Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” –Daniel 3:24,25,NIV
The type antitype principle
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” – 1 Cor.10::11,NIV
One of the great teaching tools that God intriguingly waived in the pages of the Bible for our benefit is the use of events and persons of the Old Testament as shadows or types of things portrayed in the New Testament.This is known as the type antitype principle that Paul was alluding to and he used quite frequently in his letters as a teaching device.It is not surprising then to find events and persons portrayed in the highly prophetic book of Daniel applying to prophecies written centuries later in the New Testament in the book of Revelation.Sometime during Daniel’s first years in the court of Babylon, Nabechdonosaur received a prophetic dream from God about an image of successive world powers that Daniel under divine inspiration was able to interpret for the king. Daniel told Nabechdonosaur that the head of the image represented him and his Babylonian empire. That dream motivated Naboucodonosar to erect an image entirely made of gold in the plains of Dura on a later date and he invited every high official in his kingdom to worship it including Daniel’s three companions who at that point had been promoted to administrators in the district of Babylon.We read in Daniel 2:49: ” Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.” Anyone refusing to worship that image was to be immediately thrown into a pit of fire.What these 3 companions did next serves as a type for all of us Christians living today.The challenge of loyalty that they had to live through is something that we will have to go through to in the near future.
The image of the beast
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” – Daniel 3:7
King Nebuchadnezzar erected a golden image in the plain of Dura very likely influenced by Daniel’s interpretation of the dream of the image in chapter 2. Daniel had explained to Nebuchadnezzar that the gold head of the image symbolized him and Babylonian Empire.Now the Emperor is erecting an image that is entirely made out of gold in his attempted to prolong the duration of his reign. The erection of an image that all are expected to worship is reminiscent of an another tyrant that is described in the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible.We read in Revelation 13:15 of the future installment of an image of the Antichrist beast that all will be forced to worship under the punishment of death:”The second beast was given the power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” (Revelation 13:15)
Earth destroyed by fire
“and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.” -Daniel 3:23
As in the case of these 3 companions, there was fire involved for those refused to worship the “mark of the beast” that Nabochonosaur set up in the plains of Shinar so it will be in the period of the days of the end It is of great interest that the years that will mark the end of our system of things will involve fire.The Apostle Peter writing in his second letter bearing his name during the first century AD contrasted the days of Noah with the Second Coming of the Son of man saying : “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.By the same word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”(2 Peter 3:5-7, NIV) How fitting then is it that this ancient drama portraying the people of God during the end involves fire but this fire is stored up for the ungodly and not those who faithfully will refuse allegiance to the beast and his empire.
Escape through the flames of fire
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”- (Daniel 3:25, NIV)
The earth has undergone a complete destruction in the past.During the days of Noah the Flood claimed all human life but eight souls .not just any souls .these were people that God had deemed righteous and worthy of salvation. We read 2 Peter 2:9: “If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”(2 Peter 2:9, NIV) Not only that but God always provide a plan for escape in advance for his “elect”.This plan can involve an ultimate test of faith and reliance in his saving power. For example, in the days of Moses and the Exodus of the nation of Israel from the land of Egypt, the plan provided tested their faith to the extreme.Persecuted by the Egyptian army the Lord led the Israelites to a seemingly dead-end .from one side the most advanced army in the world at the time and on the other side a large quantity of water impossible to cross by foot.That wasn’t an accident, as in the case of the 3 companions the Israelites had to prove their complete faith in God’s saving power. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”(Daniel 3:17,18, NIV) These 3 men could taste the power of God’s saving power only once immersed in flames. So it was the case for the Israelites of old also.They had to trust in God that He could hold the walls of water long enough for them to cross over the other side. The throwing of the 3 companion in the flames of fire raises many interesting questions .Will we have to walk through fire? Will we be forced to do so as a punishment for not accepting the “mark of the beast”? It remains to be seen! Nevertheless, the Word of God provides a glimpse to a possible apocalyptic scenario where the wicked are burned fire.