Links Daily Devotional

Off the Pedestal

“Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their house be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” (Daniel 3:29, NIV)

How’s your skin?

The more dermatologists tell us about the damaging effects of the sun, the more important this question has become for golfers. But that’s not our focus today. Rather, let’s consider all that we do to “save our skin” as opposed to treating the trouble below the surface.

In Daniel 3, we encounter the famous account of the fiery death sentence assigned to the three friends of Daniel who did not bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s gigantic gold image. For their faithfulness to the God of Israel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a furnace “seven times hotter” than hot. Nebuchadnezzar wanted no one messing with his big idea.

But here is what we all know: the young men were protected by a fourth sent by God. They emerged without a single hair of their head singed.

We could say, “Whoa!” to this amazing report, but our thoughts would not be original. Nebuchadnezzar himself proclaimed as much the minute the men walked out of the furnace. “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,” he announced. It was an expression we might infer in one of two ways: a sincere praise—as when the winner is the one we want—or a respectful one—as when we see greatness in a victor who is another.

What we come to find as we read today’s passage and beyond into chapter four of Daniel is that Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with God long before he surrendered to him. Notice that quickly Nebuchadnezzar turned God’s excellence into his own grand declaration: “I decree”… “will be cut into pieces.” Nebuchadnezzar saw God’s might, but in this kingdom called Babylon Nebuchadnezzar was still in charge. When he said that “no other god can save this way,” he was not speaking of the salvation of a man’s soul, but only the very impressive salvation of his skin.

There was better news to come for Nebuchadnezzar, however. God recognized that the king’s eyes were open to Him, so He went after the ruler’s heart. In the dream followed by the reality that comprises chapter four, Nebuchadnezzar was taken by God to a place of significant and personal humbling. No longer would God be “the great God” for Nebuchadnezzar, but rather “my great God.”

The move toward placing God on the pedestal of our lives does not really begin until we recognize that there is only one pedestal. Few people daresay that life is defined “me above God.” But many of us set it up this way: “me over here and God over there.” What must be is this: one pedestal—one authority. This is the lesson Nebuchadnezzar had to learn. For how many of us is it still the lesson today?

Jeff Hopper

August 25, 2011

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