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"Even if He does not..."

Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

—Daniel 3:13-18


This is one of the earliest Bible stories I remember really hitting home for me, at the tiny church I attended alone as a boy of less than ten. The pastor had a silly mnemonic for the names ("Shake the bed, Make the bed, and In they go"), and the breathtaking part of the story is that very same thing I look for, long for, and pray for today—God shows up (Daniel 3:24-25). That's still who I need Him to be.

Now that I'm older, there's another aspect of this account that I also find deeply meaningful: "'But if not...'" Another translation renders this "'Even if He does not...'", and it has since become a hallmark of how I want to walk in faith. The men are counting on God for deliverance, and the other side of that—the hard side—is that they also recognize that God is God and does as He pleases. Their faithfulness to Him isn't based on His performing according to their will.

That's an important part of true faith, something that presses it beyond a self-centered transaction into a broken world where dreams do die and expectations aren't met on our timetables. Their faith in God the Deliverer does not waver, but neither do they commit Him to a specific course of action He has not promised. They obey because it is right for them to do so, because God has every authority in their lives, and as such, even being immolated in a fiery pit is preferable to walking away from His command.

God does show up, and that doesn't take my breath away any less today than it did back then. But the God who shows up is the God who is worthy of obedience even if He does not. There's no ridiculous, self-important notion of "the God I believe in would..." imposed on His behavior. He is God. He is true to His great and lasting promises, and He refuses to be manipulated and micromanaged beyond that. That's the God in whom Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego trust their deliverance, however He chooses to do so. And that's the God who is present and walking with them in the fire. They refuse to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's image precisely because they refuse to accept a god who is anything less.

May it be increasingly so with me.

Comments

Amen and amen.

The other verse this always reminds me of (taped to my monitor here) is Job 13:15, "Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him."
I remember seeing that.
Thanks you for this.
You're welcome. Glad to share.
Amen!

God does show up, and that doesn't take my breath away any less today than it did back then. But the God who shows up is the God who is worthy of obedience even if He does not. There's no ridiculous, self-important notion of "the God I believe in would..." imposed on His behavior. He is God. He is true to His great and lasting promises, and He refuses to be manipulated and micromanaged beyond that. That's the God in whom Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego trust their deliverance, however He chooses to do so. And that's the God who is present and walking with them in the fire. They refuse to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's image precisely because they refuse to accept a god who is anything less.

Wonderfully said. It all was.
Thank you.

(Anonymous)

Shadrach, Meshach and ToBedWeGo was always my mum's mantra
Amen.
I love that story. I think it hits me harder every time I hear it.

It looks like you're back to norm...you're back to your old self again.

Normal's for LOSERS.
I'm not Norm.
I love it that the good Lord was in the fire with them-- and I wonder what it was like for them being in there. Could they feel the heat but it didn't hurt? Did they have a forcefield around them? Were they connecting to Christ in someway we can't imagine? I love those three DJs.
what kind of pot were you smoking when you wrote this, hm?
Now that I'm older, there's another aspect of this account that I also find deeply meaningful: "'But if not...'" Another translation renders this "'Even if He does not...'", and it has since become a hallmark of how I want to walk in faith. The men are counting on God for deliverance, and the other side of that—the hard side—is that they also recognize that God is God and does as He pleases. Their faithfulness to Him isn't based on His performing according to their will.

Yes!
Love the icon! I'm a recent Firefly convert.
You know, I only read this recently and noticed that passage for the first time and it blew me away too. (And it's weird how I'll be thinking about something for awhile and then you post about it! It's like the Holy Spirit is dealing with people all over the world on the same stuff at the same time or something... I dunno).

Anyway, it is hard to practice that kind of faith isn't it? I still want God to give me what I want and I still throw tantrums when He doesn't even though I know perfectly well that I don't want the 'genie-in-the-sky' type God.
You'd almost think there was a plan or something...
That is a painful lessons He's been teaching me ... that trusting Him means trusting His purpose, not an expected promise that was never given. It's a hard thing to give up one's imagined fantasies about God ... for something that is based solely around Him and nothing but Him. Sometimes it hurts ... but even knowing it'll hurt doesn't excuse us from our obligation to follow. Thanks for the reminder.
You're always welcome. I'm thankful for your presence.