Maaari namang matuto nang hindi na nasasaktan pa, subalit sadyang matitigas ang ulo ng marami sa atin. Taon-taon ang babala ng Kagawaran ng Kalusugan: “Huwag magpaputok!”, pero bakit may mga tao na kailangan munang mabawasan ang daliri bago matuto? Si Haring Nebuchadnezzar ay isang halimbawa ng taong may katigasan ng ulo; kung hindi pa siya papaluin ng Panginoon, hindi siya matututo. Hindi niya kilala ang tunay na Diyos na nagpakilala sa bayan ng Israel. Iba ang kanyang relihiyon; iba ang kanyang mga diyos. Subalit siya ay isang makapangyarihang hari. Malawak ang kanyang imperyo. Bagamat wala siyang pagkakilala sa Diyos, kumikilos ang Diyos upang magpakilala sa kanya. Bagamat hinayaan niyang malupig ang kanyang bayan, masisilip na natin na may ginagawa ang Diyos. Nang pumili ang Babilonia ng mga kabataang Israelita na kanilang aalagaan, isiningit ng Panginoon sina Daniel, Hananias, Mishael at Azarias (Belteshasar, Shadrach, Meshac, Abednego) upang kanyang gamitin sa pagpapakilala ng kanyang kaluwalhatian. The first chance of Nebuchadnezzar for painless learning is when Daniel gave the interpretation to his dream demonstrating that the God of Daniel is the true God. The king even made a great confession about YHWH-- (Dan.2:47). Akala mo natuto na, pero hindi pa pala. Next, he made a giant image-- 90 feet high, 9 feet wide. He ordered that everybody must bow down before the image and whoever refuses will be thrown into the furnace. He was furious when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn't comply. The flames were made seven times hotter so even the soldiers who pushed the three to the furnace did not survive. Yet Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were unharmed, and a mysterious fourth man accompanied them. Only the ropes that were used to bind the three were consumed by the flames. For what Nebuchadnezzar witnessed, he issued another great confession about Israel's God (Dan.3:29). Akala mo natuto na, pero hindi pa pala The king wasted the opportunities for painless learning. So he must learn the hard way. Sa kalagitnaan ng kapayapaan at kasaganaan, nagkaroon siya ng isang nakababagabag na panaginip. At dahil hindi pa nga siya natuto, muli siyang sumangguni sa mga salamangkero, manghuhula at engkantador ng bayan-- bumalik siya sa mga taong hindi naman nakatulong sa kanya noon. Ipinag-utos pa nga niyang patayin sila noon, pero ngayon ay muli siyang umaasa sa kanila (Dan.2:12). Gaya ng dati, wala nanamang naitulong sa kanya ang mga salamangkero, manghuhula at mga engkantador. Sa puntong ito, ipinatawag niyang muli si Daniel. The dream severely affected Daniel emotionally that for a while he was unable to speak. Perhaps his facial expression and body language is so unusual so the king urged him to speak out; and he did. Though he won't compromise his faith, Daniel's loyalty to and compassion for the King is unquestionable. After bringing the bad news, he earnestly urged the King to turn from his wicked ways (4:27), but it fell on deaf ears. Lumipas ang 12 buwan. Gaya ng mayabong, malaki at luntiang puno sa panaginip, ang hari rin naman ay payapang nagpapahinga; masagana ang buhay; walang suliranin; pa- relaks-relaks lang. Ibinuka niya ang bibig ng pagmamataas: "Talagang dakila na ang Babilonia. Ako ang nagtatag nito upang maging pangunahing lunsod at maging sagisag ng aking karangalan at kapangyarihan." (4:30 Bagong MBB) Kasunod niyan ay isang tinig mula sa langit: "Haring Nebucadnezar, pakinggan mo ito: Aalisin na sa iyo ang kaharian. Ipagtatabuyan ka sa parang at doon maninirahan kasama ng mga hayop. Kakain ka ng damo tulad ng baka. Pitong taon kang mananatili sa gayong kalagayan hanggang sa kilalanin mong nasa ilalim ng kapangyarihan ng Kataas-taasang Diyos ang kaharian ng mga tao, at maaari niyang ibigay ito kaninuman niyang naisin." (4:31-32) At ang mga ito ay natupad nga. Nawala sa katinuan ang pag-iisip ng hari; nawala rin ang kanyang trono at kapangyarihan. Naging asal hayop siya at ang hanap niyang pagkain ay mga damo sa parang. Hindi na rin niya naalagaan ang kanyang sarili kaya lubha siyang pumangit. Hinayaan niyang humaba at kumapal ang kanyang mga buhok at mga kuko. 'Yan ang nangyari sa taong kinikilalang pinakamakapangyarihan sa kanyang kapanahunan. Lumipas ang mahabang panahon-- pitong oras upang maging eksakto. Bigla na lang bumalik ang katinuan ng pag-iisip ni Nebuchadnezzar. Kinilala niya ang Diyos ng Israel bilang siyang tunay at walang kapantay sa kapangyarihan. Nakapagtataka pa na tila walang naghangad sa trono niya sa loob ng pitong taon gayong ang tao'y likas na sakim sa kapangyarihan. Nakapagtataka rin na hindi kumupas ang katapatan ng kanyang mga tagasunod sa paglipas ng pitong taon. Ito'y pagpapakita lamang na pinamahalaan ng Diyos ang mga pangyayari maging ang puso ng mga tao sa loob at labas ng palasyo. Siya ay iniluklok muli sa kanyang dating mataas na kinalalagyan. I don't wanna learn the hard way. May Nebuchadnezzar's story be enough to teach me about the sovereignty and loftiness of God, and the proper place for me, a mere creature.
Proper Attitudes Before the Sovereign and Lofty God
1. We must have an attitude of worship. We owe him our love, devotion and service. We must acknowledge him for who he is. 2. We must have an attitude of humility. This is really a barrier to worship. How can we worship him when we are too amazed with who we are and what we have? 3. In promotion, we must faithful. In demotion, we must trust his wisdom.
Two wedding ceremonies were held; for the groom was a Methodist and the bride was a Hindu. Someone asked the man, "How are you going to raise the kids?" The reply was, "That is an unsettled issue yet, but I hope we could come up with some sort of a combination."
How could that be? What kind of combination could they possibly formulate?
Methodism teaches trinitarian monotheism. How could you combine that with Hinduism's pantheism?
Methodism teaches that the universe and everything in it are real things created by God. How could you combine that with Hinduism's view that the material world is a just an illusion, and have its origin in the eternity past as God's thought or his radiation?
Methodism teaches that man's problem is sin-- his rebellion against God that made him worthy of condemnation. How could you combine that with Hinduism's teaching that man's problem is his lostness in illusion in the material world which seems so real to him.
Methodism teaches that man's solution to man's problem is believing in Christ's person and finished work. How could you combine that with Hinduism's solution: finding God within and realizing our godhood?
Methodism teaches it is appointed unto men to die once and after that, judgment. How could you combine that with Hinduism's thousands of reincarnation for each individual until they are reunited with Brahman, the Divine Totality, like a raindrop falling into the ocean.
It is the view of many today that while Christianity is good, there are also some good things in other belief systems so they should not be totally rejected. Men should pick the good from every religion, mix them together and come up with their own customized religion.
In 1 Kings 18:21, we see the same problem. The people hasn't totally rejected YHWH. Yet while they believe that serving YHWH is good, they also consider serving Baal as equally good. They want to worship YHWH and Baal at the same time. Elijah, YHWH's prophet confronts the people. He tells them that they should make a decision. They have to make a choice. If YHWH is the true God, then they should serve him wholeheartedly without competition. And if Baal is God, then he is the one worthy of their full devotion; they must forsake YHWH.
Joshua, Moses' successor addressed the same problem during his lifetime. After all the miraculous deeds and mighty acts that God has done, the hearts of that stiff-necked people are still attracted to the gods of the Egyptians and the Amorites. Joshua asked them to choose once and for all; but as for him, his stand is fixed and firm. He and his household shall serve the YHWH (Joshua 24:14-15)
Even if you are not attracted to false religions, if there is anything in this world (treasure, dream, career, leisure, etc) that competes with God for your affection, then you should make a choice too. Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matthew 6:24)
God demands our total allegiance. He is too majestic to receive a half-hearted love. He is too glorious to receive partial devotion and his splendor deserves nothing less than a complete zeal. (Deuteronomy 6:5)