In January of this year, I made a commitment to myself to read the Bible every day. I continue to do so daily, and it’s an absolutely wonderful experience for me! On Saturdays, I like to share what I am learning from reading the Bible. I hope you will enjoy these posts, you can read all my posts on the Bible here.
If you want to read more of my thoughts on business, marketing and web3, fear not, those posts will return on Monday!
When I began reading the Bible, one of the things I was curious to learn was how Jesus was handled in the Old Testament. My (very limited) understanding of the Bible was that the New Testament was the story of Jesus, but that the Old Testament was something different. I understood that there were a couple of very vague and veiled references to the coming Messiah, but otherwise there was little or no mention of the coming of Jesus that would dominate the New Testament.
It turns out, I was incredibly wrong. Numerous prophets told of the coming of Jesus, many in explicit detail. There’s one in particular that I wanted to discuss today. Not so much his prophecies about Jesus, but rather a very literal foreshadowing that Jesus was coming, and that He was in fact the Son of God.
One of the most interesting elements of the Bible is how God will repeatedly let His faithful followers fall into a position of distress, then from that position of trouble, He will elevate them to greatness. Two examples that immediately come to mind are Joseph and Daniel. Both become slaves, but God gives both the ability to interpret dreams and visions. Joseph is able to use the wisdom that God grants him to go from jail to being elevated to the most powerful person in all of Egypt, allowing him to save his families’ lives in the process.
Likewise, Daniel was given the ability by God to interpret dreams and tell the future. In fact, his prophecies were so uncannily accurate that Biblical skeptics have tried to say that he wasn’t born around 700 BC, but in fact was a contemporary of Jesus, with that being the only explanation they can offer for how Daniel could so accurately foretell the future.
According to the Bible, shortly after Babylon attacked and sacked Jerusalem for the first time, many Israelites in the city were captured and taken into exile. Among those captured were four young men; Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The Book of Daniel in the Bible is written by Daniel. Chapters 7-12 detail Daniel’s prophecies and visions, while chapters 1-6 tell the story of Daniel and his 3 young friends as they are taken into exile in Babylon. Today I want to talk about an event that happened to them while in Babylon.
As I mentioned earlier, God finds a way to protect His people, even when they are in bondage. Daniel and his three friends were taken as slaves to Babylon, but they were then sent to the royal palace to be servants to the rulers.
Chapter 3 details one of the most famous stories of the Bible. King Nebuchadnezzar creates a golden statue and commands all the people of Babylon to fall down and worship the statue. A herald states that if anyone refuses to worship the statue, that they will be thrown into a pit of fire and burned alive.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse, saying they do not worship idols, they worship the one true God. The king again demands that they worship his idol, and reminds them that they will be thrown into the fire if they refuse. The young men flatly refuse, telling the king that God will deliver them from the fire, and will deliver them from him.
Furious, the king immediately has the three young men bound and instructs his servants to increase the heat of the furnace sevenfold. The heat was so unbearable that as the three young men were thrown into the furnace, the Babylonians who carried them were consumed by the heat and killed.
The furnace was immediately closed after the three young men were tossed inside:
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was [c]urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his [d]counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the[e] Son of God.”
“and the form of the fourth was like the Son of God“.
The astounded king called to the three men to come to him, they did so. He examined them and noted that not a single hair on their bodies had been singed and there was no smell of smoke or fire on their clothes. It was as if they had never entered the fire.
Amazed, the king immediately made a new decree that blessed was the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and that any people, nation or language that speaks amiss of their God shall be reduced to ashes. He added “because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” All three young men were immediately promoted by the king.
The book of Daniel was written in the 6th century BC. Over 500 years before the birth of Christ. Note that the language of the book is intentional. Daniel could have easily said that God sent an angel to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire, and the core teaching would have been just as profound. With the lesson being that when you show true faith in God and His word, God will protect you.
But note that Daniel clarified that King Nebuchadnezzar specifically said that the fourth person in the fire looked like ‘the Son of God’. I think we can assume that the king had never seen the Son of God, so such knowledge would have to have come from God. It would have been divine wisdom given to the king to again communicate to God’s people that the Messiah is coming. Not just in the form of prophecy, but here is a person saying he has SEEN what appears to be the Son of God.
Roughly six hundred years before His birth.
Here is The Bible Project’s video account of the book of Daniel. The book is fascinating if you are interested in end times prophecy, and along with Revelation, contains many symbols and visions of what is to come in the end times. It’s very interesting.