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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, December 29, 2013

“He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25).

I will begin this sermon the wrong way. We were taught in seminary to give something dramatic, to catch people’s attention, at the beginning of a sermon. But I am going to break all the rules of homiletics and give you a lesson in hermeneutics. Homiletics and hermeneutics – you don’t know those words so, at the risk of boring you, I will define them. Homiletics refers to the study of preaching. It is the study of sermon preparation and delivery. Hermeneutics is the study of how to interpret the Bible – the rules of interpreting the holy Scriptures. Dr. M. R. DeHaan (1891-1965) gave these three rules of hermeneutics:

(1)  All Scripture has one primary interpretation.

(2)  All Scripture has several practical applications.

(3)  Most Scripture passages have also a prophetic revelation.

(M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Daniel the Prophet, Kregel Publications, 1995 reprint, p. 73).

I am going to use Dr. DeHaan’s three hermeneutical rules of Bible interpretation as an outline for this sermon.

I. First, all Scripture has one primary interpretation.

Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon. In the sixth century before the birth of Christ, Nebuchadnezzar sent his armies to besiege Jerusalem. His soldiers took the king of Judah captive and deported him to their homeland. They ransacked the Jewish temple and took the vessels of the house of God back to Babylon. The king also commanded his armies to take most of the Jews into Babylonian captivity as slaves. But Nebuchadnezzar instructed his servant Ashpenaz to take the smartest and best young men and teach them the Chaldean language and Babylonian science, so they could stand in the king’s palace as his special servants. These four men were named Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. God blessed these four young Jews in a special way. When Nebuchadnezzar, the king, questioned them,

“he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” (Daniel 1:20).

The king learned to trust their judgment and rely on them as counsellors. In fact, the king made Daniel his vice-regent, a ruler over all of Babylon, second only to the king himself. The king also gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the highest jobs in the government, under the headship of Daniel.

Now the king made a huge image of gold that was ninety feet high, and set it up for the people to worship. All the leaders of Babylon came there on a certain day. The king’s herald loudly proclaimed that everyone who failed to bow down and worship the idol “should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:11). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worshipped the Lord God, Jehovah, the God of Israel. So they did not bow down to the king’s idol.

The Chaldean astronomers were already jealous of these Jews. So they went to the king and said,

“These men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:12).

King Nebuchadnezzar was outraged. He angrily called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He told them if they didn't bow down to his idol he would cast them into a burning fiery furnace. Their answer to the king is a classic. Our deacon Mr. Mencia knew how much I liked their answer, so he made a plaque with their words on it, which has been on my desk here at church for several years. They said,

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:17, 18).

Our God can deliver us, but if not we still won't worship your idol! 

The king was furious at them for answering him like that. He had his servants make the furnace much hotter. He commanded his soldiers to take the three Jews and throw them into the blazing fire. At last the king looked into the furnace. He was very astonished at what he saw! He said,

“Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25).

The king took them out of the furnace. He blessed their God, the God of Israel. He said that God had sent “his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him” (Daniel 3:28). Furthermore, Nebuchadnezzar restored these three men to their old jobs. The king also made a decree that no one could speak against the God of Israel, and he said, “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (Daniel 3:29).

That is the one primary interpretation of these verses. But there is more!

II. Second, all Scripture has several practical applications.

“One interpretation, but many applications” – that is the rule of hermeneutics – the science of explaining the Bible. I can think of some important applications of this account.

The first application, of course, was to the other Jews who had been deported to Babylon. They were tempted to assimilate, to blend in with the pagan culture around them, and cease to be God’s people. The accounts of Daniel in the lion’s den, and the three Hebrews in the blazing furnace, were given first to teach the Jews in Babylonian captivity that they should not give up their heritage and their faith.

But this account also applies to Christians. We are living in a time of increasing apostasy in our evangelical churches. I have watched, in my own lifetime, as our churches gave up their midweek prayer meetings, and shut down their evening services. I have seen evangelistic preaching, in fact any kind of real preaching, disappear from almost all our churches. Men give soft little Bible studies, rather than preach sermons, even in our fundamental churches. I have watched as the churches have thrown out the hymnbooks, and the great hymns of our faith. I have seen them bring in shallow choruses that do not feed the soul. I have seen the pastors throw away their ties, wear sport shirts in the pulpit, and ask their people to call them by their first names. The power and dignity of the pulpit has become a thing of the past. I have seen them let their young people wander into church, the boys in T-shirts, and the girls in mini-skirts. The young people in our churches now look more like pimps, and prostitutes, and drug addicts than fundamental Baptists! We are being assimilated. We are being swallowed up by the world. We are becoming so much like the world that you can no longer tell the difference between an evangelical and a pagan! Yes, it’s that bad! The three Hebrews in the Book of Daniel say to us, “We are not going to assimilate. We will work with the world, and go to school with the world, and be polite to the world. But we will only go so far – and no farther – no matter what it costs!”

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us... But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:17, 18).

We will stand up and defend the Bible when it is attacked. We will answer the college professors that try to push evolution and atheism down our throats. We will not attend the Rose Parade, nor will we watch it even for 5 minutes as long as they put anti-Christian propaganda on one of their floats. We will never again watch the Rose Parade as long as they present floats that attack and reject the Biblical basis of our faith! And if that gets us in trouble – so be it!

“But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up!” (Daniel 3:18).

And we say to a lost world, “We will not attend dances in your school! We will not smoke your pot, even if it’s legal! We will not look at your pornography! We will not follow your example and abort our babies! We will not miss church to go to your parties! Never! Never! Never! We will never do those things!”

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us... But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship [thy] golden image!”

Never! Never! Never! Never! Never! Never!

Faith of our fathers! living still
   In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy
   Whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
   We will be true to thee till death!
(“Faith of Our Fathers” by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863).

We will walk through the fiery furnace with the Son of God! We will walk through that fire even if God lets us burn! We will not bow down to your gods of sex, pornography, drugs and materialism. We will walk through the fiery furnace with the Son of God!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
   We will be true to thee till death!

Then, too, there is an application to those Christians who are going through heavy trials. Let no one tell you that the life of a true Christian is always easy. Christ told us,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

And the Apostle Paul said, “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). If you are a real disciple of Christ, you will go through many trials. But Jesus said,

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

No matter what trials and tribulations you go through, Jesus says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Remember that there was a fourth man in the fiery furnace with those three Hebrews, “and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25). Jesus, the Son of God, was with them in that furnace of fire! Jesus, in His pre-incarnate form, took them through the fire unharmed. Trust Him, and He will take you safely through the fiery trials of this life. A great hymn of our faith puts these words into the mouth of Jesus, and rightly so!

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
   My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
   Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(“How Firm a Foundation” by an unknown author).

But Dr. DeHaan gave us one more hermeneutical point.

III. Third, most Scripture passages have also a prophetic revelation.

Dr. DeHaan correctly said that “The three young Hebrews are a picture of Israel among the Gentiles. Cast into the furnace of affliction and persecution they should perish by all human standards, but miraculously they are preserved, even in the fiery furnace of race hatred [anti-Semitism] and persecution, because they are God’s covenant people and will finally be marvelously delivered and exalted among the nations” (DeHaan, ibid., pp. 73-74).

Every Gentile nation has at some point persecuted the Jews. Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Spain, France, Russia, and Germany – every one of them have persecuted the Jews, and have tried to exterminate them. But they have all failed because Israel is God’s everlasting nation! Now Iran thinks it can destroy Israel! They have said so over and over. But I say to them, “Stronger nations than you have tried to exterminate the Jews. All of them have failed – and so will you!” God has always been with Israel in the furnace of affliction, and God will not fail them now! You see, God made a covenant with Abraham that cannot be broken. God told the patriarch that the land of Canaan was given to the Jews forever!

“In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).

“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

Throughout the ages, the Jews have been persecuted – often by false Christians, for no true Christian would ever harm the people of God’s covenant! But Yeshua (Jesus) has always been the fourth man in the furnace, suffering with the Jewish people – and finally giving them a great triumph over the Gentile pagans! In the end, the prophecy of the Apostle Paul will literally come true. For he said, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26).

In conclusion, let us think about the fourth man in the furnace with our three Hebrew friends. Nebuchadnezzar said he was “an angel” (Daniel 3:28). “Angel” simply means “messenger.” The “messenger of the Lord” in the Old Testament is often an appearance of the pre-incarnate Jesus. For instance, the “angel of the Lord” appeared to Manoah, the father of Samson. The Bible says,

“Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God” (Judges 13:21, 22).

So, the angel of the Lord was God, Jesus the Second Person of the Trinity, appearing in the Old Testament before His incarnation in the womb of Mary.

Also, here in Daniel 3:25, the king looked into the fiery furnace and said, “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “I do believe that the fourth man was the Son of God, the preincarnate Christ” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, volume III, p,. 547; note on Daniel 3:25).

How characteristic of Jesus to come down and share the suffering and rejection of the chosen people – and in the end to rescue them! He came down from Heaven, into the womb of the Virgin Mary. He did not “come down” as “Lord of Lords and King of Kings” when He was born in Bethlehem on that first Christmas. He will come as King of Kings in the future – at His Second Coming. But He came down into Mary’s womb to save us – just as He came down into the fiery furnace to save those three valiant Jewish heroes!

Jesus came down from Heaven to suffer in this world, to save His people from the fiery furnace of Hell! All of us would have spent eternity in the “fire that never shall be quenched.” But Jesus came down to suffer and die on the Cross to pay the penalty for our transgressions. God placed all of our sins “in his own body on the tree” – on the Cross (I Peter 2:24). And so, Jesus atoned for all the sins of His people.

He was dead, in the tomb, for three days. But, early on that first Easter Sunday, Jesus rose physically – flesh and bones – from the dead. He ascended back to Heaven, and is now praying for you, seated at the right hand of God the Father.

When you trust Jesus in your heart, He pardons your sins and cleanses them with His Blood. When you trust Jesus in your heart, He saves you from sin, and lifts you out of a lost and hopeless life – just as He delivered the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace! Amen!

If you would like to speak with us about becoming a real Christian, please leave your seat and walk to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to another room where we can pray and answer any questions you may have. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will be saved by Jesus today! Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Daniel 3:16-25.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Faith of Our Fathers” (by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25).

I.   First, all Scripture has one primary interpretation, Daniel 1:20;
Daniel 3:11, 12, 17, 18, 25, 28, 29.

II.  Second, all Scripture has several practical applications,
Daniel 3:17, 18; Matthew 16:24; Acts 14:22;
Matthew 5:11-12; Hebrews 13:5.

III. Third, most Scripture passages have also a prophetic revelation,
Genesis 15:18; 17:8; Romans 11:26; Daniel 3:28;
Judges 13:21, 22; I Peter 2:24.