“But if not…” Stay the Course

Daniel 3:17-18

The Open BibleYears ago, I selected a life verse, the first part of Daniel 3:18.  It’s part of an affirmation of faith from three young men that they would do what God said regardless of the consequences.  Looking back on it now, it probably wasn’t the smartest choice, but I believe it was the right one for me.  As I am starting a new direction for my blog, I thought a look at the two verses that convey that affirmation was appropriate.


Daniel chapter three is the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.  They were given high ranking positions in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. They served with distinction, but when Nebuchadnezzar became full of himself and ordered everyone to worship a golden image he had erected, they could do nothing but disobey him and follow God.  Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they either comply or die.  The young men responded with a twofold declaration of faith.

3:17 – “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.”

Two ideas are contained in verse 17.  The first is that the young men had complete faith in the God they served.  They state He “is able to deliver” them and that “He will deliver” them.  God’s power is not in question. They trust Him because of His power.

The second idea is that of God’s supreme authority.  Nebuchadnezzar’s apparent power to kill them showed the power of the god he had created. The young men declared the God they served was greater in power and
authority than any other god.  He would show this by delivering them from Nebuchadnezzar’s control.

3:18 – “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.”

Two ideas are also contained in verse 18. The first is a repeat of God’s supremacy. By stating “But if not,” the men declare that God is in control regardless of what happens. Nebuchadnezzar’s apparent power was only by God’s allowance. Jesus reminded Pontius Pilate of the same idea in John 19:11.

The second idea is the demonstration of faith in God’s person. The men state, “we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship” them; even if their God chose not to deliver them. God was worthy of their worship and trust simply because of who He was.


Daily trials, tribulations, and unanswered prayers sometimes tempt me to doubt God’s love and care for me. They don’t seem like much compared to the burning furnace of long ago, or even the threat of death experienced by many Christians around the world today. But I can still have the same faith in God’s power and His person. No matter what my situation, He has the power to solve any problem or provide for any need. And if He doesn’t take care of things the way I like, I know He is still God. He is worthy of my faith. All I have to do is trust Him and stay the course.

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