Have you ever heard the idea that if you just have enough faith that God will give you something, He’ll give it to you? It’s a mixture of Christianity and the worldly idea of the power of positive thinking. Let’s take a look at an example of true positive thinking:
When Israel was in exile in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had created a law that everyone was to bow down to a large golden statue that he had created. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to this false god, and their enemies took advantage of this opportunity and told the king. The king was furious. How dare these ungrateful kids refuse his command?
He gave them one more chance. Their options were to repent and bow down to this golden statue or to be thrown into a blazing furnace. And he challenged their God, mocking His ability to deliver them. Here was their answer:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
They didn’t owe him a response; they answered to the God of the universe. Yet they did answer Nebuchadnezzar. Yes, God could rescue them. But even if He didn’t, they still refused to worship anyone but Him.
That is true positive thinking, believing that God can even if He doesn’t, and knowing that when He doesn’t, He has good reason. They would agree with Job who said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). This is how our reliance on God should be. It’s not this twisted idea that if we have enough faith, His hands will be bound to do what we ask, but rather that since we have enough faith, our hands are unbound to trust Him in every trial, even if that means that we get thrown into a furnace and burned to death. Our ultimate hope is not in this world, but in heaven where our Father dwells and Christ reigns.
Speaking of our Savior, this passage points forward to Him in a couple of ways. First, though the men in the furnace were delivered, He was not delivered from the cross. He trusted that the Father could rain down angels to stop it all, but He submitted to the Father’s will, which was to crush Him for our sake.
Secondly, (spoiler alert) once the young men are thrown into the fire, there’s a fourth one that ends up in there with them, walking with them in the fire. This was either a type of Christ or Christ Himself. In any case, the message is clear: Christ is our deliverer and is the One who saves from utter destruction under the wrath of God.