Daniel 3:18 Index
"' But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.'"
Resource Material

"But if not..."

  • Faith Builder #3: It takes two words to describe faith. We sometimes say, "that is his faith" meaning his or her belief. Belief is part of faith, but by itself it is not enough. To have what the Scriptures define as faith, you must have trust as well as belief. It is here that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego showed real faith. They told the king their God was able to deliver them, but if He did not, they would still trust Him and worship (his gods). (KC 49)
  • The controversy between the two great powers of good and evil is soon to be ended; but to the time of its close there will be continual and sharp contests. We should now purpose, as did Daniel and his fellows in Babylon, that we will be true to principle, come what may. The flaming fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated did not cause these faithful servants of God to turn aside from allegiance to the truth. They stood firm in the time of trial and were cast into the furnace, and they were not forsaken of God. The form of the fourth was seen walking with them in the flames, and they came forth not having even the smell of fire upon their garments.... (TM 470-471)
  • ...all the crowned monarchs of earth could not turn these men from their allegiance to the great Ruler of nations. They had learned from the history of their fathers that disobedience to God is dishonor, disaster, and ruin; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom, but the foundation of all true prosperity. They look with calmness upon the fiery furnace and the idolatrous throng. They have trusted in God, and he will not fail them now. Their answer is respectful, but decided,—“Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” The proud tyrant is surrounded by his great men, the officers of the government, and the army that has conquered nations; and all unite in applauding him as having the wisdom and power of the gods. In the midst of this imposing display stand the three youthful Hebrews, steadily persisting in their refusal to obey the king's decree. They had been obedient to the laws of Babylon, so far as these did not conflict with the claims of God; but they would not be swayed a hair's breadth from the duty they owed to their Creator. (The Review and Herald article "The Life of Daniel an Illustration of True Sanctification" February 1, 1881)
  • This principle we in our day are firmly to maintain. The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God's witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His word. We are to receive this word as supreme authority. We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God's word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A “Thus saith the Lord” is not to be set aside for a “Thus saith the church” or a “Thus saith the state.” The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates. We are not required to defy authorities. Our words, whether spoken or written, should be carefully considered, lest we place ourselves on record as uttering that which would make us appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our way. We are to go forward in Christ's name, advocating the truths committed to us. If we are forbidden by men to do this work, then we may say, as did the apostles, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20). (AA 68-69)
  • These three Hebrews possessed genuine sanctification. True Christian principle will not stop to weigh consequences. It does not ask, What will people think of me if I do this? or, How will it affect my worldly prospects if I do that? With the most intense longing the children of God desire to know what He would have them do, that their works may glorify Him. The Lord has made ample provision that the hearts and lives of all His followers may be controlled by divine grace, that they may be as burning and shining lights in the world.... These faithful Hebrews possessed great natural ability, they had enjoyed the highest intellectual culture, and now occupied a position of honor; but all this did not lead them to forget God. Their powers were yielded to the sanctifying influence of divine grace. By their steadfast integrity they showed forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. In their wonderful deliverance were displayed, before that vast assembly, the power and majesty of God. Jesus placed Himself by their side in the fiery furnace, and by the glory of His presence convinced the proud king of Babylon that it could be no other than the Son of God. The light of Heaven had been shining forth from Daniel and his companions, until all their associates understood the faith which ennobled their lives and beautified their characters. By the deliverance of His faithful servants, the Lord declares that He will take His stand with the oppressed and overthrow all earthly powers that would trample upon the authority of the God of heaven.... What a lesson is here given to the fainthearted, the vacillating, the cowardly in the cause of God! What encouragement to those who will not be turned aside from duty by threats or peril! These faithful, steadfast characters exemplify sanctification, while they have no thought of claiming the high honor. The amount of good which may be accomplished by comparatively obscure but devoted Christians cannot be estimated until the life records shall be made known, when the judgment shall sit and the books be opened.... Christ identifies His interest with this class; He is not ashamed to call them brethren. There should be hundreds where there is now one among us, so closely allied to God, their lives in such close conformity to His will, that they would be bright and shining lights, sanctified wholly, in soul, body, and spirit. The conflict still goes on between the children of light and the children of darkness. Those who name the name of Christ should shake off the lethargy that enfeebles their efforts, and should meet the momentous responsibilities that devolve upon them. All who do this may expect the power of God to be revealed in them. The Son of God, the world's Redeemer, will be represented in their words and in their works, and God's name will be glorified. (SL 39-41)
  • In the history of Joseph, Daniel, and his fellows, we see how the golden chain of truth may bind the youth to the throne of God. They could not be tempted to turn aside from their course of integrity. They valued the favor of God above the favor and praise of princes, and God loved them and spread His shield over them. Because of their faithful integrity, because of their determination to honor God above every human power, the Lord signally honored them before men. They were honored by the Lord God of hosts, whose power is over all the works of His hand in heaven above and the earth beneath. These youth were not ashamed to display their true colors. Even in the court of the king, in their words, their habits, their practices, they confessed their faith in the Lord God of heaven. They refused to bow to any earthly mandate that detracted from the honor of God. They had strength from heaven to confess their allegiance to God. You should be prepared to follow the example of these noble youth. Never be ashamed of your colors; put them on, unfurl them to the gaze of men and angels. Do not be controlled by false modesty, by false prudence which suggests to you a course of action contrary to this advice. By your choice words and a consistent course of action, by your propriety, your earnest piety, make a telling confession of your faith, determined that Christ shall occupy the throne in the soul temple; and lay your talents without reserve at His feet to be employed in His service. (MYP 27-28)
  • The controversy between the two great powers of good and evil is soon to be ended; but to the time of its close there will be continual and sharp contests. We should now purpose, as did Daniel and his fellows in Babylon, that we will be true to principle, come what may. The flaming fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated did not cause these faithful servants of God to turn aside from allegiance to the truth. They stood firm in the time of trial and were cast into the furnace, and they were not forsaken of God. The form of the fourth was seen walking with them in the flames, and they came forth not having even the smell of fire upon their garments.... Today the world is full of flatterers and dissemblers; but God forbid that those who claim to be guardians of sacred trusts shall betray the interests of God's cause through the insinuating suggestions and devices of the enemy of all righteousness. (TM 470-471)
  • With the furnace in sight, the captives answered the king's horrible threat, saying: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee 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 thine hand, O king.” Their faith rose with the knowledge that God would be glorified in this transaction, and with a firm, triumphant ring of implicit trust and confidence in their voices, they said, “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (The Signs of the Times article "God's Care for His Children" May 6, 1897)
  • Daniel and his companions had a conscience void of offense toward God. But this was not preserved without a struggle. What a test was brought on the three associates of Daniel, when they were required to worship the great image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar in the plain of Dura! The three Hebrews were called upon to confess Christ in the face of the burning fiery furnace. It cost them something to do this, for their lives were at stake. These youth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole kingdom of Babylon their faith,—that He whom they worshiped was the only true and living God. The demonstration of their faith on the plain of Dura was a most eloquent presentation of their principles. (The Youth's Instructor article The Life of Daniel -- The Sabbath Test July 12, 1904)
  • The sentence of death did not change their decision. The martyrs knew what would lessen the fierceness of the fire kindling upon nerve and muscle. In beholding Christ, in the manifestation of his presence, the most cruel death was made bearable. (The Signs of the Times article A Lesson from the Three Hebrew Children September 2, 1897)
  • When the law of God is being made void, when His name is dishonored, when it is considered disloyal to the laws of the land to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath, when wolves in sheep's clothing, through blindness of mind and hardness of heart, are seeking to compel the conscience, shall we give up our loyalty to God? No, no. The wrongdoer is filled with a Satanic hatred against those who are loyal to the commandments of God, but the value of God's law as a rule of conduct must be made manifest. The zeal of those who obey the Lord will be increased as the world and the church unite in making void the law. They will say with the Psalmist, “I love thy commandments above gold; yea above fine gold” (Psalm 119:127). This is what will be sure to occur when the law of God is made void by a national act. When Sunday is exalted and sustained by law, then the principle that actuates the people of God will be made manifest, as the principle of the three Hebrews was made manifest when Nebuchadnezzar commanded them to worship the golden image in the plain of Dura. We can see what our duty is when the truth is overborne by falsehood. (13MR 71)
  • The phrase "but if not," like Jesus Christ's "nevertheless" (Luke 22:42), epitomized their faith. They didn't want to die; even more, however, they didn't want to disappoint the wonderful, personal God who was always with them. In the Ten Commandments they knew that God had said:
    • "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:3-6). (MM 54)