6th June 2018

 

Whatever… or Whatever!

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 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 3:16-18 NIVUK

What a useful word ‘whatever…’ has come to be. Nowadays it’s a sentence on its own. It expresses indifference: I don’t care what you think or what you are saying or what you are planning. It can be accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders, a smirk or a sneer that aims to dismiss any further discussion.

But on the other hand, it can sum up something very positive. On the third chapter of Daniel we read that the king Nebuchadnezzar had cooked up a scheme to ensure that the pluralistic world of Babylon paid homage to him, even if they did owe allegiance to other gods. He set up an enormous gold statue and decreed that when his musicians started playing everyone was to fall down and worship his image – or die.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three Jewish men in the king’s employ, refuse. Nebuchadnezzar does, in modern parlance, seem to have some considerable unaddressed anger issues, and in a raging fury at their defiance, has the men tied up and hurled into a furnace that he has ordered to be stoked up seven times hotter than normal. It kills the men who had been ordered to throw them in, but when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego land in the fire, instead of seeing them dying in agony, the king sees four men walking about in the flames and, as he exclaims in astonishment, one of them looks like a son of the gods. So much for his execution scheme.

But look at how the men had answered the king: they were sure that God could rescue them from both death and out of the hands of the king. Then they add: even if he doesn’t, we still won’t serve your gods or this image. That’s ‘whatever’ with a full stop and probably with an exclamation mark – it’s not ‘whatever…’ with a dismissive shrug of the shoulders. It’s a ‘whatever’ that expresses a committed faithfulness regardless of what challenges life throws at us. It’s the trust that we see in Jesus’ life and that only the Spirit of Christ can bring us in our times of need.

Prayer
Our Father, we pray that we do not look to you just for what you can do for us, but that we can bring our requests to you and trust you – whatever.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

_________________________________

About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road
LEWES
BN7 2XN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.co