“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.
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.