Three men are sent into a Fiery Furnace and survive – Daniel Ch.3

In the 6th century BC in Babylon, three men are sent into a furnace which has a roaring fire, yet they survive and are seen walking in the middle of the furnace not hurt. What’s more, when the outside observers look into the furnace they can see a fourth man has joined them – also not hurt.

The events leading to the fiery furnace

In the 6th century BC, Babylon was reigned over by King Nebuchadnezzar. His command were absolute law. He had made a huge image (statue) around 28 metres high. It contained gold and was magnificent and terrible to look at.

Three of the prophet Daniel’s friends were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who, like him, worshipped the one true God. They were all Jews. These three men worked for King Nebuchadnezzar and in accordance with a royal decree had been requested with other rulers and governors to come to a ceremony. At the ceremony they were commanded to bow down and worship the huge golden image.

God had commanded that his people serve no one but Himself. They were not to worship idols and images made by man. Therefore when everyone fell down before the golden image, the three Jews refused to disobey God and remained erect. They knew the penalty would be to be thrown into a fiery furnace but they refused to change their minds. Loyalty to God had first priority over the loyalty to King Nebuchadnezzar and any law he had given.

These are thoughts also recognised by those living in the first century:

The three men showed their conviction and strength by standing by their beliefs. They obeyed God who was their defence and strength.

The fiery furnace

King Nebuchadnezzar was angry that they did not worship the golden image.

As a result, the king commanded that they be cast into the midst of the furnace which he had made seven times hotter. However, Nebuchadnezzar was shocked when four men appeared in the fiery furnace – all of them unharmed and walking in the midst of the fire.

As a result, the king recognised the supremacy of the God of Israel in whom these faithful men trusted. He saw the loyalty of these men who faced terrible punishment but did not change their minds in relation to obeying God when it conflicted with the laws of the state. The three men’s faith based on their understanding of God’s word is able to overcome obstacles put in their path.

For us living today when we our conscience is tested because it comes in conflict with the laws of the land, God will give us strength to continue to obey His laws first.

The above section teaches us some valued lessons about being a servant of God. We are taught to remain faithful and to continue to put God first before man.

But there is a deeper spiritual level that can be taught by this episode. To understand it we firstly need to consider the treatment of metal and what metal represents in the scriptures. Please read on if you interested in considering the fiery furnace at a deeper spiritual level.

The method of treating metal.

In the first years of civilisation metal was found for the first time in rocky outcrops which showed above the surface of the ground. This didn’t produce enough metal for men’s needs so eventually men started to dig into the ground making what we now call as mines. As the years past metal work became steadily more advanced with examples of highly advanced work in Ur about 1000 years before Abraham’s time.

In order to do the metal work it was necessary to firstly melt the metal so that it could be poured into moulds. The best way to melt the metal was by putting the metal into kilns. Initially a kiln was built that could build up what they regarded as being a high heat. However, It was found that even more heat was needed. How would they do this? The more oxygen there is, the more fiercely the fire would burn. The early metalworkers discovered this fact and so therefore started trying to increase the heat by installing bellows. The bellows blew more air, and therefore more oxygen, into the furnace which would make the furnace burn faster and hotter. Hotter fires made better metals and these better metals could be used in more ways.

As the ore was heated the metal would sink to the bottom leaving the slag on top. This slag would be scooped off into a slag-pit leaving the metal at the bottom to cool and solidify thus forming a ingot. The ingot would have to be remelted in a crucible to further refine it before it could be used for casting into a mould. And that was basically all there was to making pure metal from ore. The main metals produced were Gold, Silver, Lead, Tin, Iron and Copper. However, later on bronze came onto the scene which was a mixture of copper and tin. Also produced later was Brass which was a alloy of copper and zinc.

Metals in the Old Testament

So it was in this context that it was seen in Old Testament times that all metals that remained after going through the fire were viewed as being cleansed. In other words the firing process had removed all the slag and unwanted bits of ore leaving only the pure metal. Have a look at Numbers Chapter 31 and verses 21 to 23.

The symbolism in refining metals

This process of refining metals through application of fire was perfect for our Heavenly Father to use as a form of symbolism. The metals were regarded as being cleansed after going through the fire. Likewise the flesh of men will be cleansed once it has gone through the fiery trial that men face. Take Brass for example. Because its colour looked like the colour of flesh it was quite often used as an representation of the flesh. It, like all other metals, is formed once it has gone through the furnace.

So, Brass, like all the other metals, is therefore a symbol of the flesh purified by fire. It is metal that has withstood the fiery judgement of our Heavenly Father, so as to become a pure metal with all the impurities removed. This is why Brass is used so many times in making items in the tabernacle. This was the case In particular in the court of the priests where the sacrificing and washing was performed. In that court there was the brass altar of burnt-offering and the laver, there were the two pillars of the porch and so on. They were all shining, impurity-free, brass for this represented purified flesh.

This was proven when we look at the incident recorded in Numbers Chapter 16 and verses 35 to 38. Here we have the fire of God flashing forth against the Levites who rebelled against the authority of Moses and Aaron, the fire consumed the men leaving only the brass of their censers. The censers were left because they were incorporated in the brazen altar as a symbol of flesh purified by fire. Let’s have a look at these verses:

So on one end of the spectrum we have the brass representing purified flesh, on the other end however, we have the slag or dross as representing the man who has not purified his flesh through the trying of fire.

As an example of this have a look at Ezekiel Chapter 22 and verses 17 to 22.

In these verses we see Israel in the flesh being represented as brass and other metals which are full of dross or slag. Their drossiness is seen in the abominations they practised in burning incense to reptiles, and filthy beasts and idols of every sort. And it is this drossy nature of the brass which distinguishes the Israelites from the fine or incandescent brass of Jesus Christ who is burning and glowing in a state of sinlessness. This perfect sinless state of Jesus, refined by the fires of trial is seen in Revelation Chapter one and verse 15.

Each one of us are all in the impure state of brass where the dross is still mixed with brass. We need to go through the fiery trial of our lives gradually refining ourselves until we eventually become as incandescent brass at the coming kingdom soon to be set up on this earth. Let us continually scoop off that dross or slag which corrupts our character to become shining metal before our Heavenly Father. For it is only in this state that we will be completely refined by the fiery judgement of our Heavenly Father. Let us therefore always remember that we all go through this furnace as we go through our lives. That furnace, in which this intense and glowing wrath of God is glowing. And as we do this, let us remember those words found in Ezekiel when our Heavenly Father was speaking to the people of those Israel who were passing through the furnace of their time. It is recorded in Ezekiel Chapter 20 and verses 33 to 38

God was saying in these verses that he would use His fiery furnace to purify the Jewish nation from the dross of sin, so that the dross in the form of the sinful men would be carried away. Ofcourse all nations whether they be Jew or gentile will pass through the fiery furnace. Their brass, therefore, is also to be gathered into the furnace , that it may be melted and refined under the intense fire of divine wrath. The furnace will not only purge the nations of this earth but will also consume those who are not worthy to enter the Kingdom to be set up on this earth. In other words God will remove all the slag or dross of sin from the surface of the molten metal.

Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace

This brings us to Daniel chapter 3 and the episode of the three men in the fiery furnace..

If we are acceptable then we will be refined so that we might be like those four men of God that were in that furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. Let’s have a look at that now in Daniel Chapter 3 and verses 19 to 25.

The furnace glowed with seven fold intensity.

In these verses we read of the furnace glowing with seven fold intensity. Three men are taken to the entrance of the furnace so as to be thrown in. The heat is so severe that it destroys the guards who are going to throw the three men in yet it has no affect on the men themselves. The three men walk around inside the furnace not suffering in any way. When one of the guards looks in he sees four men and not the original three men. The fourth man has the likeness of the son of man.

These four men could walk to and fro within the furnace because they represented purified flesh. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego represent those people in a time to come who have not let the power of evil overcome them. These people along with the Son of God shall come forth from the furnace unharmed, unsinged, and unchanged by the fire. For these people will be the Bride of Christ. These will be the people who will be accepted at the judgement seat. Let us all pray that we might be one of these number so that we too can walk through the furnace of God without being burn’t. For it is these people who can walk through the furnace that will be described of in Micah Chapter four and verse 13.

Notice how these people will have feet of Brass. They will have, in other words, been purified of sin. This concept of brass feet ofcourse is mentioned numerous times through the Bible. The verse we read a little while ago in Revelation Chapter one spoke of Jesus having feet of brass.


Let each one of s be purified by the fiery trials of life so that we can remove the dross – sin-from our lives. In this way we will present ourselves with feet of brass – ones who have been purified of sin.