Daniel 3:17-18; Genesis 28:20-21
Today, let’s consider this question: Is your faith conditional or unconditional? Think on that as you read through these notes.
Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon to train in the king’s palace. Their names were changed from Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, which all reflect faith in God to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, which all indicate belief in the Baylonian gods. King Nebuchadnezzer had a massive gold statue built and proclaimed that anyone who didn’t bow down to the statue when the music played would be thrown into a furnace. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had a dilemma. Bow down or not? Why not just fake it? Bow down without meaning it? Isn’t it what’s on the inside that counts? Outward appearances don’t matter, right? Wrong. Our actions do matter and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah knew that. They refused to bow down and were reported for it. The king gave them another chance, but, well, here’s their response:
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it. 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. - Daniel 3:17-18
Some people have “if” faith (Genesis 28:20-21). But Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had and “if not” faith. … Jacob had an “if” faith early in his life. His faith was conditional on getting something from God.
When the king heard their response he grew angrier and hjad the furnace heated seven times hotter. It was so hot that the soldier who threw them in died. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were now in the fire, but the king saw a fourth man who looked like an angel (some scholars believe it was Jesus). When the king called for them to come out of the fire, not a hair on them was singed and they didn’t even smell like smoke. As a result, the king praised God and promoted Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah within the kingdom.
Jeremy Camp, when he started out as a young singer, spotted a woman in the crowd and nearly stopped playing. They started dating. She developed ovarian cancer and put a pause on the dating. Then they resumed shortly after and were married. Three months after their honeymoon, she died of ovarian cancer. Jeremy Camp then wrote the song “I Still Believe”.
What is the character of your faith? Is it conditional or not?