At Southern Hills, we are making our way through the first six chapters of Daniel. So far, we have been taught about God’s sovereignty, King Nebuchadnezzar’s (“King Neb” as I will call him) pride and anger, Daniel’s faithfulness to God, and more. It is interesting to note at the end of chapter two King Neb is praising the LORD, God of Israel.
Then, Daniel 3 begins with King Neb fashioning an idol made of gold. And this idol is huge! Once the idol is finished, King Neb demands everyone bow down and worship it. Whoever refuses will meet death by fire. As you can imagine, people worshiped the idol—just as the King had commanded. Everyone except for 3 men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. As you may know, these men refused to bow down to King Neb’s idol and were thrown into the furnace.
But they lived!
Let’s consider the conversation place between King Neb and the three Hebrews.
King Neb said: “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?” (Daniel 3:15, ESV, emphasis mine). They replied, “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 3:17-18, ESV. emphasis mine).
What incredible faith! These men responded directly to the King’s question “what god.” Our God! If I could paraphrase it, they said, “You are not God, King Neb. We serve the only God, and He is able to do whatever He wills.”
The sovereignty of God is a huge theme throughout the book of Daniel, and we can see here Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have a firm understanding of this truth: God is in control and His purpose will come to pass. This passage in Daniel has fundamentally shaped how I think about God and how I pray. God is not obligated to act in the way I think He should act—as if I am wiser than God or think my purpose should prevail over His.
When they say to King Neb “but if not,” they are demonstrating genuine faith in God. My hope and prayer for all of us is we would have faith like these men. God is able to do all things! But if He doesn’t do what I want, I still refuse to bow to an idol. God is infinitely wiser than me and I can trust He knows what He is doing, and it has a purpose. We may not always understand exactly why God allows certain sufferings to come our way (remember, Daniel and his friends are exiles in Babylon). Yet, in your suffering, God is doing a thousand things you can’t see—all for His glory and for your good.
God saved these three men from the fire, and yet others (like Paul and Peter) died for their faith in the true God. May we have faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—praying bold prayers and knowing for certain the power of God, and having enough faith to say “but if not, I will not worship anything else.”