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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

16 May 2006

The Fourth Man in the Fire

Q: Who was the fourth man walking around in the fire in Daniel 3?

Fiery FurnaceA: The Bible doesn’t tell us for certain, but it appears that it was either an angel or else God Himself — specifically, the Son of God, the preincarnate Christ — taking human form as He came to save His faithful servants. The technical term for such an event is theophany — an appearance of God to man. Even the pagan Nebuchadnezzar recognized the fourth person in the flames with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as “like a son of the gods. (v. 25)”

Compare this appearance with Abraham’s visitors prior to the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 18), the “Angel of the Lord” who met Hagar in the wilderness (Genesis 16:7-13), and with the One who wrestled with Jacob at the crossing of the Jabbok (Genesis 32:22-32). Perhaps in all of these, the same principal Actor intervened in the lives of the affected people — a Person who, in the fullness of time, would Himself assume human flesh and intervene on behalf of all people.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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