I would suggest that words like “amazement” (a feeling of great surprise or wonder) and “bewildered” (perplexed and confused; very puzzled) are inadequate words to describe Nebuchadnezzar’s response to seeing four people walking around in the fiery furnace.
Da 3:24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
As Christians we are able to identify this fourth person that according to the king … looks like a son of the gods, as the Pre-incarnate Christ, the Lord Jesus, the Second Person of the Triune God … God the Son.
Remember that God has a Messianic plan. Yes, Judah is in exile and will be for 70 years, after which God will bring them back to their homeland. So the process of Daniel and his three friends’ ministry is vital for the security of God’s commitment.
But we need always to look further ahead as we read the Old Testament. We need to see an underlying truth in passages such as these. Although many years will pass, this was part of the preparation for the Messiah King’s arrival.
1) The king is so astonished that he approaches the doorway of the furnace. The heat would be far hotter than before as heat generates heat. He remembers his seasoned military men died because of the heat, so he is cautious. His anger was that of a wicked maniac, yet suddenly it changes and he needs to inspect.
2) As the king looks into the red hot fires and sees the men walking around he shouted for them to come out of the furnace.
Da 3:26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
He who had them cast into the fires calls them to exit. His call was more than an invitation or a request for he said … “Come out! Come here!” Not only was it an instruction that was specific, come out of the furnace, it was come to me (here). Notice how personal he is … Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego … he was not only aware of the men he cast into the furnace … he knew them for their service in the Province of Babylon. By name, he calls them out. But notice there is more … he addresses them as … servants of the Most High God. Do you recall that when Daniel revealed the king’s dream and interpreted it, the king said to Daniel:
Da 2:47 “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
This however was not an acknowledgement that Daniel’s God was the only God, just the greatest of the pantheon of gods. Now it’s almost as if he is calling the fourth person in the furnace … the Most High God. Once again we need to understand that the king is not acknowledging this Most High God as his god but as the greatest god amongst the pantheon of gods. He believed in gods … he was not an atheist or an agnostic … his gods were all man created gods … and now once again he places Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s God amongst the pyramid of gods … and the highest of them all.
There is a persuasion that evangelical Christians need to flee from, and it is this … there is a growing movement that wants us as Christians to accept that all religions worship the same God in different ways.
This is different from religious pluralism who state that every individual within a religiously diverse society has the rights, freedoms, and safety to worship, or not, according to their conscience.
Irrespective how cruel it might sound and irrespective of how judgmental it might come across … and irrespective of how arrogant it might seem … the Bible, the Word of God and not us as Christians declares that the Religion of the Bible is the only true religion with one God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as Lord God and King. He gives His name as Yahweh (translated Jehovah and LORD).
As Christians we do not boast, we are not arrogant, we do not look down upon other religions … no … rather we cry for God to have mercy and allow masses to hear the Gospel and believe, repenting unto life eternal and living under the rule of King Jesus. We never forget that although we might have been churches (or not), we were lost pagans until Jesus found and saved us. We know we are whom we are because of grace … God’s grace for salvation is by grace alone.
3) In response to the king’s command, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego exit the fiery furnace. So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire. It appears they were obedient to the king’s instruction, yet the Pre-Incarnate Christ was speaking to them, encouraging them in the furnace and telling them how things would pan out immediately and into the future. The king’s command was their signal to exit. All this was part of God revealing Himself to Nebuchadnezzar.
4) Together with the king were all the wise men and political leaders.
Da 3:27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them.
It was rather impressive … no one could dispute what happened in that furnace. Witnesses were many and of the most prestigious sort. No one would need to seek clarification … and more … those who gossiped about these three men must have been shocked and embarrassed … and likely feared for their lives because, the king had egg on his face. In fact, I would think the king had them and those like them in mind when he said:
Da 3:29 “Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
5) The king and his leaders examined the three men …
Da 3:27 They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
6) The king acknowledged their faith in their God:
Da 3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!”
They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. And promoted them.
Da 3:30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Father, even today we trust you to care for us, knowing You will deliver Christians safely to the Promised Land in Glory. Amen.