When God Humbles, He also Exalts.

 When God Humbles, he also Exalts. 

Daniel 4

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” 

 

            Mohamed Ali, known for his braggart personality, once stated, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” These words were the anthem of Nebuchadnezzar.  In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar was presented as the pinnacle of human leaders in the vision he received from God. In the dream, he was described as the king of kings who ruled over the earth.  However, rather than giving glory to God for his exalted position, he started to glorify himself.  In chapter 3, he set up a giant golden statue and demanded that everyone worship and do homage to it.  Even when God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from his clutches and revealed his power over Nebuchadnezzar, he still honored himself.

             In chapter 4, we find Nebuchadnezzar again having another vision.  In this vision, he sees a large tree visible and exalted over the whole earth, and all the animals and birds come to dwell in its shade.  But then this dream turned ominously dark.  An angelic being came down, pronounced judgment upon the tree, and ordered it cut down.  The tree is then referred to as a man, for we find in verse 16 that this individual will go insane and be forced to live like a beast.  Thus judgment would be executed to reveal to the world that it is the Most-High God who is the ruler over the realm of mankind and that he exalts leaders and he will also bring them down.  

            Troubled by this dream, he turns to the one who has proven himself able to interpret dreams.  He turns to one who has become his chief advisor and perhaps even one he considered his friend.  He turned to Daniel.  With sadness, Daniel warns him that the tree represents Nebuchadnezzar himself and that if he continues in his pride, he will become insane and driven from the palace to live as an animal in the fields.  He would live in this condition for seven years before being restored.  Consequently, Daniel exhorts Nebuchadnezzar to repent from his sins and live righteously so that he might avert this judgment.  

            This prophecy must have caused fear and apprehension for Nebuchadnezzar, for Daniel had always been proven true in his interpretations.  However, 12 months later, the dream was forgotten as he again took pride in his accomplishments. It was then that a voice from heaven was heard pronouncing the judgment. Immediately Nebuchadnezzar descended into profound mental illness and was driven from power. For seven years, he would live in the fields and eat grass like cattle.  His hair would grow long, and his nails would become like bird’s claws as he dwelt in the dungeon of mental madness.

            This act of judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar was also an act of grace. In taking everything away from Nebuchadnezzar, God was also changing his heart.  His mental madness came upon him as the cure for his spiritual madness.  (Note not all mental illness is a result of sin). In bringing him down, God was elevating Nebuchadnezzar.  After seven years of living as an animal, Nebuchadnezzar was broken and finally ready to recognize that there is only one God: the God of Israel.  In one of the great confessions of faith, Nebuchadnezzar confesses that God alone is the sovereign one, and he alone is the one who rules the universe.  At the start of the chapter, Nebuchadnezzar was praising, exalting, and honoring himself.  By the end of the chapter, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that God is just and can humble those who walk in pride.”

            In this story, we see the power of God's grace.  Sometimes, to learn to trust him, he has to break us of our self-reliance and pride. He will bring adversity into our lives and teach us to rely on him.  What we consider an act of injustice, God is performing as an act of grace.  When we experience adversity, it does not mean that God has abandoned us. Instead, it may mean that God is bringing these events into our life to reorient our focus and to learn to trust in him.  Such is the work of a loving God.  

            

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