In our daily reading plan, we’ve now switched into the book of Daniel. There is so much to say, but today, as we’ve read Daniel 3 and 4, we can see a process that has been underway as God has revealed himself to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Here are some things that I see:
First, at God’s direction, Nebuchadnezzar has conquered Jerusalem, bringing punishment to the Jewish people because they would no longer obey him. This conquering had been prophesied by several prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others, and now it came to pass.
At Nebuchadnezzar’s direction, the kingdom of Babylon brought many people from Judah and Jerusalem into his kingdom and to the city of Babylon to serve him as slaves. By doing this, God brings himself into the presence of the nations through his people who serve him.
So we see that Daniel remains faithful to God, including his eating in the way that God had commanded him, despite being in this foreign land. When the king had a dream, Daniel prayed to God, and with revelation from God, was able to both recount and interpret the dream, the result of which was King Nebuchadnezzar giving praise and worship to God.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery. ”Daniel 2:46-47
From there, we see the famous story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were through into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to the golden statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up to be worshipped. God saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace, apparently even by showing up himself in the furnace to save them. This also causes King Nebuchadnezzar to worship God:
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.Daniel 3:28
But God wasn’t yet done with King Nebuchadnezzar. Despite his praise of God in the individual situations, the king had still not fully acknowledged God as the true King over all kings. Nebuchadnezzar still saw himself as the true king over all himself.
But God will not give up his position as the sovereign ruler over all of the earth. He will not give up his glory to another, and so Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that prophesied his downfall and was then, in reality, driven off of his throne and out of his kingdom for a time, until he was eventually sought out by his advisers and nobles to become, once again, the king over the kingdom of Babylon.
But now, Nebuchadnezzar was ready to give praise, honor, and glory to God, the ruler over all kingdoms, the true King of kings:
At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.Daniel 4:34-37
So this is our lesson as well. Even if we aren’t kings over a kingdom as Nebuchadnezzar was, we each have a choice of to whom we will exalt. We can choose ourselves, glorifying ourselves, honoring ourselves, living for ourselves…or we can choose to praise, exalt, and glorify God for what he has done in our lives.
This becomes very practical as we begin to truly look at our lives. Who do we really believe has accomplished the good in our lives? Who do we really believe will lead us out of trouble when it comes to us? Who do we really believe will be our salvation? If we are honest, even if we say that we give honor and glory to God, we frequently find ourselves managing our problems through our own strength and our own wisdom instead of depending upon God for his strength, his dominion. Therefore, we look for glory for ourselves instead of exalting and giving glory to God. This is our task – to focus our minds and hearts upon remaining dependent upon God for all that we are, all that we have, and all that we will need.