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Jarod Jacobs: But If Not

This was the courageous cry of Daniel’s three friends as they stood before an angry king (Dan. 3:18). In context, Nebuchadnezzar had an idol of gold built and commanded all to bow down to it (Dan. 3:1-5). The consequence for refusal was being burned up in a furnace (v. 6). When Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused to bow; the king gave them one more chance (v. 11-15). Yet, when given this second chance, and knowing their lives were lost if they refused, these men said, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Dan. 3:16-18).

That phrase “but if not” shows how much faith these men had. They were confident that God could deliver them from the fiery furnace. However, they had no guarantee that God would do anything to save them from burning. Therefore, they were ready to make that sacrifice. Being right with God meant more to them than pleasing man! While we know what happened, at that time, they did not know! The only thing they were sure of was that they would not compromise their principles or faith, even if this meant death.

It would have been easy for those men to agree to bow to the idol and perhaps say under their breath, “We don’t mean it, we still love the Lord, but we need to go along or be killed.” To the contrary, the men in Daniel 3 were not spineless. They are our heroes because they stood and chose to be faithful when it was extremely hard, even deadly, to do!

Thankfully, God chose to spare them. Upon being thrown into the furnace that had been heated seven times hotter than normal (Dan. 3:19), Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah did not burn (Dan. 3:22)! What might have happened had they not said, “But if not”? Perhaps they would have escaped the king’s wrath, but they might have later been thrown into a fire from which there is no escape (Rev. 21:8; Mk. 9:44, 46, 48)!

The phrase, “But if not,” shows us how faithful and brave these men were when facing certain death. Very few people in America fear for their lives when they decide to become a Christian (Mk. 16:16). Therefore, it begs the question, why are we so quick to discard our convictions? It happens, or we would not read about corrective discipline in the Bible (II Thess. 3:6)! It happens, or there would not be such passages as Galatians 6:1 and James 5:19-20 in the Bible. It happens, or there would not be the account of Simon’s sin (Acts 8:18-24). Why do we do this?

When we realize we serve a loving, powerful, merciful, just, kind, holy, and righteous God who simply wants us to be His children and go to Heaven one day, why are we so quick to toss this all aside? Let us take time to reevaluate our lives (II Cor. 13:5) and ensure we are living as God wants us to live. Let us have the same attitude as the three Hebrews who said, “But if not”!

-- You are invited to visit with the Caneyville church of Christ. Times of services: Sun.: 10:00 am, 10:45 am, 5:00 pm; Wed.: 7:00 pm. Website: Tune in to our radio program 101.5 FM at 5:30 am, Mon-Fri. Questions? Call: (270) 589-4167


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