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February 16, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.’”—Daniel 2:46-47 (NIV)
Have you ever been to the circus? I remember going to the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a child and standing in amazement as I watched the huge elephants parade around the stadium, the motorcyclists flip and spin as they rode inside the Globe of Death, and the daring trapeze performers swing and fly across the stage. I can recall walking out of the event, with my mouth and eyes still wide open, as I wondered at what I had just witnessed.
Much like my amazement after exiting the circus, King Nebuchadnezzar also stood amazed after Daniel had interpreted his dream. However, in his amazement, Nebuchadnezzar’s first response was to worship Daniel. He even orders for an offering and incense to be presented to Daniel. What Nebuchadnezzar says in the following verse, though, contradicts his initial response. In verse 47, Nebuchadnezzar praises God, not Daniel, as the Lord of kings and the revealer of mysteries. Some theologians suggest that Nebuchadnezzar’s change in worship was not motivated by his own heart change, but rather, as a result of Daniel reminding him of God’s role in the situation (Daniel 2:45b). Knowing what Nebuchadnezzar will do in future chapters, we can see that his heart indeed had not changed as a result of witnessing God work through Daniel. His words of praise were not yet accompanied by a believing heart, and his amazed response was not yet followed by an intentional act of surrender to the Lord.
As imperfect human beings, it’s easy for us to forget how powerful and gracious our God is. When we allow God to become familiar, we easily fall into Nebuchadnezzar’s absent-minded praise. In Romans 12:1 (NIV), we see Paul redefine what true worship is—our daily decision to sacrifice ourselves for the Lord by surrendering our lives to Christ and following Him above all else. Not only does this worship consists of a lifestyle change, but it also results in being in awe of God, “in view of God’s mercy.” There is no doubt Nebuchadnezzar was astonished at the power God had given Daniel, but his astonishment only resulted in a temporary awe for God and no lifestyle change.
If our words of praise for God are not followed by a change in our hearts, then our words mean nothing. In order to avoid familiarity and praising God senselessly, we must constantly remind ourselves of our God’s omnipotence and sovereignty, and we must daily choose to live in a way that reflects our words of praise for Him.
DIG: Why did Nebuchadnezzar first respond by worshipping Daniel?
DISCOVER: Ask yourself, “Am I worshipping God from a humbled and amazed heart in view of who He is, or am I worshipping God because it is the “Christian” thing to do?”
DO: Listen to a worship song today and instead of just singing the words, allow them to influence the decisions you make today.