Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Is the story of the "burning fiery furnace" in Daniel 3 pious fiction or authentic history?
Historical and archaeological research confirms supportive details: such as brick kilns that were common. Jeremiah 29:22 tells the history of how King Nebuchadnezzar "roasted in the fire" two seditious Jews; another Babylonian king boasted of burning some political enemies--evidence that this method of execution was actually practiced; Herodotus and Pliny tell of ancient kings who built huge statues covered with gold leaf.
The deliverance from death by fire had been promised: "When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." Doubtless the three Hebrew youth thrown in the fire had cherished this assurance. The promise "I will be with you" was literally fulfilled (Isa. 43:2). "The Son of God" shared the "furnace" with them, as even the pagan king confessed (Dan. 3:25).
This is the point of Daniel 3: will we believe that the Son of God shares our sufferings for His sake? Will He give divine courage to "stand up" when everybody else bows down? The apostle Peter collapsed when the test came to him (Matt. 26:69-75); in fact, all the eleven disciples ran away.
Many Israelites had been exiled to Babylon when Daniel and his three companions went, but none of them had the courage to obey God's Ten Commandments except these four! Granted, the three who faced the fiery furnace were terrified at the prospect of death by fire; but they sensed that they were called to honor the truth of God before the assembled leaders of an empire. He gave them courage, even if God should choose not to deliver them from death (Dan. 3:16-18; this was a selfless motivation inspired by agape). A similar final test will come to us all in the "mark of the beast" crisis (Rev. 13:11-17).
The Good News: right now worldwide the Holy Spirit is preparing, nerving, strengthening, and training willing people to endure the test. Fellowship with Christ in "fire" is precious, even today as we honor Him in school, in college, at work, at home.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 22, 2000.
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