The Fiery Furnace Epiphany
King Nebuchadnezzar arose from his royal throne that had been moved to a beautiful concave at the highest level near the golden statue. As he started to move to be near the ashes of his slain warriors, astonishment captured the king’s appearance. For minutes he could not speak but simply gazed into the entrance of the great furnace that was still exceedingly hot on the inside. He then arose quickly and spoke loud enough for the entire elite of his world empire to hear. He turned to his chosen counselors — the very best of Babylon – including Governor Belteshazzar. With his captured astonishment he asked, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered him in unison, “True, O King.”
He then said to them and all of the company of his empire, “Lo, I see four men loose – loose – walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt.” Belteshazzar’s heart leapt with overwhelming joy and excitement, but he could not disrupt the king.
“And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” He repeats it again with amazement, “The form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” The king forgets royal decorum and moves hastily toward the very mouth of the furnace! It is still a burning fiery furnace but now reduced from the sevenfold level of heat the king demanded in his fury.
Standing near the furnace he cried out toward the entrance, “Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, my great governors of the Babylonian province, ye servants of the most high God, come forth and come hither.”
The eyes of every person present suddenly watch the entrance. It’s unbelievable! Every religion in the world talks of miracles and paranormal events, but few have seen them. The king’s demeanor leaves no doubt that something has occurred that cannot be explained.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego quickly walk out of the flames right before the multitude, fully dressed and untouched by the fire. The king’s princes, governors, captains, and counselors, still gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their heads singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
The king has been upstaged by this God of Belteshazzar before and now again. He, without hesitation, declares: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”
The very next act of the humbled king is to promote Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in all the province of Babylon. His decree above will, at least for a season, stop the whispering campaign against the servants of the Scrolls and the God of Zion. King Nebuchadnezzar is getting the message that every act of man relates to the god he serves. The battles of the world are the battles of the gods being fought on the human plain. Which of the gods a man serves determines his actions and character.
King Nebuchadnezzar and Queen Amytis are finally alone in their palace sitting room. “Amytis,” the king says, “Your great wisdom that you spoke to me days ago was very wise and I am honored that you are my queen. I have such a tendency toward a proud and haughty heart and it will be my defeat unless I can overcome. I remember when we spoke years ago about the gods and we mentioned learning of other gods and even of a God that is above all gods. I am certain that we saw the action of that God today that is above all gods.”
“Yes,” she says, “As I sat beside you in the concave prepared for your honor and near the statue I prayed to Belteshazzar’s God. I was heartsick over the three great vice-governors I thought were destroyed and I am still full of grief over the great warriors you sent to death. I prayed to that God that I do not know. I must tell you, my Nabu that that is the God I plan to serve. I will not grieve you in being outspoken about it, but I respect Belteshazzar and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They are the kindest men that serve you and they are protectors of your empire behind your back.”
“Amytis, how can I repay my brother that lost his son, Sinbabel, or my captain of our guards that lost Shufnan, both whom we loved so dearly. They have visited our sons since they were kids and they often played together. As teenagers they hunted, fished, and spent time at our home in the marshes.”
“Nebu, first let’s plan a great banquet here in the palace for all six families and open our hearts and let the grief pour out. Also we must set up a memorial of all six in a special place beside the processional so that we will never forget them. We must ask their families’ forgiveness for our failure.”
“I agree,” he said.
Belteshazzar, Shadrach, and Abednego are spending the very next day in the Zion community beside Dura. The word has gone out to the entire empire of the great miracles and the king’s decree that Zion’s God can no longer be spoken evil of by anyone. It will take days to reach Zion itself and the complete extent of the Kingdom.
Besteshazzar appears to be towering above everyone. He is required to wear the royal attire of his high office and everywhere he goes the people are quick to bow. The same honor has been bestowed on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. As they enter the Zion community the response is sheer bedlam. The four governors of the Babylonian province are simple men and immediately receive their honor but then request to be treated as fellow believers in the Scrolls. Belteshazzar starts and opens his heart to everyone.
“First, I want all of us to pause and honor the six slain warriors of our Babylonian best. They were brave men and their families are grief stricken.” Everyone stood silently and then Abednego prayed, “O God of our fathers we pray for peace in Babylon and in Zion. We pray for the six families of the slain men. We pray for our king and queen here in Babylon as well as our king and queen in Zion. We trust You, O God of heaven for Your wisdom in all of our lives. Give our King Jehoiakim and his princes in Zion wisdom to submit and save our city and our temple. Amen.”
Belteshazzar continues, “Yesterday, our God gave our friends one of the great miracles that our Scrolls tell us about. Remember when you were so worried about the statue and I told you that right always wins if we do right. What a wonderful thing has occurred that will inspire all of our Scroll families back in Zion.”
“The ‘Son of God’ that the king saw in the furnace was really the great Deliverer to come that all of the faithful lovers of the Scrolls look and wait for. Remember Isaiah, one of our seers, who wrote of His day in the future. He said that His Kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom. King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream told of a great Stone cut out without hands that would end all empires to establish an everlasting Empire ruled by that stone. The fourth man that he saw yesterday was that ‘Stone,’ the head of its corner.”
“Here we are in Babylon,” says Belteshazzar (Daniel was his name to all of the captives from Zion). “And our God is revealing the future to us. I’m going to write about it so everyone can read God’s plan for the future. Where God’s revelations are being revealed there is always peace, and we must be at peace right here in Babylon.”
Shadrach spoke for himself and his two companions, “Yesterday was my first moment to be in the presence of God. As we walked and talked in the furnace, the Son of God told us of His glorious day in the future. We were instructed to never doubt what He gives His seers that are true to Him. He also reminded us that when we walked out of the furnace, He would stay inside so that everyone that must enter because of their unbending faithfulness, He would already be there waiting on them. Remember the burning bush and Moses, Elijah that ascended in a whirlwind of fire. Our God is a consuming fire. Our hearts were greatly saddened when we heard King Nebuchadnezzar’s voice calling to us to come out of the furnace. We could have stayed with the Son of God in that place of His revelation forever.”
Joseph R. Chambers