Message summary: Today we need to demonstrate an attitude of “But if not” faith, and we know many who are doing so. We can indeed have “Unshakable Confidence”!
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“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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 3:16-18).
Today let us examine a three word phrase in the latter part of today’s text, “But If Not”. We feel this is one of the great faith proclamations in the Bible. It was uttered by three courageous young men whose story is recorded in the book of Daniel. Their testimony is an extraordinary example of uncompromising allegiance to the Almighty God in the face of our relentless enemy.
The account of these men of faith is surely one of the greatest acts of deliverance recorded in Scripture. It demonstrates to believers of all ages the incredible power of faith, courage and obedience. They got into serious trouble because they refused to compromise a core commandment of God in bowing down to the 90 foot tall golden image Nebuchadnezzar had set up. The consequence for failing to comply to the king’s command was being thrown into a fiery furnace.
The three Hebrew men (boys) were given a final opportunity to submit to the king’s edict but instead they boldly declared, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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.”
Most of you have heard the story often, perhaps even from your early Sunday School years, and you remember it for the amazing deliverance that took place. But going into it the three Hebrews did not know what the outcome would be so their faith-based resolve was not dependent on the deliverance they experienced. They knew ultimately that it was God whom they would answer to. Their training as earnest, faithful Jews clearly stipulated that bowing down to an idol was forbidden.
“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.” Notice the phrase, “our God whom we serve”. This probably infuriated Nebuchadnezzar who was accustomed to demanding the service and even worship from his subjects. “[God] is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.” Indeed He is able to do all things, for He is a supernatural, miracle working God.
But what follows is a three word phrase that powerfully demonstrates their unconditional, unwavering faith, “but if not”. Some versions word it, “But even if He does not”. In other words, though all things are possible with God, if He chooses to work in another way, “be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
We know the Bible events of deliverance such as the fiery furnace or further on with Daniel in the lion’s den. These events are recounted later in the Book of Hebrews in the “Faith Chapter” and specifically alluded to in this portion, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection” (Hebrews 12:32-35a). The author is summarizing here that God accomplished His will in the lives of His faithful followers by providing deliverance of various sorts.
But midway through verse 35 the outcome, as it pertains to this earthly life, changes, “and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 35b-38).
The Bible also has this record with those such as John the Baptist, Stephen, and James who were martyred while faithfully serving God. They were not delivered in the same sense as that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
But no matter the circumstances God is no less God and no less powerful, faithful, good, or merciful. Our narrow, temporal outlook may be “skewed” because we can only see this side of heaven but as we consider God in the eternal realm we realize that He is working for our eternal good, no matter what. As the oft repeated phrase from years ago states, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.”
Today we need to demonstrate an attitude of, “but if not” faith, and we know many who are doing just that. If we exhibit that kind of faith we too will have “Unshakable Confidence”!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the dynamic story of the three Hebrew men speaks of Your miraculous deliverance for all ages and throughout all generations. Their unyielding devotion to You is a tremendous model to those of us who call You our Father. It is by testing that we are strengthened and conformed into your likeness. Trials come upon us to produce perseverance, build character, and draw us closer to Jesus. They also enable us to help others in similar situations and because of our own personal experience we have a greater sense of how to help and pray for them in their hour of need. We love You, Father, and want to be found faithful no matter the circumstance. We declare that “All things are possible with God” while also having a “nevertheless not my will, but Thine be done” for the glory of God. Amen.
- Such confidence we have through Christ before God. (2 Corinthians 3:4)
- In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
- So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. (Hebrews 10:35)
Late yesterday afternoon Stephen helped unload a hay wagon. This brought back to my memories of his first job after we married in 1976 when he helped a hay crew outside of Springfield, Missouri. Many times he wouldn’t get back to the parsonage till the early hours of the morning which was a little scary to me as a newlywed living out in the country with few neighbors that I knew at the time.
“He Is Able” Video Maranatha Singers
“Thank You Lord For The Trials That Come My Way” Video The Continental Singers This was a popular song many moons ago that still has a power-filled message about the way God works trials out for our good.