Abusers can recognize God, but that doesn’t mean they are converted
[June 11, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
God gave Nebuchadnezzar two powerful teaching experiences. Each experience resulted in Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging and blessing God. Yet despite having experienced all that, Nebuchadnezzar did not reform his character in the long term: he did not return to the Jews the holy vessels he had stolen from their temple.
[Note from Barb : I added ^this paragraph to the post on 1st April 2021]
The first experience
(Daniel chapter 3, ESV) King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “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.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace and saw the three Jews unharmed and a fourth man ‘like a son of the gods’ with them. Whenever I read that verse my heart misses a beat and then swells in adoration and worship of our Lord. I resonate with the revelation that gripped Nebuchadnezzar; it reminds me very much of my own conversion when Jesus revealed Himself to me as real and alive and unspeakably understanding and compassionate in His love for me, though I was a scuffed, shabby and shameful sinner.
But as I read this passage this morning, a thought struck me. Nebuchadnezzar recognized the supremacy of the God of Israel:
Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.” (Daniel 3:28)
Nebuchadnezzar blessed the true God. He saw and honored His power. But what was the fruit of Nebuchadnezzar’s change of mind? What did this ‘converted’ man do? This man had been a tyrannical despot who flew into furious rages to make people do his bidding. He had ruled his people by threatening them with torture and death — “I’ll throw you in the furnace if you don’t worship my image!” What did this man do when he found the true God? He issued another threat of violence against his people:
“Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3:29)
Power and control were entrenched right to the deepest furrows of this man’s prideful heart; he breathed, ate and slept power and control. He knew no other form of influencing people. He knew no other way of getting his supply. He knew no other way of life. He recognized the power of God and saw it was greater than his own power, but he did not give up his lifelong habit of power and control. Unlike Zacchaeus, the thieving tax collector who as soon as he was converted to the living God made generous and immediate reparation for all he had stolen from the people, Nebuchadnezzar showed no fruit of repentance. He merely exchanged one method of power and control for another.
I don’t think I need to make a lot more application here. I’m sure our readers can chime in and tell us how they have seen this dynamic apply in cases where abusers ‘converted’ to Christianity.
The second experience
Old King Neb had another lesson coming. This indicates that his pride and power and control still needed to be dealt with after the fiery furnace episode. He got sent out to graze in the pasture like a cow —
(Daniel 4:33-37) Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Addition to this post added 2nd Sept 2018:
Why would a satanist want to pose as a Christian evangelist?
A satanist would pose as a Christian evangelist because the satanist wanted the visible church to be dominated by people who think they’re following Jesus but they’re not actually born again / regenerated. The more weeds there are among the wheat, the more the visible church is an abuser-friendly environment.
The false form of salvation is epidemic.
I thought I was saved for years & was not.
God made me know something was off.
I was humbled in awe when He revealed it to me.
God is exposing cheap grace & pagan ways.
(—said by an anonymous follower of A Cry For Justice)
[June 11, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to June 11, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to June 11, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to June 11, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 11, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
- Posted in: Abusers
- Tagged: abuser's mentality, abuser's tactics, Barbara Roberts, Daniel, false Christians, murder/attempted murder, Nebuchadnezzar, repentance, violence
It is too bad that this is pretty much the last we hear of Nebuchadnezzar. The next chapter begins with his son (possibly grandson) Belshazzar. While his first “conversion” was obviously fake, we won’t know if the second incident actually changed his life, though I think it is possible.
Note how in the first case, he was astounded at a miracle and gave lip service to God, similar to the way many people in Jesus’ time were in awe of His miracles. In the second case, God had to strip him of everything and bring him to the end of himself. The tone of his confession is vastly different than what happened with the fiery furnace, but we will never know if it branched out in how he actually treated people.
Honestly, I think that the only way many abusers will ever truly repent is if God strips them of everything and brings them as low as King Neb.
Wendell, that’s what George Simon says in “The Judas Syndrome”. He’s seen people change, but only when they are allowed to get to the very end of themselves.
And we, at least what I have seen over and over, don’t let people get to the end of themselves. We give them excuses, cushions, escapes. I think I have found a good counselor, not a believer but understands abuse, has appointments available and is decent but I caught her trying to diagnosis my ex with a mental illness ( bi-polar ) to give him an escape or reason. I would not let it stand. I said, if I, drive without my glasses and hit someone I am at fault. Mental illness, anger issues, poor upbringing, no excuse. Grow up and take responsibility for your actions! Wear glasses if you need to , don’t drive at night if you have night blindness, honestly, we need to hold people accountable.
SS, this anecdote about your counselor is an illustration of The tyranny of abusive affliction. Your counselor (due most likely to his or her training which taught him/her to interpret defective character as mental illness) was in that moment being the tyrannical voice of abusive affliction, calling you to submit to affliction rather than resist it and move towards God’s life and freedom.
From Scripture, as Wendell notes, we are never quite sure of anything more from Nebuchadnezzar than three professions, two of which were certainly false (Dan. 2:47, 3:28-29, 4:34-37). From a Scriptural perspective, Nebuchadnezzar is a better example of vain false profession than true conversion. Had his last profession been a true conversion, one is left to wonder why the Jews remained prisoners in captivity and God was being desecrated when his grandson Belshazzar enters the scene in the very next chapter. Evil people pray for God’s help all the time — I see it first hand every week. They are selfish prayers lacking conviction and their faith does not endure even when God delivers them from temporal judgments. Abusers are often the same way as Nebuchadnezzar — they will say whatever it takes once they are caught red handed. Then, like Nebuchadnezzar, a day, week, or year later, they are back at it.
thank you, Martin for your wise words.
Excellent point, Martin. It actually had not occurred to me that if Neb (I shorten the name because it is such a bear to type) had truly repented, he would have let the children of Israel go. On the other hand, this would not have fulfilled the prophecy of a 70 year exile for Judah. I suppose it is yet another example of God using an evil man to accomplish His will.
Thanks Barb and Wendell. I find it interesting that God, through Isaiah, uses the life and attitudes of the king of Babylon to typify Satan (Isaiah 14:12, Luke 10:18). In that light, how totally appropriate that king Neb also typifies the evil of false profession — especially considering that false profession is the channel by which abusers enter into Christian church fellowship today.
Why didn’t I see that before? I know the Isaiah 14 passage and how it relates to Luke 10:18 and to the king of Babylon. But for some reason I’d never related it directly to Nebuchadnezzar.
thank you, brother
Thanks, Barb. I see the description of Neb from Isaiah 14 written all over the ACFJ position on abusers:
We must be very careful when considering ‘conversions’ from this dark, evil, brood of vipers.
Excellent. Good article.
It is scriptural that everyone who has ever existed will ultimately give glory to God. It’s God’s will that He get the glory that is due Him through His Son Jesus Christ… from everyone, saved believers and lost, rebellious sinners alike.
Of course, believers give glory to Him because we are born again and our hearts are changed, and we do it out of love and gratitude.
But there will come a time when all unrepentant sinners too will (and must) give Him glory. This will not be done out of faith, love and gratitude, but rather the result of judgment and condemnation. God’s sovereign power and holiness will overwhelm them and it will be compulsory, even as they are righteously judged and condemned.
I’ve often pondered the following scriptures…
Whoever the person is – believer, abuser or Babylonian tyrant, we will all fulfill what is written.
And the 2nd verses say something extraordinary…the cruel religious phonies who lie, persecute and abuse real believers, have a real shock coming….
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
It seems a point of irony that the one to whom “all power & authority” were given chose to demonstrate that power through servanthood. He modeled for us through the taking up of the basin & the bowl & a myriad of other ways how husbands are to love their wives–“as Christ loved the church.”