"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
The Prophecy of Daniel
Lesson Number 12
By Given O. Blakely
The Ways of the Lord
It is the Lord’s way to ofttimes work in this manner. Dire circumstances are like an arid desert, that, were it not for the grace of God, would drain all strength form the saints. God can make the desert “rejoice, and blossom as the rose,” teeming with life before all who are there to behold it (Isa 35:1). Speaking of this conversion of desert places the Lord says, “It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God” (Isa 35:2). The latter circumstance is the reason for the former!
What is happening in our text is a small scale depiction of what Isaiah declared will happen on a large scale. “For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory” (Isa 66:18). In this text, God has gathered the key people of Babylon together to see His glory, His works, and His care for His people. According to appearance, Nebuchadnezzar had gathered them together to bow before the image he had made. When the three children of Judah refused to bow, this entourage remained to see them consumed by a man-made furnace. But this was not really why they were there. This was God, in His own inscrutable way, working things together for the good of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It is His manner to do this.
The Manner of Some
It is the manner of some to prematurely disengage their minds when facing oppression. They give up too quickly, and fail to wait upon the Lord. Such people would have viewed the demands of the king as a dreadful threat. Their fear and doubt would have been enhanced as they saw the three young men condemned by the king, as though his word could negate the decree of the Lord. How they would have fainted as they witnessed the men being bound by the strongest men in the king’s army. And when they were thrown into the midst of the fire, with those who threw them in being killed by the leaping flames, they would have sighed, “It is all over now. How tragic to meet such an end!”
But is was not over. All of these events were but a prelude to Divine deliverance. They were the setting of the stage for the exaltation of God’s faithful servants.
“ . . . upon whose bodies the fire had no power . . . ” Other versions read, “the fire had no effect upon the bodies of these men,” NASB “the fire had not harmed their bodies,” NIV “the fire had not touched them.” NLT Remember, this was a fire that was “seven times hotter.”
The flames that leaped out of the furnace slew those casting the faithful three into its midst. That fire certainly had power over the bodies of the Chaldean strong men. But it has no power upon the bodies of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It was not that their bodies were any different. It was their God that was different!
God had power over the fire, and demanded it not to harm the bodies of His servants – not even in the most minuscule way. Scripture speaks of an angel who “has power (or “authority” NRSV) over fire” NIV (Rev 14:18). Perhaps he was dispatched to this scene to protect the young men. Whether the Lord Himself or an angel with authority over the fire, the same fire consumed some, yet could not touch others. A fiery trial that consumed one, was powerless over others. It had no power over these men because God would not allow it to have such power. God did not make their bodies noncombustible, but took away the power of the fire – and every one saw it.
NOT A HAIR WAS SINGED
“ . . . nor was an hair of their head singed . . . ” Note – “an hair,” a single one! The word “singed” means to be superficially or lightly burned. Singeing occurs when something is passed rapidly over a flame. It never occurs by prolonged exposure to fire. But there was no brief exposure of these men to the flames of the furnace that was heated seven times hotter. Not only had they fallen down bound in the middle of the furnace, they had been walking about in the midst of the flame for some time. Yet, not a single hair of their head was even slightly singed!
Do not forget that hair is the part of our body that burns more quickly, and is more readily subject to the flame. It represents the very first stage of fire having power over our bodies. It is possible to have your hair singed, yet remain unharmed from the fire. Further, the smallest flame can singe.
When you think of the hair of the head, do not limit yourself to the top of the head. Include the eyebrows and the beard. Then consider what a miracle is before you, that not a single one of all of those hairs was even slightly singed.
God had fulfilled in these men what He had promised through Isaiah. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa 43:2). As I have already mentioned, this was quenching the violence of fire, as mentioned in Hebrews 11:34.
“ . . . neither were their coats changed . . . ” Other versions read, “neither were their garments affected,” NKJV “nor were their trousers damaged,” NASB “their robes were not scorched,” NIV “their tunics were not harmed,” NRSV “their mantles were not harmed,” RSV “their clothing was not scorched,” NLT and “neither were their hosen changed.” DARBY
I have provided these various translations to show how vain etymologists can be, throwing words about while missing the meaning and intent of the passage. The Hebrew word translated “coats” in our text is a dubious one, with an unclear specific meaning. It can mean anything from a mantel, or outer garment, to a slipper. It is similar to our words “attire” and “clothing.” In our text the intent is not to highlight a specific piece of clothing, but to show the fire had no power over their garments – any of them. It certainly did not burn up their tunics, but leave their shoes, or consume their coats, but leave their trousers and turbines.
From another point of view, their bonds were gone, but their clothing remained unchanged in any way. No part of it was missing, altered, singed, or in any way affected by the fire. Anything directly associated with these faithful men, including their bodies, their hair, and their clothing, was completely impervious to the fire. It had not one whit of power or effect on any part of them – except their bonds.
NO SMELL OF FIRE
“ . . . nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” Other versions read, “the smell of fire was not on them,” NKJV “nor had the smell of fire even come upon them,” NIV “and not even the smell of fire came from them,” NRSV “and no smell of fire had come upon them,” RSV “they didn’t even smell of smoke,” NLT and “and the smell of fire hath not passed on them.” YLT
The idea is not merely that as these young men stood before the king’s nobles, there was no smell of fire upon them. Rather, the point is that it was never upon them – either in or out of the furnace! Fire does have an undeniable odor, and wherever it had been, that odor is left behind. When you cook meat over an open fire, the smell of the fire will linger with the meat for a remarkable amount of time. But such an aroma never one time came upon these men – not on their bodies, their hair, or their clothing. Not only could the fire not consume them, it could not singe them, or leave a smell upon them – not even a trace! The fire to which Nebuchadnezzar had consigned these men for destruction could not leave the slightest evidence of its presence upon them. They were completely free from any fiery influence.%%detect_both%%
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).