Daniel 3:24-25

Do you believe in miracles? Do you need one?

Daniel 3:24-25

"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, Your Majesty.”

"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.”

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If you have compared the translation of NIV with the original Aramaic, then you saw that this English version is excellent. And you probably saw a miracle. That "blazing furnace" where Daniel's friends were thrown has been identified as the kiln were bricks and ceramic were made. Old Babylon's architecture shows abuntant use of those materials. The erudites say that the same furnace was used to cremate corpses (cremation was the method of disposal of the death in Babylonia) We are talking about a furnace which can be heated to more than 1600 Farenheit, and which is extremely heated. In that oven, a human being is transformed in clean, calcined bones, that are crushed down to ashes to be preserved in urns. But Daniel's friends were walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed and a fourth man "like a son of the gods" was with them!

Hallelujah! What a Powerful God we have!

There's nothing impossible with God. He gave descendance to very aged people like Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis, and to Zechariah and Elizabeth in the gospel according to Luke. He engendered His Son in a virgin, through His Holy Spirit. He worked miracles to save his people Israel from captivity in Egypt, opened the Read Sea so that they could pass, and gave them water in the desert and manna to eat. He caused Jericho's wall to tumble so that his people should take the city. He caused His Son to rise up after his crucifixion and death, and he snatched up Him to heaven, as He had done with Enoch and Elijah in the OT. It doesn't matter which physical laws define how things happen or don't happen; God is Sovereign and He is above those laws. He works according to His Will and Power.

Maybe you are wondering - in a logical way - but, how could I apply the teaching of this miracle which happened with Daniel's friends in my life? There's a very little probability for us to be cast in a burning furnace to be cremated alive - if you are not James Bond, of course. But the Scripture shows us many other furnaces that correspond to some experiences which we pass in our lives, and the miracle that takes to get free from every "furnace" is the same, God's intervention.

What means this blazing furnace to us today?

In Psalms 66:10 can we read, "... you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver". And in Proverbs 17:3, "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart". We can see that both verses compare some trials that we go through in our life with metal casting. "Crucible" and "furnace" in Proverbs are relatively small ovens used to smelt gold and silver. As you know, the metals in nature are in form of mineral which is extracted from mines. But mineral is not 100% pure in nature; it's mixed with other elements. A motive to smelt the mineral is to separate those elements to obtain pure metal (without "slag" or "dross")

The prophets used this image of smelting metal to talk about trials. See what Zechariah says in his book, chapter 13:8-9:

"In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’"

Isaiah 1:22-26 says also:

"Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts.They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them"

"Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares:"

“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your leaders as in days of old, your rulers as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City”

And Jeremiah 11:3-5:

"Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant - the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’ - the land you possess today”

Observe that Jeremiah calls "iron-smelting furnace" to Israel's captivity in Egypt. The book we are dealing with, Daniel, is about things which happened during the Babylonian captivity, as Ezekiel, too. This captivity was prophesied by Jeremiah as a 70 years long one. Isaiah prophesied also about the captivity in Asyria, and we can see that every trial which the people of God went through was prophesied by God's servants. It's not by whim that Isaiah talks about Israel's choice as concerning a people which has passed through a furnace (Isaiah 48:10, "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction")

A last "furnace of affliction" which the people of God went through is called "diaspora" which means the scattering of the Jews throughout the world, after being conquered by Rome. In the dawn of the Roman Empire, they were about to conquer Greece, and that's why their first contact with the Jews of the Maccabean era was a friendly one. They fought a common enemy. But a little forward we can see Pompey the Great in 63 BC coming to Jerusalem and establishing a High Priest as a vassal regent. By 6 AD Judaea was a Roman province, and three sons of Herod the Great were ruling the whole region in submition to Rome: Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Herod Philip.

We can read in the gospels about the political tension which Roman rule created among the Jews. This hostility should give birth to three rebellions against the Empire. In the last one, known as "Bar Kokhba revolt" (132-135 AD) all Israel was devastated by the Romans. The Torah was forbidden; Judaea became "Syria Palaestina" and Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina", where Jews were not allowed to enter. It is in this war that most historians settle the beginning of the diaspora. Israel ended as nation and the Jewish people was scattered through the Roman Empire.

This is not the only aftermath of this "furnace", which lasted almost 2000 years. The Jews were rejected, and their religion forbidden in several countries. Especially the Roman church, which should become the main religion in the last days of the Roman Empire and in the Holy Roman Empire, together with many so called "Christians" accused them to be Christ killers, of desecration of the hostias, of using human blood in sacrifices, of being impure and demon-possessed, of poisoning wells to cause the Black Death, of conspiring to obtain world dominion, of causing wars and calamities, of being loan sharks (when the Catholic authorities didn't allow them other professions but to borrow money with interest) Sometimes the kings or Popes were obliged to make declarations against those detractions, but damage had been done, and the image of the Jew as an enemy of the human race was formed in millions of people. This so called antisemitism was one of the reasons that the politics of the nazis in the times of Adolf Hitler should get the necessary support to try to exterminate the Jewish people in concentration camps or extermination camps where six millions Jews were killed in gas chambers, forced labor, shooting and other atrocities, just because of their ethnicity.

But in the middle of this barbarity, God should act in order to save his people, as He acted in favor of Daniel's friends. The preservation of the lives of those Jews in Babylonia, and the preservation of the Jewish nation from holacaust, is not casual. Israel could not dissapear in the Babylonian captivity, because from this people should be born the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of human beings. From Israel should also come the Church of God. Israel could not dissapear in the diaspora or the holocaust, and will never dissapear, because God says through the apostle Paul by His Holy Spirit, "... God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29) which means that God's choice about Israel is an eternal one.

Who is this "fourth man, like a son of the gods" who saved from death Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah?

King Nebuchadnezzar called him "angel" and "son of the gods". Certainly there's one God, not "gods", but Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan king and didn't know this. Now, look at this: this man appeared suddenly, nobody knew where he came from, and the fire didn't harm him. As he appeared, he disappeared also. Was the king right when he called him "angel"? If he knew, would he call him "Son of God"?

Angels are ministering spirits in our favor, as the Scripture teaches in Hebrews 1:14. They ministered in Our Lord's life, announcing his birth, giving the news to the shepherds, serving Him in the desert, in Gethsemane, announcing His resurrection and His second coming... Our Lord taught about some of the angel's functions: they carry the souls of the dead to their destination, they will minister with Him in the times of the second coming, they will separe the just and the unjust in the resurrections... It is not allowed to worship angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:9) because only God is worthy of worship.

BUT... there's a "but". The Scripture mentions the "angel of the Lord" - not "an angel" but "the angel" - in a different way that other ones. This angel appears some times to specific persons which are chosen by God to do His work (or, who will be God's instrument on earth to do His will) Let's take a look to the book of Judges (and you can read more in the NOTES at the end)

The book of Judges covers a period of a certain anarchy in Israel's history. Moses had been their unquestionable leader, both civil and religious, who led them out of Egypt and all the way to the promised land. Joshua, Moses' successor, was the military leader who planned and carried out the conquest of the promised land. But after them, the people lacks a solid leadership untill the election of their first king, Saul. In their condition, they went astray from the Lord's paths, were subjugated by their enemies and then they repented and cried to the Lord, who rose "judges" - a kind of military leaders - to set them free. One of this judges was Samson, whom God empowered in order to set Israel free from the Philistines. In Judges 13 we can read about the announcement of his birth to his fathers by the "angel of the Lord". Read this verses:

Judges 13:15-23

15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”
16 The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.)
17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that we may honoryou when your word comes true?”
18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is wonderful” 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. 21 When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.
22 “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!”
23 But his wife answered, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.”

Observing this passage, will see that:

- the angel accepted Manoah and his wife to adore him, and didn't stop them (v. 20)
- they both identified the "angel" with "the Lord" (v. 22-23)
- the angel says to them that an offering to him should be as an offering to the Lord (v. 16)
- the angel says that his name is "wonderful" (v. 18, alternative rendering)

Only God is worthy to be worshipped. In the book of Revelation we see the apostle John trying to adore angels, because of the awesome revelations he got, and how they didn't suffer him that. No other angel is called "Lord". And no other angel says that his name is "wonderful".

This name, "Wonderful", is found in a Messianic prophecy as one of the names of the Messiah: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6; possible rendering "... called Wonderful, Counselor, ..." with a comma that makes "wonderful" to a name) And this prophecy reveals that the Messiah should be a divine person, not a regular man but God made human. When Our Lord Jesus Christ was accused of blasphemy, it was by them who didn't want to recognise Him as the Messiah - they had to acknowledge that He was God, and that He had a Person and an authority to which they should submit themselves. See what happens i Matthew 26:62-66:

"Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent"

"The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

"Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered."

The High Priest and the hole Sanhedrin knew that the Messiah was God in human flesh, the "Son of God". In that farce of trial that they improvised against Our Lord, this only accusation was enough to send Him to death, because "a mere man claimed to be God" (see John 10:33, where they wanted to stone Him on the same basis) Their big problem is that the "liar and blasphemer" which they condemned to death was risen by the Spirit of God, was taken to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God, and He sent the Holy Spirit to give birth to the Church of God, with signs and wonders. And He lives on eternity, because death had no power over Him.

Jesus Christ can and has to be worshipped. When Thomas saw that the resurrection was real, he called Jesus "My Lord and my God", and the Lord suffered him to do it. The apostles call Him "God" in the letters and the gospels, acknowledging His divinity (Titus 2:13, "...our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ"; John 1:1, 14 "...the Word was God" and "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us") Observe the blessing in 2 Corinthians 13:14, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" and the baptismal formula in the Great Comission in Matthew 28:19, "...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" In those times, when these words were written and spoken for the first time, most of the church were Jews, especially the apostles. No Jew should concede that even their most beloved, respected persons of Israel's history were divine. No Jew should accept to be baptized "in the name of the Father, of Abraham and the Holy Spirit" (or Moses, or David) But all those Jews who became Christians got the revelation that the One who was "before Abraham was" had come.

Now hear this: God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nobody can see the Father, because He is Spirit, but also because He has decided this to be so. He said to Moses, "no one may see me and live" (Exodus 33:20) That's why Manoah thought they would die, because they saw God. The Holy Spirit comes on people, anoints us with God's presence and enable us to preach and even to do miracles, but the Holy Spirit didn't become flesh. Only the Son has this property. Only Jesus Christ "became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory". Only Jesus Christ was crucified, dead and resurrected. Only Jesus Christ showed himself to Moses in the burning bush, to call him to set the people free from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3) and to lead them to the promised land. Only Jesus Christ showed himself to Joshua as "commander of the army of the Lord" (Joshua 5:13-15) before the battle of Jericho. Only Jesus Christ justified the high priest Joshua as a spiritual leader (in Zechariah 3) whom should minister in Jerusalems rebuilding. And only Jesus Christ is able to walk with Daniel's friends in the midst of the fire without harm, the One who is "the angel of the Lord" and "the Son of God".

Do you need a miracle? Do you need God intervention in your life? There's only One who called and empowered leaders to set free and to save a people from which the church of God should be born. There's only one who kept this people to restore it after 2000 years, and who interceded for those three Jews who chose death before denying their God. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. No matter what you are going through; in which furnace you are: Jesus Christ has promised to be there with you, and to keep you in the midst of your trial. The one who delivered his people from captivity in Egypt, from two millenia or rejection, racism and slander, from a holocaust destined to anihilate them, and who set free those three men in Babylonia from the fire in the blazing furnace, He wants to work miracles in your life, too. I'm not telling you because somebody told me, but because He has performed miracles in my life. All you need is to kneel before Him, confess your sins and ask Him to allow you to be free from them, to recommence with Him and to receive Him as Lord and Savior. Maybe you are in a furnace and believing that there's nothing you can do to be delivered from the fire, but everything is possible with God. Receive Jesus Christ today, and see the miracles He will do in your life!

May the Lord bless you!

In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus comes quickly!

NOTES:

Angel of the Lord:

1) receives worship: Judges 13:20
2) the name of God is in him: Exodus 23:21; Judges 13:18 and Isaiah 9:6
3) is identified as God himself (angel = Lord) : Genesis 32:24-30; Exodus 3:2-6; Judges 6:22-23; Judges 13:22; Ecclesiastes 5:6; Daniel 3:28; 6:22; Zechariah 3; Malachi 3:1
4) he shows divine properties: omnipresence (Psalms 34:7) power to pardon sins (Exodus 23:21) power to justify (Zechariah 3:4)

Jesus Christ:

1) receives worship: John 20:28
2) the name of God is in him: Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23.25) Jesus ("Jehova es salvation", Matthew 1:21) The Lord (Revelation 22:21)
3) is identified as God himself (Jesus = Lord) : John 1:1-3, 14,18; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Titus 2:13; 1 John 5:20
4) he shows divine properties: Deity (Matthew 26:63-64 see Isaiah 9:6) power to pardon sins (Mark 2:5-10) power to give life back (John 6:39-40; 11:25) baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8; Acts 2:33) Creator of the Universe (the "lógos" in John 1:1-3)

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