Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Daniel 4 (Pt 2)

 Daniel 4:28-31 (ESV)

[28] All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. [29] At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, [30] and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” [31] While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you,

 

Daniel 4 is unique in that all but a short paragraph is written by Nebuchadnezzar. Verses 28-33 describe what happened when Nebuchadnezzar’s pride brought about his downfall. The rest of the chapter is a description of the events leading up to his downfall, and the events following his downfall written in the first person by Nebuchadnezzar. After losing his mind for seven years, his sanity was restored. Along with his sanity, his “majesty and splendor” (vs 36) were restored as well. He wrote, “I was established in my kingdom and still more greatness was added to me” (Dan 4:36). But notice the change. In verse 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power.” In verse 36 he recognized that his greatness was given to him. He concluded, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Dan 4:37).

 

The King moved from “Look what I built” to “Look how great God is.” He recognized that all he had was a gift from God. James 4:6 quotes the Septuagint version of Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” That is exactly the lesson that Nebuchadnezzar learned, and it is exactly the opposite of what the World would have us learn. The World says, “Be proud of who you are. Recognize your greatness. Strive for greatness.” God says that we need to realize that all we have is a gift from God that he can add to or take away at a moment’s notice. Our greatness is not in ourselves, but in our identity with Christ.

 

The Apostle Paul had to learn the same lesson. In Acts 23:6 Paul was described as, “A Pharisee, a son of Pharisees.” He in Philippians 3:4-7 he wrote that,

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Regarding the Law, Paul was blameless. From the perspective of the Pharisee, Paul had much to be proud of. Paul concluded something very different. At the end of the verses quoted above, He concluded, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” In Galatians 6:14 Paul wrote, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” He learned that his greatness was not in himself, but in his death to the world and in the resurrection life he had through faith in Christ.

 

It seems that in a world where pride and self-exaltation are prized, there is more insecurity and feelings of insignificance than ever. In a world that exalts the beautiful people, actors and actresses, Social Influencers, and media stars, a close look at their lives will reveal that many of them have a fa├žade of beauty and an inner life of emptiness or even self-destruction. Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking platforms have not helped any. For the most part people post images that give the impression of beauty, accomplishment, and having it all together. That is the lie that leaves them and everyone else searching for accolades while withering inside.

 

It is time we listen to Nebuchadnezzar and the Apostle Paul. A pagan king and a Christian Apostle both have the same message for us. “All [God’s] works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Dan 4:37). You can either come humbly before God, or you can be humbled by God. It’s your choice.

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