But If Not!
One of the best known incidents in the lives of God's people in the bible is
"The Incident of the Fiery Furnace"!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were working in the court of Nebuchadnezzer
and had fallen foul of a decree forcing people to bow down and worship a
statue that Nebuchadnezzar, the king, had set up.
These three Jewish lads did not compromise though, and their response to
the kings demand included the words of the title to this article.
Let's read the passage in the bible in Daniel 3:16-18.
Dan 3:16-18 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.”
Now you may be wondering why I've pulled out the phrase "But if not" to be
highlighted. Well it goes like this...
Many think that the boys said to Nebuchadnezzar that if the king threw them
into the fire then God is able to rescue them but if God didn't rescue them
from the fire, well they would not serve the king's gods!
Now when you come to analyse this belief we find a certain telling redundancy.
If God does not rescue the lads they will die! Any thought of worshipping or
not worshipping the king's gods is immaterial! They will be dead!
So what is a better explanation for what the lads said to the king?
If we look back at what Nebuchadnezzar said to them, I think we will see what
was in everyone's mind. Nebuchadnezzar said this...
Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every
kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not
worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver
you out of my hands?”
The important point that I believe Nebuchadnezzar is making is that he has the
authority to throw them into the furnace, so they had better do as he says!
And, what the boys tell him is that, 'if he throws them into the furnace, then
their God will rescue them and if he doesn't throw them in, being lenient won't
make them worship his Gods either'! Both ways the result would be the same;
it's up to him!
We know what happened! Nebuchadnezzar was not backing down and making any
And the rest is history!
Best wishes for Grace and the Peace of Jesus.
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