Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Scripture Twisting, Part 1

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, November 26, 2013:  Daniel 2:24-3:30

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.  Daniel 3:1 (NKJV)

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a mysterious dream.  He was obviously one of the eccentric despots of history -- quick to shout, "Off with their heads!"  He wanted his dream interpreted, but on top of that, he couldn't even remember the dream!

He would have wiped out all the "wisemen" of Babylon had not Daniel stepped up.  By God's gifting, Daniel disclosed to Nebuchadnezzar the dream of a huge statue depicting successive ages of human history.  The climax of the dream was a God-formed stone hurled from heaven striking the statue, bringing it down, and replacing it.

God's purpose in giving the dream was redemptive.  It is always redemptive.  That's His nature.  But, Nebuchadnezzar totally missed the point.  He hung up on one part of what God said, and proceeded to go off the deep end again.

In describing the gigantic statue, Daniel said the head made of "fine gold" was, in fact, Nebuchadnezzar himself!  Even though Daniel predicted five more kingdoms, Nebuchadnezzar didn't hear another word.  He was the head of gold!

In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar builds a huge golden statue to himself.  It was homage to this statue that provoked one of the most inspiring stories of Scripture: the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace.  That story deserves our further study another day, but I want here to point out the irony of Nebuchadnezzar's self-centeredness.

God gave a true, good word.  Nebuchadnezzar took part of it and misapplied it.  The result was an attack on those who truly love and follow God.  This is a picture of how fallen man can twist the Word of God and as a result do great damage.

Scripture twisting is deadly.  In the name of religion, much damage has been done to the church and in world history.  Nebuchadnezzar probably had Daniel's words ringing in his ears as he decreed death to all who would not bow down to his statue.  He might well have claimed divine sanction as he threw the three Hebrews into the furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar is an example to us of carnal man using Scripture to further his own ambitions.  The foundation of any true work of God is not only the truth of Scripture but also the surrender of hearts.  Self-made man can never build a God-centered ministry.

It is in this light that Jesus calls every man to lay down his life.  It is certainly not the world's way.  The first step to greatness is to deny yourself.  Amazing!

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