Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When Pride Meets Humility: Part 2

When Pride Meets Humility: Part 2


“In order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.’ – Daniel 4:17

What’s the one things God destroys in order to build up? Pride.  There’s simply no place for it in His service. Nebuchadnezzar had been given chance after chance to exalt God, and give to God the respect and fear He deserves.  But he continually turned to exalting himself instead.  But when God finally tore down his pride, Nebuchadnezzar readily gave God the throne of his heart.

In Daniel 4 we read the King’s very own account of his second dream.  His attitude is much different than before.  His words are grateful, and his acknowledgment of God is apparent.  He begins by saying “I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me.” He recognized that even though he endured punishment for his pride, it was for his own good.  He continues and gives praise to God, saying “How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.”

Nebuchadnezzar then gives us his testimony of his own conversion.  God gave Nebuchadnezzar a second dream, and when none of his magicians and wise men could interpret it, he called on Daniel because, as he confessed, he knew the Spirit of the Holy God was in him.  He now believes in God, but even a believer can have too much pride, and want to share the throne with God.

The dream was of a tall tree which “height reached to the heavens”, and it could be seen from all the earth.  Its fruit was abundant and fed everyone, cattle found shade under it, and birds lit in its branches.  Its “leaves were lovely”.  It was something to be proud of, being higher than all other trees, and more beautiful. But then a voice came from Heaven and spoke to those around the tree to cut it down, strip off its leaves and fruit.  In Daniel 4:14-17 we read that the voice of an angel said,

“Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.
Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches.
 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth,
Bound with a band of iron and bronze,

In the tender grass of the field.
Let it be wet with the dew of heaven,
And let him graze with the beasts
On the grass of the earth.

Let his heart be changed from that of a man,
Let him be given the heart of a beast,
And let seven times pass over him.

‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’

Daniel heard the dream and it troubled him.  He didn’t want to interpret it knowing the pride that remained in Nebuchadnezzar.  But at the king’s prodding, he did, and explained to him the identity of the tree, saying “it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong”.  God’s mercy was full for Nebuchadnezzar and his pride.  He was going to destroy him, and make him like a beast in the field in order to humble him.  But the dream talked of leaving the stump and the root, and as Daniel explained, “inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

God’s punishment always comes with a warning.  But those that are full of pride never heed the warning.  A year later, Nebuchadnezzar is still King over the great nation of Babylon.  He’s walking around and admiring his kingdom and says “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”.  Well, that must have been the statement that got on God’s last nerve.  Out of Heaven God spoke directly to him and said “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

Within that very same hour, Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of Babylon, and was found eating grass like a cow.  His body was wet with dew, his hair grew long like eagles feathers, and his nails became like bird’s claws.  His pride had consumed him, and he was destroyed. Seven years he roamed the fields, eating as an animal, and looking as an animal.  But from a humbled heart grew gratefulness and words that sound more like they came from King David than King Nebuchadnezzar.  At the end of the seven years, the King lifted his voice to praise and honor God.  His words now exalted God, and not himself.  He realized that all that he had been given was from a merciful and all powerful God.

1 Peter 5:6 says “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”, and Nebuchadnezzar’s time was due.  He was restored to his physical splendor, returned to his kingdom, and was given back all that he had lost.  His last statement in Daniel 4 says it all when he confesses that “those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

Nebuchadnezzar’s story is given to us not that we learn of the ancient history of Babylon or the great dream interpretations and faith of Daniel.  It’s a story of God’s hatred of pride. Pride fails to acknowledge God and give Him the glory due to Him.  It’s like accepting the gift and not thanking the giver.  But when pride dies, then God has a servant He can bless.  Proverbs 22:4 says “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” Riches – honor – life – all blessings given from the hand of Almighty God to those of us that could simply wander as beasts of the fields.  Humility will always precede honor (Proverbs 15:33).  To this end, we should attempt at every awakening of our pride to destroy it within ourselves lest God find it necessary to do it Himself.

Today is Election Day in this great nation.  Many men and women will seek to find honor among their fellow citizens today.  Many will cast their votes with the intent to take part in changing the nation for the better.  But Daniel 4:17 says “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.” God chooses our leadership, and gives it to whomever He will.  In His infinite knowledge, the election has already been decided, and yes, even the next four years events.  We have very little to do with it.  It’s not always the one who sits in the presidential office that leads the nation.  Sometimes its congress, sometimes it’s his wife, and sometimes it’s a foreign leader who demands war.  All these are pawns in the hand of God, who will accomplish His will in this nation with or without a Christian president.  I thank God that He does not need our belief in Him in order to rule this nation!  But our belief in Him, our humility toward Him, can change the way in which He does lead.  Who led the East coast this past week with Sandy flooding New York and New Jersey?  Was it not God himself seeking humility among His people?  Have hearts not been humbled? 

Give man your vote, but give God your allegiance, your respect, and your service.  In all things honor him, and He will exalt you.

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