Monday Motivational – “But if not…”
Welcome to another Monday Motivational! I hope that you are enjoying these weekly post focused around making Mondays a little more bearable. Being able to write a new post every week has been a huge blessing and helped me to grow in areas that I did not know I needed growth in. With that being said, I want to take a brief moment to say thank you to the reader! I am not sure if anyone reads these posts hoping to learn anything, but through the process of writing them I have and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do so every week. Without further ado lets get into this weeks topic. I would like to look at a story from Daniel that we have all hopefully heard, read, or possibly seen the 100% historically accurate depiction from Veggie Tales. That’s right, we are going to look at the story of the fiery furnace and why chocolate is of the devil—especially when it is in giant bunny form!
Okay, so maybe the Veggie Tales depiction of what happened to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is not exactly how it went down. I mean while reading through Daniel chapter 3 I could not find one single mention of chocolate, a giant bunny, or talking vegetables. Although I reflect on my Veggie Tales watching days fondly, we will stick to what is actually found in scripture for this weeks post. To give you a little bit of back-story on the topic before we look at the fiery furnace event lets look at Daniel chapter 1 to figure out who these three brave believers are. Nebuchadnezzar is the king of Babylon at the time, and he decides to go into Jerusalem and besiege it (Daniel 1:1). King Nebuchadnezzar took some of the people from Jerusalem back to Babylon with him that showed promise in regards to education, appearance, and skills so that they could serve in the king’s palace (1:3-4). Four of the people brought to Babylon at this time were Daniel called Belteshazzar, Hananiah called Shadrach, Mishael called Meshach, and Azariah called Abednego (1:7). These four boys stuck together and God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams (1:17). Because of these gifts from God they were seen favorably by the king and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon, but Daniel remained in the king’s court (2:49). This brings us up to chapter 3 of Daniel.
King Nebuchadnezzar makes a golden image and orders all the people of Babylon to worship this image (3:4-5). The punishment for anyone who does not worship this image is that they will be cast into the fiery furnace (3:6). It came time for everyone to worship the image, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that they were to only worship God so they refused (3:12). The story continues on with an amazing demonstration of how God looks after and protects His people (3:23-26), but I want to focus in on what is said by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego just before they are put into the furnace. Daniel 3:15-18 says, “…And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”. Here is a great example of what our obedience to God is supposed to look like.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego know that they are to serve God and only God. They are obedient to this even though the outcome of their obedience is that they will be cast into the fiery furnace. Look at the first three words in verse 18—“But if not…”. We get caught up in the rewards of our obedience and start to think that we deserve something from God when we are obedient to Him. This is not true. We are supposed to be obedient to God because of His sovereign authority, not because obedience makes us deserving of anything. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that it was their job to be obedient in serving only God, regardless of what the outcome was to be. “But if not…” meant that even if God did not deliver them from the furnace or from the hand of the king, it was still an opportunity for them to show their obedience to the will of God.
Just because we are obedient to what God is calling us to do, we are not more deserving of the blessings He gives us. We are fully undeserving of any and every blessing we receive. As believers we need to be obedient to God because it is the right thing to do, not because our obedience makes us more deserving to be blessed by God. Obedience to God should be a lifestyle that we live out everyday, and when/if blessings come we should thank God for them. But if not, God is still sovereign and worthy of our continued obedience.