“…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out thine hand O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods…”
It is rather presumptuous of people to claim to know the mind of God and what God will or will not choose to do in a specific circumstance. Of course, that does not preclude God from telling people in advance of His intentions. For the Christian, in every life situation, God is sovereign.
Without a word from God in advance, it is enough for us to know God is able and to possess a willingness to accept God’s sovereignty. The scripture does not say whether the three men in this story had such an advanced word from God. They were, however, very confident, not only in God’s ability but His willingness as well (he will deliver us).
The real lesson here is that their faith was not dependent on God behaving a certain way or answering a specific prayer. They made this clear by stating, But if not, whatever the consequences, our faith in God remains the same.
As well-known as this story is, one cannot help but wonder why we did not hear Christians and their churches echoing the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in 2020 when the king command churches close.
Oh, we heard lots of God is able to deliver us, and God will deliver us from Covid, but nary a word saying, but if not, we will face whatever comes of our refusing to bow. Had our pastors, priests, and deacons forgotten the oft-told Sunday School lesson? Did they not believe it? Or were they simply too afraid of the governor, their neighbors, and the virus to act as if God were with them either way? The men in the story were prepared to die. We were afraid of a virus with a 99+% survival rate.
We have abrogated taking prayerful, reasoned action for our lives and our health to the whims of government and the monied interests government partners with. There is no sin in taking precautions—wearing a mask, being vaccinated, and being boosted if that is a person’s decision. It is evil to the nth degree to shut the church doors because the State says we must.
A person may value the law while refusing to comply with it for conscience’s sake. The caveat is that the same person must be prepared to accept the penalty prescribed by the law. The men in our text raised no fuss against the king's decree of death. There were no cries of oppression, inequality, or walking around town while Jewish. Death was the penalty for disobedience, and they had decided they would pay the price rather than comply.
The roots of civil disobedience lie deep in American soil—deeper still in Judeo-Christian faith and practice. Where did the decision to comply and close our doors come from?
But that’s just my opinion, discount it as you will for what it is. In the quiet time of your prayer and meditation, therein lies your answer to the question. There you will also find the remedy, should you need one.
Never fear, we will revisit the lesson again soon.