Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 4:1-37; 2 Peter 1:1-21; Psalm 119:97-112; Proverbs 28:17-18
After building a statue to be worshipped not long after experiencing God, Nebuchadnezzar once again turns his attention to God (Daniel 4:1). Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t appear to be a believer. He appears to be impressed with God, through his interactions with Daniel and his friends. But that did not translate into belief.
There are people who believe God exists and who are impressed with what God has done (e.g. created the world) but who stop short of putting their ultimate faith and trust in Him. So they turn to Him when they need or want something but otherwise live without Him.
Nebuchadnezzar has another dream which Daniel interprets to be a prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall (Daniel 4:20-28). God was going to humble Nebuchadnezzar in order to get him to realize He was God. This is God’s goal for all of us – not because God’s ego needs to be fed. But because we need to know that there is a God who exists and who wants to be with us for all eternity. God knows what happens to us if we don’t believe and He is willing to go to any length necessary – like being nailed to a cross – to that message across.
Notice that Daniel delivers an honest message to Nebuchadnezzar. Often we are afraid to tell other people the truth, especially about Jesus, for fear of what they will say or do to us. But Nebuchadnezzar needed to hear this message so Daniel delivers it, even at risk to himself. But Daniel, who we’ve seen has been filled with wisdom by God, delivers this harsh message with love (Daniel 4:19). Truth and love. That is how God works. He tells us the truth about ourselves (we are sinners destined for a very unpleasant eternity). But He tells us these things because He loves us and wants us to have the best eternity can offer.
On the other hand, humans often deliver bad news to others out of our own selfishness. We demand others change because of how it affects us, not how it affects them. We are self-focused. God is us-focused.
The prophecy against Nebuchadnezzar was not fulfilled immediately. God gave Him a chance to avoid it by repenting but, sadly, he didn’t (Daniel 4:27-29). The broader message is that God has been warning people for thousands of years about eternal separation from Him (hell). He’s told us how to avoid it (repenting). But, sadly, the vast majority of people will not do so and someday, when they die, they will wish they did.
Some claim this account of Nebuchadnezzar’s life is fake – something that only exists in the Bible. While there is no secular documentation to corroborate these events, it is notable that there is a seven year gap in the historical record of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign from 582 BC to 575 BC. This is very unusual considering the voluminous documentation of Nebuchadnezzar’s years before and after. Additionally, Abydensus, a Greek historian, wrote in 268 BC that Nebuchadnezzar disappeared for seven years. Very interesting, eh?
The world has been searching for peace nonstop since the beginning of time. There is a way we can experience that peace we so desperately seek: by obtaining more knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:2). We can even apply this to our individual lives, which are often full of stress. The more time we spend with God understanding Him, the more peace we will experience. Its not magical, though. Peace doesn’t just happen. We have to work for it as we read the other day. To that end perhaps God will convince us to make some changes to our lifestyle that will result in peace.
When a person comes to know God – is born-again – God gives that person everything they need to be like Him (2 Peter 1:3). God also gives that person great (large) and precious (valuable) promises (2 Peter 1:4) about the future so we can live in a world corrupted by desires of humanity. Notice that the problems of the world are caused by selfishness. Our desires rule us. We live for self and that causes every problem on the earth.
The way to avoid this is to have less self-love and more love for others and Peter tells us the steps to do this in 2 Peter 1:5-7. It starts with faith which leads to moral living – obedience to God’s commands. We also need to add to our knowledge of God (through Bible study and communication with God) which leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patience and godliness. Once we have a godliness about us we can love other people as brothers. Only then can we take the next step and love other people unconditionally. Needless to say, we all have a long way to go. But this is God’s goal for each of us. It will not be achieved on this earth.
The more we incorporate these actions and qualities into our lives the more useful our service to Jesus will be (2 Peter 1:8) because we will serve out of love and concern for other human beings. The drawback of not progressing along this path is forgetting that we have been forgiven and cleansed of all our sins. And when we forget what God has done for us we run the risk of falling away (2 Peter 1:9-10). We are forgetful creatures. We need to be reminded of our past and current sinfulness. Not in a way that keeps us in bondage to that lifestyle, but in a way that reminds us that we are no longer slaves to sin. Then we can live a life dedicated to serving Him.
Its easy for our mind to wander to places it should not go. Thoughts of how we’ve been hurt by someone or fantasizing about sex are not useful. They are actually destructive. Instead we should fill our minds with God’s word (Psalm 119:97). There is nothing more valuable to think about (Psalm 119:111).
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.