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Mighty Babylon Feels God's Hand - and Watches It Write!!

             

A depiction of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, whose army destroyed Jerusalem in the late 6th Century B.C., and who brought many Israelites to Babylon as slaves.

              God seems to have a rule that if you are in any way involved as a tool to chastize the Jews or Israel, or if you attack them militarily, you need to be taught that you were only ALLOWED to do so because it served one of God's purposes. 

              In the tradition of letting every world power know who His people are, God dealt with Babylon as it emerged as a world power in the days of Nebuchadnezzar.  It was unfortunately a time of apostasy for Judah.  The 10 northern tribes of Israel had been beaten and deported by Assyria about 140 years before, for becoming idol worshippers and wicked in other ways - just disobedient to God in general.    Despite this object lesson in obedience, Judah had morally decayed until it was just as bad - actually worse!  Read Jeremiah for some good examples of their spiritual condition.  They worshipped the Sun, they worshipped the Queen of Heaven (Ashtoreth, source of the word Easter), they sacrificed their children at the high places of Topheth.  They now had many false Gods, and ignored their real one. 

              God warned them by the prophets He sent to turn away from this evil or there would be consequences.  But the people of Judah mostly ignored them.  Or worse - some prophets were killed.  So God's hand strengthened the hands of the Babylonians, who laid siege to Jerusalem, and finally conquered it.  But Jeremiah was so revered as a prophet of Judah's God that he was treated with deference even by the Babylonian general.  He was found within the city, made safe, and given the option of going to Babylon or staying behind in Judah with the poorest of the land who would work the fields, etc.  He chose to stay.  Again, God's most faithful servants were given unexpected mercies,even by the enemy.  He was even given gifts.

              The King of Judah was blinded with the point of a sword after His sons were killed in front of him, thus ending his male line.  His daughters strangely enough ended up in Jeremiah's care.  A legend has them going first to Egypt, then later the daughter named Tea Tephi (an Egyptian name) is given to one of the first high kings of Ireland as a wife (King Erdemon), along with a pillow stone once used by Jacob/Israel at the site of the 'Jacob's Ladder' vision.

               It's a crazy story, but who knows?  The Kings of Ireland were coronated on that stone until the Irish residing in Scotland came and took it by force.  The Kings of Scotland were coronated then on that stone until Edward Longshanks of England (King Edward the Third of 'Braveheart' fame) took it from the Scots.  Then the Kings of England up until even our present time have been coronated on a chair placed over the stone.  Sometime in the 1980's some Scot youths nabbed it, and it was for a time missing.  This led to a public debate in the United Kingdom over where the stone rightfully belongs.  The stone was returned, and to my understanding it is now placed in keeping in Scotland, but will be brought out for use when any Kings of England need to be coronated.  For more, look up 'Stone of Scone', 'Stone of Destiny', or 'Liafail'.)

              So the people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon, or killed, except that Nebudchanezzar had a few of the best and brightest young men of Judah castrated and placed into schooling for the benefit of Babylon.  Belteshazzar (Daniel), Shadrach (Hananiah), Abed-Nego(Azariah) and Meshach(Mishael) were four such young men.  God gave these four exceptional wisdom and gifts.  Daniel could even interpret dreams and visions with God's help.

              Nebudchanezzar, the mightiest ruler of his time, was king for only two years when he began to have very upsetting dreams.  Surrounded by supposed wise men from the reign of his father and previous Babylonian kings, Nebudchanezzar decided to put them to the test, and if they failed, to the sword.  He told them that he had experienced very bad dreams which he wanted to know the meaning of.  That was all good fun for them and right down their alley - no problems so far.  But then Nebuchadnezzer told them that they must tell him what it was he dreamed as well as what the meaning was.  It is one thing to tell a man what his dream means, but quite another to guess what he dreamed.  They tried to tell him it couldn't be done, but he insisted.  They told him it was an impossibility - (and it is without God's help.)  So he became angry at them and ordered the wise men and astrologers and conjurers and sorcerers gathered up to be killed. 

              **We might note here that though demonic powers might lend an occasional person what seems to be a gift or a power, here in this long ago time when many believed in such dark powers, and there was great importance and status attached to mastering such things, there was not among these many Babylonian sorcerers and wisemen anyone that could even read a mind when their life depended on it.  I think the chief affect of those sorts of 'arts' and 'teachings' is to mislead men from the real God.  They are shown again here as the nearly powerless fakes that they are and always have been.** 

              Daniel and his friends, in training to become 'wise men', were among those to be killed.  But Daniel and his friends prayed that God would remember them and help them.  And then, in a vision at night, the king's dream and its meaning were revealed to Daniel by God.

              Daniel asked to be taken to Nebudchanezzar, declaring to the King's gaurd that he could solve the kings puzzle. 

              Taken before a stern Nebudchanezzar, Daniel is asked if he can solve the dream and its meaning.  With complete humility, Daniel gives all of the credit to God, saying that his God has given him the answer, and he can now tell it to the King of Babylon.

              Daniel explains all of the frightening details of the kings dream, which involves a collossal statue and is portending of future nations and even about Jesus coming.  The king was so floored by the accuracy and so affected by the interpretation of the dream that he fell to the floor and began to pay homage to Daniel as God's representative.  He also promotes Daniel to Ruler of the province of Babylon and Prefect over its 'wise men'.  He gives Daniel valuable gifts, and he says 'Your God is certainly a God of Gods and a Lord of Kings, and a Revealer of Mysteries to be able to interpret this dream in this way'.  Nebudchanezzar had felt the hand of God, but not for the last time.

              At a later time, Nebudchanezzar had a giant image of gold created and set up in the plain of Dura near Babylon.  It was about 90 feet high and 9 feet wide.  People were ordered to worship this statue at certain times when music was played.  Daniel was gone away doing the kings business at this time.

              The wise men and astrologers, etc., that Daniel had saved were none the less pretty jealous of the power that Daniel had obtained.  They saw their chance to get rid of Daniel's three friends when they saw that the three would not kneel to worship the image when the music sounded.  They came and told Nebudchanezzar about this.  Nebudchanezzar called them to ask them about this, and he was angry.  He asked them if they knew the penalty for failing to worship this image was to be burned alive in a furnace?  Did they think their God could save them from the furnace if they were thrown in?

              They replied that if their God chose to He could save them even from the flames, but that they were not going to worship a false image whether God did or didn't allow them to survive the flames.  Nebudchanezzar became furious at this fairly defiant answer.  He ordered the furnace heated up 7 times hotter than usual with extra wood, then he had soldiers throw them into the furnace. 

              It was so hot that the soldiers died from the act, but looking into the flames and watching to see what would happen, Nebudchanezzar saw not just three people walking around unharmed, but also a fourth that he thought looked like a 'son of the gods'.  He called the three out of the fire to him.

              The amazed onlookers saw that neither their hair nor their clothing showed any signs of harm from the fire, and they did not smell like smoke.  Nebudchanezzar, probably aghast at the thought that he might have offended their now twice revealed powerful God, immediately declared them servants of the Most High God, and praised them for offering up their very lives rather than worship any god but their own true God.  He further declared that anyone speaking a word against their God, anywhere in his whole kingdom - would be torn limb from limb and their houses would be demolished. Then, he prospered them in his kingdom.  (Nice 'about face', Nebuchadnezzar.  It's good to have some flexibilities in your policies.)

              Nebudchanezzar was left incredulous by the power of our God, and he, head of perhaps the greatest world empire of the time, feared God greatly.

              Next came a time when Nebudchanezzar again had a dream of a giant tree that spread wide and tall, providing shelter and provision for many creatures.  But then an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended and declared that the tree should be cut down, but that a stump should be left for '7 times.'  The angelic watcher said it was done so that men would know that the Most High was ruler over the realm of man and would give power to whoever he wished, and sets over it the lowliest of men if He wishes.  Daniel told him that he, Nebuchadnezzar, was that tree, and that was his future, until he was brought to acknowledge that heaven ruled, not him.

              A year later, walking on the roof of his royal palace and looking upon the splendor of his kingdom, he reflected that he was responsible for causing it all to come to be so glorious.  Immediately a voice came from heaven.  It said that he would now have his sovereignty removed, he would be driven away from other men, he would live in the field with the beasts, he would eat grass, and it would not be until seven 'times' had passed that he would recognize that The Most High was the ruler of the realm of man, and bestowed it on whom He wished. 

              This very thing happened.  He lost his right mind immediately, and ate grass in the field each day like an animal until his hair was so matted that it looked like eagle feathers and his nails were so long that they looked like bird claws. 

              But after 7 years, his reason returned to him, and he looked up to heaven and acknowledged and praised the one true God, who does as He wills with none to stop Him, humbling those who walk in pride.  He was returned to his kingdom as sovereign, and his nobles returned to him, and greatness was added to his kingdom by God. 

              It is a beautiful thing that Nebudchanezzer wrote a letter to purposely declare the signs and wonders he had felt and seen from the hand of The Most High God.  It is in Daniel Chap 4 of the Bible for any of us to read, from more than 2,500 years ago when he reigned as king of Babylon.  Nebudchanezzar says to praise, exalt, and honor the King of Heaven, because all His works are true and all His ways just.

              Why did no one usurp his kingdom during his seven years?  The head of his wisemen was Daniel.  Perhaps that was it.  Daniel had interpreted that this would happen to him and that it was from God.  And Daniel knew it was supposed to last seven years.  I suppose that this may have counted for something, and there is in fact some surviving traditions outside of the Bible saying that it was Daniel who personally cared for the king during his years of insanity.  At any rate, his kingdom was there waiting when he recovered, and because it was, he could write this letter - this public letter praising our God - from a position of influence and renown. 

              Many years after Nebudchanezzar's reign, his son (possibly grand-son) Belshazzar was king.  The kingdom was under threat from the combined forces of the Medes under Darius and the Persians.  But common wisdom had it that Babylon was unconquerable.  It's walls were ludicrously thick and a river actually ran beneath the walls - in thru one wall and out beneath another - so that they could hardly be starved or be without water.  And so this Belshazzar was basically ignoring the information about enemies coming to attack, and was throwing a big party for 1000 of his nobles.  He gave orders that the captured holy serving cups and vessals seized from God's temple,  years ago in Jerusalem, should be brought out now to drink wine from.  God's holy vessals were to be put to common use by drunk pagans.

              But then, the fingers of a hand emerged right from the stone of the wall and wrote on the wall the words 'Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (some translations say Peres vice Upharsin).'  The king saw this happen with his own eyes.  This so terrified the king that his knees began to knock and his bowels loosened.  He wanted to know what the words meant.

              No one among their number could interpret these words, though he offered a necklace of gold and the position of Third Ruler of the Kingdom.  Then the queen-mother remembered Daniel, who was old now, and she recommended him to the king as a man who was able to interpret mysteries in former times.

              Daniel was sent for.  The king promised all of these many gifts to Daniel if he could interpret these writings.  Daniel answered that he did not desire the gifts, but that he would tell him the meaning.  Daniel reminded him of how his father, Nebudchanezzer, was humbled by God for his pride.  Yet he, Belshazzar, was using God's sacred vessals to toast false gods, and was giving no glory to the real God, though he knew what happend to Nebudchanezzar when he did not glorify God.  So what the words meant was:  'God had numbered Belshazzar's kingdom and ended it.  Belshazzar had been weighed on the balance and found deficient.  His kingdom, Babylon, would be divided between the Persians and the Meads.'

              Though this was not good news, the king offered the gifts, but Daniel declined them.  That night the king's enemies enacted a brilliant strategy, and diverted the river far upstream, and so they walked in under the wall that it had flowed under.  They took the entire city easily, and the king Balshazzar was killed that very night.  Then Darius the Meade, at 62 years old, received the kingdom, and the Babylonian's empire was basically finished.  Daniel Chap 5.

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website