"...our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
Most of us know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego very well. These three Hebrew young men were taken captive into the kingdom of Babylon. We know that they were good-looking, intelligent, and very wise. We would say that of all the Hebrew children these were the cream of the crop. Yet, they were captives in a foreign land. They were given important positions within the government as advisers to the king and all of the leadership of his kingdom. They were thousands of miles from home. They seemingly had no one to answer to but their pagan captives. However, they knew that they would answer to a much high power than King Nebuchadnezzar. The day came in which they were tested, because they were commanded to bow before a false god. Of course, they refused, and were threatened with certain death. It is the faith of their reply that I would like to focus on.
They had complete faith that God would deliver them out of Nebuchadnezzar's hand. These captives stood face to face with the king and boldly told him that there was a true God and that His power was greater than the king's. They also believed without any doubt that their God was more powerful than the elements of earth itself. It requires astounding faith to believe that you will walk out of a fiery furnace. That is not normal. Yet, they stood face to face with the king and told him that their God could do and would do the impossible. The Bible teaches us that faith believes what we cannot physically see but what we can spiritually see. They knew the power of God and trusted that it would save them in their time of distress. And, of course, you know the end of the story; they were saved. God Himself came down to keep them company in the midst of the furnace. Praise God that He is always with us in the fire.
However, we also need to focus on the words of verse 18. Three little words that could have changed the whole dynamic of this story: But if not. What if this story would have ended differently? What if God would have allowed them to die in that furnace? Would God be any less powerful? The three Hebrews children didn't think so. They told the king that their faith was steadfast no matter what happened. If God would have chosen to allow them to die that day, they were willing to pay that price. God's love and His power were not on trial here. What God sovereignly decides to do is not for us to decide; it is only for us to accept. We speak often of looking for and desiring miraculous deliverance. While it is good to pray for such things, we must also understand that God is God whether we are delivered or whether we are allowed to walk through the fire. Never surrender your faith on the altar of personal convenience! Pour out your heart to God and ask Him your request, but leave the decision to His will and His alone.
May your faith in God be steadfast today!