Nebuchadnezzar has a short memory. Yesterday’s reading ended with Nebuchadnezzar praising Daniel’s God as “God of all gods and Lord of all kings” after God interpreted the king’s mysterious and vexing dream. But in today’s reading, the king forgets all about this when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to treat him as god of all gods and lord of all kings by bowing down to the golden image he’s built. And so he decided to resolve this little conflict by burning the flesh off their bones.
Now, if you’re going to sentence someone to death in a fit of burning rage, I suppose throwing them in a burning, fiery furnace is the way to go. But those who give themselves over to the fire of anger would be wise to remember, there is One whose anger burns even hotter, just as thre is One who cannot be consumed by the flames of our creation.
This is something the Babylonian king learns when He sees the fourth man, that is the preincarnate Son of God, standing in the furnace with the three condemned men. No matter how much power he has behind his burning wrath, the God of Israel has more. And the God who can prevent His children from being consumed by the hottest flames imaginable can certainly consume His enemies with an ever hotter and more lasting fire.
So turn from your anger. Repent of the wrath that burns in you against those who have wounded your pride. Repent of despising those who would not make an idol of you. Repent of building a furnace in your heart and trying to burn the reputations of your neighbors to ashes. Repent and seek refuge in the fireproof presence of Jesus Christ.
Because those who cling to Christ will not be burned. Because of Christ, you won’t be incinerated by the wrath of God. Every degree of that fiery anger He had towards your sin was absorbed into the flesh of Jesus on calvary. And now, the furnace of judgment has become the wedding hall where the only heat you feel will be the warmth of God’s eternal love.
And because of Christ, you can’t be burned by the anger of men. No matter how greatly the world may persecute you and despise you, your flesh belongs to the God who cools fiery furnaces and raises the dead to life. Even if this burning anger of this world places you in the grave your flesh still belongs to the God whose Son will enter your grave on the last day and rob of it His power just as He did Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace.