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. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:28-30 (NIV).
Perhaps there’s hope for the Babylonian king. He recognizes power when he sees it. Once again he gives God His due when he sees miracles, but at least he does that. His Chaldean sorcerers never did. And Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that God is supreme. Like DeMille’s Rameses, Nebuchadnezzar reluctantly proclaims, “his God IS God.” When you’re out-gunned, it’s best to quickly recognize the fact and adjust your actions accordingly.
Nebuchadnezzar was heavily out-gunned. He was, in fact, before he ever started this whole foolish episode. Notice, though, that Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t rescind his earlier edict for his subjects to worship the statue. Apparently, he still thought of himself as divine, only now he recognizes that there’s someone more divine than himself, and he wants to make sure he covers his bases. So, the king decrees that nobody may ‘diss’ God, and that those who do will suffer excruciating death and generational disaster.
For Nebuchadnezzar, that’s practically a leap of faith. Baby steps, you know.
In the end, the king restores the three Jews to their high positions in his administration. Daniel isn’t mentioned, though. Being close to the three men and the king, he would almost certainly have watched all of this unfold. And it doesn’t say (yet) what happened to the Chaldeans; their day is still to come, and it will come several years down the road.
What does all this mean for us? Perhaps it’s an exhortation to give God credit. To honor other men when they do great deeds but only by first honoring the God who made such possible. Perhaps it’s a caution against political intrigue: something we’d do well to heed today. And, most of all, perhaps it is still a lesson that God protects those who believe in Him. Perhaps one day He’ll send angels to protect you and yours; perhaps He already has. After all, God is far superior to anything or anyone we know.
Coming up: Nebuchadnezzar loses it.
For further reading: Job 13:15, Psalm 34:7, Psalm 97:10, Acts 12:11, Daniel 4:1
Holy Lord, all praise to You for Your holy protection, for the blessings You give to us, for the lessons of the three men in the furnace and the cagey king of Babylon.
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