“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.”
In this famous story, King Nebuchadnezzar is about to have Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into a furnace because they refused to worship his golden idol. These verses have become especially famous for their great expression of faith. They tell him that they believe that God will deliver them out of his hand, that the king will not be able to harm them. That faith is powerful. The King is the most powerful person in the country, able to do as he pleases with no regard for anything but his own interest. If he wants to have someone killed, so be it. Kings were feared and treated with the utmost respect. If you crossed the King, it would not be good for you. Yet these three openly defy him to his face, even with the threat of execution. That alone is a remarkable story of faith.
What’s even more powerful though, is what they say next. “But if not,” meaning if God does not rescue them from the king, “be it known to you O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.” They say that even if God doesn’t show up, if he doesn’t deliver them out of the king’s punishment, if he lets them die there in the furnace, they STILL would not worship his false gods. This is an aspect of faith that we often miss completely. We do so many things because we want to be rewarded. We live in a way that we deem “Christian” so that we can go to heaven. But what if we couldn’t? Does that mean you’d abandon it all?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lived before Jesus’ time. They didn’t have the promise of heaven after death. They were willing to die anyways, not because they would receive some reward, but because they knew that there was only one true God, and that he alone deserved their praise. The believed that He was good, that whatever happened to them would be ok because He is good. That’s all they needed.
Luckily for us, we have more than that. We have the promise of eternal life in Heaven with God himself. That’s amazing. But if that reward is all that your faith is based on, then it’s empty. We should have the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who needed no reward to know what was right, and to be willing to do it no matter what the cost.
Give me the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I know that you are the one, true, living God and that you are good. I believe your promise that you will deliver me from my sin and save me from death by raising me to eternal life, but I pray that I would always do what is right in your eyes regardless of the reward or the punishment that it may cause. Give me faith to live like that.
In Jesus’ Name,