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Weekly Word

Entries in Sovereignty (3)

Tuesday
Feb272018

Folly or Wisdom? Part II

1 Kings 22:19-29.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on February 25, 2018.

Last week we talked about choices in life.  Foolish choices lead to folly and wise choices lead to life.  As we continue the story today, we should remember that there are three different types of people in this story.  Ahab, and thus the false prophets who are inclined to bless his every desire, is bent on serving Baal of rather than the God of Israel.  He is a wicked king and they are wicked prophets because they have no concern about rejecting God’s word and commands.  Jehoshaphat is different.  He represents a righteous person who has a heart after God.  Yet, his idealistic desires for unity override the repeated warnings that God gave him.  He is a righteous person who is making a foolish choice.  Lastly we have Micaiah.  He is the righteous person who is making a wise choice (to speak only what God tells him to say) even though the fact that he lands in prison could cause one to judge him as foolish.

In this life we are not always the best judge of who is who.  It is easy to point the finger at every leader and label them a wicked Ahab or wicked Jezebel.  It is also easy to see ourselves as pure and clean as Micaiah or Elijah.  But, let us remember that every choice that comes before us is laden with an opportunity for folly or wisdom.  Only God can help us to choose wisely.

The spirit realm affects the material world.

In verses 19-22 Micaiah reveals a vision that God had previously given him.  It is a vision of God’s heavenly throne in the spirit realm.  We must understand that the Bible promotes a world view that incorporates both a material realm (that which we can see and test) and a spiritual realm (that which we cannot generally see and test).  Thus Christians who follow Jesus must not skirt around this issue.  To be a faithful follower of Jesus is to believe that there is a spiritual realm.  It is also to believe that the spirit realm has a direct impact upon the material world that is unseen to natural eyes.  We can worry about a North Korean leader, an Iranian leader, or The Russians.  But, we often forget that these earthly beings are affected by spiritual forces (to the good or to the bad) that they generally do not understand, and generally do not recognize.

Micaiah reveals a principle or message that is emphasized throughout the Bible: God rules over the heavens and the earth.  The book of Daniel is a great example of this.  It reiterates five times that “The Most High God rules over the kingdom of men.”  On top of this the whole book demonstrates the truth of that statement among the world powers of Daniel’s day.  No matter how great the human powers of this world become, they are always under the rule of God and the spirit realm.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. 

So Micaiah sets the scene with God on His throne and the hosts of heaven, which are spirit beings, all before Him.  A fascinating thing about this story is that it pulls back the curtain of God’s decision process and allows us to see how heavenly decrees are made.  It would be important to also notice that this scene is reminiscent of the scene in Job chapter one and two, where God is on his throne and the sons of God, spiritual beings, are surrounding Him.  In that story we see Satan instigating God to decree that he could “touch” Job with suffering.  Thus God gives Satan permission to try Job.  In this story, however, God has initiated the issue on the table.

It is important to recognize that though God is sovereign He does incorporate the input of spirit beings in His decisions.  In Job God permits a suggestion of Satan.  In this passage God puts the decree that Ahab is to die at Ramoth Gilead on the table, so to speak, and seeks input on how to make that happen.  Some scholars refer to this setting as a divine assembly or divine council.  Regardless of what we call it, we see this dynamic also in the book of Revelation and its heavenly vision scenes.  This is an important understanding about how God runs the universe.  Even though He is omniscient and sovereign, He does not operate in complete whimsical fiat.  There are some things that He decrees outright and cannot be changed, but He also leaves some things to the input of spiritual beings.  We could also notice that God does something similar on earth.  He has decreed that the Gospel should go to the ends of the earth, but He allows humans to have a say in how that will happen, how quickly, and who will go.  Thus God is always partnering with both spiritual and earthly beings to accomplish His will.

He doesn’t do this because He lacks ideas or will get a better response from those He works with.  Rather, He chooses not to micromanage the affairs of heaven and earth (or His nature is such that He will not).  He works through those authorities and agencies that He has raised up for that very purpose, both in the spirit realm and on earth.  Think about the family unit as an example.  It is God’s decree that children are to be brought up into this world by a loving commitment between a man and a woman.  It is also His decree that those parents raise that child to know Him and take their place in His kingdom.  How that is done is a partnership between parents and God.  He will not overpower them in order to “perfect” the process.  God allows parents to make choices about what their authority will look like and how well they accomplish the decrees that God has given.  Of course, parents always fall short of absolute perfection.  Even though God has left room for our choices, He is ultimately still in control.  Thus we write the story together with God.  He is not a despot that tyrannically controls everything.

There is a part of this story that leads some people to declare that there is an ethical problem.  In the story a spirit comes forward and provides a solution for how to get Ahab to Ramoth Gilead so he can die.  The answer is that this spirit will be a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab’s prophets.  God states that this plan will work and authorizes the spirit to do what it suggested.  So is this an evil spirit or a good spirit asking to do something evil?  With the precedent of Job’s story- notice Satan is allowed to interact with God and permitted to do what he wanted, although with limitations- it seems clear that this is an evil spirit.  To many this seems odd or even wrong.  How could the Holy God of the heavens allow an evil spirit in His presence and then authorize false prophecy in order to deceive Ahab?  If we focus only on the actions of the spirit then of course it is generally wrong to mislead someone through deception and lies.  Is God being hypocritical here?  I do not believe that this is a true ethical dilemma.  Ahab has continually rejected the word of God, and also rejected the repeated grace of God as reason to turn back.  He has continually rejected the God of Israel and served Baal, the god of the Canaanites.  He is now under a death decree by God because of his willful insurrection (remember God created the nation of Israel to serve Him and they agreed to only serve Him).  Though murder is morally reprehensible, it is not the same as executing a criminal for capital crimes.  Thus here, Ahab is under the death penalty for capital crimes.  Part of the judgment is to use the same false prophets of Baal that he has been listening to in order to lead him to his death.  When we look at it this way, we see that the way the punishment is carried out is particularly fitting.  Ahab has only survived by the grace of God to this point.  So now God removes His grace and allows Ahab to suffer the results of listening to false prophets.  He is letting Ahab experience the full fruit of the path that He has chosen. 

I will close this point by reminding us of a similar situation in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.  In it we are told that humanity in the last days will come under the judgment of God.  God will quit restraining the evil that the world is pressing towards (remove His grace).  The world will be enamored with a being that will use lying wonders and unrighteous deception.  Why would God allow this strong delusion that is called The Lie?  We are told that it is because they would not receive the love of the truth.  For 2,000 years God has sent His people into the world to not only speak His Truth, but to also be used of the Spirit of God to help convince people of the truth.  How can someone imagine Jesus on the cross dying for their sins and not receive a love of the truth of it all?  God is not the Agent of this evil deception and lies.  However, when we continually reject His endeavors to help us see the truth, we can come under His judgment, or at the least, His discipline.  For Ahab this story is judgment, but for Jehoshaphat it is discipline.  This understanding should sink in.  These 400 prophets were not complete phonies in the sense that they were making this up.  They were actually in contact with a spirit, but it wasn’t the Holy Spirit.  Rather, it was an evil spirit that their years of worshipping Baal had not prepared them to recognize.  They too were under a judgment of deception because they had rejected the truth that Elijah had revealed at Mt. Carmel: The God of Israel is the true God and Baal is nothing.

Foolish decisions are made despite hearing the truth.

In the tradition of a tragedy verses 24-29 show the different parties of this story making a critical choice for different reasons and thus headed on an inescapable course for disaster.  All of this is over the top of God’s repeated attempts to turn them back to the truth.

After Micaiah’s statement that all the prophets of Ahab were being led by an evil spirit, one false prophet named Zedekiah (probably their leader) takes offense and confronts Micaiah.  He does so by first slapping Micaiah on the cheek.  If you do a search of the word “cheek” in the Bible you will find that there are four places in the Old Testament that speak of this act of striking the cheek.  This story is the first of them.  It is always a public shaming of the person struck.  In Matthew 5:39 Jesus said, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But, whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”  The point Jesus is making is that it won’t do any good to slap an evil person back, or even to reason with them about truth.  The truth generally makes an evil person more enraged (note the experience of Jesus).  So what can a righteous person do?  The only thing you can do is let them pursue their course of wickedness and come to disaster, even if that course involves crucifying you.  Jesus let Israel crucify Him, partially to shock their conscience back to life.  Perhaps somewhere along the course of insanity and wickedness, as a person begins to reap the crop of destruction, the Holy Spirit’s conviction just might break through and lead them to repentance.

Zedekiah also asks the question, “Where did the Spirit of the Lord go between speaking to me and to you?”  This is a way of highlighting that the place the Holy Spirit went clearly makes no difference.  It strongly implies that the error is with Micaiah not Zedekiah.  Think of it as a way of saying, “I know I heard from the Holy Spirit.  So what happened to the Holy Spirit for Him to give you a different word?  Nothing!”  Either Zedekiah is truly deluded, which makes sense in light of the deceiving spirit, or he is keeping up the act.  I think it is the former.  He chooses folly over life.  Micaiah’s answer is to simply say that Zedekiah will figure it out when he flees to an inner room to hide.  Presumably this means that there will be great disaster and Zedekiah’s words will prove so false that he will run and hide himself.  All prophetic words must bear their weight or fall to the ground based upon what actually happens down the road.  Thus the truth will become clear in the end.

Ahab is another man who makes a foolish decision in this story.  Once again he has no desire to heed the counsel of Micaiah.  Thus he has the prophet of the Lord taken back to the city and put in prison with only bread and water of affliction.  This simply means the minimum quantity and quality to keep one alive.  The tyrants of this world, who are bent on pursuing their own selfish desires over the top of the God of heaven, love to put the righteous in prison and mistreat them.  Ahab should be honoring Micaiah and instead he orders his abuse.  Definitely, Ahab proved that he was not worthy of the immense amount of grace that God had sent to him.  Micaiah did not deserve what he was given.  But it was the duty that God was asking him to endure.  It isn’t easy to live for the truth of God in a world that does not love truth, nor wants to receive it.  Thus Ahab signs his own death decree by rejecting this last warning of God.  By putting Micaiah in prison, he is really putting God in prison.  He wants God to stay in the little box of his control.  But God will never stay in our little boxes.

The foolish decisions that we have looked at up to this point are the kind where we would say that it serves them right.  But, Jehoshaphat’s choice to still go to war with Ahab (verse 29) leaves us shouting at the Bible (ex. TV)  “What are you doing?  Don’t go with him!  You dummy, you’re gonna get yourself killed!”   Before we get too hard on Jehoshaphat, we need to see that there is some Jehoshaphat in all of us.  It is that part which is capable of making a foolish choice for all the “good reasons.”  My curiosity would like to know exactly what Jehoshaphat was thinking.  He must not have been convinced by Micaiah.  But then again the clear contradiction of the message of the false prophets, which Jehoshaphat obviously distrusted, should have warranted caution.  Maybe he trusts the assurances of Ahab, whom he knows, over the top of Micaiah, whom he doesn’t know.  Maybe Ahab’s complaint that Micaiah is prejudiced against him leads Jehoshaphat to disregard him as not objective.  Regardless, Ahab is going to his death and Jehoshaphat is going to be disciplined by the Lord.  He will lose the battle and many troops.  Only by the grace of God does he not lose his life.  But we will look at that next week.

Let us take our lives seriously enough that we take time to pray and seek out the counsel of God’s word regarding our decisions of life.  There are times that decisions are not critical.  However, if we have neglected to develop the habit of taking decisions before the Lord then we will be unprepared and easily tripped up when the critical decisions do come along.  Don’t make decisions in order to please people, but rather to please the Lord.  Neither should we confuse pleasing the Lord with doing exactly what we wanted to do.  May we be humble before God and our fellow man.

Folly Wisdom II audio

Sunday
Nov262017

The Sovereign Lord

1 Kings 18:1-19.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on November 26, 2017.

For three and a half years Israel and the surrounding area suffered under a drought and famine that the prophet Elijah had warned would come.  However, he also added that the famine would not quit until he said that it would.  Thus everyone in the area, whether righteous or wicked, had to live through this difficult event.  Yet, we see in Elijah’s life and the widow of Zarephath, that God was taking care of people who put their trust in Him.  Today’s story begins God’s confrontation of King Ahab, his queen Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal.  In this we will see that God doesn’t just send difficulty to make us pay.  Rather, He works in such a way as to get our attention and soften us up to what He has to say.

In ancient times and in modern times, nations and people ignore the God of Israel and could care less what He has to say, but they do so in error.  God is sovereign of the entire universe, both in heaven and on Earth.  Even though He gives mankind room to recognize their own, wicked heart, He is faithful to force the point and bring us to a place of decision.  It is His mercy that forces us to face our sin and make a choice to stand on our own merits, or fall upon His mercy.

God is sovereign over the timing of events

In verse one we see that God is ready to end the famine.  It has lasted over three years and we are not told why God had it last so long.  It is probable that Elijah was not worried about the length.  He trusted God and was receiving supernatural care.  However, other believers who were trying to be faithful to God would find themselves becoming more and more desperate over time.  “God, what are you doing?  When will you end this famine?”  It is precisely in such times that we must recognize that God is not asleep.  Thus in His sovereignty, God makes the choice over the timing of events that happen in our lives, or the life of a nation.  Yet, the Bible also makes the point that God is all-wise, in regard to such decisions.  He is not accountable to us, but He has the good of all involved in mind in His decisions.

So I would point us to the phrase in verse one, “after many days.”  In some ways we can be guilty of reading the Bible and hoping in God only for the amazing events.  When we have such an attitude, we lose sight of the “many days” that come between such huge events.  Whether at the personal level, national level, or global level, there are always “many days” between big events.  To us the centuries of time between the rebuilding of the temple in the 6th century BC and the coming of Jesus, 500 years later, can seem immaterial.  But, the truth is this.  Big events are intended to help us live out the many days in between.  Sometimes they come precisely because we haven’t been obeying in those “many days.”  The famine in this story came because King Ahab had walked away from God and was now leading God’s people into idolatry with the foreign god, Baal.  The flood came to pass, not because God wanted to spice things up, but because of the violence and immorality that was going on before it.  How we live in the “many days” between big events in our life are more important than the big events themselves.  God’s people must wake up every day and commit themselves to living it for the honor of God.  Whether the times are filled with plenty, or they are filled with lack, we must be faithful to the instructions that God has given us already.  Christ died so that we can live for Him in the now, not just for the purpose of us sitting around waiting for His next coming.  Yes, the Second Coming, is a great hope of believers.  But true hope, living hope, enables us to be faithful during those many days.  To us, it may seem that it is easy for Elijah.  He was in direct communication with God, but neither did God give him all the answers.  This story goes on to introduce a new character, Obadiah.  Obadiah was not a prophet, but a righteous man within a wicked administration.  He was trying to do his best to serve God in a dangerous time, both physically and spiritually.  Yes, he hopes for God to intervene by stopping the famine and stopping Ahab’s wicked actions.  But until that happens, he keeps faithful during the many days in between.

God tells Elijah to go to Ahab.  This is not a safe thing.  Ahab is like a bear robbed of its cubs.  He will not see reason, and wants to kill Elijah.  Yet, Elijah does not question and go right away to speak to Ahab.  I would remind us that it is not just prophets who are called to be faithful in dangerous times.  Jesus warned His disciples in Mark 13:13, “You will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”  Yes, he was clearly speaking to his immediate disciples.  But the same dynamics of those days are true today.  In Revelation 2:3 Jesus told the Ephesian church, “You have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”  Thus the promise that Jesus would be with us even when we are undergoing difficulty for Him, is not just to the disciples who heard Jesus that day.  Rather, it was to all who would hear his words from others and choose to be faithful regardless of the risk.  Jesus promised to be with His disciples even unto the end of the age, and that means He is with us today.

We do not know what our society will become tomorrow.  Will events get worse or get better?  Only God knows.  What about the world?  Things seem to be ratcheting up to huge, watershed, global events.  But for the believer the focus is not on those big events.  The focus is on today and serving God regardless of the risks.  We do not know what will happen specifically, but we do know that we will need to persevere and be faithful in it, no matter what direction it goes.  As we follow this story further we see that Obadiah has had to do just that very thing.

It is interesting to me that Elijah happens to run into Obadiah first and not Ahab.  Sure, there is a 50-50 chance that it would be Obadiah, but I think God had a hand in this.  We are told that Obadiah has been taking on great risk during Ahab’s reign.  Jezebel had instigated Ahab to have all the prophets of the Lord killed.  They couldn’t find Elijah, but they were able to find many others.  In the midst of this, Obadiah secretly hides 100 prophets in two different caves.  He then takes care of this with food and water.  This was a great risk.  Now Elijah shows up and gives him another risk.  Go tell Ahab that I am here.  Obadiah’s fear stems from the recognition that prophets don’t always cooperate with the “agenda” of men.  He is afraid that if he tells Ahab that he found Elijah, and then Elijah takes off, Ahab will have him killed.  Elijah mercifully promises to wait for Ahab.  It is not always easy to follow God’s purpose for us.  Even when we have been successful in the past at being faithful in risky situations, new situations can put us to a deeper test.

Now we are told that Elijah had searched all over the place for Elijah.  He even made the nations around him swear that Elijah wasn’t in their territories.  Little did he know, Elijah was in the territory of his father-in-law.  I bring this up because Ahab thinks that he can just deal with Yahweh and His prophets on his own terms.  But, the lack of communication between Elijah and Ahab during the drought demonstrates that God speaks on His own terms, and not ours.  We are warned in the Bible to seek the Lord while He may be found, and to call upon Him when He is near.  This implies there are times when God cannot be found and He is afar off.  We cannot force God to change the events of our lives or times.  We must patiently wait upon Him for His timing.  In fact, it only seems fair that our insolent desire to pursue wickedness be met with silence from God.  However, this is true even when we are serving God in righteousness.  He is silent at times and waits to see if we will trust Him.  He will speak in due time, it is ours to simply be faithful until He does speak again.  Ahab does not deserve a word from the Lord, much less an end to the famine.  But here it comes anyways because God is the One who is in control.  Ahab in his pride had rejected God’s word, but God uses three and a half years of famine to get his attention.  God has been building a door of repentance through which Ahab can walk through, if he will humble himself.  Of course, we know that he won’t humble himself.  He will only double down on his wickedness.  But think of this the next time you complain to the Lord that He must do something to get you out of a tough time.  In tough times, God is busy building in us and around the things we will need for the next stage.  We must simply be ready to obey and say, “Yes, Lord,” when the time comes.

God confronts Ahab through Elijah

In verses 17 through 19 we see the clash between Ahab and Elijah.  However, next week we will see that this clash has other layers.  There is also the religious clash between those who promote the worship of the Canaanite God Baal, and those who promote the worship of the God of Israel (the One, True God).  But even deeper than that is a spiritual clash between the God of heaven and those wicked spirits that are leading people away from Him.

For King Ahab the days of forsaking God are far behind him.  He is now in a state of hardness towards the things of God.  Even the rebukes of life itself are not enough to get his attention.   Perhaps Jezebel has told him that the real purpose of the famine was because Baal was displeased with Ahab’s inability to capture Elijah.  Somehow he has rationalized that he is on the right path and Elijah is the problem.  Ahab is not the only one to persist in a bad path over the top of the rebukes of life.  God in His mercy often confronts us with a human being because it is easier to ignore natural events and general principles of God’s word than to ignore a human who is now in our face.  Ahab could ignore God, but he couldn’t ignore Elijah.  God has always been faithful to send humans who are in relationship with Him to rebuke those who are persisting in rejecting Him.  In fact, Jesus Himself was the ultimate prophet of God who spoke a word to all mankind.  He has challenged all men everywhere to turn to Him for salvation and not to ignore it.  Some even tell themselves that they are okay with God as they reject His truth in the Bible.  Just know that we are capable of being blinded to the truth, but God in His mercy always sends a human along to challenge us.

Ahab accuses Elijah of being a troubler of Israel.  But Elijah throws it back in his face.  Ahab is the true troubler of Israel.  He has forsaken the worship of God and has taught the people to worship Baal, a foreign, false god.  If we stop and think about it the situation is somewhat humorous.  Who is Elijah?  He is just a mortal, and is not able to control rain clouds with some kind of anti-rain technology.  As I said Ahab probably believes Baal is causing the punishment for some reason.  That is the only thing that makes sense.  Yet, it is Ahab who is the changing dynamic.  Elijah has always served the God of Israel in that sense has done nothing different.  It is Ahab and those who listened to him who have abandoned the God of Israel and begun worshipping a foreign god.  Thus the problem must lie there.  How could God let this attempt to hijack His people go without a response?  He couldn’t and He didn’t. 

What about our own land today?  Or, what about the whole earth today?  It is easy to focus on the bearer of bad news and try to crush them as if they are the ones causing trouble.  All around this world there are people blaming Christians as the problem in their society.  It is nothing new.  Hitler did the same thing with the Jews during the Holocaust.   Christians who are faithful to call the world back from false religions and false ideologies will be hated for Christ’s sake.  Yet, it is not true Christians who are causing the problem in the earth today.  It is those who reject the Son of God and His ultimate message of God’s love and forgiveness.  It is those leaders who love to lead people astray towards everything, but the One, True God and His Son Jesus.  God is calling us all back to Him through Jesus.  Let us cling to Jesus and remember the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NKJV). 

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Sovereign Lord audio

Tuesday
Jun122012

On Pride And Humiliation

We are going to look at a passage today that is needed in a day where we live in one of the greatest and most powerful nations in the history of the world.  Daniel 4 includes several first-hand accounts from a Babylonian king who had come to know that the God of Israel was indeed the ruler over all things.  He was so impressed and so powerful that he sent this proclamation to all the nations of the world that were under his control.  In it he reveals that the God of heaven is not impressed with our great pride.

The Reasons For Pride

In Daniel 4:1-4 we find several reasons for the pride that King Nebuchadnezzar had.  He ruled from the 600’s to the 500’s BC, at a time when God was judging Jerusalem.  God gave him the power to subdue even the Assyrian empire that had risen before him down to even the Egyptian nation.  Yet, God would not hold back judgments upon Babylon and its king.

Nebuchadnezzar, in the first person, sets the scene by pointing out that he was at rest in his house, and flourishing in his palace.  He was at rest.  Everything was going well and his mind was tranquil and secure without any major worries.  This is a dangerous time for us because it tends to lead to pride.  Not only was he tranquil, but he was flourishing.  All that he had put his hand to seemed to come easy.  He dominated the nations that he moved against.  He is the instigator of that wonder of the ancient world we know as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  Like a plant, he had grown quickly and fruitfully in the things of this world. Notice his statements “My house,” and “my palace.”  He had accumulated many possessions that were his and he attributed them to his own power.

Later I will come back to another reason for pride.  But it is easy to see why Nebuchadnezzar would think highly of himself and think all was okay.

The Grace of God Humbles Us

God in His grace gets Nebuchadnezzar’s attention through a dream.  This dream was a very ominous dream in which it was clear that something bad was going to happen.  It troubled him greatly.  He had called his counselors to interpret it.  Earlier in chapter 2 there was a dream that they couldn’t interpret.  However, this time it simply says, “but they did not make known to me its interpretation.”  It almost seems that they knew the answer but were afraid to tell him.  Daniel comes and tells him what the dream meant.

The dream was simple.  A huge tree was like a skyscraper up into the heavens and its branches reached all the way to the ends of the earth.  The birds lived in its branches and ate its fruit.  The animals lived in its shade and ate from its fruit.  But then an angel called a Watcher comes down.  He proclaims a heavenly decree that the tree is to be cut down, the branches cut off, and stripped.  But the stump is to be left in the ground with an iron/bronze band around it till 7 times pass.  Also, the pronoun becomes personal when the angel adds at the end, “let his heart be changed from that of a man to that of an animal…”   The interpretation Daniel gave was that Nebuchadnezzar would lose his kingdom for seven years and at the same time he would lose his mind.  He would become like an animal.

Now Daniel in verse 27 warns the king that he would be wise to stop his wickedness and begin living righteously.  He also instructs him to quit oppressing the poor.  “Perhaps,…” God would relent or give mercy.  We do not know whether Nebuchadnezzar tried to follow Daniel's advice or not.  But verses 29-33 show that it was a year later when Nebuchadnezzar was walking through his palace that his judgment came down, losing both his mind and his kingdom.

This brings me back to reasons for Pride.  God always sends warnings before his judgments.  This length of time has a way of being misinterpreted by men.  We tend to think either that it won’t happen, or that what we have done to try and appease God has “worked.”  Either way, we often continue in that lifestyle of arrogant pride before God and people.  Nebuchadnezzar was in the middle of boasting about his kingdom when a voice comes from heaven basically saying that his time was up.

God gives periodic judgments, not because he is a mean God, but because he loves us.  In his grace he puts things in our path to trip us up and hold us back along the hurtful paths we choose in this life.  In verse 17 the angel tells why this judgment is coming down.  First it is to demonstrate that God rules over any kingdom of men.  Also that God puts whomever he will in charge of those kingdoms, even the lowest of men.  In our ability and power, whether we are king or an average Joe, we forget that God is our sovereign.  We answer to him and if we choose the path of pride, he will humble us.  Why?  Because he loves us and those around us too much to let us continue without warning and judgments.

The whole reason for judgments in this world is so that we will repent.  This is for the person being judged and those who are watching it.  Repentance is always the proper response to God’s warnings.  It is the proper response whether it “works” to avoid difficulty, or not.  However, through it all, we can trust that God means us good even when he dispenses judgments in this life.  Of course this begs the question of the ultimate judgment when we stand and give an account for our life.  Am I ready for that?  Are you ready for that?

Cooperate With God’s Grace

At the end of 7 years, God graciously gave Nebuchadnezzar’s mind back to him.  Jewish tradition makes reference to Daniel taking care of this king gone mad.  When his mind comes back to him, he blessed, praised, honored, and extolled the Most High God.  Nebuchadnezzar finally “got it” that God was greater than even him.  This led him to witness to the world around him of God’s power.  But Nebuchadnezzar also references the Justice of God.  Justice is more than doing what is right.  It is the sense of balancing out an evil.  A just punishment is one that fits the crime.  To overly punish a crime is not just and to under punish a crime is not just as well.  God is just in his judgments.  Nebuchadnezzer sends a proclamation to all the nations under his power to witness to God’s power and justice.  He ends with the powerful statement that God is able to put down those who walk down in pride.  However, the Bible takes this point one step further.  God has put mankind on warning that he is not only able, but completely decided to judge the pride of all mankind. 

Has God humbled you recently?  Perhaps he is speaking to you about your life.  Turn to him and cooperate with this grace.  Listen to his instruction and walk in the paths of living according to God's Word.

On Pride and Humilation Audio