“But if Not”

By: Frank Tunstall, D. Min.

All children of God sooner or later will need a well thought out but if not doctrine. The ups and downs of life will see to that.

The story of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego make the point. These three Hebrew young men lived during the Babylonian exile some 2500 years ago. On the plain of Dura [in modern Iraq] they refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. The infuriated king gave them one final chance to obey the order. Instead, they responded:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 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. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18 NIV).

God did not prevent their going into the furnace, saving them from the fire (Daniel 3:21–30; Isaiah 43:2; Ephesians 2:1–10). Instead, His higher purpose took the route of the greater miracle, saving them in the fire. It happened in the split second the fourth man, who is the Son of Man and Son of God stepped into the furnace. Nebuchadnezzar was shocked from head-to-toe to see a fourth man walking loose in the fire.

The nature of the fire had changed in the second the Messiah entered the furnace with them.  That fire had been hot enough in the snap of your finger to take their breath away, but it was no longer a furnace with the power to cremate them.

The furnace was not even as hot as a one-year-old’s birthday candle!

The great symbol of this deliverance was the rope on the three Hebrews’ hands and feet. Their bonds went up in smoke, but not them; the “seven times hotter” fire did not turn them to ashes (Daniel 3:19). Instead, they could walk around in the furnace as free men because their Messiah was with them. (Daniel 3:25).

When they stepped out of the fire, it “had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed. Their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27). These young men who would not bow could not burn because Jesus-the-fourth-man wrapped them in those seconds in divine protection strong enough to make the seven-fold heated furnace a laughingstock – no cremation here!

God’s higher purpose also included elevating them to leadership in Nebuchadnezzar’s government.

To his credit, Nebuchadnezzar had the good sense to make the promotions.

Nebuchadnezzar was a man of colossal pride. A few years down the road it cost him his throne, and he did not get it back for seven years. The sentence resulted from God’s judgment on his gigantic pride.

After being restored to his throne, he made a prophetic exclamation about the greatness of God:

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right, and all his ways are just” (Daniel 4:37).

THINK ABOUT IT: No record exists Nebuchadnezzar committed his life to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But this ruler, who was the most powerful sovereign in the world 2500 years ago, did “praise and exalt, and glorify” God.

The great conclusion of Babylon’s king can help many children of God walk through life’s crises with their faith in God intact. (See also John 11:49-52). And when a very special occasion arises, to fulfill divine purposes, even evil people can be motivated by God to give a prophecy that brings honor to Jesus Christ.1

“But if not.”

May the grace of our Lord help each of you, dear readers, to accept this “but if not” admonition. Purpose in your heart if God does not answer your prayer the way you pray it that your love for Jesus will not diminish. Instead, live for your future in Christ Jesus. In time you will understand and appreciate the “why” of God’s purposes in your life. So, worship Him with gratitude, knowing Jesus doeth all things well.

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all-the-day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Though sorrows befall us, and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

Source: Musixmatch

————————————————–

1 No record exists Nebuchadnezzar committed his life to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But this ruler, who was the most powerful sovereign in the world 2500 years ago, did praise and glorify God.

  See also John 11:49-52 for an account of a man who did not have an ounce of love for Jesus, but none-the-less “prophesied Jesus would bring together the scattered children of God and make them one” in the family of God.

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