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Who Is Ruling Your Kingdom?

Standing Firm & Staying Faithful In God's Sovereignty -- An Exposition of Daniel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  53:08
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Nebuchadnezzar sees first hand how God deals with arrogance and finally learns the lesson God intended him to learn the first time.

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Me, Myself & I

According to Life magazine, Muhammed Ali spoke of himself before his 1971 fight with Joe Frazier thus:
“There seems to be some confusion. We’re gonna clear this confusion up on March 8. We’re gonna decide once and for all who is king! There’s not a man alive who can whup me.
I’m too smart.
I’m too pretty.
I AM the greatest. I AM the king! I should be a postage stamp—that’s the only way I could get licked!
P.S. Ali lost to Frazier!
Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Pride is at the top of the list when we consider the sins that God hates.
Proverbs 6:16–17 NASB95
There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,
Pride is an exaggerated and dishonest examination of self and can take on many forms…it is the pursuit of honor that is not deserved…it is a futile attempt to “beautify the ugliness”…covering up the inner reality.
In our text before us this morning of Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar writes a personal testimony of his encounter with God because of his pride.
This chapter is written in Aramaic in the form of a Babylonian state document written by Neb. himself…the doctrine of inspiration means that God saw fit for Daniel to include it in his book and so we are assured of its accuracy and divine superintendence.
It is a personal account…a testimony from the first person perspective of Neb. own experience with God.
Again, God uses a dream to communicate a very clear message to him.
This is about two or three decades beyond his first dream in Daniel 2.
This would be the third time that God can be seen working on this human king.
Daniel 4:1-3 indicates it is written by Neb. himself, to people of all nationalities for a specific purpose…read verse 2
Daniel 4:2 NASB95
“It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
It seems he is writing to the people to tell of his experience with God and to explain his absence from the throne for a period of seven years.
Verse 3 summarizes his heart attitude toward God AFTER the events of this chapter unfold.
The flow of thought in this chapter places these first three verses with end of the chapter, but he announces his heart change up front because he now realizes the truth about God and himself.
So if Neb. were standing before you right now, here is what he would say to you...

God hates pride and will do whatever it takes to get our attention and humble us, so that we recognize Him as the only Rightful King of every kingdom.

Who or what is on the throne of your kingdom?
3 truths to consider to help us avoid deposing God from His throne.

God is Prepared to Deal with Our Pride.

God once again graciously communicates his plan to Neb. through a dream because He saw the pride in Neb. heartthis dream would serve as a warning that his arrogance was going to bring him down.

Beware the arrogance of self sufficiency.

verse 4 states that Neb was at ease and his kingdom was flourishinghe was content…there is nothing wrong with being content, it was his reasoning behind the contentment that God had issue with…God has an issue with Neb. arrogant pride...
Pride itself is bad and God makes it clear how much He hates it, but the pride on display here is that of arrogance, an over abundance of self-confidence.
notice he says “my house…my palace
Look at Daniel 4:30the king was looking out over everything and took credit for it all… “I myself have built, by the might of my power, for the glory of my majesty”… this whole of Neb’s life to this point was plagued with “the disease of me”.
Look at Daniel 5:20…Daniel is recounting this story to Neb. grandson
Daniel 5:20 NASB95
“But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him.
Do you remember how the book of Daniel begins…turn back to the first chapter…God gave Jeh. to Neb.
It is clear that up to this point Neb was a few fries short of a happy meal in the spiritual understanding department and would not heed the message God was shouting out to Him.
One day Mr. Jones watched the weather channel and gleaned the day was going to bring some heavy rains. He was not prepared for how heavy they would be. It rained so much his house began to flood. The waters just kept rising until Mr Jones was forced to his rooftop. Mr. Jones was a great man of faith and prayed diligently that God would rescue him. Within 10 minutes of his praying the rain stopped, but the water kept rising. As he looked to the heavens, he kept praying God would rescue him. A man in a boat came by and offered to take him to a safe location… “I am a man of faith and I believe God will rescue me”...so the boat moved on…the waters kept rising, he prayed again…another boat comes by…same response…waters continued to rise…he prayed with even more fervency, by now the waters were above his house and he was treading water when a helicopter comes by…same response…Mr Jones perished in the flood and asked God why he didn’t come through for him…God said “I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”
We are often like Mr. Jones and Nebuchadnezzar when it comes to understanding what God is trying to do. We either miss it entirely because of our pride or we have an expectation of how God ought to work and we are blinded to God’s methodology.
Throughout our encounters with Neb, we see him doing all kinds of stupid…because he could…he was the king
Remember the Diet Scandal…that should have communicated that God was in control...
Remember the Dream…Your kingdom is going to replaced...
Remember the Furnace…God himself delivered His servants from the fire...
Neb. even made professions after those events, but they didn’t last…Neb. was lured into a false sense of security by his pride…he thought a mere mental assent to the reality of God was enough…his failure to give credence to God’s sovereignty over him led him to believe he was self-sufficient and powerful without any help from God.
Who do you credit for that which is good in your life?…James tells us that every perfect gift comes from God...Nothing you have can be attributed to your own abilities and skills, it is God who gave you those skills and abilities and it is He who empowers those skills and abilities…
God is the one who causes growth in the body when it comes to the ministry of the churchMBC has existed for 25 years not because of any one persons commitment and work or even because a group of people had the tenacity to stick with it over the lean years…it doesn’t revolve around the latest and greatest programming, those all have their place and their limited impact…every milestone reached and every person touched by this ministry is not because of anything you or I or anyone else can do on our own…It is all because of God!
We ought never recount the blessings and successes of ministry with the term “I did this...” or “we did that”...Instead it should always be God blessed us when we obeyed, God chose to give us this, God came through by…we need to remind ourselves of what Paul said about himself and his team of co-laborers...
2 Corinthians 3:5 NASB95
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
Neb would also tell us we need to...

Recognize that God is the one in charge.

Read Daniel 4:4-18
In Daniel 2 Neb. was troubled by his dream…here in Daniel 4 he is terrified.
In this dream, Neb sees a huge flourishing tree that fed and sheltered a host of animals and birds…it is not uncommon in the Bible for trees to be used for symbolic purposes.
He sees and hears an angel deliver a command for the tree to be cut down, its branches and leaves cut off, its fruit scattered and its stump banded with iron and bronze.
The cut down tree in the ancient world was a sign of judgment, but the fact this stump was protected by iron and bronze meant there was still a future for that treeit was a message of judgment and hope at the same time.
The cross is both a message of judgment and hope…it is the judgment of sin and the hope of all who look to Jesus and live...
Notice here how the imagery changes to a person with the command that he would lose his mind and graze in the field like an animal for seven years.
The word for mind here is also translated as heart both here in Daniel and throughout the Scripturethe seat of reason, the place where all the decisions of life are made…it will be changed from that of a man to that of an animal.
This individual would actually believe himself to be an animal and forced to live outside the palace with them…this mental incapacitation would last for seven years.
The word “time” here in the original language of Aramaic is ambiguous but the Jewish Greek Translation of this word in the LXX defines it as years…that is how they understood it…period of seven years. (this understanding of the term will come to play in chapter 9 and elsewhere in Daniel.)
Daniel would explain to the king that he would be deposed and suffer a seven year period of insanity until he got the message God wanted him to acknowledge.
The whole purpose of this dream is revealed in verse 17 and is repeated throughout the text.
see it again in Dan 4:25; 32
Daniel 4:17 NASB95
“This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men.”
God wanted Neb to know three important truths here.
God alone rules over the realm of man (and you’ve gotten too big for your britches )
God says His purpose is moving forward and that may and often does require Him to rule and overrule the kingdoms of this world.
When God is done using the USA to accomplish His plan, He is done. The more we continue down the path that sets itself up against God, His Word and His people, it only draws us closer to the time He brings the hammer down.
God alone chooses whom He will use to mediate His authority (and you’ve blown it!)
God sovereignly appoints people and governments to positions of authority as representatives of His authority…see that in Romans 13.
There is a battle going on in our culture between people of all political parties about who gets to put people in positions of power.
The reality of it all is no one gets to be an authority of any kind apart from God’s sovereign control.
God alone can put anyone He desires in those positions of authority (now you’re loosing it, both mentally and physically)
Throughout history the world has seen some good national leaders, mediocre national leaders, and downright evil national leaders…How can God do that?
Sometimes God allows those people to be in authority because those are the kinds of people we deserve.
God allows the basest of humanity to be in power to humble us and remind us of the total depravity of man and our need for His sovereign and righteous rule in our lives.
Neb was insane even before this event…you see glimpses of his character throughout the narrative of the first 4 chapters…yet he was also a brilliant leader who formed the first world kingdom.
Did you notice his anger problem?
Did you notice how he constantly threatened to tear people when apart limb by limb and burn their houses to the ground?
When you look back at the beginning of America, you see our founding fathers never established this country as a kingdom because they believed that no one man or woman could be trusted to rule.
That is a principle we would do well to remember...

God never gives any one person or entity absolute authority over our lives.

You do not have absolute authority over your own life so stop trying to take it...
Transition: Neb did not fully acknowledge God as the one God even after all the previous encounters…so God had to get his attention

God Deals with our Pride in Ways That Are Fitting to the Need of the Moment.

Daniel is given the interpretation of the dream and we are told that it appalled him.
Read Daniel 4:19
He was severely distressed and disturbed that he had to give a message of such impending disaster to the world’s most powerful leader.
Daniel appears to have developed a close relationship to Neb because he wished it upon his enemies…however Daniel knew this was God’s will and inevitable.
Someone had to speak the truth to this king…his arrogance had grown to severe and he needed some powerful and divine intervention…he needed to hear the words of Solomon
Proverbs 16:18–19 NASB95
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Proverbs 29:23 NASB95
A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
Or maybe the words of Isaiah...
Isaiah 2:17 NASB95
The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased; And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
there is a very powerful lesson to learn by God intervening the way He does here...

God alone is sovereign and He will not allow man to usurp His authority or take credit for His works.

that includes you and me…God is not going to allow us to depose Him…he will only let us go so far before He has to take the direct route of intervention.
Up to this point, God had used the indirect method where He could be seen in the lives of others…now God was going to break through his stubbornness directly.
Daniel proceeded to tell Neb that the tree represented Neb and his vast kingdom which provided blessing and protection to the people.
He informed him this message was announced by God’s messenger as a command given by God against the king.
Neb is specifically told he would behave like an animal…Daniel would tell Belshazzar his grandson that he lived among the wild donkeys…he would be stricken with a mental incapacitation for a period of seven years and driven from his rule.
He would not be allowed to rule again until he came to the place he acknowledged God as the Sovereign King.

We too are in danger of descending to the level of animals.

When men and women who are all created in the image of God leave God out of their lives and resist His will, we descend into the level of animals.
Psalm 32:9 NASB95
Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you.
King David was like the horse when rushed into his sin with Bathsheba and like the mule when he was too stubborn to confess his sin and repent. (2 Samuel 11; 12)
When Jesus saved Paul on the road to Damascus, he compared him to a stubborn ox. (Acts 9:5)

Even in the judgment of pride, God still shows mercy.

God promised to preserve his life and kingdom — Dan 4:26
God warned him beforehand — Dan. 4:13
God was longsuffering — Dan. 4:29
God proposed a remedy — Dan. 4:27
But as so often is the case, God gives people space and grace, and people often use those mercies to harden their hearts against God.” David, Jeremiah, Dr.; Agents of Babylon What the Prophecies of Daniel Tell Us About the End of Days; Carol Stream, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc
Is God trying to get your attention? Right now God is trying to get you to listen by the indirect means of someone (me) speaking to you? If you continue down the path of stubborn rebellion, it is only a matter of time until God has to break through the hardness of your heart directly in ways He alone knows, and for a period of time that He alone controls...What areas of your life right now are you still trying to control?

God Is Always True To His Word

Read Daniel 4:28-29
One year later King Neb had still not heard God’s message…as he was looking out at the marvelous city his heart and head began swelling…instead of repenting.

When we understand God’s plan, we have a responsibility to do God’s will.

Neb heard the word and it didn’t change him.
When we hear the Word and do not obey it, we are deceiving ourselves into thinking we have grown spiritually when the reality is we have just moved backwards. (James 1:22-27)
If we believe in Jesus imminent return, then there ought to be a difference in how we live.
That is what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:11-18.

There ought to be a very distinguishable effort to think and act in ways that are consistent with a belief that Jesus could come get you at any moment in time.

Daniel encourages him to turn from his pride but he refused — Dan. 4:27
God gave him year to repent — Dan. 4:29
How long is it going to take for you to heed the Word and obey? At what point in time will you finally accept the responsibility to think and act biblically?

God never fails to bring about His plan

The text here says that while the words were still in his mouth, the judgment came.
We never know when and how God will act, but know He will act.
God has every right to break through our stubbornness whenever and however He chooses.
God allowed the beastly nature of Neb’s heart to reveal itself and he was driven from the palace to live in the fields.
God could have ended Neb’s life there, but God had purposes to fulfill.
The most important purpose was for Neb to come to the place he would acknowledge Yahweh as the One True God and to publically declare Him as Sovereign over all kingdoms.
It is my belief that Neb finally experienced a true conversion as only a true child of God can confess what Neb does here.
If you are in to marking your Bible, this is a passage to mark…Daniel 4:34-35. You can label it key verses of Daniel, or purpose statement,
Daniel 4:34–35 NASB95
“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
God chose to communicate his message through a Gentile king…it was supposed to be the job of Israel.
God would restore Neb’s mind and remove his beastly heart and mind and graciously restore him to this throne as well…he would even become greater than he was before.
Like James says in James 4:6-7
James 4:6–7 NASB95
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Lesson for Life — It is Time for You to Step Down From Your Throne

Notice what Neb concludes at the end for all people to know…Daniel 4:37 ...God is able to humble those who walk in pride.
The longer you hold on to your kingdom and refuse to step down from your throne the more you invite God to conduct an intervention as only He can.
Who is rules the kingdom of your finances?
Who is rules the kingdom of your marriage, your parenting, your service, etc.?
Who or what is enthroned in the center of your heart?
It is time to allow Jesus to rule your kingdom and for you to show allegiance to Him through obedience to his will…what is God asking you to do that you have been reluctant to do, to give up, etc.
Don’t allow the beast of arrogant pride to swell up within you and cause you to believe you are all you need…feeding the beast within you is a dangerous practice...
Does Jesus rule your kingdom or does the “Beast of Me” rule your kingdom?

Remember this, the “Beast of Me” is an impartial killer often destroying everyone in its path and it can take a long time to restore the damage done by it…Let Jesus Rule Your Kingdom.

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