God Is Greater Than Your Ego
My whole childhood was about one thing: getting trophies. I was vain enough to love the feeling of receiving a trophy, and I put myself in position to get all of them: baseball, football, basketball, golf, soccer, track, karate. Anything that was giving a trophy, I was signing up for. Because I could add it to my shelf and build a little memorial to my greatness. And because I got lots of trophies (mostly participation, mind you), I thought I WAS pretty great. But then I got humbled…majorly. I with to basketball tryouts my freshman year at my NCCAA Division 2 Christian College, assuming that I would dominate. And that was the first time I saw men playing basketball. I realized that I was nothing. It was such an ego killer!
We all need a bit of that. And we can learn it from an ancient Babylonian King in Daniel 4. King Nebuchadnezzar was the most wealthy, successful, powerful man in the world at the time. Most of this chapter is about God giving the King a dream, and then trying any way possible to get someone to give him an interpretation of the dream that he liked. When no one could, he called Daniel (whom he knew served God). Daniel told him that the dream was all about Nebuchadnezzar’s ego. King Neb thought he was the stuff; that he’d achieved all his wealth, success, and power on his own. He didn’t submit to the reality that God is the King of the universe. For that reason, God was going to humble the king. Read Daniel 4 sometime, it’s rad.
Let’s pick it up in verse 28: “All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, the king exclaimed, “Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built to be a royal residence by my vast power and for my majestic glory?” Ok, so, King Neb has this dream, learns of what God’s gonna do, and then he says, “Hmm, let me go sleep on it. Wakes up the next day, probably thought about it all day, trying to decide what to do, and a day turned into a week, turned into a month, turned into a season, turned into a year. And after year of inaction, the truth must have lost all it’s sting and he’s not fearful of what God will do anymore, because he thinks he’s waited it out. Surely if God really cared about this, he would have done it already, right? So he comes to the conclusion that he, King Nebuchadnezzar, must really be the most high. He’s thwarted God! And he makes this statement that’s so, so full of himself, right? He’s literally made himself the center of the universe.
And what Nebuchadnezzar did on this large scale, we do on a smaller scale every day. We make ourselves the center of the universe every time someone cuts us off, or doesn’t let us in, or doesn’t refill our water fast enough, or doesn’t acknowledge that we cleaned the house, or post that status or album wanting everyone to be envious of our amazing life. We so easily make everything about us.
But Neb’s made his decision. Even though God gave him this dream, gave him Daniel, and gave him time, Nebuchadnezzar still didn’t turn to God and submit to him. So God’s going to get his attention now.
Look at verse 31: “While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you. You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms, and he gives them to anyone he wants.” At that moment the message against Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people. He ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with dew from the sky, until his hair grew like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” This time there’s no waiting, God acts immediately, while the words are still in his mouth God fulfills his promise. King Neb loses everything. There’s actually a medical condition called lycanthropy. It’s a pretty rare psychiatric syndrome where someone believes they’re an animal and starts to act that way. We don’t see this too much today because if anyone has something similar to this we don’t just let them roam the woods acting like an animal. We put them in a psych ward or hospital. But in the Ancient Near East, there are stories of this happening here and there. And it happens to King Neb. He goes from the highest position someone could possibly attain, to the lowest state that someone could fall to.
This is remarkable. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s not the Dark Knight Rises where Batman has his Gotham kingdom but he loses everything and gets put in this pit prison with a broken back. This is a real historical event that happened to the greatest leader of his time. Incredible.
But that’s not the end of the story. God is still pursuing King Neb. Verse 34: “But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified him who lives forever: For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing, and he does what he wants with the army of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can block his hand or say to him, “What have you done? ” At that time my sanity returned to me, and my majesty and splendor returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and my nobles sought me out, I was reestablished over my kingdom, and even more greatness came to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of the heavens, because all his works are true and his ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” We see salvation here. The king recognizes who God is and submits to him. What a rollercoaster. What an unlikely person to become a child of God! Bro’s like a camel, right? Jesus says that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom. Well, King Neb was filthy rich, but he was also crazy successful, incredibly powerful, he’s actually like a humpback whale! Somehow this humpback whale of a king passed through the eye of a needle and became a child of God.
How’d this happen?
It happened because God is relentless in pursuing His kids.
And as God pursued King Neb, the king finally submitted to 3 things that we should also submit to this morning:
God Is King Of My Life. Did you notice what he called God in verse 34? He says that he praised the Most High. He sung the praises of how God had dominion he rules, forever. He finally saw that God is really the King of the universe, which means that God is the king of his life. Have you submitted to God as the King of your life? Here’s a good question for us to see if we’ve submitted to God as the King of our lives: Is there anything you’re not giving God credit for? King Neb didn’t give God credit for blessing him with power and success. What are you not giving God credit for? Your success at work? Your children? Your savings account? Your abundance of friends? Your life itself? In 1 Chronicles 29 look what David prayed to God: “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your own hand.” Do you submit to this reality that everything you have, everything you’ve achieved, everything you are is from God?
God Is True And Just. That’s what the king submitted to in verse 37. Now that’s incredible that he submitted to both of those things. To submit to the fact that God is true is to submit to the fact that when God speaks, what God says is what is real about the world and about us. And how has God spoken to us? What has he revealed? God spoke and revealed the Bible to us. Have you submitted to the reality that this is truth? God’s Word is true and reliable? AND the king says that God is just. That’s really incredible because that means the King believed that he deserved to have that lycanthropy. He didn’t think that God was mistreating him. He believed that because of his rebellion against God he deserved God’s wrath, that it was just for God to punish him. BUT, he also believed that it was just, it was right, for God to restore him. Once the king submitted to God, it was just, it was right for God to save him. That’s what 1 John 1 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we confess our sins to God, if we confess that we have rebelled against him, he is faithful (that means he’s true) and righteous (that means he’s just) to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us. It is right for God to save us when we submit to him. So have you submitted to God’s truth? The truth that you have a problem. You in your life you’ve sinned and rebelled against the King of the universe, and you deserve to be punished. But God made a way for you to be forgiven? God became man, Jesus, and was punished for your sins, so that if you believe in him and submit to him as your King, it is right for God to forgive you. It pleases God to forgive you. Have you submitted to that? Have you done that? If not, it might be because you’re pride is getting in the way, you don’t think you need God.
God Humbles Proud People. That’s the last thing King Neb says in the whole book: God is able to humble those who are proud. These are like his parting words. He recognized that his whole life was lived in pride, the pride of thinking that he was the center of the world. But he realized that God is able to humble the proud. Guys, I believe that God’s pursuing us. I believe that he wants us to submit to him completely. And I believe that if we don’t, we’re acting in pride. Let’s avoid learning the lesson the hard way like King Neb. Let’s humble ourselves this morning, and submit to God entirely.