Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 10
Chapter 10: King Nebuchadnezzar Forgets God ~ Daniel 3:1-7
Q1 – What does the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar built and his commands concerning it reveal about the his character?
A1 – Did Nebuchadnezzar have this golden image built in honor of his god? Or did he seek to honor himself and celebrate his military victories and the glory of the kingdom he had built? While the scriptures do not state why Nebuchadnezzar had this spectacular image built, the king’s statement in Daniel 4:29-30 (NLT) speaks to his character: “Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’”
Note that Nebuchadnezzar made this statement later, after his second dream. This was after Daniel had once again explained to him God’s divine role in directing the events of his life. These messages from God did impact his thinking for a little while, they don’t seem to have permanently soaked into his psyche. The king’s ego was too great.
So it’s likely that Nebuchadnezzar had this enormous image built to honor himself. Erected out on the flat plain and made of dazzling gold, this statue had to have been spectacular as well as highly visible. By commanding that people of every nation and language fall down and worship it, the king obviously had no regard for anyone’s religious beliefs or political loyalties. Only his wishes mattered, and he ruled by brute force.
Q2 – What other powerful military conquerers through the ages come to mind? How were they similar or dissimilar to Nebuchadnezzar?
A2 – History is rife with military conquerors. Here’s one list, although you may want to do your own search.
This list includes the likes of Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, and the Roman Caesars Julius and Augustus, all of whom lived before the time of Christ. After the time of Christ came Charlemange, William the Conqueror, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. In more recent history, there were Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolph Hitler. Of course, many others could be added to this list.
Some promoted a religion or ideology. Others sought to gain control over as much territory as possible. In their wake would lay an untold number of dead bodies. Tamerlane’s army reportedly killed over 17 million people. Hitler had over 6 million Jews executed, a number which paled in comparison to the estimated 60 million ultimately killed in WW2.
It would take further research to affirm the motivators and personal characteristics of each of these conquerors. However, many appear to be similar to Nebuchadnezzar in that they possessed enormous egos, demanded allegiance, and killed any who stood in their way.
Nebuchadnezzar seems to be unique among world conquerors in several ways. God communicated with him by dreams. While Pharaoh also had dreams (Genesis 41), his dealt with the immediate future and were very limited in their message. Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams were much broader in scope. He saw how God had placed him in such as powerful position (head of the golden statue) and how the kingdoms that were to follow would stack up. He showed him the immediate future (tree that was cut down). His dreams also provided him a glimpse of God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ and then projected on into eternity. His dreams bear similarities with the dreams of Daniel, who was a prophet of God, and the Apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation.
By revealing so much to this pagan ruler, God seems to have taken great interest in Nebuchadnezzar. God knows the hearts of people. He must have seen something worthy in this king’s heart, because He provided Nebuchadnezzar multiple opportunities to turn to Him. In fact, the last Biblical record of Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel shows him honoring God: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37, NIV)
Q3 – Do you think Daniel and his fellow Jews knew the intent of the king concerning this image during the time it was being built? How do you think they felt as its completion drew near?
A3 – Such an enormous and costly statue was not built overnight. It took some time to erect this monument, perhaps several years. It’s also safe to assume that Daniel and his friends, who were all in high positions of leadership, were fully aware that it was being built and of Nebuchadnezzar’s intent to make it a focus of worship. So they probably watched its completion, knowing that a showdown would be the ultimate result.
The Jewish people through history had witnessed God’s intervention many times. They knew that God was capable of delivering them yet again. However, it’s likely their human nature prevailed and that they felt a sense of impending doom. After all, God had sent them into Babylonian captivity as punishment for their unfaithfulness. While there, they were apparently threatened with death frequently. Perhaps they were more resigned than we would be today to accept whatever fate would be meted out to them, although it’s hard to imagine that the erection of this statue did not cause them great anxiety.