We’ve all been there. Whether it’s one of those old bowling alleys or bingo halls, Grandpa and Grandma’s place for a visit, or any place, really, where smoking is still allowed these days. We all know that smell. The pungent odour that seeps into furniture and curtains and walls and carpets, that remains long after the last butt was extinguished. In fact, even if no one has even lit up a cigarette recently, you still leave the place with the smell of it clinging to your clothes and hair. It is inescapable. Smoke is just one of those things that ‘stays’ no matter how hard you try to get it off you (ask anyone who’s tried to hide the fact that they smoke from others).
In Daniel 3, we read of a time honored classic; a ‘main-stay’ of Sunday school tradition, in the story of three Hebrews (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), unwilling to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image and thrown into a fiery furnace because of their faithfulness. In verse 24 we’re then told,
“Then king Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counsellors, ‘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.'”
Nebuchadnezzar has his mind blown by this and calls them out of the furnace, and we are then told this,
“[they all] saw that the fire had not any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.”
The miraculous salvation of these would-be martyrs is – in and of itself – profound and staggering. But as i learn to understand and see more and more of Christ in the OT canon, (and, by the way, i believe this story includes not simply typology of Christ, but a literal Christophany [a pre-incarnate visitation of Christ in human history], which is one of the keys to the story’s significance.) the glaring correlation between Christ’s saving presence in the fiery furnace for those three men and Christ’s saving presence from the fires of hell in the life of every believer, comes into a sharp and singular focus. Considering, also, what was just presented above about the particular properties and consequences of smoke, and the fact that Scripture tells us these three Hebrews came out of the fire not only unharmed but not even smelling of smoke, we are also given here a glorious vision of the consummate, plenary nature of Christ’s redemption.
In Hebrews 7:25, speaking of Christ’s unending role as our High Priest, we read,
“Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost, those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Later in Hebrews 10:14 the author writes,
“For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
2 Cor. 5:21 tells us finally,
“For our sake, God made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God.”
Christ’s presence in the life of the believer is redemptive and transforming in such a way that, – like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – we are not only saved from the just wrath of a holy God in the fires of hell, but even the smoke from it’s flames cannot touch or cling to the one He calls His child. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine … when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Is. 43:1,2