Thursday, 6 February 2014

Life's Futility: In the Shadow of Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Image

This reading is based on Eccleciastes 2 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.

"I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me...."
From what you know of Nebuchadnezzar's story, how aptly could the above tell his story? As the story did go, he resisted the insinuation from the interpretation of the troubling dream he got that, though designated the head of gold (Daniel 2), his kingdom (yeah his reign) would end. He therefore in protest built an image of gold as an expression of his desire to remain the super power for all time. But was this about power or about life; bearing in mind that power without life is pointless?
I posit that God read in the motive and deep desire of Nebuchadnezzar, not so much resistance and rebellion, or even a quest for power, but rather a desire to live and to not die. Nebuchadnezzar, who as the head of gold would have had a "good" life as portrayed in the verses above, was seemingly as haunted by the sheer emptiness and vanity of life as the Preacher was - for it was to "pointlessly" end. From the angle of this concern God courted him.
What may God make of our quests in life? Are we resigned to dying, and to just "milk" life for what fleeting pleasures we may yet extract from it until we die? Or do we want to LIVE? Critically, how do we respond to God's attempts at getting our attention?
From being reminded of his dream to receiving its interpretation; from the fiery furnace faceoff to the seven-year journey with the beasts; God contended with Nebuchadnezzar on what it means to really live; how death may indeed be overcome. At length Nebuchadnezzar got it, and in God-inspired wisdom declared, "And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me. And I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His Kingdom is from generation to generation. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways judgment. And those that walk in pride He is able to abase." Dan. 4: 34, 37.
How will it end for us; will we get it before its too late? So Lord, "Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom," (Ps. 90: 12) amen.

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