“The Mirror Blocks the Way in Front of Me” – Beth Moore
My reading today began with Daniel 3:1-4:37 & Psalm 136:1-9. Of course the story of Daniel is pretty familiar to us, as well as the story of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-Nego and the fiery furnace. Neither of these stories jumped out to me today – the man who jumped out to me was King Nebuchadnezzar.
Today we find this beloved king making a golden image of himself (a large image, at that – 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide), and commanding all people to bow down to it. We then read that he commands a fiery death for anyone who refuses to bow down to his image. Talk about arrogance!
The funny thing is, in the previous chapter, our dear king Neb had acknowledged God as the “God of gods” when He revealed a dream to the king (Dan 2:47). Neb had quickly forgotten his acknowledgement and had now elevated himself to “god” status.
Dan 3:15 is one of those verses that we, as Christians, can love because we know the end and can appreciate the irony; Neb boldly asks Shad, Mesh, and Abed “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Ha. Good thing God is a God of Mercy!
So we know the story that the three men are thrown into the furnace, the guards who throw them in a burned up from the sheer heat, and the Neb sees the three men loosed, walking around, and joined by a fourth person. He acknowledges this fourth man as “like the Son of God” (Dan 3:25). He calls out the three men – notice he didn’t care to call out the fourth man 🙂 – and begins praising God for their rescue. He even goes so far as to order death and destruction on the household of anyone who fails to worship Shad, Mesh, and Abed’s God (Dan 3:28-29).
Talk about a change! So it’s a happy ending for King Neb. Not quite yet. We see in chapter 4 that Neb needs another reminder about his position and God’s position. He begins boasting of his own power and his own success in building Babylon (Dan 4:30). He had just been warned in a dream about this arrogance not 12 months before! (Dan 4:29). So dear King Neb finds himself living as an animal in the wilderness until he comes to a knowledge of God’s glory and power.
The beautiful thing about this story is found in the interpretation of King Neb’s dream. Neb had dreamt about a tree being cut down, but the stump left intact and wrapped with iron and bronze. God tells us, through Daniel, that this stump is King Neb, that he’ll be cut down, but he will be preserved while God is teaching him a lesson (Dan 4:20-26).
God wanted to teach King Neb to see past himself and to humble himself before God. God had brought this lesson to Neb multiple times, but each time, he seemed to forget. So, God taught him a BIG lesson. Yet, while God taught him this BIG lesson, He preserved his place in the kingdom. God doesn’t cut us down and leave us for dead while teaching us – He preserves us, He loves us, and He protects the stump after He’s cut it down.
King Neb was restored to his kingdom, just as God had promised, but with a new outlook on life and a new love for God (Dan 4:36-37). He was now seeing past himself – the mirror was no longer blocking his view – He was looking to God and not himself.
Thankfully, God is a God of Mercy – Psalm 136:1-9 praises Him for it. He doesn’t allow us to live in pride, He teaches us humility. He wants us to be better versions of ourselves and conforms us in the most loving way possible.
“Humility doesn’t come naturally” (Beth Moore, Daniel), but thankfully we have a God who loves us beyond what we can imagine who is willing to teach us.