Biblical Verses On Freedom: Freedom From God’s Wrath

Welcome to this fifth study of biblical verses on freedom - freedom from wrath! In the previous studies, we understood the danger of picking out single verses about a topic and using them out of context and saw the necessity of connecting every verse to the central theme of the Bible - the gospel. We concluded rejoicing that God has removed our yoke of bondage to sin, transformed us through Christ’s death on the cross, and made us free indeed!

Our next verse about freedom is Daniel 3:25:

“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.”

So, what does this verse have to do with freedom? Great question!

Command To Worship The Golden Statue

The story begins with three Hebrew young men taken captive to Babylon, and while in captivity, the King, whose name was Nebuchadnezzar, required them all to bow down and worship a golden statue. He promised that if they did not worship the statute, they would all die.

We can read the king’s command in Daniel 3:4-6:

“Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:4-6 NIV). 

The three Hebrew young men, upon threat of their very lives, refused to worship a statue, choosing to worship only the living God. And when Nebuchadnezzar heard this, he became outraged.

“Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Daniel 3:13-15 (NIV) 

After the Babylonians captured these three young men,  they tried to change everything about them. They gave these young men Babylonian names that represented Babylonian gods, they gave them new and different clothes and offered them a new and decadent diet. In essence, the Babylonians were attempting to change the identity of the Hebrew men, to remove all vestiges of their faith in God, mold them into Babylonians, idolaters, and require their worship of a golden statue.

The predicament of these three young men was very similar to what we all face today. The world tells us that we must conform to their standards and bow to their knowledge or be ostracized, mocked, judged, and education-shamed. We can either go along with what the world teaches or face ridicule, be labeled as fanatics, cast out, and possibly lose all opportunities for advancement and achievement. 

The world wants to form you into its mold. It asks you to believe that there is no god, that you came from nothing and are going nowhere, that you can choose your own gender, that you are free to express your sexuality in whatever way you please, that Christianity was for the dark ages when they believed the world was flat, for those who don’t believe in climate change, and that anyone who has faith in Jesus is ignorant, simple-minded and deluded. The world claims to have evolved, that science has disproved the Bible time and time again, and that Christianity is judgmental, self-righteous, and hypocritical.

Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be shaped by this world,” meaning don’t let the world mold you into its image, don’t accept the biases and rhetoric of our world’s academic institutions, don’t allow the dead doctrines of the world to brainwash you out of your living faith. No, instead, “be changed within by a new way of thinking.” In other words, be transformed by the renewing of your mind in God’s Word, and by God’s Spirit. Don’t be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the Word. “Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.

Saying No To The Culture And The King

And so these three Hebrew young men refused the brainwashing of their culture, and at considerable risk to their lives, they refused to worship at the shrine of the king. They said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). 

These young men had bold faith in God! True faith refuses to be deceived by the dominant culture and the false worship of the society. It trusts God amid teachings that seek to brainwash and threats of bodily damage.

So, here is what happened:

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:19-23).

Nebuchadnezzar saw red here! He was so angry his blood was boiling, and he decided to give full vent to his rage.

Have you ever noticed how rage can be so blinding? It can make us into fools! “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (Proverbs 29:11). Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage; he so wanted these three Hebrew men to suffer, that he had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. But a thinking person would know that a hotter furnace would consume the Hebrew men immediately, meaning they would suffer less. Indeed, “the furnace was so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (Daniel 3:22). Nebuchadnezzar was a fool in venting his rage like this.

Believers are instructed to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). We do this by turning to the cross of Jesus, looking at the suffering Lamb of God, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, and believing He died in our place and set us free from sin. We are to see Jesus taking the full rage of Satan while on the cross, as well as the entire wrath of God against our sin, that we might let our rage, bitterness, and anger die on the cross with Jesus.

Rescued By Jesus

So, what happened to the three Hebrew young men? Our verse today tells us: 

"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" (Daniel 3:25). 

Unfortunately, this verse has been oversimplified by many to mean only that Jesus will be with us in all the fiery trials we go through. But if we look, we will see more.

Fire, in the Bible, is used as a simple of judgment or wrath poured out. For example, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone for their wickedness. And Revelation tells of the eventual judgment for "the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars —they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

When Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego were in the fire, they were visited by One who was "like the Son of God." Even the pagan king could recognize Jesus in all His glory, the One who came to rescue the three Hebrew young men from the fire. Later Paul would write of Jesus "who saves us from the coming wrath" (1 Thessalonians 1:10). 

As we look at the fire into which the three Hebrew young men were thrown, we see these young men with Jesus "walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed" (Daniel 3:25 AMP). All that they lost in that fire was that which bound them: they were free, unharmed, and with Jesus. 

When the king saw them alive, unbound and unharmed, he told them to come out, and when they did, the king and all the people saw that "the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them" (Daniel 3:27). 

We need to notice how Jesus went into the fire, but nothing is said of Him coming out; in going into the fire, He rescued these three young men from the fire, and in this, we can see the main teaching of the Bible - the gospel. This story points forward to a time in the future when Jesus would come to a world under the wrath of God for sin. Languishing in our sin and powerless to change, under the righteous judgment and indignation of God toward sin, Jesus came to us in love and faithfulness. Then He went to the cross. He took our sins on Himself and died in our place, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. He hung in agony and tears, shedding His blood to make atonement for our sins. He went to the cross of wrath and drank the full cup of God's anger against sin for us. In so doing, He put our old selves to death (Romans 6:1-10), circumcised our old nature (Colossians 2:11), gave us a new heart (Jeremiah 24:7) and raised us to new life (Colossians 3:3).

Jesus' hanging on the tree under God's wrath was to take God's wrath away from us, to absorb it in full for every believer, to rescue us from wrath and save us from the lake of fire. Jesus hung under the judgment of God that we might stand in the judgment of God. He took God's wrath that we might enjoy God's love. He suffered the death we earned that we might be free to serve God with clean consciences and sin-free lives. 

Now, because of the cross, all believers are like Joshua, the High Priest, who was a "stick snatched from the fire" (Zechariah 3:2). We've been rescued by Jesus' death, as He hung in the gap for us, taking God's wrath instead of us, setting us free from the fire so that we are all "unbound and unharmed." Jesus lost His life in the fire, we lose nothing but that which binds us. Jesus gave up His life, we get eternal life. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them" (John 3:36). Yes, Jesus was consumed in the fire of God's wrath, so that not even a spark of God's wrath would reach a single believer so that we would not have even the smell of the smoke of God's wrath on us. Then Jesus rose victorious from the dead, declaring victory for you and me, making us more than conquerors in Him, and leading us triumphantly to heaven!

This Passage Ends With The Pagan King, Nebuchadnezzar, Praising God

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (Daniel 3:28). 

Yes, it’s true that even the wrath of man is meant to praise God (Psalm 76:10). 

Notice how the king said that the living God sent His “angel,” whom he earlier called “the Son of God,” to rescue the Hebrew boys. Nebuchadnezzar has just spoken out and pointed to the one day when it would be true that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The freedom verse we looked at today is Daniel 3:25:

“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.”

If you want help seeing Jesus in the Scriptures and applying the gospel to your daily life, consider the Looking to Jesus devotional.

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