"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 3:17-18, HCSB, emphasis added).
Some context: Three men who believed in God lived in a kingdom that worshiped many idols. They refused to compromise their faith, even though there was a decree saying that those who did not bow would be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. *Yikes.*
Here's the thing about God: He promised to rescue us from sin and death, and He fulfilled that promise by sending Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and die a sinner's death. But God did not promise to deliver us from every hard circumstance or every little minor inconvenience. In fact, He said the opposite: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world," (John 16:33, NIV).
I think that the three men in this story, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were on to something in the book of Daniel. They knew that God held the power to rescue them from their circumstance. Yet they also knew that He might choose not to. And even if He chose not to, He was still their God. Even if He didn't perform a miracle to save them all, He was still capable of doing so.
This Good Friday, I am reminded that even if Jesus had died on the cross for our sins and not been resurrected, He still came for us. He still came and performed miracles and healed people and humbly walked among His people.
Was the resurrection necessary? Of course. Jesus would still be trapped under the weight of our sins if He hadn't defeated death. But based on what I know about His character, I believe that even if He wasn't guaranteed a Sunday morning, even if He was going to be resurrected and just didn't know it, I still think He would have come for us. He would have given up His life for us, with our without a resurrection. I don't know if your theology lets you think that way, but these are things I think about. After all, Jesus did say in John 10:17-18 that He alone has the authority to lay down His life and take it up again.
But back to the furnace. God actually chose to let these three men go into the blazing fire. He did not spare them from the fear and anxiety that was surely raging in their bodies as they were tied up and thrown in. It wasn't until after they were thrown into the fire that we find out God actually did protect them and rescue them from such a fate. Not only did He rescue them, but He sent in a fourth man, looking like "a son of the gods," (v. 25). Even though the three men were thrown into a terrible circumstance, God was among them in it and through it. They walked away unscathed, but undoubtedly with even greater faith.
It gets better. Because they went through the hard thing, God received even more glory. The king who refused to bow to anything other than his little statue decided that he was following the wrong god. "There is no other god who is able to deliver like this," King Neb said (v. 29).
The same goes for Jesus. He had to go through such terrible pain, on this day over 2,000 years ago, so that God would get the glory. Not only that, but He knew about it beforehand. He prayed in the garden, "Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me--nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done," (Luke 22:42, HCSB). Jesus knew that even if He had to go through the crucifixion, it was worth it for His name to be glorified.
Sunday morning gives us hope in the days to come. Friday sets us free.
Jesus, thank you for knowing what was before You and coming anyway. You didn't have to rescue us, yet You promised to do so and followed through. Help me to praise and worship You, even on the difficult days. Help me proclaim joy and obedience over my life in the midst of sorrow and suffering. Even if You allow the hard things, You are still with me and You are still good. Amen.
It has been a long while since I have posted! I couldn't miss an opportunity to share my thoughts on Good Friday, but next week I will post a life update and hopefully continue posting regularly once again. Thank you for jumping back in with me today! Blessings.