This incredible event is given to us in Daniel, chapter 3.  King Nebuchadnezzar built a huge golden image.  After having this idol built, he issued a decree to all those in Babylon saying, “That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” (verses 5-6). 

Some of the Chaldeans came before Nebuchadnezzar and accused the Jews of disobeying his new law.  They said, “There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  (verse 12).

In a rage, the king had these three faithful young men brought before him.  He said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (verses 14-15).  The king questioned them and then gave them another chance to obey his law and bow down to the false god.

The answer these young men gave should inspire us all as they stood firm in the truth of God’s Word, for the Lord has said in Exodus 20:3-5, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”  They knew God’s words and were obedient to them, even in the face of certain death.  They said to Nebuchadnezzar, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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.” (verses 16-18).  They certainly believed that the Lord could spare them from this terrible death, but even if He did not, they would remain faithful to Him and refused to bow down to this golden image. 

Most of us know that the king did have them cast into the fiery furnace, a furnace so hot that even their captors who led them to the furnace dropped dead from the fierce heat.  (verses 19-22).

We then read in verses 23-25, “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 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.” 

Nebuchadnezzar’s words seem to indicate that he knew God, that he knew that God had a Son, and that this Son was now in their presence.  However, if we read that verse in a different version, I believe his intent is made clearer.  In the NASB, this verse is translated as, “He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is LIKE A SON OF THE GODS!”  (Many versions translate this verse like this.)  We can see that his words are very general and not specific to the true Son of God, In fact, Nebuchadnezzar says in verse 28, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, WHO HATH SENT HIS ANGEL, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”  At this point, he refers to this fourth person as merely an angel.

When the king exclaimed that the fourth person in the furnace was “like the Son of God”, he unwittingly spoke a blessed truth…a truth of which he was not even aware.  (393.4)