On the Christian Unity Ministries Facebook page we have been going though passages in Daniel for about a month now looking very closely at how the relationships played a role in these very familiar “famous” stories. We started at the beginning focused on how our four young men faced a new land and home. Then we moved 3 years down the road to see that these same young men were still facing life together. In the third chapter we see three of them again facing a difficult challenge. Daniel is not part of the story. We don’t know why. We do know that even if not present with them, He is a huge part of the story of why they responded as they did. Their faith was forged in relationship.
Let’s focus for just a second on a key part of the story when they are before the King.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Wow, where did that come from? We can kind of relate to the concept of the first part of their response. “Our God is able”. We can relate to that kind of hope. The second part of their response though tells us that it is faith not hope. It is faith because it is an “even if not” statement. I want us to spend some time on this, but first there is something important that we can’t miss. They know what their answer was going to be. We need to be in that same position before we are in the pressure packed situation where a decision is demanded. So, where did that faith come from? Did it come from their circumstances or from a long list of answered prayer?
Let’s look at that.
- They are not at home with family. They are in a foreign land.
- Yes they had been blessed, but look at how quickly the tables can turn. There is no stability. No security. They are in hot water.
- They probably prayed that Israel would not be defeated in the first place.
- They probably prayed not to be taken in exile to Babylon
- They probably prayed that Nebuchadnezzar would repent and relent on the law.
- Maybe they prayed that law won’t be enforced.
- Maybe they prayed that nobody would notice if they didn’t bow down.
- Maybe they prayed that Daniel would be able to get the Jews exempted from the law.
How does their scorecard look to you at this point?
And yet “even if not” is the kind of faith they exhibit. These young men did not have superficial faith.
I was listening to a sermon that John Ortberg preached about this. At this point of the story he said: “How does the human heart get shaped like that?” That really got me thinking. I started trying to think of examples from our lifetime of people standing on their principles. I thought of some examples outside of church that I think can help us picture this concept. I think we can still find application for our lives. Hang with me for a couple of more posts. That is where we will pick up as we look at the verses for our last story about Daniel and some pretty large cats.