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Thread: Who was the Fourth Man in the Fiery Furnace?

  1. #1
    Leslie
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    Default Who was the Fourth Man in the Fiery Furnace?

    "Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” - Daniel 3:19-25 NKJV

    I have always been told that the Fourth man in the Fiery Furnace was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. I have since heard from some folks that the person there was merely just an angel, I know it says angel later in the passage but sometimes when an angel is mentioned in the Old Testament it could really be Christ pre-incarnate, such as the one speaking from the Burning Bush then later Christ said that he was the one speaking from it.

    I've also heard from an Orthodox Priest (actually an Archbishop from Canada, on his Youtube videos said this) so that's another witness to it. So what do you guys think? Merely an angel? Or the Pre-Incarnate Son of God?

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    Senior Member sayso's Avatar
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    I believe that it was the Lord but that is me. I have a friend who was visited by angels in 1984 to keep her from committing suicide. To her there was no question that they were angels.
    Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble. Psalm 119:165

  3. #3
    Trinity
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    There is also an old Jewish tradition that said that the evil King Nimrod threw Abraham into a fiery furnace because of Abraham's beliefs. And with the divine intervention he survived. This is from the Talmud, I am thinking.

    The archangel Michael is perceived by the Jews as the guardian angel of Israel (Israel advocate).

    Daniel 10:20-21
    He replied, "Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and then against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece. But before I do that, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (There is no one to help me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince.

    "Michael is specially designated in early Jewish writings and very frequently in the Book of Enoch as "the prince of Israel" (), and in later Jewish writings, particularly in cabalistic works, as "the advocate of the Jews."

    http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/vi...rch=archangels
    I would say that it can be the Archangel Michael.

    Trinity

  4. #4
    Leslie
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    A number of early church fathers believed it to be the pre-incarnate Son of God. Saint Hippolytus was one of these.

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    Senior Member Columcille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leslie View Post
    A number of early church fathers believed it to be the pre-incarnate Son of God. Saint Hippolytus was one of these.
    I tried to read Hippolytus' commentary on Daniel on the CCEL site and do not see any remark of the fourth person. Chapter V "On the song of the Three Children" of the ANF05 under "extant works"... "on Daniel" seems to be missing this information. Perhaps he mentions it in another work. If so, perhaps you can point to it. I sort of believe that it is Jesus, not as Jesus, but rather the Word in angelic form. If I find other ANF, I shall try and give reference. Interesting bible study topic.

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    Senior Member Columcille's Avatar
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    Default Jerome on Daniel 3.49

    Verse 49. "But the angel of the Lord came down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, and he smote the flame of the fire out of the furnace. ..." When the soul is oppressed with tribulation and taken up with various vexations, having lost hope of human aid and turned with its whole heart to God, an angel of the Lord descends to it. That is to say, the supernatural being descends to the aid of the servant and dashes aside the fierce heat of the violent flames, that the fiery shafts of the enemy utterly fail to pierce the inner citadel of our heart and we escape being shut up in his fiery furnace.
    http://www.ccel.org/p/pearse/morefat...el_02_text.htm

    I am trying to find other texts that might be useful from the Early Church Fathers. So far, it seems Jerome did not comment here as though it was a theophany, but neither explains the angel as Michael nor Christ as pre-incarnate. It seems to me that the most important part of the passage is not who the angel of the Lord is, but rather that one did come to protect the three righteous. I guess the phrase itself "the angel of the Lord" helps place a preincarnate Christ in other passages as more convincing as a theophany.

  7. #7
    Leslie
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    The Song of the Three Holy Children isn't in the Hebrew, so it doesn't count towards this discussion. It's an Apocryphal account.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Columcille's Avatar
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    Default Use it as a commentary if need be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leslie View Post
    The Song of the Three Holy Children isn't in the Hebrew, so it doesn't count towards this discussion. It's an Apocryphal account.
    The Septuagint contains it, which made it canonical to the early Christians. This is demonstrated since Hippolytus commented on it. But nevertheless, the story, while not in Hebrew, is just restipulating the event we are discussing. If you look at the appendix of Sir Lancelot's translation, the verse 25-26 of "Song of the Three Children" states:

    But the angel of the Lord came down into the oven together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the flame of the fire out of the oven; 26 and made the midst of the furnace as it had been a moist whistling wind, so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them.


    In the Septuagint passage under question, the translation is as follows:

    Daniel 3.25 "And the king said, But I see four men loose, and walking in the midst of the fire, and there has no harm happened to them; and the appearance of the fourth is like the Son of God."


    So you see, the comments from the early church fathers is no different from say Protestant commentaries. The use of them is effective in showing both a cultural, historical, and other various perspectives that even scholars can appreciate. My looking for such commentaries and quotes from the ECF is an attempt to see whether they considered it a theophany or not. The Septuagint and even the NKJV translation of Daniel 3.25 clearly should place it in the minds of Christians as a theophany... thereby rejecting a Jewish possible connection to Michael (I tried to find where Daniel 3.25 is mentioned in the link provided by Trinity, but just didn't see it.).

  9. #9
    Senior Member Columcille's Avatar
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    Default Judiasm's Utopia without dealing with the sin problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trinity View Post
    There is also an old Jewish tradition that said that the evil King Nimrod threw Abraham into a fiery furnace because of Abraham's beliefs. And with the divine intervention he survived. This is from the Talmud, I am thinking.

    The archangel Michael is perceived by the Jews as the guardian angel of Israel (Israel advocate).

    Daniel 10:20-21
    He replied, "Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and then against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece. But before I do that, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (There is no one to help me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince.



    I would say that it can be the Archangel Michael.

    Trinity
    The question seems to me is how "old" is the interpretation of Jewish thought on Daniel 3 as to the identity of the fourth man. If the writings of old are after Christ, then their interpretation of it is going to deny a theophany despite what the text actually states to be like a "Son of God." Of course, it is quite possible that Nebuchadnezzar mistakes angels to be in his cultural theological mindframe to be just what Jewish scholars would say as just a mere angel. What the Church has to say of the matter is more important than a religion that has rejected its fulfillment, has rejected their promised Messiah. In many ways, this seems to be the beginning of Protestantism... for in their protesting and rationalism that the Messiah must conquer the Romans and set up a secular government of eternity is as much iniquitious as Hitler's German Reich lasting for a thousand years. God must take care of the root of Man's problems, their own iniquity and rebellion against God by a prideful will and human wisdom---all other attempts as to establish a government by God without taking care of the sin problem is as much murderous to the soul as to the body and we can certainly draw some comparisons with the rise of Hitler's regime to any good intentioned project that rejects the sanctity of life, rejects honest means rather than justifying bad means to an end, and other such ideals as Social Darwinism, Marxism, and the like. All of them, all of them are utopian; and utopia's root means no place. OED Utopia ""mod.L. (More, 1516), f. Gr. not + a place."

    We should therefore reject any notion that Daniel 3's fourth person in the fire is Michael the archangel as such a notion would be a problem for Christianity. Not only would it encourage the Jehovah Witness's interpretation methods that Jesus is really Michael the archangel, but it will have a domino effect in a vast majority of theological concerns related to the preincarnate Christ and any theophany by him.

  10. #10
    Bob Carabbio
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    No information given that would justify speculation. The "theophanie" theory is popular across the board. That it's a spiritual being is beyond question. WHO it was is unimportant.

  11. #11
    Leslie
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    My only point was that it is not in the Hebrew and thus it's not part of the original story as recorded by Daniel.

    I agree with what Columcile said in regardes to the apparant Christopheny.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Columcille's Avatar
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    Default Additions are not criteria; Mark 16.9-20 an addition also.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leslie View Post
    My only point was that it is not in the Hebrew and thus it's not part of the original story as recorded by Daniel.

    I agree with what Columcile said in regardes to the apparant Christopheny.
    If they have found Hebrew parts of Tobit in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a well preserved copy of the oldest scroll of Isaiah which is closer to the Septuagint over the Masoric texts; if such is the case, I am not going to rule out the possibility that there does or did exist Hebrew texts of Daniel of the three stories. But at any rate, whether it is an addition or not, it does not contradict the story we are covering. If you are going to make a criterion about additions, then you might as well throw out the ending of the gospel of Mark from chapter 16.9-20. If you are going to say Mark 16.9-20 is not scripture, then we might as well start attacking other verses that are added, or phrases even within scripture verses that were added in later manuscripts. 1 John 5.7, Romans 16.24, and a whole slew of others.

  13. #13
    Trinity
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    Daniel 3:25
    ... and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

    How should we understand the adjective "like"? Comparable to?

    And what about the noun "form"?

    Others were called Son of God into the Old Testament.

    Pious men.
    First man, Adam.
    Angels.
    Prophets.
    Kings.
    Few times for the Messiah (son of man was a more frequent title for the Messiah).

    I am not absolutely certain but I think it was Hippolytus who was the first to mention that it was the pre-incarnated Christ.

    Hippolytus of Rome (170-236 A.D.)
    In his commentary of Daniel

    Trinity

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    Senior Member Columcille's Avatar
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    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf05.toc.html

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf05.iii.iv.i.x.v.html

    This seems to be as close are you are going to get to Hippolytus saying such. If he did, I certainly do not see it.

    We may well marvel at the words of the three youths in the furnace, how they enumerated all created things, so that not one of them might be reckoned free and independent in itself; but, summing up and naming them all together, both things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, they showed them to be all the servants of God, who created all things by the Word, that no one should boast that any of the creatures was without birth and beginning.
    Last edited by Columcille; 12-05-2008 at 05:05 PM. Reason: added quote from ANF05 Hippolytus on Daniel

  15. #15
    Trinity
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    Quote Originally Posted by Columcille View Post

    This seems to be as close are you are going to get to Hippolytus saying such. If he did, I certainly do not see it.
    fragment 3
    Commentary on Daniel
    ch.2.93 p.188


    Q: In Dan 3:25, who was the fourth man here?
    A: This is generally believed to be a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ Himself. While it could simply have been an angel, Nebuchadnezzar’s comment that the fourth "is like a son of God" opens that possibility that it could be Christ.
    Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) in fragment 3 (Commentary on Daniel) ch.2.93 p.188 also mentions that Jesus was in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, though Jesus was not yet born of a virgin.

    http://www.inerrancy.org/dan.htm
    Trinity

  16. #16
    Senior Member Columcille's Avatar
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    Default Found it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trinity View Post
    fragment 3
    Commentary on Daniel
    ch.2.93 p.188




    Trinity
    Thank you.
    Found it:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf0...v.i.x.iii.html

    92 (i.e., 25). “And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Tell me, Nebuchadnezzar, when didst thou see the Son of God, that thou shouldst confess that this is the Son of God? And who pricked thy heart, that thou shouldst utter such a word? And with what eyes wert thou able to look into this light? And why was this manifested to thee alone, and to none of the satraps about thee? But, as it is written, “The heart of a king is in the hand of God:” the hand of God is here, whereby the Word pricked his heart, so that he might recognise Him in the furnace, and glorify Him. And this idea of ours is not without good ground. For as the children of Israel were destined to see God in the world, and yet not to believe on Him, the Scripture showed beforehand that the Gentiles would recognise Him incarnate, whom, while not incarnate, Nebuchadnezzar saw and recognised of old in the furnace, and acknowledged to be the Son of God.
    93 (i.e., 26). “And he said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” The three youths he thus called by name. But he found no name by which to call the fourth. For He was not yet that Jesus born of the Virgin.

  17. #17
    Leslie
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    That was a good read.

  18. #18
    Senior Member johnd's Avatar
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    The OP begs the point... did Jesus merely appear from time to time in human history (Genesis 22, 32, Joshua 5, etc.) merely as a Theophany / Christophany? Or did he begin emptying himself (Philippians 2) before gestation in the womb of the virgin?

    I have a working theory... meaning I am not fully convinced of it myself... that some of what appear to be "limitations" of God statements like "NOW I KNOW you will not withhold from me your son your only son... Genesis 22, and in Daniel 10 being withheld 21 days battling with the prince of persia...

    Did some or most of what he emptied himself of enable him to be on the same page as humanity? Think about it. The knowledge the Father has would preclude thinking, contemplating, even relating to us on this feeble scale of ours...

    To know all things past present future PLUS all the variables of man's limited sovereignty... can such a mind relate / communicate with temporal minds? Don't get me wrong, I know God has... but it all seems to be through Jesus. If I understand him correctly in verses like John 5:37, 6:46, he is the person in the Godhead man has been dealing directly with all along. So, did he begin relating to man (enabling himself to think like a man, appear like a man, be local like a man, etc) before the becoming the holy embryo in 3 BC?
    The Bible is its own best commentary.
    Prophecy is the word of God
    which sometimes speaks of future... sometimes of the present... sometimes of the past.
    A prophet is the tool God uses.
    It's not about the prophet, but about the God who uses the prophet to speak his word...

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    Senior Member johnd's Avatar
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    Don't misunderstand me. The Father himself loves us because we love Jesus. He is not only aware of all we say think do... he cares... but he is above our ability to chat with him... that is why prayer is the way it is. We pray at first wondering if he hears us (usually in the beginning when we are uncertain that there is a God on the other end of prayer at all...

    Then we hope he hears us... as we try to pare down our list of me me me to only me once in a while...

    Then it dawns on us (or we read 1 John 5 and James 4 & 5) prayer is really about partnering with God that his will be done, his glory be magnified, his name be forever praised, his kingdom come, his word be heard and spread to every heart, and that he supply the needs of his servants to get the job of his business done down here.

    This is not yet another rote prayer to memorize and repeat endlessly, mindlessly as so many others... this is a kind of guideline of what to pray... continuously.

    What if I forget this or leave off that...?

    Omniscient mind... God knows what you will pray long before you pray it... ad he'd not in the insurance business... "Oh sorry... we are going to deny your claim... you left one T uncrossed..."

    Jesus is our intercessor... positionally. He is not grovelling in prayer for the billions of daily requests to pass along to the Father... he simply is our intercessor by the fact of who he is and what he has accomplished (creation, redemption, etc).

    John 16:26-27
    26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
    27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
    The Bible is its own best commentary.
    Prophecy is the word of God
    which sometimes speaks of future... sometimes of the present... sometimes of the past.
    A prophet is the tool God uses.
    It's not about the prophet, but about the God who uses the prophet to speak his word...

  20. #20
    Senior Member alanmolstad's Avatar
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    we are not told for sure who the guy was....

    We have a hint it was Jesus....but only a hint.

    We just can not say for sure...

  21. #21
    Senior Member alanmolstad's Avatar
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    we can only guess it was Jesus....

    i wish the matter was addressed later in the Text, but I dont remember if it was?

    I dont think it was an angel as the text just does not read in such a way to hint it was an angel.

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