Worship God, Not an Image
There are many, many people I have encountered in Biblical discussions or forums who charge that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was an evil, pagan king and there was no love for The Lord our God in him. On the contrary, Nebuchadnezzar was in fact a believer who converted from pagan religions. This King, one of the first global rulers in ancient times (in the sense that he conquered the known world), had a very fascinating career in the way that God used him and taught him while the prophet Daniel was in his courts. And through his life, some of his actions were previews of the reign of the Antichrist of the end times.
Types and Shadows
Now this article is based on the idea of “types and shadows” in the Bible. This is essentially the Bible’s way of foreshadowing future prophetic events through Old Testament Scripture. Here are some passages that highlight this:
Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Hosea 12:10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines a ‘similitude’ as: 1. Likeness; resemblance; likeness in nature, qualities of appearance; as similitude of substance.
The Lord has used much of the historic events of the Old Testament to provide a preview of future events. Whether it be the Passover of Exodus foreshadowing the crucifixion of Christ on the cross and His shed blood which provides the remission of sins or the 12 tribes of Israel and the twelve disciples, there are many similitudes throughout the Bible. What will happen in the future has happened already in some form or fashion. This is also the case for prophecies of things to come.
The Golden Statue – 666
In Daniel Chapter 2, the prophet Daniel is summoned to the Babylonian King’s court to help interpret a dream. He first had to tell the King what the dream was (because the King could not recall it — he only had the disturbing the dream left with him) and then interpret the meaning of it. After much prayer, God blessed Daniel to know the dream and its meaning. The Babylonian King had seen a statue with a head of gold, torso of silver, midsection of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. Each different metal represented the four Kingdoms that would dominate the Earth in the coming centuries starting with the Babylonian Kingdom. In fact, Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that he is that head of gold:
Daniel 2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
Again, we see that Nebuchadnezzar was a global ruler. He had been given power and raised up by God to rule the entire known world. Nebuchadnezzar. After hearing this interpretation, the King promoted Daniel to be his chief advisor and complimented The Lord (but had not yet professed his faith). Filled with pride, the King then decided he was going to build a statue of pure gold, of himself. And here is where we see a type or shadow of the Antichrist to come:
Daniel 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
So here Nebuchadnezzar has set up a golden statue of himself that 60 cubits tall and 6 cubits wide. This is an extreme act of pride that is normally reserved for someone who thinks of themselves as a god. This is later confirmed as the passage continues:
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
The Scriptures make it clear that the King was declaring himself to be a god and demanding worship. But the worship was to be directed at the statue he had erected. And even the numbers involve are clues: A statue 60 cubits tall, 6 cubits wide and was to be worshiped when 6 instruments are played. And we know from the book of Revelation that 666 is the number of the Antichrist. This is the Hebrew parallel poetic style the Bible was written in. The Lord expresses Himself through repeated events, occurrences and ideas. Here, the Bible is giving a foreshadow to the religious system of the Antichrist. The Book of Revelation prophesies that the Beast, or the Antichrist, will be a global ruler. He will have power over all people and his religious system will be based on the worship of him.
Revelation 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Like Nebuchadnezzar, the Antichrist will proclaim himself to be god. He will be worshiped by all of the people on the Earth who do not have Jesus Christ as their Savior. There are no exceptions in his system once it is established. And it is enforced and directed by his cohort, The False Prophet. The False Prophet will emerge on the public scene at the same time as the Antichrist and be a Spiritual leader who promotes the Antichrist as “The One”, the messiah the world has been waiting for. And with his words and false miracles he will encourage the world to set up an “image” of the Antichrist:
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Revelation 13)
So again, we see the parallel. The image of the beast, whether it be a statue or hologram, or whatever it may be, is where all worship is to be directed, under penalty of death. Just like the golden statue. This is the similitude that the book of Hosea is speaking of. It is a repeated idea or theme from ancient times to future prophecy. They are all throughout the Bible.
The Kings Becomes a Beast
After seeing Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego, survive the furnace for not worshiping his statue, King Nebuchadnezzar was once again moved to praise God and of course promoted these 3 young men to prominent positions in his kingdom as he had done previously. But he still had not truly humbled himself before God. He believed the God of Daniel existed, and saw his works, but had not made him lord of his life. This lesson would not be learned until we get to the account of chapter 4, where the King has another disturbing dream which Daniel interprets. And in the dream, the King, symbolized by a tree, has his kingdom removed from him and suffers a punishment for his excessive pride:
Daniel 4:15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: 16Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
The King’s heart was going to be replaced with a beast’s. A transformation was going to undertake him that would literally make this wealthy, powerful King act like an animal. This chapter is rich with foreshadowing. For one we see the global King being compared and transformed to a beast. And of course in Revelation, the Antichrist is constantly referred to as “the Beast.” We also see that the length of the punishment of Nebuchadnezzar is “seven times” which is interpreted as seven years. This is the length of the final end-time period of the Earth known as Daniel’s 70th week. The 70th week is the time when the Beast or Antichrist, makes his ascent to global power and rulership. And we know that Satan will be supernaturally empowering the antichrist to perform miracles, wonders and secure his unrivaled power. Just as Nebuchadnezzar was changed, so will the beast be.
The Book of Proverbs tells us “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” Searching the Scriptures not only builds our relationship with The Lord and strengthens our faith, it is fun. And Bible prophecy is an area that can be very exciting when studied. But like anything we do in life, we must do it in accordance with what God says and commands. The Lord has set patterns in His Word for us to recognize and understand. The past can truly show us the future in the Bible. And most importantly, it can help us gain more appreciation for how great and awesome God is, as He has declared the future of the world from thousands of years ago. And thus we should worship Him, serve Him and live for Him to show our belief and love for Him. The Antichrist will be defeated by the mere appearance of Jesus Christ on Earth (Revelation 19) and suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire. But Nebuchadnezzar, after spending his seven years roaming the grounds of his kingdom like an animal, was humbled and did what we should all do when facing the God of the universe: repent.
” 34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. 37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” (Daniel 4).
1 Explanation of “times” being interpreted as “years”