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    Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Dan 3:16-18

    Each of us is probably very familiar with this story. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had issued a decree requiring everyone to bow down and worship the 90 foot tall image of gold he had made. Anyone who disobeyed was to be thrown into a blazing furnace for daring to defy the king. Yet these three friends of Daniel knew God wanted them to worship Him only, and that obedience to God was worth any consequences of disobeying the king. The story ends with the three men being thrown into the fire (which was heated seven times more than usual) yet miraculously being saved by God, so that even Nebuchadnezzar praises the God of Israel.

    Verse 18 is an often overlooked part of this passage. “But even if he does not” – what could this mean? Are these three courageous men of God having a moment of doubt? Do they, or do they not, believe God can rescue them? I do not think this is doubt; I believe what they are saying is that it is God’s choice whether He will rescue them or let them die, but God is certainly more than capable of rescuing them. And most importantly, the friends trust God enough to obey Him whether or not he rescues them.

    So the question for us is: how will we respond when faced with circumstances that challenge our faith or trust in God? I’m sure all of us have gone through, or are currently going through, such a situation. Do we need a guarantee of His deliverance or safety before we will stand up for Him? What if the “even if he does not” part comes true in our situation? Will we still be willing to trust God the next time?

    Or will we fully trust God now and obey Him no matter what the consequences are?

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