 6:11-24; Judges 13.; 1 Kings 8:9-11, Isaiah 63:8, 9. (On the significance of these passages, see 'Mediatorial Sovereignty,' by George Steward, vol. 1. pp. 111-137; Dr. Pye Smith, 'First Lines of Christian Theology,' pp. 248-251.) "The Angel of Jehovah" is none other than Jehovah himself manifested in the Person of the Lord Jesus. The doctrine of the Trinity the only adequate explanation. What Robert Hall said of the Divine Being is sirikingly true of the doctrine of the Trinity: "Inexplicable itself, it explains all besides; it casts a clearness upon every question, accounts for every phenomenon, solves every problem, illumines every depth, and renders the whole mystery of evidence as perfectly simple as it is otherwise perfectly unintelligible, whilst itself remains an impenetrable obscurity." The following are reasons for believing that the Lord Jesus was present in this fire:
1. It was antecedently probable that he would be. Taking into account antecedent appearances, observe the time of the Captivity was a critical epoch in the history of the kingdom of God; the place - Babylonia grand theatre for the manifestation of the Divine. Evil clashed with conscience. The faithful there were helpless. It was for Christ to deliver.
2. It would fulfil a promise a thousand years old (Leviticus 26:14-44).
3. The moral effect of the epiphany would be great - on Jews, heathens; all to the end of time.
III. THE SAME SAVIOUR NOW.
1. The Lord Jesus can be present with us in the fire of our trouble. This depends on whether we give him welcome or not. He waits to come in unto us in our sorrows. Different is the intensity el the fire with different saints, with the same at various times.
2. His presence is relief.
3. Will be ultimate deliverance and perfected salvation. - R.
That they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.I. THE PERSON WHO CAUSED IT TO BE MADE. This Oriental despot was then in the zenith of his glory. He was the acknowledged master of the world. The pomp and pageantry, of that religious gathering has never been surpassed. In deep awe, "they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up" (v. 4).
II. THE PERSONS WHO WERE CAST INTO THIS BURNING FIERY FURNACE AND WHY. These were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego — "the three Hebrew children," who were carried to Babylon in captivity B.C. 606. They were of royal birth. They first came into notice in refusing to eat the "king's meat." Why were they cast into the burning furnace? It was because they refused to do that which would offend the living God. Listen to the answer given by those Hebrews: "Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (v. 18). What is our answer? Observe, there is one great word in this verse now quoted. It is the word "not"! "We will not serve thy gods"! O this word, "not"! How grand it is!
1. It contains all the decision of Daniel 5:16. There they say: "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter." "There is no need for talk on this subject, O king. You are determined what to do; so, also, are we!" Glorious decision! There is never any "not" where there is the least hesitation or parleying with sin.
2. This word "not" contains all the faith of Daniel 5:17. "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning furnace." This is what the great Paul once said: "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:18). How glorious such a trust!
3. The "not" before us contains the profoundest courage. It was popular that day to bow to the image; the lend-mouthed "herald" proclaimed the penalty of not worshipping. Yet the brave men spoke out courageously. With decision, faith, and courage, we can alone stand against the evils of our day. Because Shadrach and his friends said "net," they were cast into the fire.
III. THE PERSON WHO DELIVERED THEM, AND WHY. It was Almighty God (v. 28). Why? Because they "trusted in Him" (v. 28). This the verse referred to in Hebrews 11:33, 34 — "who through fire subdued kingdoms"! It is faith that overcomes the world. Faith is the mighty moral force of the age. The Apostles said unto the Lord, and so should we, "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). Observe:
1. The completeness of this deliverance: "Nor was an hair of their head singed" (v. 27). So God always saves — it is complete, or not at all.
2. They were thrown into the furnace "bound," but soon they walked through the flames "loose" (v. 24, 25). O how Satan has tried to bind us in our afflictions, but in the greatest sorrow — when the furnace has been heated "seven times," we have had both freedom and joy. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).
IV. THE PERSONS BENEFITED BY THE FIERY FURNACE, AND WHY.
1. The three Hebrews were benefited by receiving another wonderful evidence of the power of grace; by being promoted to a higher official rank in the kingdom (v. 30). This was the result of decision, faith, and courage.
2. Nebuchadnezzar was benefited by being brought back to the knowledge of God which, years before, he had professed (Daniel 2:47).
3. No doubt the great multitude which that day had worshipped the golden image was benefited. They all saw that the true God was He whom the Hebrews worshipped. Decision for the Lord Jesus is the best way to win the wicked to His worship and service.
(Alfred W. Moment.)
1. What is persecution? It is pain inflicted, or some loss, or disadvantage in person, family, or office, on account of holding certain opinions. It has had two objects. One to punish men for holding certain opinions, as if the persecutor had a right to regard this as an offence against the state; and the other a professed view to reclaim those who are made to suffer, and to save their souls. In regard to the pain or suffering involved in persecution, it is not material what kind of pain is inflicted in order to constitute persecution. Any bodily suffering; any deprivation of comfort; any exclusion from office; any holding up of one to public reproach; or any form of ridicule, constitutes the essence of persecution. It may be added that not a few of the inventions most distinguished for inflicting pain, and known as refinements of cruelty, have been originated in times of persecution, and would probably have been unknown if it had not been for the purpose of restraining men from the free exercise of religious opinions. The Inquisition has been most eminent in this; and within the walls of that dreaded institution it is probable that human ingenuity has been exhausted in devising the most refined modes of inflicting torture on the human frame.
2. Why has this been permitted? Among the reasons may be the following:(1) To show the power and reality of religion. It seemed desirable to subject it to all kinds of trial, in order to show that its existence could not be accounted for except on the supposition that it is from God. If men had never been called on to suffer on account of religion, it would have been easy for the enemies of religion to allege that there was little evidence that it was genuine, or was of value, for it had never been tried (Job 1:9-11). As it is, it has been subjected to every form of trial which wicked men could devise, and has shown itself to be adapted to meet them all. The work of the martyrs has been well done, and religion, in the times of martyrdom, has shown itself to be all that it is desirable it should be.(2) In order to promote its spread in the world. "The blood of the martyrs" has been "the seed of the church"; and it is probable that religion in past times has owed much of its purity, and of its diffusion, to the fact that it has been persecuted.(3) To fit the sufferers for an exalted place in Heaven. They who have suffered persecution needed trials as well as others, for all Christians need them — and theirs came in this form. Some of the most lovely traits of Christian character have been brought out in connection with persecution, and some of the most triumphant exhibitions of preparation for Heaven have been made at the stake.
3. What have been the effects of persecution?(1) It has been the settled point that the Christian religion cannot be destroyed by persecution.(2) The effect has been to diffuse the religion which has been persecuted. The manner in which the sufferings inflicted have been endured has shown that there is reality and power in it.
(John Cumming, D. D.)
Outlines by a London Minister.Note the teachings of the miracle.
I. THOSE ONLY WHO LIVE ABOVE THE WORLD CAN AFFORD TO LEAVE IT OR TO LOSE IT. The man who has temporal blessings without fellowship with God cannot afford to disobey the world's laws or customs (Hebrews 11:14).
II. THE MEANS TAKEN TO EXTINGUISH TRUTH WILL BE USED TO EXTEND ITS INFLUENCE. The Philippian jailer, not content with beating his prisoners, thrust them into the inner prison, yet into this prison he shall come, and falling upon his knees, shall beseech help from his prisoners. The very means taken in that city by the magistrates to silence Paul and Silas led to their being more highly esteemed, and consequently to the words which they had spoken receiving more attention.
III. ONE SPECIAL INTERPOSITION OF PROVIDENCE IN A LIFETIME WILL NOT GUARANTEE EXEMPTION FROM AN ORDINARY FATE AT ANOTHER PERIOD. Peter was saved from Herod's sword, but he suffered martyrdom in later life.
IV. THE SERVANTS OF GOD WHO HAVE BEEN PUBLICLY CONDEMNED SHALL BE PUBLICLY VINDICATED. The Son of God was publicly condemned and executed as a malefactor by the Jews, but they will one day own Him as their Lord with "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him" (Isaiah 25:9).
(Outlines by a London Minister.)
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