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Even Non-Believers, Believe

Updated: Feb 17

June 11, 2023— Power and pride. These are the things that get to mankind. Give someone power and you will see if his heart is righteous or evil. Will he take advantage of power and let pride come in to devour the widow and the poor? Or will he use his power to bless his country, and countrymen?

Pride is a sin in the Holy Bible, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5 NKJV). It tends to be within someone’s power, “I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.” (Leviticus 26:19) This verse was a warning to the Israelites, telling them to keep God’s commandments. In His laws, God forewarned them that if disobedience occurred, and continued despite God’s warnings, their nation would cease.

An example of power and pride leading to disobedience and destruction occurs during the time of the Babylonian Exile. It was pride and power that led the kings of Judah and Israel to their demise. Three separate attacks from King Nebuchadnezzar, brings Jerusalem to its knees. The temple and the city were laid to waste by fire, the wall around the city was destroyed. Those not killed during the invasion were taken to Babylon where they would remain for seventy years. This was prophesied by Jeremiah. Around the same time, a new Hebrew prophet would rise.

Enter Daniel the Prophet

After King Nebuchadnezzar takes over the region, he starts looking for “young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” (Daniel 1:4). Daniel and a few of his friends were among the young men Nebuchadnezzar sought. Those with Daniel were named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The names given to them in Babylon were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

When the kings servant, Ashpenaz gives them food, Daniel and his friends refuse to eat it. We don’t know the reason why, but many believe that the meat and wine was offered to idols. In the Jewish and Christian faith, it is unholy to consume food and drink offered to idols or demons. Historical records of the ancient world indicate this as a common practice for many nations. Daniel tells Ashpenaz to give them only vegetables to eat, and water to drink for ten days. He obliges and they looked better than the other young men. God blesses Daniel and his friends with wisdom and understanding.

The lion at the gates of Babylon.
This tile is from the gates of Babylon. Photo by Corbin Mathias on Unsplash.

About a year later, King Nebuchadnezzar has disturbing dreams that distresses his spirit. Nebuchadnezzar summons his wise men, to interpret the dream, but they fail to do so. Daniel seeks God’s help and is given both the dream and its interpretation. He reveals to the king that the dream represents the rise and fall of empires. We know these empires now as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. King Nebuchadnezzar is amazed and begins to understand that the God of Daniel is the true Lord. “Truly your God Is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” (Daniel 2:47). Daniel is rewarded for his wisdom by the king:

“Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.”

Daniel 2:48-49

Despite these promotions, Daniel’s friends greatly anger the king, when they refuse to take his orders.

The Fiery Furnace

Nebuchadnezzar erects a golden image and commands everyone to worship it. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refuse to bow down and worship the image. This a commandment of the Lord our God (Exodus 3-6). We cannot kneel or bow down before anything that isn’t God. The king threatens to throw them into a fiery furnace, but they remain steadfast in their faith. Enraged, the king orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than what was normal. He orders that they be bound by strong men and thrown into the furnace. The Holy Bible says that it was so hot that some of the king’s men were killed while bringing them to the furnace. The three men fall down into the furnace, and the king and his people watch from afar.

Amazed they see four men in the fire. Nebuchadnezzar asks those around him, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” (Daniel 3:24).

The people around him agree. Nebuchadnezzar says “Look!... I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:25).

Nebuchadnezzar orders Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah out of the furnace. The men look upon the three young men. Despite the intense flame and heat, they saw that their hair was not singed and they did not smell of fire. Nebuchadnezzar blesses God and sets a decree:

Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.

Daniel 3:28-29

Beloved, the fourth man in there was Jesus Christ. Even King Nebuchadnezzar had to believe. Why else would he say “Son of Man?“ The Holy Spirit causes utterance to believers, and those in power. It was the Holy Spirit that caused Nebuchadnezzar to say, “Son of Man.” Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is God and Jesus’s spirit.

Sometime after the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar boasts about his achievements. He has another dream that Daniel interprets. Daniel explains that the dream is about his pride. Daniel warns Nebuchadnezzar to humble himself before the Lord and repent. This pride in his work causes him to lose his sanity and live as an animal for seven years. When he regains his mind, Nebuchadnezzar begins praising God (see Daniel 4:33).

Takeaways of this Article

There are two things to learn from this article. One is that pride is disgusting to God. A prideful person or nation will be dealt with by God as you read about.

The second takeaway is that God hates disobedience to His Word. He rewards the humble of heart, those that acknowledge and keep His law. No one has explained this better than the Word in the flesh: The Son of God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37, see also Deuteronomy 6:5). How do we show love of the Lord? We follow His commandments. Jesus Christ said that if you love Him, you will keep His commandments (John 14:15).

Have you been filled with pride? Are you following Jesus, or the world? It’s time to remove these sinful behaviors, because you are a new creation in Christ, old things have passed (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Yet, there is a third thing to learn from here: do not regret what you are doing for God. Do not give up because someone is starting to believe in Jesus Christ because of you.

Accepting Jesus

If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, you can do so now. Say this prayer aloud:

God, I confess that Jesus came in the flesh and blood, paid the price for my sins, died on the cross, rose on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and sent the Holy Spirit to help me understand Your Ways. For that, I accept Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord, and I welcome the Holy Spirit in my life. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen!

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