I spouted a mouthful of fake news at lunch the other day. To the grandchildren, no less.
With a federal election pending, it seemed natural that the discussion around our table turned to politics. “Nana,” asked one of the children asked, “does God discipline bad kings?”
“Well,” I said, “When people disobey God, there are always consequences. Even for kings.”
“Like what?” someone asked.
I scrambled for biblical examples. “Remember Daniel in the Bible?” I asked, “The Daniel who got thrown into the lions’ den, but God shut the lions’ mouths and saved him?” They did.
“Well, Daniel worked for one king named Nebuchadnezzar. A proud king, who thought he was so great that people should worship him. He had a really big banquet one night, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a hand — just a hand, no arm — appeared and started writing words on the wall.”
The children’s eyes widened as I recited the actual words, which strangely, I’ve recalled since childhood: “Mene, mene, tekel upharsin.” I went on to explain that bottom line of those words: God wasn’t pleased with the king, and the kingdom would soon be taken from him.
“What happened then?” one of the children asked.
“Well,” I said, “He went kinda crazy. He ended up living in a field with the beasts, crawling on all fours, eating grass like a donkey. For awhile, he couldn’t be king anymore.”
Suddenly the Preacher, who had just entered the room, inserted himself into the conversation — a distinct departure from habit. Standing to his full six feet plus height, and with as much fire in his eyes as I’ve seen for years, he sputtered,
“You… you…. you’re talking like someone who’s never been to church in your LIFE!”
I felt rather prickly suddenly. “Well. I’m not the Bible scholar. You are. So YOU straighten it out.” I also just may have mentioned that I’ve attended church most every week of my life, and for the last four decades, he’s been the preacher in the pulpit.
That was unfair of me. And it didn’t help, I think. He corrected the story. Apparently I’d named the wrong king, the wrong punishment, the wrong timing, and the wrong animal. (You can find the details at the source: Daniel chapters 1 – 6.)
“Don’t you read your Bible, Nana?” one of the Beans asked after he left the room. That didn’t help either. “I do, all the time,” I sniffed. “But I don’t remember everything.” (I didn’t mention that there are days lately when I congratulate myself for remembering my own name.)
Later, during the night, I woke up thinking of my colossal tumble from grace. I started chuckling and couldn’t stop. I laughed so hard, I almost rolled off the bed. Details are vital, and I admit I need to review. But I got the bottom line right: God does bring consequences to people, nations, and leaders who flout his principles, and no one is exempt. Between the Preacher and me, the kids understood. And that news is accurate.