king nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. he set it up on the plain of dura, in the province of babylon. then king nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that king nebuchadnezzar had set up. then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that king nebuchadnezzar had set up. and they stood before the image that nebuchadnezzar had set up.[daniel 3:1-3]
nebuchadnezzar builds a nine-story tall gleaming golden statue, which must have been a staggering sight, immensely valuable in worldly terms, and an amazing feat of engineering given the technology from 2500+ years ago. in his continued desire for world domination, the ‘king of kings’ gathers the leaders of the land to gaze at the majesty of his image (as well as worship it as we will see later). but where is his statue today?–shelley must have been thinking of nebuchadnezzar’s golden image when he penned the poem ozymandias:
i met a traveller from an antique land,
who said—“two vast and trunkless legs of stone
stand in the desert. . . . near them, on the sand,
half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
tell that its sculptor well those passions read
which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
the hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
and on the pedestal, these words appear:
my name is ozymandias, king of kings;
look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
nothing beside remains. round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
the lone and level sands stretch far away.”
mortal men and women that we are, we are hard-coded to worship: God has given us this capacity so that we might seek him and give him glory, but instead we will sing the praises of the awe-inspiring things of earth–an amazing athletic performance or team, the grand spires of a cathedral, the wonder of a new baby.
nebuchadnezzar knew something about human nature, and so do our leaders and influencers. the siren’s call of satan and the world is “look!–not at Christ, but at (a golden calf, a gold statue, the human form, a new phone, or ourselves as gods)!” and we settle for the counterfeit experience that it delivers…for just a little while until our next dopamine deficit comes along, and we scramble back to our screens for our next hit. this isn’t a new phenomenon, we are just as deluded and foolish as our ‘backward, old-fashioned, uneducated, and unsophisticated ancestors’
claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. [romans 1:22, 23]
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water. [jeremiah 2:13]
yet we continue to claim to be wise while our enemy sends to gather the influencers and politicians to come to the dedication of the image. but the image is the one we see in the mirror, our prideful desires, the golden image of ourselves. let us not fall for it, let us look to the one who can save us–Jesus.
look to me, and be saved,
all you ends of the earth!
for i am God, and there is no other. [isaiah 45:22 nkjv]
and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” [acts 4:12]
let us stand firm in the resurrection power of Jesus–let us each moment gaze upon your Son, who enters the temple of our hearts, flips the tables and dashes our idols to the ground!