But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Job had his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, who for all their initial good intentions were heaping on the misery of Job through their insistence that he has sinned. Daniel had his three friends too, though cast in a very different light – they were righteous and godly men much like Daniel, who had a strong faith – the ‘but even if God does not’ faith. We all know the story, evil and jealous administrators complained to the King Nebuchadnezzar about the three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (or also known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego), that they neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up [Dan 3:12]. Was it a valid complaint? Was it true? Yes, and the three friends did not deny it. When the king threatened to throw them into a furnace if fail to fall to his image, they simply replied, we’ll go to the furnace, and surely our Lord will protect us. But even if our Lord doesn’t, and we will burn to death in the furnace, we will not worship your image. It’s kinda awe-inspiring how they said such things so confidently and easily, no? They made it very black-and-white to the king, they didn’t try to blur or soften their stand a little just to appease the king. They did not budge from their faith, they did not compromise at all. In their response to the king, they were basically saying, go ahead, please throw us into the furnace. And so the King did, ordering the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual [Dan 3:19]. We all know the story, the Lord protected them indeed, they were not harmed by the fire, and the king even saw a fourth person in the fire along with them – a servant of God. In this study, though, we will focus on the the faith that is ‘but even if God does not’ and examine how important it is that we nurture this faith in our lives.
For what reason do you worship God? Because you get something out of it? Because God will bless you if you worship him? That’s basically what Satan accused mankind, or in particular, Job of back in the book of Job: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” [Job 19-11] When God asked Satan, have you not seen how righteous Job is, Satan was staunch in his belief that Job was only righteous because God has blessed him, and given him a lot.
Though being taken away from their homeland and forced to live and work in Babylon, it would be fair to say that the three friends were blessed. After all, it was really because of Daniel that they achieved their high positions. They could have just said, our Lord will protect us if you throw us into the furnace – that was enough, no? They were men of faith, and that was a statement of faith. To say just that confidently in the face of it truly happening was amazing and godly enough already, surely. And that is what so many of us do today. We declare healing, we declare success, we declare we are protected. What if God doesn’t heal, though? Not that he can’t or isn’t powerful enough, certainly, but what if it is not in his plans to heal? What if it is in his plans that you or your closed ones pass away? What if it is in his plans for you to taste failure?
Can you truly declare that you know God’s will 100%? I’m sure the three friends of Daniel must have have a very massive amount of confidence that they will not be harmed even if they were thrown into the furnace. I’m sure that had a massive amount of peace in their hearts even in such a horrible moment. But even for them, they had a ‘even if not’ statement. If they truly burnt and died, they wanted to assure the king in advance that they wouldn’t have regretted not worshiping his image.
But even if not. Remember Jesus and his last prayer? Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done [Luke 22:42]. Was God able to do it – yes, he certainly had the ability to take the cup away, but he wouldn’t have done it, for it was not in his will, and Jesus knew it. If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that [James 4:15|Article]. If it’s not the Lord’s will?
Doesn’t mean we can’t pray for healing, but let our faith on God not be based on the fact that God must heal us, or our faith will tumble. Doesn’t mean we can’t pray for success, but let our faith on God be based not on the outcome of our endeavours, or the extent of the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Let us learn to nurture the faith of ‘but even if God does not’, and let our faith be based not on the things that God does for us, but on the person of God himself.