Monday, April 23, 2012

Daniel 4...Nebuchadnezzar doesn't learn his lesson...and then does...

After "Rack, Shack, and Benny" emerged from the fiery furnace alive and unharmed, you'd think that Nebuchadnezzar would have learned his lesson...that God is the one and only God!  In this reading, however, we see that it's clear that he not only wants to tout himself as being high and mighty, he also seems to think that Daniel has "the gods" with him rather than God, the one and only.

This section is written from Nebuchadnezzar's viewpoint.  The synopsis:  Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about greatness falling, Daniel interprets the dream to mean that he will be the fallen greatness, the dream comes true in that God makes Nebuchadnezzar go crazy and live in the wilderness, and then when he finally comes around to seeing that God is the only true God, he regains his kingdom.  This reading was particularly interesting because it isn't often that we see God present himself to those who aren't his chosen people in such a way.  We often hear about God giving signs that he is the one true God, but we don't typically read that kings and other rulers turn themselves to God the way that Nebuchadnezzar did in this reading.

Often we see God influencing the kings ruling over the Jews for the benefit of the Jews. Think "Pharaoh, Let my people go!" This seems to be a case where Nebuchadnezzar is being influenced by God for his own benefit. God isn't driving him out of the land so the chosen people can live by themselves, rather he is trying to influence the Babylonian king to be a better ruler and turn to God. What is the end game  here? Well, how often in Isaiah did we see it mentioned that the Gentiles would turn to God as well? Lets also take a historical look at this as well. Nebuchadnezzar was the king at one of the strongest points in the Babylonian empire, covering much more land than Israel. If God could turn him into a believer, then he could in turn influence a greater number of people (and not just the Jews). A similar thing happened in more recent history when Constantine turned the Roman empire into the Holy Roman Empire, not simply allowing Christianity (which had been illegal) but rather making it the official way to be, reaching more people than if he had simply allowed it to exist.

This brings up another item I'd like to point out. In a much earlier post Molly had posed the question to me, "Why are the Jews the chosen people?" Here is an example of a good reason why. Historically, the Jewish faith was the first to believe in one God. This also makes them a venue through which the influence of one God can be spread to a greater number of people. Really, we are all God's chosen people, but would things have ever spread from Abraham to where it is today without Gentile kings like Nebuchadnezzar being swayed to believe in the one true God?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great work you're doing! You have been giving this a lot of thought and have good insight, and I'm also glad to know you are open to learning others thoughts on this as well. Remember, if nobody is commenting, it doesn't mean they're not reading, so keep going!