Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? “Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire — and who is the god who can rescue you from my power? ” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. “If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. “But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
– Daniel 3:14-18 CSB
I always thought Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were supposed to be amazing models of faith-filled steadfastness that believers should aspire to if we want to withstand the toughest attacks against our faith. That’s not the way they are though. They reveal something else, not faith, as their primary motivation.
They said if the God of their people exists, he can rescue them, but if he doesn’t, they just wanted Nebuchadnezzar to know that they won’t ever bow down to him. I usually read “if the God we serve exists” as a hypothetical, or like they’re setting up a bet between Nebuchadnezzar and their God that they are assured they’re going to win. If they’d finished the sentence with, “but if he doesn’t rescue us, he is still more powerful than you,” that would be the case. But they finished their statement with, “But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as a king to know that we will not serve your gods, or worship the gold statue you set up. It wasn’t faith that was motivating them, it was rebellion.
If anything, they had been hemorrhaging faith ever since Babylon violently overtook their God-given country and they hated Nebuchadnezzar. They wanted him to know they would never show him any form of respect, whether there’s a God in heaven or not.
If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
– 2 Timothy 2:13
Jesus didn’t die to rescue people with unshakable faith. He died to give it to us. I let all sorts of motives outshine my level of trust in God. That does not change my outcome. He is always faithful, and whatever faith I have comes from him in the first place.
Faith in Jesus is not a muscle I can build up and flex. It’s an admission that I’m not enough. I need Jesus for this. The opposite of faith is thinking I can handle it myself.
Lord, I’m faithless often. I let pride or fear or anger or rebellion get in the way of my faith. Have grace for me, and remind me that you have my soul in your will, and you faithfully uphold me when I am faithless. Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me from the many places and situations in which I lacked faith. May they increase my faith in the fact that I need you.
This post is part of my Weekly REAP series. I’m posting these from my personal journal to share what God is teaching me, and to give some practical examples of the REAP method. I didn’t write any of these with publishing in mind, so forgive me if they don’t always wax eloquent. Here is some more information on the REAP study method.