Everyone has their list of people they can’t wait to meet when they get to Heaven. Paul, Peter, David of course. Loved ones who have passed away. And I know we all can’t wait to finally meet Alice Cooper (Vincent isn’t there yet, but I have a better chance of meeting him in heaven than I do down here). But I’m really looking forward to sitting down and talking with King Nebuchadnezzar.
You probably remember Nebby (as I like to call him) as the tyrannical king of Babylon who conquered Judah and enslaved the Jews all the way back in 586 B.C – roughly 2600 years ago. He is best known among biblical scholars and Sunday School students as that jerk who built a golden statue of himself and ordered everyone in the kingdom to worship it at a certain day and time. When three Jewish men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused because it was against their religion, he was so angry that he not only had them tossed into a huge furnace, but first had the fire inside stoked up so high that the guards manning the doors keeled over dead. King Nebuchadnezzar was not someone that would be considered righteous or Godly. He is not someone to whom we should aspire, and he is not someone we would expect to find strolling along the golden pavement. I’ve learned something about Nebby in the last three weeks, though, that I had not heard in all of the decades leading up to them. First, God refers to him as “my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” twice through the prophet Jeremiah (so far – I haven’t finished that book yet). Secondly, the king wrote an entire chapter in the Bible. Yup – Daniel included writings of King Nebby in his book which comprises the fourth chapter and includes quotes like:
“His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand or say to him:
‘What have you done?'”
Yeah. God went to tremendous lengths to be sure I would have the opportunity to have lunch with Nebby someday. Fortunately for us, there’s a few lessons that can be learned here. For one thing, I’ve never killed anyone just because they refused to worship me. I agree everyone probably should worship me, but it’s never been proven that I killed anyone for not doing it. But despite how far from God the Babylonian king was, God pursued him ardently. It is safe to believe that there is nothing I can do that can separate me from God’s desire for my salvation. Another thing – I’m not yet at a point that God’s praises just spontaneously erupt in my everyday words. It’s still unnatural for me. If God can bring about the level of transformation we see in King Nebuchadnezzar, maybe there’s still hope for me. And you. And all of us. What can God do with us if we dedicate ourselves to submitting to Him?
One final lesson. Possibly the best one of all. God referred to King Nebuchadnezzar as “my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” several years before the king acknowledged God’s authority. Although the king was still a sinner, God saw His servant. God didn’t see the king’s arrogance, He heard his praise. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see who we are, or even who we have been. He sees us how we will be when He has finished with us. Michelangelo’s quote about sculpting describes God’s perception of us, and it doesn’t matter where we’ve been, only where we are going.
I’m definitely going to have to invite Nebby over for drinks once I get settled into my new mansion. I may have those three young Jews over too just to get that story from both sides. So what about you? What interesting unexpected soul will you seek out when you get to Heaven?