“Bow or burn!”
That was the ultimatum given to 3 guys who found themselves standing in a sea of backsides lifted high in the air, bowing down to the towering gold monstrosity.
The conversation that ensued may have gone like this:
“What should we do? I think King’s calling us up front. This doesn’t look good.”
“Maybe we could bend over and adjust our sandal straps – it might look like we’re bowing but really we’re not…”
“Seriously? This is crazy! Look at that statue. All that gold – what a waste! It could have been put to a much better use.”
“Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego! Come forward – NOW!”
As they made their way to the King, heads bowed down to the ground turned ever so slightly to look up at the 3 guys walking past, who were trying carefully to avoid stepping on someone’s hand or tripping over their foot.
“You guys shoulda just bowed,” someone whispered loudly. “If you set King off, he’s likely to go in a rage at all of us. Couldn’t you have used a bit more discretion?”
The king remained seated as the men approached. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments…”
“Here’s the thing, King: If our God – the One we serve – is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your Majesty, then let Him rescue us. But if He doesn’t, know this for certain, Your Majesty: WE WILL NEVER SERVE YOUR GODS OR WORSHIP THE GOLD STATUE YOU’VE SET UP.”
I’ve read this story numerous times, heard it retold in so many different versions, and watched so many times I lost count the VeggieTales’ version of “Rack, Shack & Benny” which my kids loved when they were little. What struck me when I read the story again in a different version I’d never read before, how the 3 guys responded:
Daniel 3:17 Common English Bible
“If our God…is able to rescue us…”
“IF our God is ABLE…”
They didn’t seem to know for sure whether God was able. They didn’t appear to have any real facts to go on. At least not any facts that caused them to say, “Well, we’ve seen God do this before so maybe He’ll do it for us.”
Their question wasn’t “If it’s God’s will to save us….” Their question was: “Well, if He’s able to…” These 3 guys weren’t some spiritual giants in the faith department. It wasn’t like they’d seen God perform this type of deliverance before. One Bible translation has an even more extreme description of where their faith was at:
Daniel 3:17 HCSB
If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire…
What it boils down to: these guys weren’t relying on the facts in any shape or form. It was raw, reckless trust they were engaging in. I am blown away by the conviction these 3 guys lived by! Their commitment to God whether He showed up or not in their greatest time of need is one of the greatest examples of unwavering trust.
They trusted God beyond any type of results. Their faith was in God – period. Their faith wasn’t in what God would give to them or do for them. Their faith was in God’s character. They had a greater trust in truth and what was true than in the facts.
I love their complete trust in God even beyond what they’d known or experienced of God up until that moment. “If our God is able…” OUR GOD. He’s still our God regardless of how this works out. He’s still our God even though we’re a bit uncertain about Him right at this moment. He’s still our God even if we become BBQ. “WE WILL NEVER SERVE YOUR GODS OR WORSHIP THE GOLD STATUE!!!” I can almost hear that statement come out in a roar.
How deep are you willing to put your trust in God? What aspect of God are you banking on: results – do you need facts? Or are you banking on truth – the truth of God’s character – that He IS, always has been, always will be the last Word — Emmanuel. God with us. It’s from that deep, reckless trust in Who God is that we find the greatest peace, rest, and confidence even in the greatest challenges we encounter.
“Bow or burn!” They didn’t bow, they didn’t burn. They banked on truth. They became 3 guys who got to dance with God Himself in the middle of a fiery furnace. And they came out without event a hint of smoke on their clothes.
You want to experience crazy miracles? Put all your chips in on truth over the facts. Truth trumps facts every time.