Nebuchadnezzar

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Today’s Father’s Day sermon, titled “Nebuchadnezzar,” was based on Daniel. Pastor Steve contrasted the king of Babylon and his hard-charging, strong leadership with Daniel, an Israeli captive. He then drew parallels between Nebuchadnezzar and the weaknesses we often think we can cover up and still look okay in others’ eyes.

Steve pointed out that Nebuchadnezzar was so great a king that 90 percent of the bricks uncovered in archeological digs are stamped with his name. Most of the empire’s expansion occurred under him, demonstrating his intelligence and drive. Yet, chapter 1 describes the king being greatly troubled by a dream he couldn’t understand. Fortunately, Daniel intervenes and relies on God to tell him the dream and its meaning.

“Daniel’s faith was rewarded because he didn’t know what the dream was,” Steve said, reviewing verses 46-49 of Daniel 2. “Nebuchadnezzar rewarded Daniel and made him ruler over a province. . . Now, Nebuchadnezzar just kicked Israel’s teeth in, so take his praise of God with a grain of salt. I’m not sure he believed it.”

Right after this, the king makes a statue of gold and demands everyone bow down and worship it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse and wind up in a fiery furnace, where the king sees a fourth man (many believe this was a type of Christ). Again, Nebuchadnezzar rewards them and praises God, but Steve points to the king’s political sense as the motivation.

Then, chapter 4 describes another dream of the king’s, which Daniel interprets with a warning that Nebuchadnezzar will fall like the tree in his dream. The prophet advises the king to stop oppressing people and sinning, but he continues—and a year later is struck mad and goes into the fields.

“Men, heed the warning of Nebuchadnezzar,” Steve said. “Saying the right Christian words is utterly meaningless if you don’t love your wife as yourself, if you don’t raise your children in the Lord, and if you don’t work with honor, fairness, and integrity. It means your faith is in word only.”

Interestingly, while Nebuchadnezzar indulged in sexual sin, had people killed, and practiced astrology and witchcraft, none of them are mentioned in the Bible. What brought him down was the pride of his heart, Steve said. He told men to avoid looking to themselves for the strength and discipline they need to make it through life. That can only come from submitting to Christ and receiving God’s power. Men should pray, “Lord, help me, show me, teach me” because left to our own devices we will hold a grudge and keep a record of wrongs.

Returning to chapter 1 and verses 18-20, which describe Daniel’s promotion, Steve said, “Men, this is what being a man looks like. Not like Nebuchadnezzar, who had all the right words after every event. It’s scary to know you can say all the right words and sing the right songs and be unaffected (in the world). God’s strength is going to carry Daniel into the lions’ den. . . . God is the source of your strength.”