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Even if He Doesn’t

The book of Daniel begins with a plundering of God’s temple and the captivity of Daniel and his comrades- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, especially Daniel, gain respect from the king. At the end of Daniel chapter 2, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were appointed to be in charge of the province of Babylon. That is an extremely high honor, especially for men who came to the kingdom as captives.

However, Daniel chapter 3 sees these same three men thrown into a a fire so hot that it killed those who got too close. How did they gain the displeasure of the king so quickly?

It all started when King Nebuchadnezzar built a giant statue- you guessed it- in the province of Babylon. Right in the same place where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were assigned. The King sent a message requiring his officials to attend the dedication of the statue. When all the people were told to bow down to the statue or be thrown in a blazing furnace, it was obvious that three people did not comply.

When they were brought before the king, the three men stood their ground.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18

Can you believe their conviction?

Most of us know how the story ends. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego get thrown into the furnace. However, not only are the three men unbound and walking in the fire, but the king sees a fourth man who he declares to must be a god.

When the three men come out of the fire, they are unharmed, unsinged, and don’t even smell of smoke. The king is convinced that their God is the God above all other gods and he promoted the three men to even higher positions in Babylon.

Our Obedience and God’s Faithfulness

The sequence of events in this story is so incredible it’s no wonder it is retold in children’s books and Sunday schools across the globe. The courage and conviction it took for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to withstand the temptation to bow to that statue is one that could have only come from God.

I can’t help but think that their obedience and the subsequent faithfulness of God in their past led to an unwavering belief and trust in God in their current circumstances.

Daniel chapters 1 and 2 detail a history of obedience and God’s subsequent faithfulness. It was through a developed trust in God that they were able to say that, “the God whom we serve is able to save us… But even if He doesn’t…” They were confident in God’s ability to save them and accepting of His will if He didn’t.

Oftentimes, we as believers think that if we obey God, we will avoid experiencing trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. God never promised us an easy life- He promised us He would be with us. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” and in Matthew 28:20, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Start Small

Maybe you’re thinking you would never have been as brave as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If faced with that choice today, maybe you would bow down to that idol and ask God for forgiveness later. Maybe you would bow down and not feel guilty at all. If that is true, and you’re being honest with yourself, that’s okay. God wants a transparent, authentic relationship with you exactly where you are.

It’s okay to start small. Talk to God and tell Him how you feel. Express your desire, or lack of desire, to do His will in the midst of pressure or threat of punishment. Ask God what small step you can take today to deepen your relationship with Him. You might be surprised at the results of just one small step at a time.

 “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Stay Humble

Maybe you’re thinking that, if faced with that idol today, you would have stood strong with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Bring it on, narcissistic king!

A word of caution-

“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12

We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If we were perfect, Jesus wouldn’t have died on the cross. Ask God to show you areas of your life that you may be missing- areas where perhaps you have grown hardened to sin. Remember, small sins lead to bigger sins.

Develop a Relationship

Keep in mind that obedience to God does not always result in earthly gains. Obedience is about developing trust and a relationship with God. We obey Him because we love Him and believe He knows best for our lives. We trust Him because He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and is working all things out for the eternal good of those who love Him. (1 John 1:9, Romans 8:28)

A relationship with God does not mean that life will be easy, but it does mean that it will be worth it.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

 

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