Tag Archives: Nebuchadnezzar

Veil of Tears 107: In the Dark

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So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Daniel 6:16 NIV

At the time of writing, my heart is heavy because of several swords of Damocles that are hanging over myself and my loved ones. They are things that will decide our futures, where we live and how we live. If the sword falls one way, we might find freedom, another, and we’ll be trapped or hurt. Things aren’t exactly going to plan. My plan that is. And I think of Daniel, about to be thrown into the lions’ den, and though of course his peril was far greater than ours, I wonder if he thought along similar lines. “This wasn’t really how I imagined it would be, Lord, to follow you, to pray so fervently for your people, and care about their well-being, and end up preparing to be torn limb from limb.”

“Is this really your plan?!” We cry in out in our hearts. “Is this seriously the best you could come up with?”

And we think and feel like that because we can’t see what God can see. Because it does look back to front and topsy-turvy, and it really does hurt. And waiting for lions to devour us is pretty scary. But, suppose God is even greater than we imagine, and the lions are going to have their mouths shut by an angel he sends? And then our faith will be even stronger, and our blessings more obvious to count, and our gratitude deeper and set on wiser foundations.

So no, I can’t see in the dark whether there is an angel standing guard or not. I don’t know if those mouths are shut tight or bearing glistening sharp teeth at me, jowls slathering at the thought of tearing the flesh from my bones. No more do I know why the Lord keeps us in the dark so many times in our lives. But I do know that I can trust him, whatever happens. I do know that even when Nebuchadnezzar’s guards roll that stone across the mouth of the den, with me on the wrong side of it, that my God is the one who knows how to rescue me, and that he has a history of setting his hapless beloveds free, of calling them out of caves, of shutting the mouths of lions and opening the mouths of tombs.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

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50: Idolising

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King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide,a and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:1 NIV

The culture of celebrity is a huge deal these days, but at least none of the walking egos that deign to grace our tv screens and magazines have gone to quite the lengths of King Nebuchadnezzar to persuade people to worship him. I’m sure there are some celebrity “personalities” who would like to have a 90-foot statue of themselves built out of pure gold, but fortunately none of them have gone that far just yet. Give it time and one of them will.

The scripture itself doesn’t specify that the statue is of the King himself, only that he sets it up and requires its worship, so it may in actual fact have been a statue of one of the Babylonian gods. But for our purposes let’s imagine it was of Nebuchadnezzar. Was this pure ego, or was it a canny way to discover those amongst his people who would not fall down and worship at his say so? Was it a way of controlling the populace? State religions have always had that dubious honour.

What might that do to a person’s spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health, to be literally idolized in this fashion? I truly dread to think. And yet, we all do this to some extent. I mock the famous people I think are egotistical above, knowing full well I am no better than they. What right do I have to set myself up as judge over their behaviour? All measuring and judging comes from a place of smugness, or self-righteousness, or of a desperation to imagine ourselves better than someone else so that we can proclaim ourselves worthy or entitled. This is how the ego defends itself. And if the world tells you that you are right, by making you a king or an heiress or a billionaire, if the world watches your every move and records your image constantly, then this may well feed your grasping ego to the point where it nears bursting with pride, and where it feels completely natural and right to feel superior.

Religion can have similar effects. We only have to look at the Pharisees to see that. And there is an ugly kind of salvation smugness that believes itself now so incapable of sinning that it happily looks down its long nose at everyone else’s moral behaviour, and usually through a microscope. Let us never forget then, not even long enough to write a scathing opening paragraph, that we are each a child of God, beloved beyond ideas of merit, and that each life and path is so different that it is impossible and ill-advised to fall into any comparison. As soon as we do that, we start building that golden statue in the coldness of our hearts.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay of a golden statue of Buddha in Urumqi, China, not disparaging Buddhism, just wanted a picture that shows the scale of a large gold statue and surprisingly there aren’t that many about. J