Nebuchadnezzar son of Nebopolassar ascended the royal throne of the Babylonian empire in 605 BC. Babylon was an empire of no mean stature. At the pinnacle of its success during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar (Nebuchadrezzar), it became the Superpower of the then civilized world. The Kingdom of Babylon had been the chief of conquest and conviviality in the Oriental world, and at this particular time the Southern Kingdom of Israel was one of those paying them vassalage. Like most kingdoms of antiquity, the Babylonians were committed to Marduk, simply known as Bel, their national deity. War between Kingdoms was regarded as involving their respective deities. So when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Judah, it was regarded by the Babylonians as a victory over Yahweh, the great I AM.
Babylon, just like the recent age of imperialism, went through the process of assimilating their political detainees. The major World imperialists like the British, French and Germany, went out to find a way of reaching their colonies. Education, religion and culture was used as a vehicle to carry their agenda and make it appeal to humanity. This has been a point of debate especially by anti-colonialism, who find this as nothing save a stratagem and bait trap to enslave underdeveloped economies. My point on this however, is to recognise the fact that this was borrowed from the Chaldeans. Just like the European colonists chose endowed and rich territories—which I don’t blame them for since I would also go for the best—Nebuchadnezzar, recommended that the creme de le creme of the Hebrew captives be chosen and be educated, cultured and spiritualised, the Babylonian way. Among the chosen, Daniel, Mishael, Hananiah and Azariah stood out. They became great scholars in the ‘University of Babylon’ whose ‘Vice Chancellor’ was Ashpenaz. Graduating super magna cum laude ahead of their classmates, they were declared 10-times better in all aspects. Of all that comprised the Chaldean Curriculum, they refused diet and worship of Babylonian gods. This proves the power of true education, that which restores the image of God in man and prepares individuals for usefulness in this world and the world to come. It proves the possibility of being in Rome and doing the right thing, not as the Romans do.
During the second year of His reign, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream he could not remember. Like people in their paganistic propensities have been doing, he immediately called upon the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, whom he demanded to tell him the dream and its interpretation thereof. The Chaldean soothsayers were reduced to utter discomfiture as they could not reveal the dream. If the King had given them the dream, they could have engineered an interpretation which borders on the theme of ‘May the King live forever’, but here they were, reduced to complete impotence. A great lesson is here presented to us. Remember magic, sorcery and astrology depends not on the power of God. They on the contrary depend on the power behind all Godlessness—the devil. I know this is also a debatable point especially to those who like Sadducees, believe not the existence of Satan. Well, we can debate about this another day. For now, we are taking a position that all the pain in the world today and suffering, all originate from the power that opposes God.
So if indeed the ‘wise men’ were depending on the devil’s power, and they could not read the King’s mind, then why do you think the devil can read your mind? The devil cannot read your mind, but he knows your weaknesses and understands their patterns. He knows how you behave before you attend to your cherished sin, and that is why he seems to knock you down at the right time.
The King made a terrible decree that meant execution even to Daniel and his three friends. Daniel requested Arioch, the one in charge of the King’s guard, to give him time to talk to Yahweh. Together with Mishael, Azariah and Hananiah, they prayed and God honored their worship and Daniel was quickened to present to King Nebuchadnezzar the Dream. To the King, God had revealed the Chronology of Kingdoms from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the end of the age. The King was excited and he promoted Daniel, his three friends and further recognised the true God that Daniel served. Can people recognise God by the way you carry out yourself at work, at school, in the society or even in a Public service vehicle? We have a duty to reveal Him to the World.
Of the image that King dreamt, the head symbolising Babylon was made of gold. The temple of Marduk was a golden temple. Babylon was indeed a kingdom of Gold. The chest and arms of Silver stood for the Medo-Persian empire, the belly and thighs of bronze stood for the Grecian empire, the legs of iron stood for the Roman empire, and the feet partly clay and iron stood for the divided Kingdoms of Europe and world at large in the clincher stages of the earth’s history.
King Nebuchadnezzar could not come to terms with the fact that his kingdom would not reign forever, for he was represented by the head of Gold, after which other Kingdoms would follow in the order given in the dream. In defiance, he made an image of gold, representing him and placed it in the plain of Dura, and commanded everyone to bow upon certain musical signals. This didn’t work for the three friends of Daniel who believed that the Creator rather than the creature, must be worshipped. Under emotions and choler, King Nebuchadnezzar abused his power and commanded that the furnace be ignited seven times more. From the experience he had with the dream, he had sufficient evidence of the faithfulness of the Hebrew boys, but he was blinded by the desire to rule forever and thus flattered himself. But when dropped in the furnace by the gigantic Chaldeans—who were killed by the fire in the process—the fourth man appeared and the fire only burned their fetters. The King, afraid of the Saviour’s intervention, called them out and immediately commanded everyone to worship the God of Israel.
This was another usurpation of power. God was pleased with the efforts of King Nebuchadnezzar to make a public confession of his reverence for Him. Nevertheless, he went overboard by commanding everyone to worship God. For God, worship is an act of response to His goodness and benefits towards us. He delights not in forced worship. No king or ruler should feel it their duty to force people to serve God and penalize those who refuse to do so. Just as it was a mistake for Him to demand homage to the golden image that he had set up in the plains of Dura, it was equally an abuse of power to compel obedience to God. Our God believes in free will and not a forced reverence. He needs no civil law to have people worship Him.
Just like the Head of gold meant Babylon would reign for a time, even World rulers and leaders of today will also rule for a time. Just as King Nebuchadnezzar made an image fully gold, suggesting perpetuity of his kingdom, ‘modern Nebuchadnezzars’ tend to rule till death. Abuse of power by the modern rulers of the World, is a vice that is calling loudly for reform. You are not a great leader, if people must organize a public go-slow and backlash for you to leave the office.
“In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will. “—Prophets and Kings 499.4