“BUT IF NOT”: FAITH AMID SUFFERING – LESSON THREE
Article By: Frank Tunstall, D. Min.
Find the original article HERE.
The last lesson ended with three questions:
“We earnestly prayed, but Jesus did not answer our prayers.”
“He could have prevented this if He had wanted too.”
“Can Jesus be trusted to do good in the crises of life? Is He truly good, all the time?”
Questions like these show each child of God needs a well thought out understanding of But If Not. If God does not answer our prayers the way we pray them, what then? (James 4:3).
The story of the three Hebrew young men in Babylon shows God had a higher purpose. On the plain of Dura, they refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. The infuriated king gave them one final chance to obey the order before they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Instead, they responded to Nebuchadnezzar:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. …. our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (NKJV).
God did not prevent their going into the furnace, saving them from the fire (Daniel 3:21–30; Isaiah 43:2; Ephesians 2:1–10). Instead, He took the route of the greater miracle, saving them in the fire. It happened in the split second the fourth man, the Son of Man, the Messiah, stepped into the furnace even as “they fell into the fire.” When God’s Son walked into the furnace hot enough in a flash to take their breath away, the nature of the fire changed. It was no longer a furnace to destroy them, but to usher them into new liberty.
The great symbol of this deliverance was the rope on the three young men’s hands and feet. Their bonds went up in smoke, but not them; the “seven times hotter” fire did not turn them to ashes; there would be no cremation on the plain of Dura that day! (Daniel 3:19). Instead, they walked around in the furnace with their Messiah as free men (Daniel 3:25). And when they stepped out of the fire, it “had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed. Nor were their robes scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27).
To his credit, Nebuchadnezzar had the good sense to promote these survivors to the highest levels of Babylonian government!
Nebuchadnezzar lost his throne for about seven years resulting from God’s judgment on his colossal pride. After being restored to his throne, he made a prophetic exclamation about the greatness of God: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just” (Daniel 4:37).
THINK ABOUT IT: No record exists that the king converted to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But his great conclusion has helped many children of God walk through life’s crises with their faith in God intact.
May the grace of our Lord help each of you, dear readers, to accept this admonition: purpose in your heart if God does not answer your prayer the way you pray it, [But If Not,] you will still love and trust Him, believing He has a better plan for your life. Paul expressed it this way: “We know all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 KJV).
Article Submitted by: Bishop Mike Ainsworth
Cornerstone Conference IPHC