There is a wonderful story in the Bible that many are familiar with. In Daniel 3, captive Jewish young men are threatened with death by fire, if they refuse to bow down to the golden image. The rest of the story is that God intervenes, an angel or a preincarnate appearance of Christ is with them in the fire. They come out unharmed. Its truly a miracle.
These are the stories that we enjoy to hear. I am a classic Pentecostal preacher. This passage is made for a Pentecostal preacher! I firmly believe that the same God who did those things back then, still does them today.
I believe that God still raises the dead to life, like He did back then. I believe God still makes blind eyes see, deaf ears hear, lame walk, minds restored… like He did back then.
In the middle of Daniel 3, there is a testimony that we need to take note of. Earlier this year I was listening to Dr. Tim Hill preaching from this passage. He also wrote a Grammy Award winning song about this passage, “He’s Still in the Fire.” Brother Hill mentioned this phrase, “but what if He doesn’t?”
Those words leaped into my ears and into my heart.
The young men told the king this testimony: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17,18 NLT
Do you see those four words italicized? “But if He doesn’t.” It is almost as though the young men are giving God an out. He is able. He will. But if He doesn’t.
“But if He doesn’t” is not a good selling point. It doesn’t give way to television appearances or interviews on the news. The losing team doesn’t get invited to the White House. The doctor who didn’t find the cure doesn’t get to write about it in the journals of medicine. The school teacher with average student achievement doesn’t get the plaque of recognition.
We love winners. We want our God to be a winner, and it seems almost intolerable for God “not to come through.”
The truth be told, there are many accounts of “but if He doesn’t” in scripture. Hebrews 11 is called “the Hall of Fame of Faith.” Right on the heels of those who were delivered, we find these words, “…and others were tortured, no accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea moreoever of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword…” Hebrews 11:35-37 KJV.
The list continues, and concludes with saying that none of them received what God had promised. It was in the future where their hope lay.
Moses didn’t get to see the promise land, David didn’t get to build the temple, James got beheaded, but Peter got delivered. “But if He doesn’t” means that sometimes He won’t.
Have you believed God for a healing in your body? Have you soaked your bed with tears over a lost loved one, or a wayward child? Do you struggle financially, no matter how hard you work? Did you lose everything you had during a crisis…man made or otherwise?
You are in good company.
Is it frustrating when we work hard and don’t succeed? Absolutely. Is it hurtful when we prepare just as much, or even more, than the other guy at work – and he gets the promotion. It is real life when one minister labors in prayer, preaching, pastoring; only to see others perpetually have favorable conditions.
Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah. He was one of the exiled people. God had promised that His people would indeed go into captivity for 70 years…and that He would bring them out after that. At the end of his prophecy, Habakkuk gives this anthem of faith: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation.” 3:17,18 NKJV
Wow! what an encouragement, and what a challenge. Even if He doesn’t faith is the God-kind of faith.
You see, God himself took the greatest step of faith when He gave Jesus into the hands of sinners. Jesus would have come to the earth, lived a sinless life, died the most horrible death in the eyes of man, become the supreme sacrifice for salvation, and rose from the dead; even if no one believed.
Perhaps we take that for granted. What if no one believed? “Even if… they don’t,” was what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did.
The end of the story for everyone that did not receive the promise in this life, was that they will in the life to come.
But what if He doesn’t? Well, that’s just a matter of time!