Nebuchadnezzar’s Folly

Read: Daniel 3:1-30

Fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. (v. 5)

I owe a debt to Jeff Barker of Northwestern College, whose theater troupe performed this story as satire. I’ve come to agree with that interpretation. The repetitive lists of musical instruments and various officials and even the insertion of the word “king” with Nebuchadnezzar over and over are meant to poke fun at Nebuchadnezzar. He had set himself up as a semi-divine ruler with an enormous gold idol (presumably made with gold looted from the conquered Hebrew people) and demanded his subjects bow down and worship. This story lets the air out of his balloon.

In 1940, before America had entered World War II, Charlie Chaplin made the satirical movie The Great Dictator. In Chaplin’s film, Hitler was a tyrant named Adenoid Hynkel. Was there anything funny about Hitler? In one sense, no. But in another sense, maintaining one’s sense of humor is perhaps the best way to resist a tyrant. In the long run, all tyrants are exposed as ludicrous fools. The Bible did this to Nebuchadnezzar centuries before Chaplin did it to Hitler.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to break the first commandment and worship the idol of gold. God protected them—only the ropes that bound them were consumed in the fiery furnace. Similarly, laughter also releases us from the power of those who set themselves up as God. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, thank God for the gift of humor.

About the Author

Jeffrey Munroe is the Executive Vice President of Western Theological Seminary and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

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