Articles & Devotionals
Even If - Daniel 3
First Corinthians 10:11 tells us, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” One of the many powerful stories from the Old Testament is Daniel 3 – the fiery furnace. This is not merely a children’s story and is certainly no fairy tale. In this marvelous, factual story we see what many theologians call a “Theophany” – an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. And in this theophany we see not just our Mighty God protecting His faithful servants, but we also see an amazing image of life in Christ.
To summarize the story, the Babylonian King (Nebuchadnezzar II, reign 605 BC – 562 BC) erected a statue of himself and demanded all of his subjects to bow and worship the king. Three men, exiles from Jerusalem named Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, refused and as a result were thrown into a fiery furnace which was so hot that it killed the men who tossed them in (Daniel 3:22). In the furnace, a 4th figure appeared looking “like a son of the gods!” (as described by one of the king’s servants in Daniel 3:25) and protected the three men so completely that upon exiting they didn’t even smell like smoke (Daniel 3:27).
First, this marvelous record of events speaks to so many truths about our God. His sovereign power, His divine grace, His willingness and ability to protect His servants, His divine majesty and so many other truths are manifest in this marvelous record. May our Almighty God be forever praised! But these events also speak powerfully to life in Christ.
Life often feels like a consuming fire – feverishly hot, dangerous, consuming, scary and painful. I can only imagine what must have been going through the minds of these three men. Their words and actions are incredibly brave
“16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Or to put these ancient words into our modern vernacular, let me refer to the song “Even If” by MercyMe
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
Here’s where I see instruction. We, along with all mankind, have been thrown into the fire. We live in a sinful, broken, sickness-filled world. We are born into a consuming fire of a world in very mortal bodies which have a guaranteed expiration date. There WILL be a day when we shall “pay the debt that all men pay” and step out of this life and into eternity. How do we live in this fire? How do we endure it? How do we deal with the fiery trial of today? Because just like these men, our God is with us in the fire! Those around us have no protection and face the fiery trials of this day and the next naked and alone while we have the sheltering arms of Almighty God (the true Consuming Fire – Duet 4:24) WITH us… IN us (Acts 17:27) wherever we go!
Look further at verse 25. The men are “walking around” in the fire. Huh?! Seriously?! They’re just hanging out. They’re not running for the exit. They’re not merely getting by or hanging on by a thread. They’re going about as if they’re walking around their living rooms. The presence of the True King allows them to not simply endure the flames but to rise above them – to live as if the flames were not there. Such a powerful teaching on the joy of the Lord.
The instruction doesn’t end there. Look back at the text – specifically verse 27.
The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.
How shall we exit the fiery trials to which we are subjected? Without even the smell of fire upon us! Our transformation will be so complete, so miraculous, so absolute that not even the faintest trace of the fire shall be upon us when we exit this life and enter into the eternal grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. How can we possibly refuse such amazing grace? How can we but fall to our knees in joyful worship to our King?
Our God, our amazing deliverer and salvation preserves us through the fire, enables us to rise above the flames, and to exit the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke! Complete, total deliverance!