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Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

If you understand how "faith" works then you probably have a question as to what's going on with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3.  These three guys ended up operating successfully in the power of God yet they were totally two-faced and contradicted themselves immediately after making a "faith" statement.

For example, they said, "he will deliver us" then they immediately follow that up with, "But even if he doesn't."  At least that's how the NIV shows it, and probably other translations as well. 

Anybody who truly knows how "faith" operates understands that you have to, "Walk by faith, not by sight" 2 Cor 5:7.  And that you have to speak the end result of what you are believing for as Jesus laid out in Mark 11:23.  And that you can't be wavering in your belief that you will receive what you ask for as James points out.

So, how did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego manage to pull off this miracle when they were blatantly violating the principles of faith?  I mean, this is an absolute contradiction to the rest of the teachings in the Bible concerning believing a promise of God even though it hasn't manifested yet.  You're sure not believing God is going to rescue you if you turn around and say, "But even if he doesn't."

So let's start looking at this passage with a very logical mindset and see if anything pops out as being out of place.  For starters, here's the story:

Daniel 3 (NIV)
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

So we have Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in front of King Nebuchadnezzar.  The king tells them to bow to the image of gold when the music plays and warns them, "what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"  If they don't bow to the image of gold, they'll be thrown into the furnace.

The Bible says that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not careful in how they responded to the king.  In other words, they didn't care what the king thought, they were going to speak their mind and they stated that their God WOULD save them.  Then they follow that up by saying that even if God doesn't save them they are still not going to bow to king Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold.  The king then becomes furious at this statement. 

Ok, we immediately have several red flags that have to be dealt with:

1. Why would Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego say they won't bow to the image of gold if God doesn't save them?  No kidding, they're going to be burnt to a crisp.  For them to say this makes no sense at all.

2. Why would king Nebuchadnezzar become furious at them for saying that even if God doesn't save them they're still not going to bow?  With this statement they are actually agreeing with what the king said earlier when he declared, "what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"  This wouldn't make the king burn with anger, they're actually agreeing with him that their God can't save them from the king's hand.

3. How can Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be so confident and bold as to say, "he will deliver us.  But even if he doesn't..."?  They say one thing and immediately turn their faces around and say the opposite!  This is NOT how "faith" operates!  But yet, somehow, they succeeded!!!

Let me write the story out in pseudo-code.

Nebuchadnezzar:  What god will be able to rescue you from my hand? 
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: NIV:If you throw us into the furnace    (KJV: If it be so)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: He will deliver us
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: NIV:But even if he doesn't    (KJV: But if not)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: We still won't bow down
Nebuchadnezzar: The king gets furious.  But why?, they're basically agreeing with him at this point.

 

 Now let's write it out again in pseudo-code, but this time I'll only use the KJV.
Nebuchadnezzar:  What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: KJV: If it be so  (meaning: if you throw us in the furnace)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: He will deliver us
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: KJV: But if not  (meaning: if you have mercy on us and don't throw us into the furnace)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: We still won't bow down
Nebuchadnezzar: The king gets furious.  Why?  Because they're right in his face saying that even if he doesn't follow through with his threat to throw them into the furnace, they STILL are going to disobey him and NOT bow down to the image of gold.
 

If you check the Hebrew text you'll see that the "If it be so" and "But if not" that the KJV uses are accurate translations.  I'm not saying KJV is always correct or that NIV is always wrong.  The KJV has it's share of errors too.  That's why you need to revert back to the Hebrew and Greek when things don't make sense in a particular translation.

 

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