“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O King. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up… He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” – Daniel 3:16-17,25
In this series of posts, we are exploring what revolutionary hope looks like, and how we can have it. We have considered the importance of having trust in God and of seeing Him at work in our lives as part of our cultivation of this hope. In this post, we’ll look at the importance of believing in the revolutionary hope of God.
We Know How To Believe
If you fly, why do you get on an airplane? Think about it. Once filled with fuel and cargo, a Boeing 747 weighs close to 1 million pounds. That’s 500 tons, for those who don’t do quick math. How on earth does 500 tons of metal, fuel, glass, cargo and human flesh even get off the ground? I know the aeronautical engineers out there can explain the answer to that, but frankly to me it always seems unbelievable.
And yet, I still get on.
Despite physics (or the limitations of my understanding of physics), logic, and my enduring trust in the power of gravity, I still get on. Why? Well, it’s because I believe the plane will fly. Indeed, I believe it will fly safely, thousands of miles at 30,000 or more feet above sea-level from one destination to another. If I did not believe this, my decision to board would be suicidal.
Believing He Can Do It
Despite my belief that it is far more likely than not that the plane I board will stay in flight as intended, I nonetheless offer a prayer to God that His will be done as the aircraft gains speed on take-off. In some sense, that’s because I have come to believe more in Him than even the most powerful of the tangible things in my life. And that has given me peace.
But would that faith remain if the chances of my death were vastly greater? For instance, would I board a plane that had only one wing?
Such was the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These faithful men of God had such deep belief in His ability to deliver them that they were willing to be thrown into a furnace before bowing down to anyone or anything else. In their own words, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire.”
And so, when they refused to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, the evil despot ordered just that. They were to be thrown into the fire. And we know the rest of the story – that Jesus goes with them into the flames, protects them from the fire, and delivers them from the furnace, a furnace so hot it incinerated the men charged with delivering the three into it. Dan. 3:21-26
Believing He Will Do It
Nearly as remarkable as the miracle itself, however, was the belief Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had that God could indeed deliver them, and in fact would indeed deliver them. Again, in their own words “He will deliver us out of your hand, O King.”
There was absolutely no doubt in their minds as to the ability and willingness of God to do this thing. Again, they weren’t just boarding an airplane with the remote chance that there might be a safety issue mid-flight. They were condemning themselves to a certain, painful horrific death in the absence of God intervening. Their hope was revolutionary in that they believed without a shred of doubt in the deliverance of God.
Believing Even If He Does Not Do It
But what if He doesn’t?
This is often the question that sneaks into the back of our minds (or the front, if we are honest) when we turn to God for hope. Our tendency is to fall back on a qualifier, almost as though we need to protect Him from our doubt. We’re tempted to give Him a way out in case things don’t work out. Those with revolutionary hope resist such thinking.
If the God you believe in needs an escape clause, you’re not worshipping the true God of the universe.
Although it may seem the Shadrach and his two friends employed such rationale, that’s not actually the case. They tell the king: “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” The three men here are not questioning the will of God to deliver them from the flames, their faith in such is never in doubt. Rather, they are acknowledging the sovereignty and divine wisdom of the plan of God.
Believing In His Plan
The faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego wasn’t blind, but it was fully cognizant of what they could not see or know. That is to say, these three men knew and believed two things critical to revolutionary hope. First, God always has a good and perfect plan. Second, many times – indeed most times – we can’t see or know what that plan is ahead of time.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego knew God had the power and the willingness – expressed in His love of them – to deliver the men from the fire. But they didn’t know if this was the best path forward to fulfill His plan of redemption. They had peace no matter what the outcome, because they believed God had a plan, even if they could not know it ahead of time. And their peace with His plan, no matter what it may be, proved to be a critical component of His plan – for their faith in Him enabled His demonstration of His absolute power and authority.
And so, I have three questions for you: (1) Do you believe God is able to deliver you from any trial you may face? (2) If so, do you believe He loves you and is willing to deliver you from any trial you may face? (3) Finally, do you believe, no matter what He does, that He has a plan, and it is the perfect plan? If you believe these things, you have revolutionary hope.
Father in heaven, we praise You because though we may not know Your plan, we know You. We know You are sovereign. We know You are all-powerful. We know You always have a perfect plan. And we know that Your plan is based on Your deep love for us and carries out Your everlasting loving kindness towards us. Amen.