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Going Down

God's Victorious Kingdom   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:23
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Lord’s Supper Sunday
INTRO - We discussed the blazing furnace from which the young men escaped last week.
We identified how sometimes God’s sovereign will takes us through fire, but sometimes Christians suffer the pain.
We determined that our part is accepting God’s will, even if it means we experience hurt.
We fail when we expect God to do our bidding over His plans for our lives.
LIT - The chapters and verse numbers are not Scripture, they were added and serve as an aid to help us identify the location of the Words in the Bible.
In the original text, verses 1-3 in today’s text are actually part of the last chapter.
Daniel 4:1–3 CSB
King Nebuchadnezzar, To those of every people, nation, and language, who live on the whole earth: May your prosperity increase. I am pleased to tell you about the miracles and wonders the Most High God has done for me. How great are his miracles, and how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
In vv.1-3, the king appears to glorify God.
TRANS - From giving God glory to his own fall from grace, today we see a king who fails to acknowledge God as all powerful.
In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis states:
“There is no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves; and more we have it in our selves, the more we dislike it in others.”
Lewis is talking about pride.
Lazarus and the beggar died at the same time. The beggar trusted Jesus and went to heaven. Lazarus trusted his wealth and missed the glory train.
The Bible tells of a great distance between heaven and hell that none can cross. Lazarus, now turned beggar, pleaded with Abraham to go to his five brothers and tell them about hell so they’d not encounter the same fate.
Like Lazarus, Nebuchadnezzar, at the end of our message, displays this same sense of urgency:
Daniel 4:37 CSB
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.
TRANS - Getting too far ahead. Let’s consider our message first by looking at the dream and then the dreamer.

What is Seen

READ vv.4-9

Nebuchadnezzar - who is he?

The man is enjoying the good life. He is content. Life is good.
BAK - Neb didn’t bow to anyone of any god. He didn’t worship Yahweh or Marduk. A proud man, didn’t need God.
Jesus explains it this way:
Matthew 19:23 CSB
Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.
BAK - This is Nebuchadnezzar III. He is the last unless you count Saddam Hussein, former leader of Iraq which is the the modern Babylon.
He called himself Nebuchadnezzar II; mistakenly because he was actually the IV.
I mention this because I discovered even scholars don’t know their history and that makes it impossible to really understand this passage.
Briefly, Neb I 625-605BC was Nabopolassar.
His son Neb II 605-562BC is the King of Dan. Ch. 1-3.
He had 2 sons and a relatives that reigned after him: Evil-Merodach and Neriglisar and Labashi-Marduk 561-556BC.
Thereafter a non-relative, a usurper, took the throne from Nebuchadnezzar’s family.
He wanted the people to follow him, so he assumed the name Nebuchadnezzar III.
He is the Nebuchadnezzar in our text today.
I know it’s a bit confusing, but it helps explain why Nebuchadnezzar in ch.1-3 sounds so different than the one we read about this morning; he is a different person.
Daniel 5:2 NIV
While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.
One place we see that problem is in the NIV text of 5:2 that refers to Belshazzar ad Nebuchadnezzar son.
The words translated “his father” are, also, translated “predecessor” as we see in other better translation of the verse.
Actual Babylonian historical documents tell us Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, our Neb, and not a descendant of Neb II.
Knowing history, also, is important because secular folks tell us there is not historic record of a king loosing his mind.
That is to be expected.
Historic record only notes great accomplishments.
What the “wise” historians don’t get is the Babylonian Chronicles note something odd in Nabonidus’ fourth year, when he completed his capital called Tema, later Babylon, he placed his son in the old Babylon as co-regent.
Something strange happens here, nothing is recorded about Nabonidus for seven years.
Those are the 7 years he was insane. History actually proves the Bible; it does not disprove Scripture.
TRANS - Okay, now that we have a clear understanding of the man in our story, lets move to address the dream.

The Dream- what happens to the man?

READ vv.10-16
Neb III unlike Neb II, tells Daniel the dream.
Then something interesting, the court of heaven sends a messenger:
Daniel 4:17 CSB
This word is by decree of the watchers, and the decision is by command from the holy ones. This is so that the living will know that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms. He gives them to anyone he wants and sets the lowliest of people over them.
HUM - Ronald Reagan, recalling an occasion when he was governor of California and made a speech in Mexico City: “After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke in Spanish-which I didn’t understand-and he was being applauded about every paragraph.
To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.’”
Perhaps they thought the governor a bit full with himself :-)
God opposes the proud:
1 Peter 5:5 CSB
In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
The man, the king, is the proud man and the court of heaven pronounces its decision to him in his own dream.
TRANS - Now we’ve discussed the seen.
Let’s dig in to see what this says.
Our transitional verse tells us the king wants to know the dream is communicating to him.
Daniel 4:18 CSB
This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because none of the wise men of my kingdom can make the interpretation known to me. But you can, because you have a spirit of the holy gods.”

What does it Say

Daniel is taken back, but does tell the king, yet very humbly so.
READ vv.19-23
Daniel does not wish harm to the king, only good. God placed the king into power.
Jesus says:
Matthew 5:44 CSB
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Nabonidus was wicked, yet Daniel does not wish him harm.
I have a difficult time with people who’s prideful talk speaks of the falling of leaders; that they might fall.
Daniel demonstrates the proper attitude God wants Christians to take with leaders among nations and peoples.
God’s decree is next:
READ vv.24-27
God hates pride.
We see it multiple places in Scripture:
In our text and:
Proverbs 3:34 CSB
He mocks those who mock but gives grace to the humble.
and:
James 4:6 CSB
But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
and:
1 Peter 5:5 CSB
In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
When God repeats, its not for Him, its because He wants us to get what He is saying.
We can be like Neb, given chance to change, take the punishment, or wind up like Lazarus.
God will not be mocked.
God is patient and gives us time to repent, but His patience is designed to lead us to repent:
Romans 2:4 CSB
Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Peter, like Daniel, urges people to turn now to God:
1 Peter 5:6 CSB
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time,
Just a pride comes prior to the pit, repentance comes rightly before righteousness.
READ v.28
TRANS - Neb didn’t repent and earned his fate.

The Sentence

Anybody can get caught in the net of pride.
HUM - In a certain pond, there were two ducks and a frog who were neighbors and the best of friends. They played together all day long during the summer time. But as the cold drew near and the water dried up, the ducks realized they would have to move. This would be easy for them, but what about their friend the frog?
Finally it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck, and then the frog would hang onto the stick with his mouth and they would fly him to another pond. And so they did.
Just then, a farmer looked up and said to his wife, “What a great idea! I wonder who thought of that?” Proudly, the frog said, “I did!” Thus illustrating: “Pride goes before a fall!”
Pride before the fall right?
Now the king falls.
READ vv.29-33
The king is walking on the roof looking down on everything and everyone.
C. S. Lewis had something else to say:
“ A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
Neb didn’t stop to consider God.
7 years made him wonder around Tema like an ox.
God humiliated this once great king.
TRANS - Today I imaging Nabonidus might say those were his best years because of what we read next.

His Salvation

READ vv.34-37
Jesus reminds us:
Luke 18:14 CSB
I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Nabonidus did this to himself and God’s discipline worked.
He stopped looking down on others and started looking up to God.
The king came face-to-face with the King of Kings recognizing what only God can do.
Is Nabonidus’s God your God or do you have one of your own?
Does your God make you feel comfortable?
Does your God let you do the things you want to do?
Does your God need to explain why He does what he does?
Does God need to explain the pandemic, His selection of authority people, or why people suffer?
God’s sentence led to the King’s salvation.
Has your sentence brought on by your own pride led to your salvation?
Our repentance is a process.
It requires our constant attention.
We recognize and name our sin so we know where and what needs to be clean.

In their book discussing the tragedy of domestic violence and battered women, the husband/wife team of psychologist James Alsdurf and former Family Life Today editor Phyllis Alsdurf, discuss the need for repentance on the part of those who abuse their spouses. Their strong, yet true, words have applications to other areas of shortcoming in our lives: The victim of abuse can choose to forgive her batterer, both for his sake and for her own, but the work of reconciliation cannot begin until the batterer repents. And repentance is a process. It starts when the batterer spiritually and psychologically faces the awfulness of his actions. There must come that loathing of oneself for one’s sins as Ezekiel exhorts: “Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices” (Ezekiel 36:31, NIV). The horrors of the past must be named, not left vague and undefined. Here sin and sickness move from the abstract to the concrete. And, most importantly, the batterer takes responsibility for what he has done.*

Today I hope that if you’ve never really trusted Jesus, that you will take that first step and ask Him for forgive all your sin.
If you’ve already submitted to God’s cleansing power, and today want to see your sin, like Neb did, then ask God to show you the way.
With repentance be closer to God today.
(end)
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