METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on November 18, 1975
Dan. 3, pp. 299-301 of transcript.
The book of Daniel is a very, very obscure and esoteric book which probably contains a lot of metaphysical meanings which I haven't been able to detect. Some of them are obvious episodes which can be interpreted like the lion's den, but the most vivid incident in that book, the one that seems to contain the most immediately detectable metaphysical symbolism is the one concerning Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego. These men refuse to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar and they are cast into a burning fiery furnace but they remain unharmed even though they are in the furnace, they remain unharmed but something else happens, they are joined in the furnace by a fourth person who looks like the Son of God. Well, well, I wonder what the writer had to compare him with to say that he looked like the Son of God. Then they are allowed to come out, they are brought out of the furnace, they didn't even smell smoked and not one hair of them was singed, we are told, and they are given very fine positions in the kingdom by the King.
The meaning then of this incident can be seen by connecting the meanings of the main symbols. We are not going to interpret this because it is one of those outline things very much like that of David and Goliath and the Valley of Dry Bones in which each individual teacher should construct his own interpretation just based on a general outline of the meanings of the symbols.
King Nebuchadnezzar stands for human willfulness backed up by human intellect. Golden image stands for everything which is a glorified concept or projection of our own human willfulness and egotism. The three men who refused to worship this golden image represent three factors within us which can change this state of affairs. Shadrach stands for true humility, Mishach stands for love, Abednego stands for spiritual understanding. These are all taken right out of the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. True humility, love and spiritual understanding refuse to worship the golden image of willfulness and egotism.
The fiery furnace symbolizes the threat of suffering or loss which the negative side of human nature fears will occur if it does not obey its selfish and negative impulses. We all have gone through this, we say we have been tempted to worship a projection of our own willfulness and egotism, and even though something in us may know that we shouldn't, what do we fear will happen if we don't? We'll lose out, or we'll suffer somehow if we don't assert our own image of willfulness and egotism or selfishness, we fear that we'll miss out and therefore we'll suffer and the threat of this is this fiery furnace.
But the fiery furnace is mostly an illusion. We find that it has no power to harm or destroy those factors which are symbolized but the three men at the fiery furnace who represent humility, love and spiritual understanding. Not only did they refuse to worship the golden image which resulted in no harm and no loss to them, but it resulted in adding a fourth member to their group. We are told that this man was, "like a Son of God." Now, what is the only "Son of God" there is? The Christ. Then, this additional man or additional factor in us which is "like a Son of God," has to represent only one thing, an increase of dimension of consciousness, a new dimension of consciousness or awareness which is always added to us when we remain faithful to principle instead of worshipping selfishness and egotism. This fourth man could stand for a more "God-like Self" of our own individual unfoldment.
John Strickland: I observe that this worshipping of the golden image of our own egotism is sometimes projected into worshipping of great personalities such as a great teacher whom we admire a great deal. We worship the personality rather than the Christ Self expressing through that person.
Yes, John, this happens all the time and we keep saying that it shouldn't happen, we keep warning against it but something in human nature keeps succumbing to it, we keep wanting "a principle with skin on it". Again, I think that a help in this kind of a dilemma is being aware of what you are thinking and feeling. For instance, yesterday at the devotional service when Frank was giving his talk I found myself sitting there just adoring Frank. I was admiring what he was saying, I was believing in it but in addition to that I have put him up there on a pedestal, but I was aware of it, I wasn't fooling myself, I knew that I wasn't just admiring Frank's message, I wasn't just admiring the Christ in Frank, I was wanting to love and really idolize Frank himself, the person of Frank, but I know what I was doing: "When I get out of here Frank is going to be my student," do you get it? No, everything will go back in perspective again.
The thing is, these sessions of glorification of personalities, hero worshiping and distortion of priorities that we sometimes indulge in. If we keep aware of this, if we are not deceived by it, if we know that this is just part of the pleasure of the game of life, then this does not have a damaging effect upon us, it is only when we allow ourselves to be deceived and try to substitute some of the games of life for the real thing of eternity that we can get in trouble. Again, "like a Son of God" means a greater degree of awareness leading toward the Christ, you see? "like the Son of God," it doesn't say, "this man was the Son of God", he was like the Son of God. This does not mean that doing this or that gives you the Christ consciousness but it makes your consciousness more Christ like, by degree. Remember folks, this is important, this happens each time we do this, and especially in the little things, don't wait for the big deal to prove you can do this, but it is more in the everyday things and especially in the give and take of human association where this kind of thing can be practiced.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 6, 2015.