Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 3

Outline and Background

The Creation - Daniel 3:1

The Ceremony and the Command - Daniel 3:2-7

The Conspiracy and the Coercion - Daniel 3:8-15

The Courage - Daniel 3:16-18

The Coolness - Daniel 3:19-27

The Confession - Daniel 3:28

The Canon and the Commission - Daniel 3:29-30

Application and Typical Prophecies

The Coolness - Daniel 3:19-27

The three Hebrews possessed the faith and hope of Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Their confidence in God made Nebuchadnezzar furious and his attitude toward them changed; they had challenged him and his gods. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. Literally, the text reads, “one times seven beyond,” which is heat raised to a factor of seven. Symbolically, this phrase indicates extremely hot. This extraordinary heating of the furnace opens the door for the performing of a miracle by God, who specializes in the impossible (Luke 1:37).

Babylonian stone and brick furnaces were made like recent-day limekilns, with one opening at the top and a large opening at the bottom, for the withdrawing of burned substances. Charcoal normally served as the fuel. This furnace had a ramp leading to its top since the soldiers “took up” the condemned men. This furnace may have been constructed to smelt the gold used in making the image. God used it for another purpose—to overrule evil for good.

Nebuchadnezzar is intensely hot, the furnace is intensely hot, and the three victims are amazingly cool! Firmly tied, they dropped down the shaft to the bottom of the furnace. The strong soldiers, who threw the three Jews into the furnace, were incinerated by the flames. Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace and sprang to his feet. Five things amazed the king.

  1.  Four persons were seen instead of three.
  2.  No one was bound.
  3.  Four persons were walking in the fire; no one was lying down.
  4.  All four persons were unhurt.
  5.  The fourth person looked supernatural—“a son of the gods.”

When God performs a miracle, He overrules natural order so that His power is unmistakable, and there is no other explanation for what occurred.

Unwittingly, Nebuchadnezzar almost made the correct identification: “the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Whom did the king see? An angel sent by God or one who looks like “a son of the gods.” Of course, that is what the king said he saw. Most likely, the king saw a theophany. In the OT, Yahweh sometimes appeared in human form as He appeared before Samson’s parents (Judges 13:10-22). It is probable that such appearances are the Second Person of the Trinity.

Moses had encountered the angel of Yahweh, who appeared in the burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:2). Keeping the flames of the fiery furnace from consuming the three Jews was nothing new. Figuratively, we might say that God had permitted the Jews to be cast into the horrifying furnace of Babylon, but in so doing, He had literally gone with them!

Interestingly, the meanings of the Hebrew names of the three men are fulfilled by God’s presence, protection and power in the fiery furnace.

Hananiah Beloved of Yahweh.
Mishael Who is as God.
Azariah Yahweh is my help.

Yahweh is God, He loves His people, and He helps them. Where were the king’s gods? Not in the fiery furnace! Nebuchadnezzar must have recognized their absence when he confessed “the Most High God” along with his cry of defeat: “Come out! Come here!”

Humiliation! How would the king handle it? His strongest soldiers dead; unbound Hebrews alive; the only thing associated with the three men that suffered harm in the furnace had been the king’s rope; the hair of the three men was not singed; and their clothing did not even smell of smoke. Ironically, on the day that had been set aside for the dedication and worship of the golden image, the Most High God received the glory!

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

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Experiencing Exodus

Book of James

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

Other studies at Spreading Light Bible Studies

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