But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”
“Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.
“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
Daniel 3:24-25 New Living Translation
When the three Hebrews refused to comply with Nebuchadnezzar’s order to bow to his statue, he went into an extreme rage. The New Living Translation says his face became disfigured as he pronounced his judgment. He ordered that the furnace be heated to the highest possible temperature and that the three Hebrews be tied up and thrown in immediately. The fire was so hot that the guards were killed as they threw the defiant Hebrews into the furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s bodies would have been quickly consumed by the flames, with not even ashes remaining. Their fate was sealed. Or was it?
As Nebuchadnezzar looked in through an opening in the side of the furnace he was dumbfounded. The three men who had been tied up were now loose and walking around freely in the midst of the flames. Nebuchadnezzar described the fourth figure as a god (some translations say “a son of the gods” or “the Son of God”). There is some debate about whether this was an angel or a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Either way, the implication is clear that God’s presence in the midst of this execution was very obvious. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing an extreme trial and God made it clear that He was with them in order to deliver them from this trial.
With his attempt to show his own superiority over Yahweh thwarted, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be removed from the furnace. As they exited, their bodies and clothes showed no signs of having been placed in the middle of a fire. It was a complete deliverance from the trial. Nebuchadnezzar again professed his faith in the superiority of the God of the Hebrews and ordered that anyone who spoke against their God be executed. Yahweh again showed his authority over the gods of the Babylonians.
We may never be threatened with death by cremation because of our faith but we often face trials on different levels. We have the assurance of the presence of God in the midst of our trials, as well. When Jesus commissioned His disciples to continue His mission, He promised to be with them to the end of the age. He also told them that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them through the trials that they would face. This promise continues for us today. Whatever the outcome of our trials, we can rest assured that God will be with us through them.
Thank you for the promise of Your presence through the midst of our trials, Lord. Help us to always be aware that You are with us, even in the most desperate situations.