But if Not
Salisbury Post- January 26, 2019
But if not, we want you to know, O king, that we will NOT serve your gods, and we will NOT worship the golden image you set up!
That was a pretty bold statement coming from three friends about to be cast into a fiery furnace!
The words were said after King Nebuchadnezzar set up a statue that was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. He commanded that everyone stop when they heard music playing and worship the statue.
And if they did not, they would be cast into a fiery furnace — so hot that its’ fiery blast killed the soldiers who opened the door!
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — could have taken the easy way out — maybe bow for a second, but not worship. Or they could say they were just following the customs of the land at that time. There were lots of excuses — or ways out — of the situation. And then they could ask God to forgive them. And God would.
So, why didn’t they? Maybe because they knew that would be putting other gods before the true God. Or maybe because they knew that would hurt their testimony.
It was a tough choice to make. Then, King Nebuchadnezzar said, “Who is this god that is going to deliver you?” That may have made them even more bold, because the god that was going to deliver them was THEIR God — the only true God!
In Daniel 3:16, they said that they did not even have to think about their decision or defend themselves in that matter. They had quickly made their choice — conviction over comfort.
They were taking a stand for God instead of a stoop to an idol.
In verse 17, their trust in God seemed even more pronounced: If it be so, our God whom we serve is ABLE to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and deliver us out of your hand,
This is when the ‘but if not’ verse — Daniel 3:18 — happened. It was the boldest statement of all – they wanted King Neb to know that no matter what, they would not serve his gods or worship the golden image he set up.
Ooohhhh! King Neb was so full of fury that he had the heat turned up 7 times hotter!
The most mighty men in the army were then told to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Shortly after that, King Neb asked his counselors one of the best questions ever, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” Their answer was: True.
Then came one of the best follow up responses to one of the best questions ever when King Neb said, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
When they walked out, they didn’t even smell like smoke!
• And… the king gave them a promotion!
Going through the fire?
• We don’t even have to defend ourselves.
• If it be so, our God is able to deliver us.
• God is in the fire with us- no matter how hot it gets.
• The same power that delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is available for us.
• We won’t even smell like smoke … and we may get a promotion.
• But if not… serve God anyway.