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Crushing Babylon

Finding Our Static Point in a Drifting World

I love the beach, and so do my boys. One thing we've tried to teach them as they've gotten older is current of the ocean will naturally cause them to drift. If you’ve ever been out in the ocean, you know you can't just walk in a straight line out into the water and stay in an exact spot. If you don't look up every now and then, you'll realize that you have drifted away from where you started on the beach. You must find a stationary point and then keep reorienting yourself to it.

Similarly, as Daniel and his friends were serving in Babylon, they too needed to find some kind of static point on which to fix their eyes, or they would drift. They could drift into fear and anger over their situation or ambivalence and embrace of everything Babylon represented. But neither response would allow them to live faithfully.


The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

In the second chapter of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has troubling dreams that leave him sleepless. He commands all the wisemen to tell him his dream and its interpretation. When they cannot he decrees that all the wise men of Babylon be executed, including Daniel and his friends. This scenario exemplifies life in Babylon—where everything opposed to God reigns and has the final say. Rather than submitting to God, Nebuchadnezzar plays God.

Amidst the threat of execution, Daniel's response was marked by prudence and discretion. He approached Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, with faithfulness rather than fear, anger, or ambivalence. Daniel gathers his friends and they faithfully pray that God would reveal to them the king’s dream and its meaning. Mordaciously, Daniel receives knowledge of the dream itself and it’s interpretation.

The interpretation of the dream informed Nebuchadnezzar that he was the mightiest of all kings and all other kingdoms after his would be inferior. However, the critical element of the dream was a stone, cut by no human hand, that struck and shattered the image, becoming a great mountain filling the whole earth. This stone symbolizes the eternal Kingdom of God, a kingdom that will never be destroyed, surpassing all earthly kingdoms.


Lessons for Today

1. We Need to Remember Babylon is Always Temporary

Part of the dream's purpose is to comfort Daniel and his friends. Despite living under a kingdom opposed to their beliefs, they are reassured that this will not last forever. Other kingdoms may rise, but ultimately, they will not endure. Knowing that the kingdoms of this world are temporary prevents us from falling into the ditches of fear and anger on one side or ambivalence and embrace on the other. When we remember situations are temporary we don’t have to exert our energy becoming angry and fighting every battle. At the same time, we don’t have to go along with every cultural whim. Rather, we can live faithfully knowing an eternal kingdom is coming.

 

 

2. We Should Not Be Surprised That A Broken World Acts Out in Broken Ways

Daniel's description of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2 as "king of kings" with dominion over people, animals, and birds echoes the Genesis mandate given to all humanity. Despite our rebellion, our role as God's representatives remains. However, we often rule with pride, injustice, and violence, rather than the mercy, grace, and gentleness exemplified by Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we must remember our calling to rule and reign in a way that reflects His character.


3. "Smashing" Babylon God's Way is Contrary to Our Ways

The Kingdom of God, as represented by the stone in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, is established not through human might or violence but by divine intervention. We see this best represented in Jesus. The New Testament sees Jesus as the stone that has crushed the kingdoms of this word by “disarming the powers and authorities and making them a public spectacle by triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15).


Jesus saw himself crushing the kingdoms of this world by allowing the kingdoms of this world to crush him. He declared himself to be king and the world crowned him—with a crown of thorns. He declared he would be exalted, and the world exalted him—enthroning him on a cross. He declared he was the Savior of the mankind, and the world gave written notice—inscribing “King of the Jews” above his cross. And somehow in all of this, Jesus believed he had conquered the kingdoms of this world and established his own.


Our approach to "smashing" Babylon—resisting the ways of a broken world—should align with Jesus’ way of humility, service, and love, contrasting it with the arrogance and pride of earthly kingdoms.

 

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