A Pepper Grinder Post

Election

Unless you are very isolated, you know that the big news of this past week was that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. This was a big surprise for many people, including me. You may be someone who really wanted Hillary Clinton to win, or you may be someone who was excited about Trump, or you may be like one of my co-workers, who said he wished there was some way they could both lose. I would like to offer some encouragement to those of us who aren't excited about Trump. I have one word for you: Nebuchadnezzar.

I am going to guess that if you didn't want Trump to be elected, you probably wouldn't have liked Nebuchadnezzar either. He was the king of Babylon when the Babylonians finally captured and destroyed Jerusalem. While he seems to have been less brutal than the Assyrians (the top dogs before the Babylonians took the slot), that isn't saying much. Just to give one example, when Jerusalem was captured, Nebuchadnezzar took Zedekiah, who was ruling Judah at that time, and killed all his sons in front of him before putting out his eyes. I can't imagine Trump saying he would do that, even in his most far-flung rhetoric. Nebuchadnezzar was also the king who had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown alive into a superheated furnace because they refused to bow down to the super-sized idol he had created. Nebuchadnezzar was the absolute monarch of most of the world known to the Old Testament writers at a time when there were no checks and balances for kings.

And yet, listen to what God says about Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 25:9 (NIV):

"I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon," declares the LORD, "and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations."

NebuchadnezzarThe God of the universe describes Nebuchadnezzar as "my servant." He didn't say this because Nebuchadnezzar had become a servant of the God of Israel (at least not when Jeremiah was writing that). If he believed in the Lord (Yahweh) at all, it was only as one of many gods, and as one who was less powerful than his own personal god, Nabu.

Nebuchadnezzar's name is mentioned 89 times in the Old Testament. I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if that was more than the name of any other non-Jewish ruler. Perhaps the most interesting story about Nebuchadnezzar is from the book of Daniel, chapter four. In this chapter, the king had a troubling dream, and he consulted Daniel about it. Daniel explained that the dream meant that Nebuchadnezzar would be driven away from people and lose his kingship until he acknowledged that God was the ultimate king. Daniel urged Nebuchadnezzar to humble himself to try to prevent this calamity. In spite of the warning, the king remained proud, and he was ousted and driven into the wilderness. Here is the account of how that exile ended.

"At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. 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?'" (Daniel 4:34-35, NIV)

We don't know if Nebuchadnezzar changed permanently, but my point is this: if God can use and work with an arrogant and violent despot who reigned over a large and godless empire, can't he work with Donald Trump? An important message of the book of Daniel is that God is sovereign, even over those who don't acknowledge him. He still is.

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*Photo Credits: Nebuchadnezzar from