Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Nebuchadnezzar’

All Gone

At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.

And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.

And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.

~~ II Kings 24:10-12 (KJV)

This reading talks about the greatest dispersion of the children of Israel. King Nebuchadnezzar took prisoner all the assets of Judah.

He took the king, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and all the officials. He took the gold implements and treasures from the temple. He took all the fighting men in the army. And he took all the craftsmen and artisans.

Nebuchadnezzar took control of the ruler and the political structure. So the civil authority was under Nebuchadnezzar’s control.

He took all the gold implements for worship from the temple of Solomon. And the religious activity was under his control.

He took all seven thousand of the army, so there was no military force for him to contend with.

And he took all the craftsmen and artisans.

Whoa! Why would he want the artisans and craftsmen?

Our God is a creator. He gave man the gift of creativity. That creativity is most active and expressed in the work of artisans and craftsmen. But when these artisans and craftsmen create, they sometimes reflect the root of God that is in them. Their works point to the greatness of God.

But Nebuchadnezzar didn’t want the people of Judah remembering their God or continuing to worship Him. Therefore he took all the craftsmen so that they would be occupied only with the commissioned pieces that Nebuchadnezzar wanted made. They had no artistic freedom to create their pieces as God inspired. And there was no one left in Judah to create either.

He left only the poorest people of the land, those without money – and perhaps without talents or skills. He robbed the land of those who could make it shine – who had the heart and the wherewithal to make things better.

But God had promised that Judah will be restored.

For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.   ~~  Jeremiah 30:17 (KJV)

And it was so.

Our nation today is being usurped by the forces of evil. We have watched as the government is being taken over by lying, cheating, immorality and general evil.

Churches are being forbidden to speak the truth of God in fear of an accusation of bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and hate.

And creativity has been lured away by the phantom of riches and fame which have been usurped by wickedness in all its forms.

We must remember that God can restore, but we must do our part to speak out, to let our voices be heard, to quit cowering before the assumed powers of the world.

We need to remember that God is sovereign.

No matter what the world may take from you, God can restore. Nebuchadnezzar took it all, intending to wipe out Judah entirely — but God restored.

Father, God,

No matter what the world does to us, remind us that You are the restorer. You can take the broken heart and heal it. You can take the ruined family and restore it. You can take the broken spirit and help it soar and sing. Help us to soar and sing Your praises at all times, no matter what else is happening around us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Redemption

And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.

In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.  ~~  Jeremiah 50:19-20 (KJV)

Here is the promise of restoration. God says that Israel and Judah will be restored to the fullness of their land. That they will be a holy people because God will have forgiven the remnant he restores.

What a beautiful promise. After seventy years in exile, the people of God will come back to their land. God will see to it that their land is fruitful for their needs. They will be satisfied with the pastures and hills.

This restoration did not come easily. Israel was conquered by Assyria and then by Babylon. The people were decimated and imprisoned. Their young men were deprived of their manhood, made eunuchs to serve in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.

The search for guilt in the people of God will be fruitless because when God forgives sin, it is erased entirely. This is a picture of our redemption under the blood of Christ.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

There is a victory for the believer in the atoning blood of Christ. It is our only claim to God’s mercy.  ~~  Psalm 103:11-13 (KJV)

There is a victory for the believer in the atoning blood of Christ. It is our only claim to God’s mercy.

Father God,

Help us to remember that there is only one way to Your forgiveness, through the atoning blood of Jesus. Keep us ever faithful in speaking to others, lest we be drawn into tolerance of other paths – paths which can only lead to destruction.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

 

Knowledge and Wisdom

Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.

Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

~~ Daniel 3:8-30 (KJV)

The story of the fiery furnace has been quoted time and again. It’s told in Sunday School and in Summer Bible School frequently.

Our focus today, Nebuchadnezzar. He acknowledged the wisdom and knowledge of these Jewish slaves earlier by promoting them to positions of authority in his kingdom. But he was willing to destroy them because they would not worship him and his golden statue instead of their God.

When that failed, when they came through the fiery furnace untouched by flame or smoke, he acknowledged the power of their God.

Ah, but did he believe? Did he worship God. There is no evidence that he did.

We have knowledge of God today, but intellectual acceptance of the existence of God and His power are not enough. Daniel and his friends communed with God four times daily. They went on purpose to a quiet place where God was the only thing on their minds. The bowed in prayer and listened for His Word.

The key to heaven is a relationship with God. Not just a position in a hierarchy, but a relationship.

I have a friend that meets me for breakfast every Wednesday morning. We eat together; we pray together; we share the daily happenings in our lives.  When something good happens, we celebrate it. When something not so good happens, we pray over it. This is a relationship.

Do you meet God on a regular basis? Do you invite Him into your life every minute (even when you are scrubbing the toilet)?

Knowledge of God is a good thing, but it is not enough. A relationship with God gives you everything you will ever need.

Father, God,

Help us to understand that You are all we need. But we need You desperately. Give us the grace to acquire knowledge of you and even more grace to cultivate a relationship with you. Grant us the awareness of Your presence at every hour of our day. Let us be purposefully seeking you at all times.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

And the Lord Gave…

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.

~~  Daniel 1:1-2  (KJV)

While the book of Daniel is a book of prophecy, both prophecy fulfilled and prophecy yet to be fulfilled, it is also a book of history.

These opening verses are a simple statement of historical fact.

It could be a newspaper account with most of the journalistic questions being answered in two sentences.

  • When: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah
  • Who: Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
  • Where: Jerusalem
  • What: Siege and fall

The “why” question is not answered here.

Or maybe it is. “the Lord gave…”

It is a simple statement of the Lord being involved in the everyday activities of men and nations.

More of the why is written in Jeremiah 25 where the reasons for this judgment upon the people of Judah are spelled out clearly. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, has spoken to the nation time after time, and the people have not heeded his words.

God is good enough to give us prophets who will help us to stay on track with His will.

We have them today.

Are we listening?

Father, God,

We sometimes forget that you are involved in the day to day affairs of men. Help us to remember that You are interested in the smallest detail of our personal and collective lives. Grant us the grace to see things from Your perspective. Give us hearts of flesh that we might love Your people as You love them. Stir in us the hunger to seek Your face above all else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Restoration And Rebuilding

Focus verses: Ezra 3:7-4:5

After seventy years of exile, the children of Israel are allowed to return to their homeland. King Cyrus of Persia not only restores the people, but he also returns the sacred vessels that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple.

Very shortly after their repatriation, the Israelites built an altar for their sacrifices. And they collected donations toward the rebuilding of the temple. Fourteen months after their arrival back home, the rebuilding of the temple began. It seems the people were all of one accord on this because everyone participated.

By the time the foundation was laid, there was a huge celebration. There were shouts of joy from the younger people. But those who were old enough to remember the temple before its destruction responded with tears.

I would imagine that their joy was bitter-sweet. They were probably ruing the lost years. Seventy years of exile because of their faithlessness. They might have been rejoicing that there was a new beginning. And perhaps they were thinking of the work ahead and the probability that the younger people would not have a complete appreciation of all that entailed.

Restoration is a wonderful thing. It is a chance for a new beginning. God wipes the slate clean and allows a fresh start. But restoration comes only after a loss. It is the fruit of grief. Therefore it is not an unmixed blessing.

You can be sure that once God has restored something to you, the enemy will be on hand to see that the restoration is not completed.

Look at the verses in Ezra 4. First the enemy comes to “help” with the work. And when their help was rejected, they started scheming how to discourage the workers and hinder the work.

Our major task in restoration and rebuilding is not to let the enemy discourage us. We must keep our eyes on the task ahead and move forward without hesitation. If we stay focused on the Lord and the work He would have us do, we will remain faithful. When we allow distractions to enter the picture, we have begun the fall into infidelity yet again.

Father, God,

Keep us ever faithful to Your plans. Let us not be drawn away by the enemy, either by dissuasion nor temptation. Strengthen our heart and hands to Your service at all times.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Arrogance Humbled

Focus verses: Daniel 4:28-30

Daniel Chapter Four recounts the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the interpretation by Daniel, and the fulfillment thereof.

The messenger of God came to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream. He told the dream to Daniel, and Daniel interpreted it. He interpreted it faithfully even though he was greatly afraid because of the possible consequences.

In our focus verses, the king is literally patting himself on the back for all the accomplishments of his reign. He is ascribing all the power and glory to himself, not acknowledging that without the assent of God, none of this would have or could have happened.

The self-made man is created by an inferior workman.

When we fail to acknowledge God’s power and might in our lives and put ourselves in the place of God, we have committed idolatry. Our God is a jealous God. He will not tolerate being ignored or cast aside. To do so leaves us open to the consequences of our actions.

If we choose to live without acknowledging God and His sovereignty, we are free to do so. But we will spend our lives and our eternities without Him as well. We are fortunate that He is a determined and persistent God who will use every means available to draw us unto Himself.

My sainted grandmother used to say “when God wants to let you know how small you are, He give you your own way.” And when we are left to our own resources, we soon find our limitations.

God will be God. He is not willing that any should perish, but He gives us that option. That is the one place where God limits Himself. He will not override your free will. But oh, how foolish it is to use that free will to flout the King of Heaven!

Father, God,

Grant us the grace to see Your will in all our endeavors. Save us from the sin of arrogance, ignoring Your hand in our lives. Give us the wisdom to acknowledge You in all our ways.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Prosper In Captivity

Focus verses: Jeremiah 29:1-24

People love to quote Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” What they forget is that these words were written to the faithful remnant of Judah in captivity.

The Lord has told the people that they will remain captive to Nebuchadnezzar for seventy years. Seventy years! That’s enough time for three generations to die. Grandchildren just born will be old when they are allowed to return to Judah. A ten-year-old boy led into captivity will be an old man of eighty with grandchildren and great-grandchildren before they are allowed to return to Judah.

In the meantime, God has told them to carry on the affairs of life, just as if they were in their homeland. They are to build houses, plant gardens, marry, and multiply. Much the same list of duties that He gave Adam in the original garden.

Oh, and one more thing, they are to seek the peace and prosperity of the city into which they have been exiled. They are to pray to the Lord for the city of their exile because if it prospers, they will prosper also.

If you are a child of God, you know that this earth is not your real home. You are here for a season only. Your real home is eternity. How fitting is this passage to where we are and what we need to do and pray for?

The parallel is clear. We are to carry on the affairs of life under the laws of God. We are to marry and multiply, we are to tend fields and wield His authority. Let us not miss what I consider one of the most important points. We are to pray for this world and the citizens thereof – whether they are Christian or not.

You see, God loves all the children He created. He would that all of them should come to a saving knowledge of His Son and the redemption work of the cross of Calvary.

Father, God,

Help us to see that our exile on earth is similar to the exile of Judah in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Remind us that this is only a temporary home. Keep us faithful in prayer for this hurting world and ready our hearts to be united with You after our exile is finished.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.