That Escalated Quickly

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold . . .”—Daniel 3:1 (ESV)

We don’t know exactly how much time passes between the second and third chapters of Daniel. But as chapter three opens here, it becomes clear that enough time had passed for Nebuchadnezzar to lose touch with a lot of what had happened in chapter two. There, God had given him a dream of a great statue and revealed it represented the succession of world empires that would rise and fall. Nebuchadnezzar’s empire was the golden head of that statue.

So, when we see him making his own statue completely out of gold, we can read between the lines—Nebuchadnezzar is basically rebelling against the idea of his empire being replaced by another. He’s declaring that he’s in control. Not any other king or kingdom and certainly not Daniel’s God. He thinks he’s it!

We’re going to see God systematically dismantle this false notion as we go on. But for now, take note of the fact that Nebuchadnezzar decided to pursue his own fame and recognition instead of the Lord’s. This statue was symbolic of this choice, and he wanted everyone to be in awe of his glory instead of God’s. But he didn’t just want their admiration, watch what happens next: “And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, ‘You are commanded . . . to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:3-6 ESV).

Everyone is brought before Nebuchadnezzar’s statue and commanded to worship it under the penalty of death! That escalated quickly, didn’t it? It wasn’t enough to just be admired, but now he had to be worshipped. Nebuchadnezzar was completely self-absorbed, which drove him to require the ultimate that another person could ever offer—their worship. That’s the nature of selfishness. It’s never satisfied but only demands more and more.

It’s easy to distance ourselves from an extreme example like Nebuchadnezzar’s. But the principle that applied to him also applies to us, because we share the same human nature with him. When we become self-focused with our own agenda and glory instead of God’s, we’ll find ourselves in an insatiable spin-cycle where we always want more.

Let’s learn from this cautionary example and surrender daily to the reality that we’re not it and that God is. Let’s live for Him and we’ll find a fulfillment that can never be found by living for ourselves.

DIG: What was Nebuchadnezzar basically saying by making this statue?

DISCOVER: Why did Nebuchadnezzar require everyone to worship his statue?

DO: Pray about ways you should adjust your life in response to this example.