The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him- Matthew 12:33-34 NIV
Daniel chapter two records in the second year of his reign King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that left him so unsettled he could not sleep (Daniel 2:1).
Nebuchadnezzar called for his cadre of magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to unravel the meaning of his dream.
It’s important to note that King Nebuchadnezzar was what we would call a “toxic leader” and a “flaming narcissist” So, in classic toxic narcissistic leader fashion, Nebuchadnezzar decided it was not enough for his crew of magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to simply give him a reasonable interpretation of his dream. Instead the king went a step further and insisted the enchanters and astrologers tell him ALL the details of his dream BEFORE giving the interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar then vowed (in classic toxic leader fashion) that if, for whatever reason, his court magicians could not do what he required he would have them cut into pieces and their houses turned into piles of rubble (Daniel 2:2-6)
The court magicians were unable to do what he wanted. Mostly, because what he wanted was crazy.
Nebuchadnezzar was a man of his word. So, when his wise men failed at their assigned task he sent his right-hand man Arioch to the nether regions of Babylon to round up all of the wise men throughout the entire kingdom and have them executed (Daniel 2:7-12).
When Daniel got wind of Nebuchadnezzar’s plans he did what Daniel did anytime life got scary and he was afraid or worried or uncertain. He prayed. Then he enlisted other believers to pray with him (Daniel 2:17-18, Daniel 6:11-13, Daniel 9:1-4, Daniel 9:20) The answers came quickly and miraculously (Daniel 2:19). There was simply no way anyone could have told another person exactly what they dreamed without the aid of Almighty God.
Turns out, the dream was strange and would have been unsettling to anyone.
It centered around a magnificent statue that held the key to understanding the future empires of human history (Daniel 2:31-35). The statue had a head of gold (the Babylonian empire) a chest of silver (the Medo-Persia-Greek empires) legs of iron (the Roman empire) and feet with toes of iron and clay. There’s some disagreement on the meaning of the toes and feet. In my humble opinion the feet and toes represent democratic forms of government that will continue to exist until the return of Jesus. Another key feature of the dream was a rock (Jesus) that grew into a huge mountain (God’s kingdom) that eventually took over all the kingdoms of the earth (the future coming of Jesus).
When Daniel was done explaining the details of the dream he informed the king his Kingdom (Babylon) was the head of gold and therefore the premier kingdom of all the kingdoms. He went on to explain that (Nebuchadnezzar) had been gifted by the one true God with supernatural abilities to lead well. Thanks to God’s generosity and kindness Nebuchadnezzar was in effect the best and most gifted human leader ever (Daniel 2:36-38).
Nebuchadnezzar’s response to this news was disturbing.
He was not curious about this God. Nor, was he thankful. He did not respond with humility at being chosen for this task and gifted in such a magnificent manner. Instead he started out worshipping the messenger (Daniel 2:46) then gave God some surfacy praise (Daniel 2:47).
Then in Daniel 3:1-6 the real Nebuchadnezzar comes out.
Apparently he decided that the proper response to God declaring him to be especially special was to demand everyone on earth worship him. He had a statue constructed (apparently in his own image) and insisted everyone in his kingdom worship it (and him) at regular intervals.
Here’s the thing:
Nebuchadnezzar made the classic Romans one error all humans are still prone to make. The whole messy muddle got a foothold in his life when he willfully refused accept the evidence for God that was literally right in front of him. Refusing to acknowledge God naturally led to refusing to give God glory. Refusing to give God His rightful due led to idolatry. Unfortunately, like a lot of modern humans Nebuchadnezzar’s idol of choice was himself. Self-worship is the act of making your dreams, desires and preferences the focus of your life and demanding everyone else do the same. A person who has become entangled in the sin of self-worship believes they are entitled to what they want, they are always right, the end always justifies the means and that no one, but no one, including God Himself has the right to tell them “no” or that something they want is unacceptable.
We live in a culture where self-worship is the religion of choice.
It is considered emotionally unhealthy to put another person’s needs before one’s own (Philippians 2:.3-4). Experts tell us any relationship is disposable if it becomes troublesome in any way (Proverbs 17:17, proverbs 27:10). It is now horrifically common for mothers to admit online they wish their children had never been born (Psalm 127:5). Even biology must bow to human whims. We no longer accept DNA or genitalia as the final answer in the whole gender debate. (Genesis 1:27) It’s all about me. Commitment, friendship, loyalty and even reality be damned.
It’s all about me, me, me.
Romans one promises that rejecting God and embracing self-worship turns people made in the image of God into fools (Daniel 4). Sad parodies of who they could have been, people who inevitably hurt others, degrade themselves and ultimately run the risk of sinning themselves into extinction (Romans 1:18-32).
It’s kind of where we’re living right now as a culture.
That means it’s critical at this juncture in history individual Christians determine to be like Daniel: God-seeking, God-focused, self-aware and led by truth. When God’s people do those things we become anchors of truth in an age of uncertainty and insanity.