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Nero, A Heart Message
TRUSTING UNDER PERSECUTION
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. (Proverbs 29:2)
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
From our vantage point in 21st century USA, the reign of Nero is a safe intellectual study on the consequences of a wicked and prideful ruler. But from the point of view of the average Christian living in Rome during this time period, Nero was an unpredictable despot who at any time might gather them up for a brutal punishment and savage entertainment in a Roman coliseum. It was a horrific time that required a deep faith in the Father who works all things for the good of those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and who hears the cry of the helpless and brings vengeance (Isaiah 35:4).
Nero’s attempts to scapegoat Christianity for his own faults caused many followers of Jesus to hold up their heads, walking forward, leaving loved ones, possessions, and life itself behind. They became a spectacle to the watching Roman cosmopolitan world. Their trust in Christ, in the face of torture and death, planted the seeds of redemption deep into the earth, and generations who reaped the good fruit of their sacrifice are indebted to them. Still today, the voices of the martyrs from Sudan to China cry out to the throne room of the Almighty.
Nero himself, who had much promise in the beginning, never acquired the taste for wisdom that his original counselors tried to inculcate. When left to his own devices he regressed into a beast like state and was swallowed by his own lusts. Still, God doesn’t rejoice at the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11). Nero would have been wise if he could have found humility like that of King Nebuchadnezzar, another empire ruler who suffered from temporary insanity, but who finally turned to God and worshipped Him before the end of his life.
“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding 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 is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain 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 honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” (Daniel 4:34,35)