Daniel 4 When Your Pride Destroys You

Pride is something we all struggle with whether we realize it in our own personal lives or not. Having pride can be something that is good if you are saying you take pride in your work which means that you care how well you do with the talent you have been given in this life. You can respect yourself and have pride but the pride we are talking about today is a pride that says that I am better than everyone else or the kind of pride that sets yourself up as being superior. 

Pride is the sin of Satan who was supposed to direct the worship up to God but instead he directed worship toward himself. (Ezekiel 28; Isaiah 12:14; 14:12-15) If we are not careful we can have the same tendency to try and get people to love and adore us instead of pointing all the praise and worship to God.

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Haughty is one who thinks they are better than everyone else and this is one of the things in America that gets celebrated every week in our sports culture. Because a person has a talent they have the temptation to say that they are better or superior to other people. Hate is a strong word and should not be taken lightly  because when God says He hates something it means it goes against the creation that He has made. 

As Christians we are not supposed to elevate ourselves but we are to humble ourselves and point people to Jesus. Jesus set the ultimate example of humbleness because, Jesus being equal with God or God Himself humbled Himself to come and help His creation with the ultimate problem they had which was sin.

Philippians 2:3-11 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Pride has and will continue to destroy people in our society but it will ultimately destroy people who refuse to humble themselves and give their lives to Christ. In Daniel chapter four  we will learn that pride can eventually be our downfall but that when God humbles us He is always ready to take us back when we call out to Him.

About 30 years have passed since the fiery furnace that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into  and once again King Nebuchadnezzar has forgotten who the true God of the universe was. King Nebuchadnezzar worshiped many gods and he never gave his life to the true God even though God showed him the future of the nations and the fact that he saw a miracle and even Jesus Himself with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Miracles do not always convince people of the truth because Jesus did many miracles and people still crucified Him. 

One of the encouraging things about this story is that it shows that God was not done with Nebuchadnezzar even though he was truly a prideful and evil man who would not humble himself to God. No matter who is in our lives and no matter what evil they have done or that they are still doing, God can work a miracle in their life and change them for all eternity.

Read Daniel 4:1-3

This Chapter in the book of Daniel was written  by King Nebuchadnezzar himself because he wants the world to know who the true God of the universe is and what God did for him personally. Nebuchadnezzar wants people to know the miracles and signs that God gave to get him to change and how thankful he is that God is a God of grace who forgives the prideful and disobedient.

Read Daniel 4:4-9

1)   The Prideful Ignore the Warning Signs

  King Nebuchadnezzar was reflecting on all the things he had built and all the lands he conquered. Babylon was an amazing accomplishment and if it were around today, even with all of our technology and amazing buildings, we would be amazed at the great architecture. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that terrified him but he did not really know why. The King had it made but the dream shattered his blissful and prosperous life.

King Nebuchadnezzar tells us why he called Daniel Belshazzar and it was because he named him after one of his gods. The King is giving his testimony about how he eventually gave his life to God but with every testimony you always start how you were away from God because you were involved with the gods of the world. Our gods of the world may not be actual idols but we worship cars, houses, popularity and many other things that we put in place of the true God.

Daniel came and the King knew that Daniel had a special relationship with the true God and could understand these matters.  Daniel was filled with the Holy Spirit and those around him knew it and knew he could discern the deep answers to life.  People may not like our beliefs but they will eventually come to us when the people of the world cannot answer their deepest questions.

Thirty years had passed which means that Daniel would be in his 50’s. He  faithfully lived his life in a pagan culture which is what God has called all of his children to do. We many not think we are making an impact on our culture but as we live our lives daily for God we will see times when God is able to use us in the lives of those around us.

Read Daniel 4:10-26 The Dream

Nebuchadnezzar saw an angel suddenly appear before him from Heaven which would have been why he was so frightened by this vision. The Old Testament uses  trees as a figure of speech to speak of a man and his pride. (Isaiah 2:12-13, 10:34; Ezekiel 31:3-17) and or as nations, Kings and empires.(Ezekiel 17;31; Hosea 14; Zechariah 11:1-2). This Angel came for the purpose of bringing judgment and a tree being cut down is symbolic of the judgment that is coming. Some say that Nebuchadnezzar had a picture of himself painted cutting down a tree in the Lebanon Forest which could have been more symbolic for Nebuchadnezzar knowing that this was related to him somehow.  

After Nebuchadnezzar shared the dream with Daniel it was a judgment that Daniel knew was going to be horrible for the king. Some say that Daniel sat there for an hour not wanting to share the meaning of the dream with the King because most kings would protect themselves from any bad news and would only allow pleasant things talked about in the palace. Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream affected his kingdom after he was gone but this dream was directly going to deal with him personally and not in a good way.

You O’ King are that tree 

  Daniel does not sugar coat what is going on in the dream and lets Nebuchadnezzar know that his pride is a problem and the reason for the judgment that is coming. Daniel let him know that the cutting down and trimming the tree is a symbol of the disgrace that Nebuchadnezzar would experience but a stump would remain because God was not done with Nebuchadnezzar and the tree would once again not only live but flourish.

When Daniel said “You O’ King are that tree” some say this is similar to the Judgement that Nathan made on King David when he finally said that “You are the man”. It was made clear to the king just like it was made clear to King David that the sin in their life was not going to be tolerated by God any longer.

Pride causes us to not see the sin in our own lives but only in the lives of others. Matthew 7 tells us to pull the log out of our own eye before we pull the speck out of our brothers eye. It tells us to look at our own lives first because we see the small sins in another person while ignoring the major sins in our own lives. Ironically Matthew chapter seven is the same passage that says do not judge but then Jesus tells us to help someone get the sin out of their life. The only judging we are not to do are on things we cannot see which means we cannot judge someone intentions for doing what they are doing. But if we do see someone in sin we are to go and tell them about it (judge) so that they will change their ways. (Galatians 6:1)

The Kings judgment was that he would live like a wild animal eating the grass of the field and sleeping outside which would make him wet with the dew. His finger nails would grow long and his hair would become like the feathers of an eagle. Grass in Aramaic (which is the language this part of Daniel was written in)  also could mean vegetables but the main point is that God was going to humble the king and make him the equivalent of an animal. Boanthropy or lycanthropy is the delusions that you are an animal and there have been documented cases of people living this way.

“Accept my counsel and break off your sins”

Daniel was pleading with Nebuchadnezzar to change his ways before the judgement came. Pride will keep you from hearing the truth even if it is from someone who loves you. It is always better to break off your sin before your sins break you but prideful people do not think they need to change their ways, either because they think they are not wrong or because they think they are the exception to the rule of the cost of sin.

Proverbs 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

When people who love you tell you things about yourself and you ignore them then you might have the sin of pride like Nebuchadnezzar. Pride is what keeps people from submitting to God and thinking that everything they have and that they have achieved was by their own doing and not gifts from God.

2)   The Prideful Think They Are Above Consequences of Their Actions

Read Daniel 4:28-33

God gave Nebuchadnezzar a warning and a full year to repent but Nebuchadnezzar only grew in his pride and arrogance. Walking along the roof top, or some say that he was on the hanging gardens which would have given him an impressive view of the city, Nebuchadnezzar looked at all he had accomplished and felt good about himself. Nebuchadnezzar referred to the city as “The Great Babylon” (Vs30) and it was an impressive city.

city-of-babylon

Babylon was not only amazing in its architecture  it was a fortress that could withstand any enemy. of the day.  Babylon was a rectangular city with a moat and a double wall for protection. Its inner wall was 21 foot thick (some say 85 foot thick) with defensive towers every 60 Feet and the outer wall was 11 feet thick with defensive towers. The walls were 40 foot high (estimated because the Ishtar gate was 40 feet tall,  while some say 80 feet tall or  387 feet tall) The Hanging Gardens (one of the 7 wonders of the world) were built for his wife who missed the mountains where she was born.

The Gardens had a watering system to bring water up from the Euphrates River to water the plants and also to create waterfalls. If this were around today as it was in the day of Nebuchadnezzar we would all still be amazed by the archeological accomplishments. Nebuchadnezzar did some great feats but instead of giving God the credit he boasted about these achievements and took pride in himself.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.

God waited 120 years while Noah preached to the people before judgement came upon the earth but that does not mean that God’s judgment is not coming. (Genesis 6:3; 1 Peter 3:20) Because God is patient with us does not mean that God is not going to act eventually and hold people accountable for their actions. When God says enough is enough it will be too late for people to turn to Him. Jesus says the end times will be like the days of Noah and God will one day shut the door and bring judgment. (Luke 17:26)

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

When God tells us that the wages of sin is death we can be sure that our sins will hurt us eventually if not immediately. When we sin and do not see immediate consequences we should repent and thank God for His grace upon us but many times we continue in those sins thinking we will not be affected by them. The King who thought of himself as high and mighty was humbled by God to a sub human level because he ignored the warning that God Himself gave the king. The one who thought he was better than everyone else and thought that he was a god in his own mind was humbled before humanity.

3)   God Deals With Prideful People

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

God does not say that He just hates pride He says that He  is against those who are proud and think they are above everyone else. God humbles Nebuchadnezzar by making him act like a wild beast and this once proud king is looked upon in disbelief by those who surrounded him. The Bible constantly compares people to animals when they act against God. (Psalm 32:9; 2 Samuel 11-12; Acts 9:5) Some believe that the officials kept Nebuchadnezzar out of the public eye and locked up in a field or in the palace gardens which could be what the iron around the root meant since they would have him caged. In non-Biblical accounts of Babylon there is a report of King Nebuchadnezzar being possessed by a god and his name is not mentioned in the Babylonian journals  for 4 years and then he appears again shortly in the journals before he dies.

When you encounter a prideful person you need to pray for them because they are on dangerous ground with God and He will eventually humble them. We do not need to gloat that God is going to humble them but like Daniel we need to see the judgment that is coming and be truly saddened for people. Many Christians want judgment to come upon evil people but Daniel, knowing how evil Nebuchadnezzar was and what he did to his Jewish brothers and sisters, was still heart- broken for a man who was lost without God. What is your attitude toward those who are evil knowing that God’s judgment will eventually come to them? ike Daniel we need to lovingly and gently warn people of the wickedness of their ways and call on them to turn to God what the Bible calls repentance.

Isaiah 13:11 will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.

4)   The Prideful Can Change  

Read Daniel 4:34-36

  Raising your eyes toward heaven is an act of submission and surrender and your  need for God.

Isaiah 45:22 Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

Man has a way of thinking that he is the controller and ruler of his own life and it all comes down to who is going to be God. You can be god (little g) or you can allow God (big G) to be God. This is the struggle that many people have because they do not want to submit themselves to God because they want to make the decisions for their lives. King Pharaoh when confronted by Moses and who should have been humbled by the plagues of Egypt would not bow and was finally destroyed in his pursuit of the Israelites. (Exodus 5) Nebuchadnezzar, on the other hand, finally admits that it is God’s Kingdom that will rule forever and God restores this evil and wicked King back to the prominence and prestige he once had. The King of Babylon was no match for the King of the Universe and neither are we. We need to humble ourselves under God knowing that He is the supreme ruler of the universe.

Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

This is the beauty of Christianity, you cannot out sin God’s Grace. No matter how evil and egotistical Nebuchadnezzar was there was still enough grace for him when he repented of his actions for God to restore him. Your sins and your pride have not reached the level of a Nebuchadnezzar. He was the most arrogant and evil person of his time and was a person who was not deserving of God’s love and attention but he received it anyway.

Matthew 23:12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Many people are not willing to humble themselves and accept the free gift of salvation that is offered through Christ because they want to either earn their own way to Heaven or to be the gods of their own lives. It is by us humbling admitting that we cannot earn our own salvation or be good enough to get to God by our own works is when we can rely on Jesus Christ saving us from our sins that separate us from God.

Read Daniel 4:37

These are the last words we have of King Nebuchadnezzar. The right attitude toward God always ends in praise to God because Nebuchadnezzar finally got what his pride could not get him, and that was peace with God.

Peace be multiplied to you (verse 1)

Pride got Nebuchadnezzar the world but it was costing him his soul but now all that has changed and he was praising God for what He did in his life. The way it is written is that Nebuchadnezzar was constantly giving praise to God. The difference in the palace and how he ruled at the end of his life must have been drastically different. His life must have been such that people did not know how to explain it. May all of our lives be so surrendered to God through Jesus Christ that people will not be able to explain how different we are from the rest of the world.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I wonder how many times Daniel prayed for Nebuchadnezzar? I wonder what would happen if we prayed for our leaders instead of just complained about them? The book of Daniel’s theme continues and that is God is in charge no matter how evil the rulers or the world seems to be.

Psalm 103:19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

Closing:

God hates prideful people and as we have seen in our story today eventually God will bring judgment to those who think they can live for themselves and without God. As believers in Christ we can have peace knowing that God is going to handle the prideful people and especially the rulers who continually take advantage of the people they rule.

What about your life? What sins are you continuing in thinking that you always have time later to change? Pride will always convince you that the sins you have are not a big deal and do not have to be addressed.

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