Jailhouse Conversions

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;
35 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?”

36 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.37 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. – Daniel 4:34-37

 

20180123-DSC07963

Henry Leu Gardens | Orlando, FL | January 2018

I have had limited but significant experience with prison ministry. I’ve gotten to know different inmates at a few different state penitentiaries. I have been wary of their possible ploys, ruses and cons. Those who got to prison got there because of miscreant behavior. But I have also seen and heard of genuine conversions. Men who were in for life – no possibility for parole – becoming pastors inside the prison. Their testimony is profound and impactful.

Some may wonder whether these conversions are real. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, one may wonder. We’ve seen him praise the highest God. We’ve heard him proclaim the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be the only true God. But we also saw him become overly-self-important and fail to give God the glory. We’ve seen Nebuchadnezzar waffle back and forth between humility and hubris.

What are we to make of his profession here? He says of God:

his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 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?”

Rather than attempting to judge Nebuchadnezzar’s heart and the sincerity of his confession, perhaps it is good for us to check to see that it is in keeping with God’s word (it is), and acknowledge it as true and important. You will never know another’s heart. That is the purview of God alone. But we can listen to those who profess their faith in him, and as we discover it’s truth, join in praising the King of heaven.

Truly we cannot call God to account, asking whether it is appropriate for him to forgive the most vile sinner, “What have you done?” That word of Nebuchadnezzar is unassailably true. We can thank God that he forgives sinners and redeems the lost – which includes us even at our worst.

1 comment
  1. Yet God may may certainly ask us that question; “What have you done?” to which we must certainly give answer. And so I give answer; pretty or not and reflect on Job 38-42. I shrink, HE grows. All this while in Jesus’ blood, HIS sweetest mercy endures forever.
    I’m thanking HIM this day for this Lenten season’s strong but even fall on the souls of men, myself included. Holy Spirit, lead on.
    — sobering post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: