Warnings from Nebuchadnezzar

Last Sunday, Pastor Jason preached the sermon “Conflict, Trials, and the God Who Delivers” from Daniel 3. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we too must trust God who is faithful to be with and deliver us through fiery trials in life, even if those trials demand our very lives. For we know that our resurrection and ultimate deliverance is sure in the resurrection of the true King, Jesus Christ.

Read: Daniel 4:1-37

This Sunday, Pastor Ken will preach the sermon “God Humbles the Proud and Exalts the Humble” from Daniel 4. Nebuchadnezzar once again experiences a dream that leaves him terrified and searching for answers as to its meaning and implications.

Like the occasion of the king’s first terrifying dream, Daniel is the only person who is able to interpret the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, and the interpretation only confirms the terrifying nature of the dream. Due to his prideful arrogance, Nebuchadnezzar’s position as king is soon to be transformed into a position of societal outcast. He will even be given the mind of a beast and will dwell in the field as a beast until he learns the truth that God alone is exalted and supremely rules over all.

In the end, however, God’s grace is on full display. Instead of being completely and justly annihilated by God, Nebuchadnezzar is restored to his kingship with a mindset of humility before the Most High. The king closes his recounting of the event with this confession: “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” (Daniel 4:37).

As we have been learning, we are much more like Nebuchadnezzar than it seems on the surface. The truth is that we all wrestle with the same root of pride and arrogance that had consumed Nebuchadnezzar and therefore need our own intervention from God to grant humility and adoration of God instead. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, pray that God would reveal any areas of pride in your life and grant you the grace to repent and replace that pride with humility and adoration of the Most High. Let this devotional from Paul Tripp assist your preparation and prayer.

Reflect: “Warnings from Nebuchadnezzar”

I’m sure you know the story of King Nebuchadnezzar. The king of Babylon had reached a height of unparalleled greatness and power, and in an act of divine glory thievery, he created a large golden image and commanded everyone under his authority to bow down and worship his idol.

Nebuchadnezzar proclaims, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30, ESV) You cannot find a more blatant act of a human ruler trying to claim the glory due to God and God alone.

While we will never rise to the status of Nebuchadnezzar or make a reckless decree like his, you and I are more like this man than is comfortable to admit.

Perhaps we commit vertical larceny much more than we realize. Perhaps we quest for personal glory more than we think. Perhaps, in some way, we stand on our balcony and take credit for what only God can produce.

Perhaps we’re not too far from Nebuchadnezzar’s sin.

This Old Testament story is a warning to us today, and in the story, God uses Daniel to warn Nebuchadnezzar (see 4:24-27). Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream and pleads with him to “break off your sins by practicing righteousness.”

When you read this story, you must meditate on how incredible God’s mercy is. In the face of the arrogance and murderous self-glory of Nebuchadnezzar, God has every holy reason to rise in righteous intolerance and wipe this man from the face of the earth. Everything this worldly ruler stood for was an abomination to the Lord Almighty. It should stun you that God stooped first to warn him.

Again, we find ourselves in the shoes of Nebuchadnezzar. If you’re God’s child, you are blessed with the convicting, warning, merciful ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The question is: are you listening?

When the Holy Spirit blesses you with convicting grace, it will be tempting to harden your heart and argue for your righteousness. It will be tempting to claim your biblical literacy and theological knowledge as evidence of your spiritual maturity.

When the Holy Spirit visits you with a merciful warning, it will be tempting to compare yourself to others and argue that you are surely more righteous than they are. It will be tempting to ignore these warnings if God chooses to use people who you think are unqualified or less mature than you.

Yes, it’s a struggle for us all: it will be tempting to resist the convicting, warning, merciful ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The story of Nebuchadnezzar is a warning, but more than that, it’s a comfort. You can rest knowing that you serve a dissatisfied Redeemer who will not turn from his work of redemption, even when you fail to esteem it and work to resist it.

With patience and daily grace, God invites you to listen. With love and mercy, he offers you protection from the glory thievery that continually threatens us this side of eternity.

Will you listen? Will you run to him and not from him?

Wednesday Word: “Warnings from Nebuchadnezzar,” September 4, 2019, by Paul Tripp

Sing: Song List for Sunday

1. “How Great Thou Art,” by Paul Baloche
2. “Great I Am,” by New Life Worship
3. “What a Beautiful Name,” by Hillsong Worship
4. “Jesus, Thank You,” by Sovereign Grace Music

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