Acknowledging the True Authority
When seeing a person wearing a uniform it can be easy to assume their authority. Movies sometimes portray this phenomenon by showing instances of characters who fool security personnel by wearing a maintenance uniform. Since birth, society tries to teach us that people who wear certain clothes have authority and expert knowledge of topics that are not common knowledge. However, no characteristic or identity feature makes another human flawless and worthy of absolute praise. Everyone is able to develop a bias towards this world’s authority figures and it can trick us into believing in false power.
When the tribe of Judah was taken into exile by the Chaldeans (Neo-Babylonian Empire) they forcefully moved many Hebrews back to their capital city. Shortly after, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon decreed, “bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans…They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.” (Dan. 1:3-5) Among the people brought before the king were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Due to his inflated sense of authority, the king had his chief eunuch change their names to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The original Judean names were representative of being worshippers of God, but the newly Chaldean given ones symbolized idol worship.
Even though Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were captives of a nation with an unrighteous religion and had their names changed, their hearts never swayed from God. When Daniel was presented with the king’s wine and food, he refused to eat because it would defile himself before God. After a ten day test, Daniel was permitted to stay on his requested vegetable diet. (Dan. 1:8-16) Sometime later the king created a golden image. At the dedication, he brought all of the officials together and proved their loyalty by having them fall down to worship the idol. If any official refused then they were to be burned alive in a furnace. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused the king’s command and said, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18) In his anger, the king requested the furnace to be made seven times hotter before throwing the three Judeans in. By God’s power they survived and the astonished Nebuchadnezzar praised God. (Dan. 3:27-30)
Although King Nebuchadnezzar was proclaiming God, His heart was still full of self-pride. Daniel 4 records King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a tall tree being cut down and a man’s mind turning into a wild beat’s. Daniel interprets the dream for the king and warns him that he is the tree the tall tree to be cut down because his mind will become a wild animal’s. After hearing this interpretation the king responds, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” However, as he was speaking the dream became fulfilled and the king became like a beast of the field. When King Nebuchadnezzar was eventually restored by God’s power, he truly recognized the power and authority of God. (Dan. 4:34-37)
People might be able to trick each other with what we wear or say, but God cannot be fooled because He sees the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) God is also the true definition of power and authority. Isaiah 40:28 reads, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Every person has a choice as to which authority their heart will truly recognize. The King Nebuchadnezzar’s of the world, or to God. Isaiah 40:29-31 reads, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Will you choose to acknowledge only the physical authorities and characteristics of this life, or do you want to be a part of an everlasting kingdom?