From Threats to Praise
There was no separation of Church and State in the Babylonian Empire. King Nebuchadnezzar was the State and he also believed he decided who his subjects worshiped. He told them when to bow and to whom. Remember how he tried to control Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they first arrived in Babylon. He renamed them and tried to totally change their diet. Only Daniel’s wise ten-day test saved them from having to disobey God by eating food Jews were not supposed to eat. In the next episode when Nebuchadnezzar had a bad dream, he almost killed Daniel and his friends because they were part of the group who failed to reveal the king’s secret. Then when the Lord revealed the dream and the interpretation, the king suddenly switched from threatening their lives to bowing before Daniel and pouring gifts upon him.
At the conclusion the king even sounds like a true God-follower as he pours out praise for Daniel’s God, declaring he’s the “God of gods,” “Lord of kings,” and of course, the revealer of secrets (Daniel 2:46-47). But then he builds a ninety-foot golden statue and commands everyone to bow before it on threat of fiery extinction (Daniel 3:5). The king has forgotten all about his praise for the Hebrew God and is countering the first and second commandment. But when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are able to treat the 1800-degree flames like a nice warm shower because God’s messenger walks with them in the fire, the king suddenly changes his mind again.
“Then (when not even the smell of fire was on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s clothes) Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, ‘Praise be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the God who sent his supernatural messenger to rescue his servants! They trusted in him and violated the command of the king. They were willing to give up their bodies rather than serve or worship any other god except their own God. Therefore, I lay down a decree that all people, every nation and language, who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, their limbs will be dismembered and their houses turned into piles of rubble because no other god is able to deliver like this.’
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:28-30
When I see Nebuchadnezzar throwing all these egotistical temper tantrums and throwing out these commands to worship false gods, then suddenly sending out decrees to worship the true God, I’m thankful that our United States founding fathers believed strongly that the State had no business commanding us who to worship, when to worship, or how to worship. They reasoned that if the King of Kings didn’t use his omnipotent power to force everyone to their knees but offered a free invitation to “whosoever believes in Jesus,’ then they shouldn’t use the force of government to try to compel anyone’s spiritual commitments.
Beware whenever a king, queen, prime minister, or president tries to use the force of government to decide about our personal spiritual commitments. Daniel has made it clear. God doesn’t need tiny human hands to help him bring his kingdom to earth (Daniel 2:45).
LORD, help me not to try and force my faith on others using political means. Thanks that as King of Kings today you are giving the freedom for every nation and tongue to hear the Good News about your Son and then allowing individuals to freely decide how they will respond to his offer of forgiveness and life.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!