Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 3:28
When theologians speak of the Doctrine of Concurrence, they most naturally point to Genesis 50:20 and the account of Joseph and his brothers. While you may have never heard of this doctrine, you are quite familiar with it because what it points to are the times in the Bible where a person has one thing in mind, and God allows that “one thing” to happen, and through it accomplishes something the person who did the “one thing” could never have imagined. (Joseph’s brothers would not in their wildest dreams imagine that selling Joseph into slavery would be what ends up saving the family from starvation.)
The Bible is clear that God will not share His glory or praise with anyone else (Isaiah 42:8). Yet this is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar is up to in this chapter. He wants God’s people to bow and worship an image, his god that he has set up.. He wants to draw worship away from Yahweh and is willing to coerce.
But King Nebby (as he is known in the Veggie Tales videos!) doesn’t know two things. First, he doesn’t know Yahweh’s power to protect His boys even if they’re thrown in the fire. Second, he knows nothing about the Doctrine of Concurrence. So, in a fit of rage he sends the lads to what he thinks is their death, but in the end, ends up worshiping the very God whose worship he was trying to prevent. Isn’t God brilliant?
But all of this calls to mind an important point. Whether we are protected from or through a crisis, or even if we aren’t protected at all in the ways we thought we should have been, God always has another thing going on. He’s working things out in such a way that he will receive glory, honor and praise. We can rest comfortably in that reality, even when things really hurt.
I hope you don’t think today’s devotional is meant to be some hard-nosed attempt to say to us that we should grin and bear it when things don’t go well because God is going to get glory from it. It’s not that at all. Rather it’s intended to be a gentle reminder that we exist for Him (Colossians 1:16) and that things make a lot more sense when our greatest desire is His glory.
Because here’s the deal: While Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego got the protection they were hoping for, there are a boat load of saints in Hebrews 11 who didn’t. Yet we praise God today for their obedience and their example.
So, should we pray for and expect protection? Absolutely. Are we guaranteed protection in this life? No. But what we can be confident of is this: regardless of what happens, God has a purpose beyond it. And the more aligned we are with His plans and desires, the better off we’ll be.
Pastor of Discipleship