Serving God FAITHFULLY no matter WHAT HAPPENS: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)
The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a golden image of himself that was 90 feet high in the plain of Dura. He had then commanded everyone in his kingdom to fall down to worship it when they heard the sound of music. Anyone who refused would be cast into a fiery furnace (3:1-7). For failing to comply with the king’s edict, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were brought before the king, but as faithful Jews they still refused to worship the idol.
Complying with the king’s proposal would have meant them violating the second commandment (Ex. 20:4). The answer of the three men to the threats of Nebuchadnezzar is noteworthy (3:16-18). They affirmed their confidence in God to deliver them from death, but also declared that they would still remain faithful to Jehovah God even if He did not deliver them. They had already decided what their course of action would be concerning the king’s image, and their refusal was permanent. They affirmed that God whom they served was able to deliver them. Whether God did deliver them was up to Him. They would still faithfully serve Him in all events either by life or by death!
The response of the Jewish young men is a model of confidence in God and submission to His will as they recognized God’s sovereignty and power. They had recognized that sometimes it was the will of God for His children to die ‘in the line of duty’ as they served Him. They knew that God was able to deliver them, but did not know if it was His will. What was at stake here was not God’s ability to save or their precious lives, but their faith and obedience to serve Him regardless of the cost. Let us understand that our faith in God may not translate into victory in every circumstance (see Heb. 11:32–39).
The three friends of Daniel provide us the model for a faithful testimony under the threat of torture and death. This is exactly how Job had professed when he was in deep trouble: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15). Indeed if God be for us, we need not fear what humans or even people in authority can do unto us. God will deliver us either from death, or in death!
The idea through this incident is not that God will always protect us from physical harm (Isaiah 41:10; 43:1, 2). He may do that and certainly is able to. The idea is that we should be obedient to Him whatever the consequences. Our ability to stand against temptation is directly proportional to our trust in God’s ability to deliver us. Let us believe that God is able to deliver us from the most difficult circumstances. Let us be willing to endure death rather than deny our faith in God’s power to deliver us. Let us serve God faithfully no matter what happens!