Problems With Images and Egos
by David Reagan
I was going back to my rooms after dealing with some petty bureaucrats when Arioch stopped me. “Shadrach, I just learned what that secret project of the Kings is.”
“Oh? Good, it sure has been using up the treasury, what is it?”
“The King has made a gold image of himself and is going to set it up on the plains, everyone is to worship it, or they will die.”
“Oh, great. This is not good.”
“No, it isn't. I have already told Meshach and Abednego, they are waiting in your rooms to talk to you.”
“Thanks for the warning, you are a true friend Arioch.”
I hurried to my rooms thinking hard. “Great, Nebbie's pride is getting away from him again. Last time it just made a few satraps mad, this time it could kill me. Grr... Stupid forefathers who didn't worship God... If they had I would still be in Bethlehem taking care of Grandma.”
When I reached my rooms I found Mishael, who was renamed Meshach, and Azariah, who was renamed Abednego, (my real name was Hananiah, the annoying Babylonians called me Shadrach) munching on my private stash of Benach nuts. “Sheesh, guys! Those things are rare! Only three trees left in the entire known world. You could at least ask first.”
Mishael just grinned, “Hey, we're nervous, we always eat when we're nervous.”
“Yeah, I know, I am rather nervous too. Do you have any new details?” I replied.
“Nope, my spies never got close to that project. Ol' Nebbie really had good security. Had all 50 of his elite troops guarding it. Of course, with the amount of gold he brought into it, he would need that.” Azariah said.
For the next hour we wrangled about what to do. Eventually it came down to the fact that we did not have enough information. So we agreed to meet the next day after Azar's spies had more of a chance to ferret out information. After a quick prayer, they left, Mish of course stole a handful of Benach nuts on the way out. I took a bath and spent the rest of the night praying.
* * *
The next day I sent a couple messengers east to try and find Daniel. If he could get back soon enough, he would have a good chance of convincing Nebbie to give up on his gold ego trip. Unfortunately Daniel was at least a weeks ride away, even at the speed post riders went. So unless we were able to delay the unveiling for a couple months he didn't have much chance of getting home to help.
After a long day fielding merchants asking how to avoid taxes, I didn't really want to talk. But, this was an emergency, so I just dealt with it. Mish and Azar were both waiting in my rooms when I got back. This time I had made sure to have lots of refreshments out for them. Which were already half gone when I got there.
“So, you find anything out yet Azar?” I asked.
He munched harder as he answered, “Yes, we have one week before he has the first “worship” time.”
“Yeah, what can we do?! I wasn't even able to get a meeting with the King, and I am the prince's personal counselor! He hasn't ever denied me an audience before!” Mish said.
“Ok, let's look at what we know.” I said, they nodded. “One, Daniel is to far away to help; two, we have one week before we get in trouble; three, we can't seem to get an audience with Nebuchadnezzar; four, and most important, we have the Creator of the Universe on our side.
They looked thoughtful for a minute when Azar spoke up, “You are right, we have Yahweh on our side, we are agonizing needlessly. God can stop it if it is His will, and if it isn't, He will either save us from death, or take us home.”
Mish nodded, then we prayed for a while, and broke up.
* * *
We spent the next week trying unsuccessfully to get an audience with the King, we also fasted. We got the distinct impression that he was avoiding us. I suppose it was because we and Daniel always cautioned him about his ego. He really did have a big ego, always was coming up with new ways to glorify himself. It really couldn't be helped, Babylon was in control of almost all the world, and he had conquered most of it. Plus the fact that the common belief measured how powerful a god was by the strength of the people that followed it. So any people's god was considered weak if its people were conquered. So, everyone considered Yahweh weak because Israel and Judah had been conquered. Back to Nebuchadnezzar's ego, he figured that when he defeated a people, he also had defeated their god, hence the big head.
* * *
We spent the night before the king made his ego trip public praying for God's help. When the gong rang to announce the first light of dawn, Mishael closed our prayer time, “God, we are your servants. You have seen fit to bless us with power and influence in this Kingdom of Babylon. Because of this we know that You are with us. We ask that you would spare our lives from the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar, and enable us to stand firm in our faith in You. We know that You can save us, but we also know that You will take care of us even if we die. Thank You for Your mercy. Amen.”
As Mish ended his prayer I felt a blanket of what I can only describe as pure peace descend on that room. In that peace we felt God telling us not to flee, but to stand firm and show the King our faith. It was the most awesome thing I ever felt. There are no words adequate to describe it.
Then there was a knock at the door. Azar went and opened it, it was Arioch. He came in and closed the door behind him, looking around to see if there was anyone else he said, “I found out that the King has prepared a furnace for anyone who does not bow down. The flames are so hot right now that you can barely get close enough to throw wood on.”
Azar commented sardonically, “Well, at least it isn't the usual, 'cut them all in pieces and hang their family' stuff.”
Arioch gave him a strange look, “I have arranged it so that you can get to the stables without being seen. There are provisions and horses waiting for you there. If you hurry you can be miles away before the King makes his announcement.”
Mish looked at him and shook his head, “We are not leaving.” Arioch looked incredulous as he said, “What?! I know you would rather die than bow before an idol, how can you not leave?”