“But even if He does not…” Daniel 3:18a
Last weekend, we looked at how we can live with expectancy even amidst uncertainty. No matter what we face we can have hope. Because of Jesus, we can have hope even amidst seemingly hopeless circumstances. We hope in Him who is hope and not just in the outcomes because genuine hope is not in outcomes but in our LORD.
There are a number of examples of this throughout the Bible including John the Baptist’s journey to prison and subsequent death, but we can unpack that one at a later time because the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego gives us another example of this genuine hope in action. The statement, “But even if He does not…” gives us a glimpse into this really powerful story of hope and trust regardless of circumstances. The King James Version actually translates it as, “But if not…” You can read about in Daniel 3.
It reminds me of a more recent story from World War II that further illustrates the significance of the Daniel 3:18 passage. I did some research; and I found the following, which was adapted from an Officer’s Christian Fellowship article written by a major in the U.S. Army. Although there are some slight differences in the various accounts out there, the following seems to be the most accurate account:
In early 1940, the British and their allies sent a force of some 350,000 men into the low countries of Europe to stem the tide of German advance into France, Belgium and Holland. Caught in a brilliant pincer movement by the invading German forces the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force was pushed back to the beaches of the small Belgian town of Dunkirk. To everyone’s surprise the Germans halted their advance to regroup.
As England and the world waited for what appeared to be the sure and certain annihilation of 350,000 men a three-word message was transmitted from the besieged army at Dunkirk. It read simply, “But if not.” The British people understood the biblical import of the cryptic message. It was a reference to the Old Testament book of Daniel, where Daniel and his friends chose death rather than worship an image of the pagan king, “If that is the case, 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, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”” (Daniel 3:17-18, NKJV).
The British Expeditionary Army, surrounded, cutoff and on the brink of destruction was declaring to Britain and to the world that even in apparent defeat they were, in fact, victorious. The message, more eloquent than a sermon delivered in St. Paul’s Cathedral, galvanized the British people. In a matter of hours thousands of boats of every description headed across the dangerous waters of the English Channel and, at the risk of their own lives from enemy fire, began the evacuation of the heroic but beleaguered army in what historians now refer to as “the miracle of Dunkirk.”
Friends we are positioned to make a difference across this region. We are poised to bring hope, freedom and rescue to the Quad Cities. It is essentially a rescue mission paramount to the Miracle at Dunkirk. We can take the love of Jesus Christ to those around us and radically impact this region.
We can do this, as we place our hope and trust in Him who is hope. We can help people trapped in depression, addiction, the past and any other circumstance…find new life and freedom in Jesus. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1
It will come at a cost.
It will require substantial commitment, great generosity, significant sacrifice and unwavering determination; but our God is able to draw thousands of men and women across this region back to Himself. I believe He will grant us the privilege of seeing that, but even if he does not…
See you this weekend!
Heavenly Father – You are holy. You are all-powerful. This morning, I sit in awe of who You are. You are more than able. We are not, but we can do all things in Your Son Jesus. So I ask that you would once again pour out Your Spirit upon Heritage Church and do the “impossible”. Use us to rescue thousands with the truth that there is freedom in Jesus. Set the people of this region free. Allow us to reach those who are “trapped.” I know You can do this. But even if You don’t, know that our hope and trust is in You and You alone. Your will be done in us. Amen.