Article: Humbled but yet restored! | Jacob Varghese
In the world around us we can hardly find humility in people but yet there is abundance of pride everywhere. Andrew Murray- a great man of God once said “Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” Yes, Pride is something that God hates and it is abominable in the sight of God. In Matthew chapter 11 verse 29 Jesus has set an example for all of us. He said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” It is so easy to be puffed up in life but it is hard to stay humble. The Bible encourages us to have an attitude of humility. It is important that we recognize the talents and gifts God has given us and use them to the maximum extent possible for God’s glory. Yet at the same time we need to realize that God is the source of all our abilities and gifts. In proverbs chapter 18 verse 12 we see that pride come before down fall and destruction but humility comes before honor. In the Bible we also see that God honors those who honor Him. We all want to be honored by God and the only way to be honored by God is to choose the path of humility and lowliness. Yes, it is indeed true that God blesses the people who are humble and use them for His glory.
I would like to take your attention to the Book of Daniel with a special reference to chapter 4. The man we are reading about in this, Nebuchanezzar, was the king of the Babylon, which at the time these events took place in the late 500’s BC, was the most powerful nation of earth. Nebuchanezzar led his armies to Israel, and they had overtaken Jerusalem. Their first step was to deport some of the most promising young people, send them back to Babylon, and train them in their culture and beliefs. Daniel, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego were among that group of young people who were deported. So the book of Daniel is about how they continued to live faithfully for God even though they were in a pagan culture and how God blessed their courage and their faithfulness.
In chapter 4 we read about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a Tree, later Daniel interprets the dream andthe dream is fulfilled.This is the story of a proud man’s journey to humility. Nebuchadnezzar had a terrible dream. He summoned all the wise men, magicians, enchanters, astrologersand diviners of Babylon to interpret his dream but they could not interpret it for the King. Finally the king told the dream to Daniel and Daniel interpreted it for the king, and urged him to repent.Daniel told the King, “Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
By the way,what was the dream of the King? You may remember that in God’s vision to Nebuchadnezzarthere before him stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. Then a messenger came down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze; remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. When we find out the interpretation is that tree represents his kingdom and reaching heaven means that it’s growing strong and it’s growing large, it’s growing powerful but suddenly that tree cut down and it is destroyed. In all of this is basically a warning from God and God is saying to Nebuchadnezzar unless you humble yourself, unless you repent and change your ways, unless you recognize that God is the true king and the true ruler, I am going to strip your kingdom away from you. Nebuchadnezzar falls in to a kind of self-deception, he thought that just because he had a crown and he had a palace and he had an army that he was in charge. He believed he actually had true authority and status and power when in fact he was only fooling himself because the truth that he was denying is that God then is the true king. The only reason Nebuchadnezzar had anything that he had because God gave it to him. God was the one who gave Israel over into his hands.
It is to mean that the king was soon to be humbled in a most dramatic way, unless he repented and began acting less like the arrogant man he was. We are all proud; Christians especially are. Is n’t it? Of course, there is nothing wrong with a sense of satisfaction in a job well done. But that was hardly Nebuchadnezzar’s state of mind.He was full of himself and his glory.He had no thought for God who had given him his position or enabled all of his accomplishments. He was worshiping himself entirely. In the second half of Daniel chapter 4, we can learn about the price Nebuchadnezzar had to pay for his proud heart. Here we see the dream fulfilled. Twelve months later, as he was walking around the roof of the palace, probably leading a group of his advisors and friends on a stroll looking over the great city of Babylon and he says to them, is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? We might think now what’s wrong with that? Babylon was a great city, archeologists and historians tell us that this was a city of two million inhabitants. This was a mighty city and Nebuchadnezzar is known historically for his building programs. He is even the one who commissioned the Great hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But what was wrong – You see the statement made by Nebuchanezzar, what he believed about the source and about the purpose. What did he say? Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? That’s pride, the exaltation and promotion of self and the simultaneous de-emphasis of God and others. In the original languages, the word is translated from words that literally mean lofty, or elevated, or puffed up. The International Bible Encyclopedia says, “In relationship to God, pride is haughty self-sufficiency; in relationship to other persons, pride is haughty lack of concern for their well-being.” The Illustrated Bible Dictionary says, “Pride refuses to depend on God and be subject to Him, but attributes to self the honor due to Him. See, there was no question about whether Babylon was a beautiful city but the question was whether Nebuchanezzar was going to give God the praise and glory for the ability and strength to build the city, or whether he was going to take the credit for himself. Unfortunately, even though Nebuchadnezzar had ample opportunities to see and understand the power of God in the previous chapters and even though he had clearly been warned by God in the early part of this chapter he still allowed himself to be lifted up with pride. Another way of saying this is that Nebuchanezzar had a wrong view of God, and a wrong view of self, and a wrong view of other people. Pride involves all of those things.1) Who is God? He is the sovereign and powerful Creator of the universe. He is holy and righteous and true. He is the King, the Lord, and the good Shepherd. There is no one like Him in the entire universe.2) Who is man? We are part of God’s creation though a very unique part. We were made in God’s imageand we were created for a unique purpose to subdue His creation and bring glory to God. Those brief statements clear up a lot. We are not God, but every day we wake up and we can use these hands to make things and to do goodbut at the end of the day when that thing is madewe should turn and give God the glory for the ability and the strength that He has given. Or we wake up in the morning and we use our minds to solve problems, or make progressbut all through the process we give God the glory and honor.Understanding who God is, and who we are puts us a long way down the road of overcoming pride. The same is true when weunderstand the issue of other people. Biblical Christianity teaches us that other people arenot something to be used; they are human beings to be loved.The question isnot whom can I get to serve me, but instead, how can I serve someone else? Worldly pride seeks to de-emphasize God, elevate self, and use other people. Biblical humility seeks to honor Godand love and serve other people. Even though Nebuchanezzar was taught, and he was warned, in the final analysis, he failed to rid his heart and his life of the sinful disease of pride. You and I must be on the lookout for pride, consequences of pride and follow the solution for pride.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon lost sight of who he was and where he had come from. In taking credit for the kingdom he had been given, he forgot that God is the king of kings and everything he had was from Him. Daniel chapter 4 verse 17 says “The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.” Later we see in verses 31 &32 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. God dramatized the king’s state of mind by driving him in to the fields to live with wild animals and graze like the ox. 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. Finally after seven yearsNebuchadnezzar looked up to the skies and his memory of who he was and who had given him his kingdom, returned. With his senses restored, he declared, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the king of heaven”. What about us? Who do we think we are? Where did we come from? Since we are inclined to forget, who can we count on to help us remember but the king of kings? That is why the very end of this chapter when Nebuchadnezzar is finally testifying His experience, he says in the very last verse that those who walk in pride He is able to humble, those who act proud, God humbles, that’s the time Nebuchadnezzar learned lesson that, that‘s the lesson we need to learn today.
Nebuchadnezzar is a man who unfortunately likeus; sometimes at least we have to learn the hard way.Don’t we? What God wants us to know and in this case from king Nebuchadnezzar who really learned the hard way about what human pride is a very difficult thing to overcome and unfortunately God may try to warn us over and over again whether it be pride or anything else, but in this particular case pride and when we don’t respond ultimately God has to do the humbling for us. Nebuchadnezzar had 12 months to humble himself. Judgment that was predicted came- exactly what the word proclaimed happened. He had been told to listen.You are the tree and you will be chopped down because your pride is just so great. God had to humble him. What happened to king Nebuchadnezzar exactly what God’s word says in Daniel 5:21“He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.”Until he realized the most high God rules over the man kind and sets over it whom He wills. Exactly what God says comes to fruition and man cannot stop it. No human authority can stop the will of God. We may think in our boast and arrogance that we can but we cannot stop God from fulfilling His plans and His purposes.
There is a big problem in our lives and we are so self-deceived, so deluded, into thinking that we sit on the throne. As if we are the king of our own lives when in fact what we need to do as Christians is to acknowledge God alone sits on the throne and we humbly submit to that but the real struggle in Christian life is that we want to sit on that throne, we want to wear that crown, we want to displace God as king. You know this story is about so many things but chief among them is about the kind of pride that God absolutely hates the kind of pride he hates to see in his people. All that pride in us needs to be replaced with praise and honor for God.God goes to extreme measures to humble pride people. Man is so full of pride and thinks he knows how to do everything and tells God, we will let you know when we need you. So God has to sometimes go to extreme measures to tear down our pride. That’s why God has been doing what He has been doing. Pride is man’s biggest problem and pride keeps us from coming to the foot of the cross because man says I don’t need it, I will do it myself, I will go and I will do this, I will do that. It is man’s arrogance and pride just like we see in many churches today. We don’t need God, we know how to do everything, we can get it all accomplished on our own, and I think God simply sits in the heaven and laughs at us. Because He says listen, I have given you all that you need but I, God has to tear down your pride. Proverbs 11:2 says when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. God warns us and He calls us for a change. This can happen to you and I, God can declare something to us and He can warn us. He warns us through His word.He warns us and when we don’t change and heed the call, judgment can surely fall on us.
The King finally recognizes what God was doing and hope was found because that is what the Lord promised. God crushed Nebuchadnezzar and broke his pride. It took him the humbling process to reach the point to where he knew God was indeed sovereign over all the things. He has the everlasting eternal kingdom. What does he says in vs.34 God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, it is forever, and it is eternal. True repentance and humbling will always leads to true restoration. God does not allow pride. It does not matter who it is, that the most powerful person may think he can do everything in this world but God does not allow pride to go unchecked forever. God does not allow man to walk in his pride and to take and steal any of His glory. My friends, God does not share His glory with anyone. I love this one quoteand its author is anonymous. “We are never so empty as when we are full of ourselves, and never so fully alive as when we are full of Jesus”. This shows that worldly success can drive us away from God. Have you ever thought about that? Do you know all things that we have in this life is from God and for the glory and the majesty of God. He gives us all things, all the provisions, all the needs, they all come from God alone. If you want to be used by God, if you want to be a blessing to people and if you are focusing on long term blessing in your life, the only path is to stay humble dear friends. In James chapter 4 verse 6, the Bible says that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” I hope and pray that we all will be filled with humility and hence be lifted by God in due time and that we would live our lives that honor and glorify God and be blessed by Him.