July 5, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
In this series, with stories from Daniel, we see how Christians can thrive in a culture that is at times distant from God.
Daniel 4:19-37 speaks of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon developing spiritual pride, shows us how God deals with this “King of Kings” (Dan. 2:36) who demands arrogant personal recognition, and it announces the resulting transformation of this king to the world.
This story presents the four stages of dealing with pride:
King Nebuchadnezzar was “content and prosperous” (Dan. 4:4). His kingdom of Babylon had conquered the known world militarily; his wealth was obvious as he pillaged the wealth of other cultures, built gold statues and even luxurious hanging gardens (one of the Wonders of the Ancient World).
Prosperity can be a good thing for a person if its source is recognized as coming from God. However, the King let spiritual pride creep in when he rejected the warning sent to him in dream about a tree (interpreted by Daniel) in Dan. 4:1-18. He refused to accept Daniel’s advice to “Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed” (Dan. 4:27)
Instead, Nebuchadnezzar chose to brag that his accomplishments and wealth were “by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty” (Dan.4: 30). He announced to all that he was a self-made man, the source and goal of everything in his life. The king felt that he deserved all that he had, and more.
This spiritual arrogance of the world can also easily leak into the lives of modern Christians, e.g.: through the examples of incredible pride in many celebrities, the narcissistic self-congratulation of social media, the continuing adulation of the self made person, etc.
We forget that we are not in control of the most decisive factors in our lives, such as: our race, our culture, our country, our family, often our health, opportunities given to us, as well as our talents and our abilities.
God cared enough for Nebuchadnezzar to act immediately with serious consequences: “He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” (Dan. 4:32, 33)
Yet God was quick to forgive and restore the king’s “sanity” (and later his honor and splendor) when the king “raised his eyes toward heaven” and “honored and glorified him who lives forever” (Dan. 4:34).
The king had turned from his spiritual pride to “praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:37)
This story shows that because He loves us, God sometimes sends trouble for our own good. This king was given the gift of humility through the path of humiliation from his pride.
The king was not only given a warning (through a dream) about his pride, but he was also given another chance when he turned his eyes in God’s direction. Once Nebuchadnezzar turned to God in his suffering, then God could heal the infection of his spiritual pride and open the king’s heart in praise to the Source of all that he had, and now was given back.
Application for Modern Christians:
This story in Daniel is a model of the Good News of the Gospel: In the midst of our prosperity and problems of life, we all need a Savior from our sin, to whom we offer our praise as the Source for all that we have and are. May we with joy, humility, and gratitude, learn to put ourselves and our pride of life in the right place…