29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon,
30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.
32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. 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.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”
36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.
37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (NIV)
The first four chapters of the book of Daniel provide for us a biography of a man who, by all accounts, spent the majority of his life bound by the sin of pride. This person was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. We are told by historians that Nebuchadnezzar reigned over Babylon for some 45 years. The first four chapters of the book of Daniel provide us “snapshots” of events which occurred during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. For instance, in the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue with a head of gold. When the prophet Daniel interprets the dream, he tells Nebuchadnezzar “You are that head of gold.” This is recorded for us in Daniel chapter 2. Then, some sixteen years later, Nebuchadnezzar sets up a statue covered with gold ninety feet high and attempts to force all his nobles to worship it. We know what happens. Three Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to worship the statue and are thrown in a fiery furnace. When they are not killed, Nebuchadnezzar calls them out of the furnace and praises their God, the one true and living God. These events are recorded in Daniel chapter 3.
However, it is Daniel chapter 4 where we will focus our attention today. We are not given a time reference for Daniel chapter 4, but the chapter contains the last recorded events in the Bible of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and it spans some eight years of time. Daniel chapter 4 records the events of a man who is consumed with pride and is humbled by God. The chapter begins with another of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. This time the dream is of a great tree which reached to the heavens and filled the earth, until it was cut down, leaving only a stump. The image shifts from a tree to a man who is made to be like a beast for seven years. Once again, Daniel interprets the dream and counsels Nebuchadnezzar to repent of his sins before the things described in the dream happen to him. And that brings us to the verses which are quoted at the beginning of the study, Daniel 4:29-37.
In verses 29-30, we read that all that the angel had prophesied against Nebuchadnezzar in his dream came to pass after twelve months. Notice the circumstances that precipitated the fulfillment of the prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of his palace. Looking around at the great city of Babylon, he utters the words we read in verse 30. “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (NIV) It is Nebuchadnezzar’s pride that causes his downfall. In Daniel chapter 4 verses 24-27, Daniel has told Nebuchadnezzar that everything Nebuchadnezzar had came from God – that God gives such to anyone he wishes. Daniel urged Nebuchadnezzar to repent. But instead, Nebuchadnezzar claims that he derived his majesty and that Babylon derived in grandeur from the power of Nebuchadnezzar himself.
At that very moment, a voice was heard from heaven which announced that the prophecy against Nebuchadnezzar would be immediately fulfilled. In Daniel 4:31-33, we read that a heavenly edict was pronounced against Nebuchadnezzar. His authority was removed and a form of madness came over Nebuchadnezzar so that he became like a beast of the field.
Fortunately for Nebuchadnezzar, the story does not end at verse 33. In verses 34-37, we read of the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar. Just as the messenger of heaven promised, after seven years, his sanity was restored, and his kingdom was restored. Notice the sequence of events which occurs in verse 34. First, Nebuchadnezzar raises his eyes towards heaven. It has been said that an ox never looks up. But after seven years of eating grass, Nebuchadnezzar finally looks up to heaven. God then restored Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity. Next, Nebuchadnezzar praised God. Specifically, Nebuchadnezzar praises God just as he heard from the angel eight years before. He praised God because His dominion is the only one which is eternal, and he praises God because God does just as he pleases in heaven and among the peoples of the earth.
We read in Daniel 4:36 that God also restored Nebuchadnezzar’s honor and splendor. The king’s old advisors and nobles sought him out and restored him to the throne. And we read that Nebuchadnezzar became greater than he ever was before.
Verse 37 has an appropriate ending for this story. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (NIV) Nebuchadnezzar has learned three lessons from what happened to him over these eight years. First, Nebuchadnezzar learned how to praise God instead of praising himself. Second, Nebuchadnezzar learned that everything that God does is right and just. Notice that we hear no words of complaint from Nebuchadnezzar about his eight years of insanity. And third, Nebuchadnezzar learned that God is able to humble those who are proud. Nebuchadnezzar is the #1 exhibit of the lengths that God will go to in order to break the pride of a person.
What can we learn about the sin of pride which is applicable to our lives from the story of Nebuchadnezzar? After all, none of us is a king or queen ruling the majority of the known world in our time. Let’s look again at verse 30. “he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (NIV) None of us has built a great city as a royal palace as an edifice of our own majesty. Or have we? Maybe not with our hands, but perhaps within our heart. I personally have built for myself an statue of gold ninety feet high within my own heart where I worship what I have and the things that I have done (see 1 John 2:16). What do I sacrifice to this idol of my pride? I make regular sacrifices of applauding myself for being a better person than other people. I make regular sacrifices of serving my own needs, desires, and lusts rather than focusing on the glorification of Jesus Christ and the welfare of others. I make regular sacrifices of flaunting and abusing the authority that God has entrusted to me in my family, in my job, and at church. I make regular sacrifices of hurting those people who are closest to me. Perhaps you can identify a similar idol, which you have constructed within your heart.
What can we do about this idol to our pride which we have constructed within our heart? Consider with me the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in Romans 12:1-3:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (NIV)
Paul gives us a four fold exhortation for battling the pride in our heart. First, Paul says that we should worship God by offering up our bodies as a living sacrifice. This means that we should give up our rebellion against God and submit to His lordship of our lives. Being a living sacrifice to God means that we must strive to offer up a life which is holy and which is pleasing to God. If we live our lives in a manner to please ourselves, or in a manner to please other people, we are probably not living a life, which is holy and pleasing to God.
Second, Paul says that turn our minds away from the pattern of this world by the transforming power of God. We need to have our minds renewed. Most of us have been so immersed in the sins of our culture that only the cleansing power of God can remove the filth. And how does God renew our mind? I believe that the primary way God renews our mind is by the Word of God. Or, in a simpler term, through reading the Bible. There are other ways, of course, but I believe that the Bible is the primary thing God uses to renew our minds.
Third, Paul says that we should actively seek to know and do the will of God. That means we must turn away from doing our own will and be ready to fully accept whatever it is that God has in mind for us. I have a deep appreciation for the way Paul describes the will of God in Romans 12:2 – good, pleasing, and perfect. How can my will compare to the will of God? My own will is never good. It seeks to do evil. My own will seeks to please myself, but rarely does for any length of time. My own will usually leads to disaster. Why would I want to follow my own will when God’s will for me is good, pleasing, and perfect?
Fourth, Paul says that we should put away our tendency of thinking too much of ourselves. Rather, we should look at ourselves with sober judgment that recognizes that we are nothing without the gift of faith, which God has bestowed on those he has called.
By Berean Husband