“Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” This was uttered by Nebuchadnezzar to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Did the Lord Almighty answer that question raised by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar; or was it the answer to the Faith reposed by the three in a statement to the King thus:
“our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.”
Any reader of this passage at Daniel Chapter 3 would know that there was a fourth person sighted by Nebuchadnezzar in the furnace along with those three, whom Nebuchadnezzar surmises as ‘Son of God’.
The same Nebuchadnezzar in a few verses below says thus:
Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies.
Therefore, Nebuchadnezzar did not see GOD THE SON, rather it was an angel. Had it been an angel, why should he have been invisible to others, especially to those three?
Did the ‘Son of God’ appear to prove that there was someone who could save the three; or was it because God wanted to honour the Faith of those three?
The answer is simple, for those who want to propagate the hypothesis that ‘God humbles the proud’ the Son of God appeared only to Nebuchadnezzar and taught him that haughtiness doesn’t survive.
For those who want to exemplify that Faith in God is rewarded. Even though the presence of the Son of God, was not visible to the Faithful, the angel’s presence frightened the opponents who saw the Son of God and surrendered to those three beneficiaries of Son of God’s presence.
Either way, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego got the relief.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Megalomania was there to see in the way he spoke. It is the same arrogance which made him say later thus:
“Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”
That the Son of God appeared in the fiery furnace to Nebuchadnezzar was a precursor to quell his teeming arrogance, yet Nebuchadnezzar wouldn’t realise. His arrogance reached such alarming levels that instead of giving all glory to God – like ‘Not unto us O, Lord!’- he wanted to appropriate all glory to himself and in no time he was consigned to be with cattle, eating grass.
Yet there was this elemental goodness in him, just as he acknowledged the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and issued the decree that none shall utter any ill against their God, in the past. It was that elemental goodness which brought him back from those grass eating ways.
Archive for March, 2019
Being Compliant of an unjust law could be a necessity at times and a good strategy sometimes, but rarely both. But in the case of Gideon the Valorous, it was both a Necessity and a Strategy.The Midianites, who were the Overlords to the Israelites, extracted tribute in the form of agricultural produce, which probably kept the Israelites poor, with no reserves or leisure – the twin benefits of prosperous activity. Each day’s labour was expended on earning their bare livelihood.In these hard times for the Israelites, the Overlords kept an eye on the Compliance of the rules the Midianites had made to keep the Israelites in that state of want and lack of leisure.Seeming to be compliant yet threshing wheat near the wine press keeping his activity out of the view of the Midianites was the valorous man Gideon.The Midianites, Amalekites and the children of the East came in multitudes like grasshoppers and entered into the labour of the Israelites and destroyed the very source of their sustenance. This impoverished the Israelites.I can imagine what a plight it would have been when mere numbers are used to subjugate a people in their own land; depriving them of the very source of their sustenance and making them labour without pride & having to conceal their labour and the meagre rewards which accrue out of such clandestine labour, in their own lands. Can one forgive the perpetrators of such cruelty? I guess not.I can imagine a Gideon, a valorous man, slinking and threshing his homegrown wheat in his own land, gathering the same and saving the wheat for his near and dear ones- all because he was ranged against a multitude of men who outnumbered his clan. Yet that spirit in Gideon sustained him to not give up, but toil in silence and in the dark and gather as much as possible.When that ass seeking King Saul spared the Amalekite King Agag, much later despite Prophet Samuel’s instructions, did he recall the plight his ancestor Gideon suffered at the hands of the Amalekites? I guess not. Saul was protecting Agag the king of the Amalekites. Samuel definitely had a longer memory of how that Amalekites had attacked the Israelites from the rear, harming the women. children and the enfeebled lot on their journey to Canaan.Even if Saul hadn’t read that history, he should have had some idea of how a valorous man like Gideon had to cower under the Overlordship of the Amalekites and should have diligently carried out the instructions of Samuel. Alas, Saul didn’t! Saul became a big man in his own eyes – rightly spotted by Samuel and questioned.Gideon, a valorous man threshing in the dark and away from the sight of the Amalekites had a reason. The Amalekites attacked the enfeebled and the impoverished, having no MANLINESS in them nor the courage to risk and make a frontal attack on their enemies.An Amalekite doesn’t need your land, he needs your wheat and corn- the finished products. An Amalekite doesn’t want to administer, he just needs all the resources from others.Moses was able to identify this trait in the Amalekites very early. The Amalekites stole or used violent means to obtain the resources of others without expending any labour on it. At Rephedim, Moses anoints them as enemies of God.If I have not yet convinced the reader about the ways of an Amalekite, look at that Amalekite who found the same Saul – who wanted to save the life of Agag the Amalekite – in a moribund state leaning on a sword in the mount of Gilboa begging the Amalekite to deliver the coup de grace on Saul. That wretched Amalekite dares to kill a King, though ostensibly at the king’s request. Who knows? There were three, one was the dying Saul, the other was that wretched Amalekite and finally, as always, the Almighty. Out of this one killed the other and very rarely God stands as a witness in such sordid human affairs – except in the case of Abel. Now that Amalekite narrates a story to David, the ultimate story teller. David, the Shrewdest King of Israel, knows better‼️ The Amalekite steals the crown and the bracelet from the dead Saul and takes it to David for a reward.David was DAVID. Uses the opportunity to redeem his own image in front of the Israelites – especially the Benjamites but also kills the Amalekite for having dared to have been responsible for the final blow to the dying King of Israel. David remembers how to handle an Amalekite – spare them not!So Gideon was dealing with these type of Amalekites and that needed outward compliance for SURVIVAL – that compliance was strategy.There is another kind of compliance – Compliant so that one doesn’t take up an issue which carries no purpose.Jesus, while in the flesh, asks Peter whether the Kings collect customs and tribute from their own children? Peter promptly answers in the negative and Jesus says something absolutely BRILLIANT and becomes Compliant of those unfair Laws, without any Conviction in what he recommended to Peter to do. Read the following:Matt 17: 24 & 25Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.Jesus tells Peter to pay not out of the offerings given by people or any other laboured money, but tells Peter to cast a hook and pay the money found in the mouth of the fish as tribute/ custom for Him and Peter. He demeans their greed by getting the money from a fish.I sense the contempt Jesus had for such unfair taxation; and the method He used to defray the tax liability was amazing.I see this episode as a clear proof of Compliance without Conviction.In keeping with His saying : Render unto God that which is God’s, and unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, that piece of money that came out of a fish’s belly, is paid out to the Caesar.Don’t rebel when your rebellion is to no avail. Just comply WITH CONTEMPT!
There might be a lot of rejoicing by the Angels when someone is lost and found. But to be lost or not, is entirely in one’s own own hands, to a very large extent. I say ‘very large extent’ as otherwise, Jesus wouldn’t have taught his disciples the Lord’s prayer with ‘lead us not into temptation’!
And, it is not exactly our business to create ‘rejoicing’ in the Angels, in fact there is more for the three, if one had not taken half of the property and returned without the one half he had demanded and taken from his father.
The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, is a parable of Salvation & Redemption and NOT a parable which prescribes the benchmark for Christian life.
The context of Chapter 15 is explained at the outset by Luke, wherein it is mentioned that the ‘righteous’ Pharisees were indignant of the Publicans and sinners, listening to Jesus and consequently repenting and obtaining Salvation.
Jesus gives three parables, of how a shepherd lost his one sheep among hundred and found that one sheep, after much searching, and rejoiced over it.
Second is when a woman had lost her silver coin and when she searched and found it, she rejoiced over it with her friends & neighbours.
Jesus says that when these two had searched diligently and found it, in the first case, there was ‘rejoicing in heaven’. In the second case of the coin, Jesus says, ‘the angels in heaven rejoiced’.
The first of these two parables involves an animate sheep which had strayed from its flock, which necessitated the shepherd to leave the 99 sheep in a fold or in fellowship and go looking for the Lost Sheep.
The second was a coin, an inanimate object, which couldn’t have got lost on its own, consequently, the woman sweeps her place and recovers it. In these two cases, there was EFFORT by the owner to trace it.
However, the third parable of the PRODIGAL SON required no effort from the outside. This parable involves a human being’s Realisation after depleting his salt and returning to his father with the realisation that in his father’s house, his servants had a better life than the one he was living. Still, it can be ‘salted’ through the magnanimity of God.
The beauty of the arrangement of the third parable is such that the problem was beyond effort. The solution was self-realisation and repentance.
The third Parable involves property, a father and two of his sons.
Jesus doesn’t talk of whether the properties in the hands of the father were self earned or ‘inherited’.
But I am inclined to believe that the father had inherited those properties, as otherwise the second son couldn’t have been emboldened to ask his father to divide the property into portions that fell unto him, nor would the father have been duty bound to divide the property into two portions. Alternatively, though it was not the second son’s ‘right’ to receive half, the father wanted to sever his properties into two so that he could secure for his first son the father’s half of the one third share and not be molested by the second son in future, on some venial pretext if the second son were to return for more.
This parable is an amazingly apt parable in the context. The second son asked for what fell for him, which means, his father could rightfully have divided his inheritance from his forebears into three and keep one share for himself and the other two to be given, one each to the two sons. But the Wise & Compassionate father divided his ‘living’ into two parts, and gave the second son half of all that the father had. What the father did was a SEVERANCE OF NOT ONLY THE INHERITED PROPERTY BUT ALSO THE SELF GAINED PROPERTY AND DIVIDED HIS LIVING EQUALLY AMONG HIS SONS. The father left nothing for himself, either he trusted God like Abraham and/or had faith in the righteousness of his first son. Either way, he was right by hindsight.
The scripture says that the second son wasted his goods in riotous living, though his resenting elder brother, upon the return of the younger brother says that the younger brother “hath devoured thy living with harlots”! In any case, the resultant Fact was that the second son’s share and half of the father’s one third share were irretrievably lost.
Sure, it was lost. But the father is compassionate and gets the best robe for the Repentant Son, gets him a ring, shoes et al, upon his return; but the father was Not foolish enough to tell his first son to transfer half of his father’s share -which was half of one third of the original property divided between the sons- to the Repentant son, instead tells the disgruntled first son, let us celebrate now and make your brother happy, but still whatever is my share I have secured it for you and the Repentant son will have no say in it.
That’s why Jesus says “JOY SHALL BE IN HEAVEN”, but in no way would the original title as an ‘INHERITOR’ be restored to a Prodigal Son.
Look at the self proclamation of Paul in Philippians 3:6 “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless”. Even though Paul glories in the Grace of God, he did NOT give up on his ‘blameless’ past. That still continued as a good qualification in the eyes of the gentiles and Paul knew it and exploited it. So to have a blameless past is great, but to insist on such a blameless Past for salvation, is Pharisaical and anti Christian. That is the pith and substance of this parable.
Jesus says, In my father’s house are many mansions, definitely a Repentant sinner would find a place there, but to exalt the Second Son and glorify him over the first is to grant the Repentant sinner the sceptre of power, which is neither tenable as per the Scriptures nor advisable on grounds of fairness. The Repentant sinner has to ‘restart’ with no talent in his hands to work on. He gets a start at life without being consigned to the dustbin of despair, but by no means would a father say ‘All that I have is yours’.
The Second Son got relief from his despair, but his return in now way restored his role as a potential Inheritor. The Second Son might have created the ripple of rejoicing but it does not guarantee the return of his former Prince-hood.
The Preacher in a Church today, 03/02/2019, was eulogising the Second Son, forgetting that human endeavour is not to create ‘rejoicing in heaven’ or ‘rejoicing among the angels’; but to be granted adoption as God’s children.
I am amused at the interpretation of rehabilitation being exalted above Inheritance. It is time preachers stopped taking Parables out of context and flying kites with their warped interpretations and making those parables the mules to carry their pet half baked hypotheses.