Monthly Archives: October 2013

Who Was the Fourth Man?

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“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?’  They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’  He answered and said, ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’” –Daniel 3:24-25

I have heard this story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told many, many, many times. I have always wondered who the fourth man King Nebuchadnezzar saw was. There are a couple of different theories on who this mysterious person was.

Some believe that it was a pre-incarnate of Jesus.

This was one of the many Christophanies (appearances of Jesus) in the Old Testament. He supernaturally kept them from being burned and consumed by the fire. This was one of the numerous miracles that Jesus performed during the Old Testament dispensation. In the King James Version, the translation of “son of the gods” is “the Son of God.” This makes some assume that it was a pre-incarnated Jesus.The phrase “the angel of the Lord” is used repeatedly in the Old Testament is accepted widely as referring to the Messiah. The word “angel” in both Testaments means a messenger and this “angel” in Daniel could be a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The second theory is that it was an angel.

The term “sons of God” was sometimes used to refer to angels in the Bible.Later on in the chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar refers to the fourth man as an angel.  It must have had a god-like appearance. Whatever that appearance was, King Nebuchadnezzar knew it was not human and assumed it to be divine.

Regardless of if it was an angel or Jesus, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survived a fiery furnace with nothing on them harmed or smelling of fire.

Who was Dagon?

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“Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.  The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.”- 1 Samuel 5:2-7

 

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Dagon was the god of crop fertility for the Philistines. He was second in command after the supreme god, El. Dagon was represented by half-man and half-fish. He was the father of the god Baal.  Dagon is also created with inventing the plough.  When Dagon fell before the Ark, it was a sign to the Philistines that the Israelites’ god is more powerful than theirs.  The Philistines recognized this sign eventually.

Not only did the Philistines believe in Dagon, the Babylonians did as well. The Babylonians had a myth that a being emerged from the Erythraean Sea who was part man and part fish and thus adopted the deity into their culture in their earliest days in history. There have also been discoveries of the fish-god in the sculptures found in Nineveh, Assyria.