Why Kanye’s Debut Opera Nebuchadnezzar Matters

Kanye West just announced Nebuchadnezzar: A Kanye West Opera. He’ll debut it on November 24 at the Hollywood Bowl, a concert hall in L.A.

Who is Nebuchadnezzar?

Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon (modern day Iraq) from approximately 605-562 BC. During his reign, he conquered Jerusalem and exiled the Jewish people. The Bible mentions him in 2 Kings 24 and throughout Daniel 1-4.

What makes Nebuchadnezzar interesting?

He was the most powerful king in the world during his reign, and he knew it. At one point his pride drove him to build a monstrous golden statue. He commanded everyone in his kingdom to worship it at a specific time every day. When 3 Jewish guys (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo) said they wouldn’t worship it, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered his soldiers to throw them into a fiery furnace. But God protected them, and they didn’t even smell like smoke. This miracle prompted Nebuchadnezzar to worship God.

Even after witnessing this miracle, worshipping God, and being sternly warned about his pride through a dream, Nebuchadnezzar forgot God within a year. As he walked across the flat roof of his royal palace, he said, “Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.” (Daniel 4:30) In other words, Nebuchadnezzar credited himself, not God, with all of his accomplishments.

Then, God judged him. And he went crazy for seven years. He ate grass, slept in the fields, and didn’t trim his hair and fingernails. After seven long years, his sanity returned, and he praised God. “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.” (Daniel 4:37)

Why is Kanye releasing an opera about Nebuchadnezzar?

In an interview with Zane Lowe last month, Kanye briefly mentioned Nebuchadnezzar. “God is saying, Let me take this Nebuchadnezzar-type character- Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, and he looked at his entire kingdom and said, I did this.” Then West added, “I stood on the top of the mountain talking about Yeezus, saying, ‘I’m a God’…”

Why does Kanye’s opera matter to me?

I’ve looked at my accomplishments before and said, “I did this.” I’ve ignored God’s gifts to me, and in small ways, I’ve lost my mind over it. When I choose to think of God as someone who owes me something when I obey Him, I transform into a crazy, self-centered control freak.

God doesn’t owe me a thing. I owe God my life, my talents, my strength, and my creativity. Why? Because He gave me everything. Literally, everything. He not only gave me my life. He gave me His life. Jesus died to save me from my sin, my pride, and my self-righteousness. He died to save me from myself. And like Nebuchadnezzar, when I haven’t recognized Jesus is King, I’ve gone crazy.


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