Daniel-Wayne Barber/Part 12
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|How many of you at times in your life have gone through a real arrogant, proud time and God had to bring you down? And you know, one thing to remember is it can come back on us over and over and over again. Beware of pride! We’re going to see three things about Nebuchadnezzar that maybe can teach us a lesson and help us in our walk with the Lord.|
The Dead End Street Called Pride – Part 2 (Daniel 4:19-37)
Turn with me to Daniel 4 as we continue what we began the last time together in Daniel entitled the “Dead End Street Called Pride.” Daniel 4 and we’ll pick up in verse 19. “The Dead End Street Called Pride.”
As I was reflecting over the first four chapters of Daniel, it appears to me that the phrase “God is able” appears in two very significant places. And they’re in such contrast to one another I thought it would be good for us to look at those two places as we begin the message. If you’ll look back in Daniel 3:17, the situation is this: three young men—of course there are four mentioned in Daniel, Daniel being one of them—but three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, have humbled themselves. You see, the reflection of humility is obedience to the Word of God. They have humbled themselves, they have purposed in their heart not to dishonor themselves and not to dishonor God. As a result we see the statement God is able to deliver them from and through the fires of persecution that result. So that’s a wonderful truth. If I humble myself this morning out of conviction, I obey the Lord and do what He tells me to do, there will be persecution, but God is able to deliver me and will do just that.
However, there’s another side of the picture. In Daniel 4:37, we see a contrasting situation. Here we have a pagan king who was unwilling to bow down before God. As a result, God had to humble him. Since he wouldn’t humble himself, God had to humble him. And in verse 37 it says, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just,” now watch, this is his testimony, “and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
Now we can bring a conclusion out of that and it seems very apparent. I’ve got a choice to make and so do you. I either humble myself before the Lord, or He will humble me. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve made my choice. I’d much rather humble myself than I would for God to have to humble me. And you’re going to see this hopefully in the story today about Nebuchadnezzar. He’s telling his own testimony in the fourth chapter of Daniel.
Now in verse 19, Daniel comes in to interpret his dream. As we’ve already studied, he’s had quite an interesting dream. The first part of it was really good. The second part of it was a little bit difficult. And in verse 19 we see that Daniel hesitates. Now, why would he hesitate? Because he knows that what he’s about to share with Nebuchadnezzar is not going to be good. In verse 19, “Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him.”
By the way, speaking of pride, last week as I preached the first message in this chapter, in verse 8—go back and look at verse 8. I want to show you what I did and how the Lord will humble you—it says, “But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar,” which we see also in verse 19, “according to the name of my god.” And I was just preaching away and had a dead brain cell attack me, and I said, “You know, look there, old Nebuchadnezzar is calling God his god. He says, “My god.” And I thought I just had the most wonderful point in the world. I hadn’t even seen it when I studied. Well, no wonder, because what I had seen wasn’t there. And I got out of the pulpit that evening and someone walked up to me and said, “By the way, Wayne,” he was very cautious in correcting me, he said, “You know, he’s talking about a pagan god, not our God.” Oh, that was so humbling, isn’t it? That just killed me. And that morning I had gotten home and I’d made the statement, “And God said to Adam, ‘Adam, why has your countenance fallen?’”
And I got in the car and my wife is so sweet. She said, “You know I love you, Wayne, but God didn’t say that to Adam. He said it to Cain.” Well, that proves two things: that proves that the Word of God is the authority, not me and I’m over 40. So let’s go on! I just wanted you to know that I am aware of the mistake that I made and I’ll probably make another one today before it’s over with. God just keeps me humble like that all the time.
Well, anyway, “Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’” He sees that Daniel doesn’t want to tell him the interpretation. “Belteshazzar answered and said, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries!’” You know, the thing I see in Daniel so much is his respect for someone who is in authority. He wasn’t putting him down, this wasn’t arrogant. He said, “Oh king, it would be the wish of my heart that this would be to your enemies, not to you.” He doesn’t really want to tell him.
Well, in verses 20-22 he explains the tree that Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream. Verse 20 says, “The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth, and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged—it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth.”
Now if the dream had stopped right there it would have done nothing more than to feed the pride of Nebuchadnezzar. He was already kind of “pridey,” and, folks, listen, if you’ll get an encyclopedia or something and look up the city of Babylon, you can see why he was so proud. It was an incredible place. It just blows your mind! The archeologists now have come up with what they think the city looked like and it is just beyond anything your mind could comprehend. And so in a way, in human terms, he had something to be proud of I guess. And so when he talks about his kingdom that just puffs him up.
But there was a difficulty to his dream. An angelic watcher had entered in and we pick this up in verse 23. Daniel is going to explain this: “And in that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it.’” Now the tree is his kingdom and all that he’s done. Chop it down and destroy it. “Yet leave the stump.” In other words, don’t completely annihilate it. Leave the stump and leave it alive with its roots in the ground, “but with a band of iron and bronze around it [in other words, with a fence around it to protect it] in the new grass of the field.” Now this is the part that really bothered Nebuchadnezzar, when the personal pronoun there became evident in verse 23. It says not “let it,” but “‘let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him. This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: that you be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time [seven years] will pass over you [now watch this] until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes. And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.”
Now it’s very clear why Nebuchadnezzar is going to have to go through what he’s going to go through. He’s such a proud king he will not bow down and recognize that it is God who rules, it is God who gave him his kingdom: he will not do that. And in verse 17 of this same chapter, verse 25 and in verse 26, very clearly it states he’s a proud man, and since he won’t humble himself, then God is left no alternative but to humble him. This is what brings us up to what we want to talk about today. And again, let me say it: I don’t know about you, but I’m making my choices. I would rather humble myself than have God to humble me.
Can I ask you a question? How many of you at times in your life have gone through a real arrogant, proud time and God had to bring you down? And you know, one thing to remember is it can come back on us over and over and over again. Beware of pride! We’re going to see three things about Nebuchadnezzar that maybe can teach us a lesson and help us in our walk with the Lord.
Nebuchadnezzar refused to acknowledge God in his achievements
First of all is this: Nebuchadnezzar refused to acknowledge God in his achievements. Now this is interesting. Again, verses 17, 25, and 26; he thought he had done something. I started to bring a book this morning that was four pages long though and I felt like that was just too much to read, about the city of Babylon. I mean, it just blows you away: the hanging gardens, I mean it was one of the most incredible places ever on the face of this earth. And you can imagine this guy sitting up there at ease; remember back in the earlier part of this chapter, and looking down over his kingdom thinking, “Man, I’m not bad! I have really succeeded in life. Man, I have really done something.”
You know, the middle letter in the word “pride” tells you the whole story: I have really done something; I have really accomplished something in my life. You know, it’s one thing for a pagan king to be proud. I think we can understand that. Although he doesn’t have much of an excuse, because he’d already seen the sovereign power of God in his life. We can understand him a little better than we can God’s people to begin with. For instance, the nation Israel. I thought about this as I was studying. Look in Deuteronomy 8. And there’s the most incredible thing here of the warning that God gives to the Israelites going into the land of Canaan, and to me it’s so appropriate to look at this because we tend to blame Nebuchadnezzar as a pagan king for being proud, but, folks, we deal with it every day in our life. And certainly God’s people have been warned.
Deuteronomy 8:11. Now watch; He warned the people of Israel through Moses, to beware when they go over into Canaan. He says in verse 11, “Beware lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today.” Now, there are two marks of a person who becomes proud. We’re going to see this in a minute. Those two marks are these that are in verse 11. First of all is the fact that the Word of God has no place in his life. Now you may come to church on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights and that’s fine. I’m glad you do and I’m certainly glad that you respect the Word and you want to hear it. But what we’re looking at here is that we must remember that to a person that is filled with pride, he’ll hear the Word, but he’s not obeying the Word. In other words, that’s what He’s saying right here: you stop obeying the commandments that you know to obey. When obedience disappears in your life or my life, when I begin to say, “God, don’t call me, I’ll call you,” look out, pride has entered into my life.
I can be walking with the Lord Jesus Christ and all of a sudden a measure of success comes into my life: look out! If I move away from the Word of God, whether it’s in the preaching business or whatever I’m doing, if I move away from my personal obedience to the Word of God, immediately pride has set in. I’m calling the shots: “God, I don’t need you right now. I’ll call you when the kids get sick, I’ll call you when the finances are down, but right now I can do it myself.” That’s the height of pride. And Moses warned those people. “Don’t you go over into the land now, and you forget the commandments of God. Don’t you go over there and forget the Lord your God. And he even tells them how pride comes about.
Notice first of all is the material prosperity. Notice this in verse 12, “Lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied,” when you have plenty to eat. Isn’t it amazing when you’re of poor means or poor circumstances many times, that’s when you really depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ. I can remember praying for food when I was first married and God would provide that food. We’d walk out to the car and there would be a sack of groceries in the car. And how every day you’re always depending on the Lord. You’re coming to the Word; you’re walking in that wonderful fresh presence of God. But what happens? All of a sudden you get a little more prosperous. All of a sudden you have a refrigerator full of food and you have plenty to eat, and all of a sudden you stop being grateful and stop being thankful to God and you begin to pull off center.
Not only that, it says, “When you have built good houses and lived in them.” I can remember back in the days, our first parsonage we lived in: 900 square feet. I could stand in the middle of it and reach the kids from any room. It was wonderful. We had a little fireplace there and a carpet on the floor and we thought we’d just died and gone to heaven. Then all of a sudden you move away from that and all of a sudden you’ve got a bigger house and a nicer neighborhood and all of a sudden, “Hey! Look what I’m doing! Look what I’m doing! My salary’s increased, I’m accomplishing something.” Look out, beware! Beware!
It goes on to say, “and when your herds and your flocks multiply.” In other words, when your possessions get more and more abundant. Not only now do you have one car, but you have two cars and you have a boat and you have other things, look out! Look out! Look out! Because it’s in those kinds of times that pride moves in evidently upon the people of God. When they were back here in the wilderness and they didn’t have anything and they depended on God and it was a beautiful relationship of oneness in their walk. But when they get over into the abundant area, the land of abundance, they all of a sudden start thinking, “Look what I have done,” and they forget their God.
Well, it goes on, and verses 14-16 are so sad. He says, “then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.” Oh, isn’t it the saddest thought to realize that what Moses warned Israel about, they did exactly what he told them not to do.
They got over into Canaan and just felt like, “Look what we’re doing; look what we’ve got.” And they forgot God and that’s when pride moves in. All of a sudden you think you’ve gotten to where you are in life. All of a sudden you think you have something to do with all the possessions that you have. Verse 17 says, “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’” I wonder how many of us have patted ourselves on the back at the same time that we’re praying. Have you ever done that? “Oh Lord, thank You so much for blessing me like You have.” And what you’re really saying is, “Lord, I know You’re so glad for me to be on Your team. I’m so glad, Lord, to know that You’re blessed because I have such expertise in the financial area. But, Lord, thank You for those little things that You have done.” And that’s the attitude of the heart.
Folks, listen, if you’re rich—and all of us are, if you’ve never been behind the iron curtain you don’t know what rich is; every one of us is—listen, if you’ve not gotten down on your knees and said, “God, I deserve not one single thing that I have. Thank You God, from the bottom of my heart for what You have given to me.” Then friend, the pride that we’re talking about in Daniel 4 has already moved into your life.
We’re dust! Who do we think we are? And yet, when we get these things, we think we’ve done it ourselves. “Oh, I live out in this subdivision” or “I live in that subdivision.” Boy, what a message for people. Upper middle class, look at us! Look what we’ve done! That’s exactly what Nebuchadnezzar did.
Nebuchadnezzar would not bow. He did it, it’s him, it’s not God in his life. He actually thought that he had the ability to make that wealth apart from God’s sovereign intervention in his life. Incredible! Verse 18 says, “But you shall remember the Lord your God,” now watch this, “for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth.” Can’t we understand this? Verse 19 shows the consequence if they ever forget Him. “And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish.”
Now we know the context of that is Israel and under the covenant and as they go into Canaan, but the principle can be applied in our own life. The moment that I start thinking that I’ve done something… You know, one of the things that, it’s just come to my heart, and many people have said why don’t you praise more people in the pulpit? Why don’t you mention this person or that person and everybody who contributes to do all these things? That’s something I’ve got a conviction against in my heart, folks. We’re not here to praise men; we are here to praise God. And when you do what you do, if you do it as unto the Lord, it is God in you that needs to be praised for He’s the One who gets the glory.
I’ve had people ask me, “How in the world, Wayne, could you pastor a church of 130 some people and see it grow to the size that it is now?” I don’t know, folks; we’re just going to have to thank God for doing those things. We haven’t done this: this church is not run on its own. God’s behind this church. We must understand that. And He’s not going to be conformed into our image. He wants us to be conformed into His. I honestly believe that what we try to do so often is come together and pride ourselves on what we’ve done. No, no! If we’d get on our face and say, “Oh God, we deserve nothing. Thank You for what You have done,” it would turn the whole tide of events and people would start giving honor and praise to the One who deserves it.
Nebuchadnezzar was a proud man. “Look at me, look at what I drive, look at the neighborhood I live in, look at my kingdom. I’ve done it.” And God says, “Whoa, buddy, you just messed up. Since you won’t humble yourself, I’m forced to humble you.” And that’s the sad part of Nebuchadnezzar’s life.
Nebuchadnezzar refused to heed Daniel’s warning
Well, let’s go on: the second thing. Not only has he refused to acknowledge God and His achievements, but secondly, he refused to heed Daniel’s warning that Daniel gave to him in verse 27.
Daniel said, “Repent, repent! Repent! Change your whole lifestyle and God may have favor on your life.” But watch what he does. Look at Daniel 4:27: “Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you [now watch], break away now from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” Now do you understand the biblical meaning of prosperity? It’s not what we think. Prosperity biblically, whether we have that definition or not, biblically it means to have enough for yourself and have enough left over for somebody else who is in need. That’s prosperity. And the only reason God would prolong his prosperity is if he started doing righteously and he even qualifies what doing righteously is. What is it? Having mercy upon the who? Upon the poor.
Now, what does that tell you about what Nebuchadnezzar is doing? He’s hoarding everything for himself. It’s his kingdom, it’s his money, it’s one thing not to acknowledge God in your achievements, it’s another thing to hoard up your own wealth and to think that it is yours to do with as you please. He says, “No, if you’ll do righteously, if you’ll repent and turn around and realize the only reason you’re prosperous is to help those who are in need, then maybe God will prolong your prosperity.” Over and over again he’s warned, but he will not heed the warnings. So therefore God has to break in. Since he won’t humble himself, God will break him.
You know, folks, those of us who may be here that have enough—and I say “those of us,” I can’t balance my checkbook—but those who have enough to actually invest it and to have money invested, and do you realize folks that if God told you to do it, do it! Don’t ever ask me about it because I know nothing about finances. But I’ll tell you what: God could humble you so fast it would make your head swim. As a matter of fact, about a year or so ago the stock market bottomed out, didn’t it? And I tell you what, within about 30 minutes a lot of people were humbled like you would not believe. And I’ve heard it over the years; Manley Beasley said it years ago. He said, “God’s going to bring Americans to their knees over the financial situation.” He’s going to drop the bottom out of us and that’s when we’re going to find out really who is in control. That’s all God would have to do. You know, God doesn’t sneeze, but He could sneeze and we’d all be on our knees before Him. All He’d have to do is just click His fingers and the financial market of America would just completely bottom out. And one of these days as I understand it, there’s going to be a one-world currency. I understand that. I understand that when that comes, it won’t be the dollar. And if it’s not the dollar, what’s that going to do to the dollar and what’s going to happen to people in America who have thought, “I have made my wealth. I have stored up my barn?” Well, it doesn’t take long for God to just bring it all down, just that fast.
I remember a man who was in a church that I pastored, a precious man. I don’t believe he knew the Lord Jesus because of his lifestyle. Nothing backed up the fact that he did, but I liked him. Have you ever met somebody like that? They’re lost, but you just can’t help but like them. There was just something about them. They’re just funny or whatever it is about them. I just liked him, and he liked me. And he loved to hear the Word. He just wouldn’t respond to it; he was too proud.
Why he had a nice home with a swimming pool behind it, it sat up on top of a hill. He had all kinds of businesses all over the particular state that we lived in and everything he touched turned to gold. And all of a sudden he began to put himself up on that throne. “Look what I have done.” His wife loved the Lord, loved the Word and tried to get to him. His friends tried to get to him. He’d come to church, sit there and smile at you during the service, not one word entering his life. “Nah, preacher, what do you know? You’re poor. You live in a parsonage. Look at me, buddy. I’ve got the money. I can do what I want to do.”
I wish I could take you to his house today, after God brought that man down. Friend he is a shell of a man. He has nothing tangible, material in this world today. Bankrupt and God brought him down, but for the first time now he’s humble enough that he wants to submit, he wants to hear God’s Word now. God has him down so he can start looking up. You may be here and you’re proud. People ride by your house and it’s the most manicured yard in the subdivision. Man, you’ve got the biggest cars sitting there. You’re proud of that. God says, “Man, listen, if you don’t humble yourself, I’m left no alternative. I will bring you down!” That’s what He’s teaching us in His Word.
I love to fly first class and do so quite often when they’ll let me do it. I always request it. I just hate to have to relearn to walk after I fly in the tourist section. Talk about discrimination, folks. Nothing is built for people over 6’5”, and I can’t even sit in the seats. The people can’t lean back and I can’t move. My usual request is “Is it okay if I fly first class?” And it’s been such an experience. It’s amazing! I’m going to write a book someday of what I’ve experienced in the first class section. It’s incredible. They find out I’m a preacher and I have literally seen this: they break into a rash and they don’t know what to say. I’m just a dumb little preacher sitting up in first class. “What are you doing up here with us?” I love it! I love it! “The Lord put me up here!”
I flew back yesterday. It was a beautiful day to fly, little bumpy. Got into Atlanta and got on the plane to come to Chattanooga. I was so tired, but I watched this guy get on the plane right behind me; sat down beside me. I read his title from A to Z before he ever sat down. You could tell, son, he was somebody. He was somebody. He had a ring on his finger that could have bought my house with. I’m telling you, he’s dressed. He came into that thing and I could tell—it’s one thing to see people well-dressed. I don’t care what people have and God doesn’t care what people have. But you can tell the people that are flaunting it. You don’t have to discuss the matter: it’s very clear.
He was sitting there and you could tell he was in charge of a big business. I’m thinking, “This guy travels.” I figured him; I just sit there and read his whole title. The first thing he wanted was a glass of tomato juice and two bottles of vodka. Now he didn’t want to drink the vodka, he was going to put them in his pocket because it’s free in first class. So they always make money off of me flying in first class. I was born that way, so I don’t need it.
Anyway we took off. I was so tired I just laid back and shut my eyes and didn’t think about much until the flaps dropped coming in to Chattanooga. I was just really tired. But I noticed it was bumpy all the way; I did pick that up. And I noticed that the seat belt light was on and the pilot did come on and say, “We’re looking to experience some turbulence even though it’s clear. It’s pretty windy.” And he said, “We’ll have to leave this light on.” Well, we landed in Chattanooga and then my thoughts were confirmed. Now, you think I’m just being judgmental. No, I’m not. They were confirmed. We were pulling up to the little satellite area at the airport out here and I heard the guy call one of the stewardesses. Sweet little lady and he called her back and said, “I’m just very disappointed with Delta on this flight.” And I’m thinking, “How could you be disappointed? You’re alive, we didn’t go down.”
And she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean.” He said, “I got on this plane and the reason I fly first class is because you give free drinks and all I got was two vodkas.” And I’m thinking, “Come on, now. That’s not the reason you fly first class. You could buy the plane. You don’t need them to give you that.” Just had a gripe. And he said, “You didn’t have one bit of cabin service this whole time and I want you to know, young lady, I’m going to let Delta know about this.” Made me so mad. I wanted to stand up and say, “What?”
And that little lady, she couldn’t do anything. She said, “Well, sir, didn’t you understand that the light was on and we’re not allowed to do anything when they leave the seat belt sign on. We have to sit in our seats.” “Well, I’m going to let Delta know about it.” You see where he’s coming from? “I’m somebody! I’m going to call Delta, because they know who I am and I’m going to tell them what I think about life.”
You see, a man like that submits to nobody, respects nobody, he’s so proud. It’s his money, it’s his life, and he can just lord it over anybody he wants to. I want to tell you something, friend. God may never humble him on this earth, but there’s going to come a day. My prayer is that God would humble him before that day comes. Because his knee is going to bow and his tongue is going to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He never had a dime on this earth that God, a sovereign God, did not give him the ability to make that and by his misuse of it, he will stand before a holy God one day and he’ll answer to it. That’s what we’re learning.
Folks, I tell you what. This thing of pride is something we just slough off. You better be careful. I tell you, I tremble as I preach this message. “Oh, Lord, where is it in my life? I don’t want to be humbled.”
Well, what happens finally? Since he wouldn’t repent, since he wouldn’t listen to God, watch verses 31-33. Let’s go back to verse 28 to show that he didn’t repent. “All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later [one year later], he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon.” And I wonder what he was doing. Was he humble? Not on your life. “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great [now watch this] which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’” Good night!
This guy is hard-headed. This is a year after he’s been warned, he’s had the dream and he still has not repented. And look at verse 31, “While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.’” And now what God said would happen is taking place in his life, “and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field.” As a matter of fact, they say that the disease he had is still around today and he could be conscious of his surrounding, but he had the appetites and the lifestyle of an animal and his main diet for seven years was grass.
Oh, Lord, I don’t want to eat grass. That just always bothered me. I’m serious. “You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time [seven years] will pass over you [now watch] until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes. Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers [real long], and his nails were like birds’ claws [Big old fingernails]. But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven.” Bless his heart, now he’s not looking down on anybody. Now he’s looking up. Now the pride is gone; God has humbled the man for seven years.
Someone was telling me that his younger brother, when he was four years old, was praying at the table one day and he’d just heard the story of Nebuchadnezzar being an animal for seven years. And he said, “Oh, Lord [four years old], please don’t make me be like an animal and eat grass for seven years. Oh, Lord, I want to be humble in Your sight.” I laughed when I heard that, but I was thinking a four-year-old probably has more sense about this story than the rest of us. I don’t want to eat dirt and grass for seven years.
And, you know, God will stop at nothing to get us to look up, folks. We’re going to look down on everybody, well, look out. God’s going to say, “You’re going to look up.” And he said, “my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom [just like the dream had told him] and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me.’”
And verse 37 caps it all off. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways [look what it says] just.” You’d think he would say unjust. “What kind of God would make me eat grass for seven years? No, He’s just, because now he sees why he had to do that. “And He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
Well, that just teaches itself, doesn’t it? What do you add to that? How are you doing? Let me ask you a question. Have you come to the point in your life where the Word of God is not important to you anymore? You just don’t have time to get in it; don’t have time to apply it to your life. Now, I don’t mean for study; that’s information. Forget that; knowledge puffs up. I’m talking about for living, applying it for living. Are you doing that every day? Men, in your business world, are you conforming your business practices to what the Word of God says? “Oh, Brother Wayne, you don’t understand. Not in the business world; you can’t do that.” Is that right? I don’t know, I can’t find anything else to use. Do you realize that when we begin to cross the grain we have become so proud as to think we have a better way, that God doesn’t know what He’s doing? And all of a sudden we start forgetting God, just leaving Him out. Just don’t have time for Him, just too busy. “Well, Brother Wayne, you’re a pastor and all you do is work two days a week. You’ve got time to study.” Well, you have to talk to God about that. I didn’t put myself in the ministry, He did.
Problem is, He’s told us all the same thing. We’re all to be in this Book. The man that’s not in the Book is a proud man, proud man. And look out; he’s ready for a fall. Pride goeth before a fall. I pray that God will keep us where we ought to be. I’d rather say that we would humble ourselves, wouldn’t you? I’d rather humble ourselves. But I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that if we don’t, buddy, God’s going to humble us. I stand here sometimes in this congregation and I look at it and get a funny feeling in my stomach, tears well up in my eyes because I remember the day that we didn’t have enough people to fill up half the balcony. I remember that day. I don’t know where we’re going. The only fear I have is that if we ever start thinking we’re better than anybody or that we’ve done it ourselves. We’re dead in the water if we ever feel that way, folks. You got a Sunday School class that’s growing? You better get on your face before God and say, “God, what is man that You are mindful of me. Thank You for whatever You do with my Sunday School class.” You’ve got a group that’s happening? Get on your face before the Lord. That’s it. If we ever step aside and start thinking we’ve done anything, God’s forced to have to humble us, and I’d rather humble myself.
I’ve eaten some grass in my life. You? Anybody else eaten grass in your life? Buddy, I have, too. I don’t want to eat any more. Young people, you think this is funny? I hope not. I always say that, but it’s never like I really think they do. I say that to get to what I’m going to say. I want you to take it seriously. Take it seriously. “Oh, Brother Wayne, I’m a senior in high school this year. I’ve got the world by the tail.” No, you don’t. As a matter of fact, it’s amazing what happens to the pride of a senior and the humility of a freshman in college. Amazing what three months does.
“Brother Wayne, I’m pretty good in sports and I’ve got a career ahead of me.” No, you don’t, not unless you’re thanking God every second of your life that He gives you breathe and gives you that ability. He’ll take it from you so fast it’ll make your head swim. God’s in control. Let’s praise Him for it.
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