... "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 3:16b - 18
Daniel 3:16b - 18
Three young men, captive in a foreign land.
Three little words, revealing total submission and trust in sovereignty of God.
But if not.
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (their Hebrew names; you may know them better as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) faced a difficult decision: bow down in worship to a golden idol, denying their God, or be thrown into a raging fire, dying in agony.
Yet this trio didn't see it as a choice; they would not, could not deny their God. When their refusal was brought to Nebuchadnezzar's attention, the king personally confronted them with the choice, offering them a second chance to to worship the golden image, saving themselves from death.
Their response shows a depth of understanding of the sovereignty of God, of submission to His purpose and will to which we all should aspire. That God is fully able to save them, they have no doubt. But if not - if He in His wisdom choses not to save them, they still will not bow. Their lives were completely yielded to God; He could do with them as He pleased. Suffering for God was infinitely preferable to joy in serving an idol.
The account has a spectacular ending; God saves them, leading Nebuchadnezzar - the very king who ordered the idol worship - to issue a decree that anyone who speaks against the trio's God should be torn limb from limb. You can read the entire account in Daniel 3.
Heavenly Father, it's so easy for us to do submit to Your will when the cost is low, or when the outcome is easy and assured. But You ask that we submit regardless of the cost, to trust You even when doing so would cost our very lives. Help us to remember those three little words - but if not. You are infinitely able to save, but if not, we will still follow.
In Jesus' name, Amen