Friday, April 30, 2010

"Too Big for your Britches" (Daniel 4:1-33)

When I was in 4th grade at St. Augustine, I got into an argument with Sister Cecile! (That's how bad I was!). During that argument, she said "You're getting too big for your britches, mister!". My mother used the same term later that week, (then my dad applied some 'correction' to my britches!).

Humility...learning 'our place' is something that we all need to learn from time to time--especially when it comes to 'humility' in the presence of God!

King Nebuchadnezzer learned this too.

Nebu was the most powerful king in the world in his day, and he thought that he was 'all that'. God warned him through a dream that this was not the case--that the Lord had enabled him to prosper--and that he was dependent on Him--but Nebu wouldn't acknowledge this. After the dream, he asked Daniel to come and interpret it...and he does--it's a warning to make sure that Nebu doesn't forget the blessing of the Lord! He says that Nebu's sanity is going to be removed, and he'll flee to the hills, living with animals, basically being insane for 7 YEARS! Once this is over, he'll come to his senses, "acknowledge that Heaven rules" (v.26) , and be restored.

Daniel's advice? “‘King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.’(v.27).

Daniel knew Nebu's reputation. He had used his power to destroy and to punish, but had not used it for good (remember, despite his words about Daniel's god, he had forcibly kidnapped Daniel and the others, he had set up the golden statue, he had thrown the 3 into the furnace, etc.--this dude was bad!).

DESPITE THIS WARNING...the dream and Daniel's interpretation, King Nebu walks right into it: "Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. 30 As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’
31 “While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. 32 You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’
33 “That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws." (Daniel 4:29-33)

Nebu continued to arrogantly believe that HE was 'The Man', and refuse to humble himself before God.

Although he'd had 'flashes' of true spiritual appreciation for Yahweh (Daniel's God) in the past, he'd never really grasped it. He had arrogantly believed that he himself was responsible for all this blessing..., God had to let him experience forced humility...for his own good, and the good of the people--as well as for the glory of God!

God DOES humble us when we get 'too big for our britches'...but it's not primarily about 'punishment'...rather it IS for our good, for the good of those we influence...AND for the (rightful) glory of God.

Fortunately, He doesn't leave us there...and He didn't leave King Nebu there...stay tuned!

Grace and Peace!


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