“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for He has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; He removes kings and sets up other kings.” ~ Daniel, in Daniel 2: 20 – 21 NLT
Do you remember the events of 2011? Kim Jong-il died of heart failure on December 17th that year. Not surprising for a 69-year-old man, but it is for “a god,” which he claimed to be. Like his father, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il insisted on North Koreans’ worship. Jong-il’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, is the current dictator.
Kim Jong-il was brutal and heartless. 200,000 of his people were in prison camps at the time of his death. Jong-il dined on lobster while his people starved. Parade magazine ranked him #1 in their list of the world’s worst dictators in 2008. In 2017, North Korea is ranked #1 in the persecution of Christians.
The Demise of Dictators
Kim Jong-il was one of seven men that God removed from power in 2011:
- Egypt: Hosni Mubarak (ousted)
- Iraq: Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (deposed 2003, executed 2006)
- Libya: Muammar al-Gaddafi (assassinated)
- North Korea: Kim Jong-il (heart failure)
- Tunisia: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (ousted)
- Yemen: Ali Abdullah Saleh (resigned after assassination attempt)
- And Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (shot in an ambush after a ten-year manhunt)
How God Dealt with Nebuchanezzar
I see a strong parallel of those events to the book of Daniel in the Bible. The Scripture verse above is from chapter 2 where Daniel and his friends faced possible execution decreed by Nebuchadnezzar, a cruel king of the Babylonian empire (Hussein considered himself the next Nebuchadnezzar). God spared Daniel and all the king’s advisers from execution. Like Kim Jong-il, Nebuchadnezzar forced his people to worship him, again threatening execution if they didn’t. God chose to humble Nebuchadnezzar and revealed to him that He is the sovereign over all mankind. For seven years, Nebuchadnezzar lived as an animal. When God healed him and restored him to power, Nebuchacnezzar wrote:
After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and His kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He does as He pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop Him or say to Him, “What do you mean by doing these things?”
When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and He is able to humble the proud.
The demise of dictators and the death of autocrats and terrorists doesn’t guarantee that people will have freedom. New leaders may or may not be any better for the people they rule over than the men that were removed.
As you are aware of cruel and unjust leadership, pray for basic human rights and for the freedom of people to choose their faith. Pray that freedoms will increase and conditions improve for all people.
A good resource to pray for persecuted Christians is Open Doors’ World Watch List.
Jesus Brings Liberty to the Oppressed
In Luke 4: 16 – 21, Jesus explains to the people of his hometown that He was the fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 61…
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
We should also pray for people to know true freedom through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- The painting of Nebuchadnezzar by William Blake is available on Wikimedia Commons. This event in Nebuchadnezzar’s life is found in Daniel 4.
- Wikipedia has a summary of Biblical accounts of King Nebuchadnezzar, including links to some possible medical causes for why Nebuchadnezzar lived as an animal for seven years.
- BBC reports North Koreans weeping openly at the news of Kim Jong-il’s death.
- Learn more about North Korea’s cult of personality on Wikipedia.