In Daniel chapter 4, we read the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a huge tree cut down to the stump. Daniel warned the king that he was that tree and that he was about to be removed from his throne because he was puffed-up with his own pride. Even this warning did not soften his stubbornness. His pride could only see his pride and to him it looked like greatness and importance. The moment he declared that his kingdom was established by his own might, he lost his sanity and became an animal. By God’s grace he came to his right mind but only after seven years had passed and then he made this final statement in v.37 … now I, Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride, He is able to abase.
The lie of our good gets good
This all happened whilst Nebuchadnezzar was compiling a list of the things that God had done for him (v.2). The problem was, the emphasis was on him, not God. So many of us believe the lie that the good things that happen to us are signs of how good we are and therefore, how much God loves and favours us. Our pride thinks that the good things are because of our goodness. Our pride might thank God but underneath we praise ourselves.
His pride could only see his pride, but to pride it looks like good
On a number of occasions, God had already revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar. The problem was, that every time God did something for Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar interpreted it as his own personal importance. Back further in chapter 2, Daniel not only interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream but he also recalled the dream he had forgotten. Nebuchadnezzar makes this declaration in v.47 … of a truth, your God is the God of gods, and a Lord of Kings, and a revealer of secrets. Yet, despite his proclamation, his heart remained full of his own importance. In fact, if God was giving him this information then surely he must be important (his pride would have suggested to him).
God reveals Himself to us and many times He resolves our issues, but we conveniently interpret it as our own personal value because we still like our pride. We can worship Him and honour Him, but we’re not saved until our pride is broken. Until it’s broken, our pride is silently proud of itself.
Who is on your throne?
You may praise God but you’re not saved until your pride is broken. Our pride is our god until we let God smash our pride and replace it with the faith of the true God.
Anyone who thinks they’re important or special will never know God until their pride is broken. Pride can only see pride, but to pride it looks like ‘special’, or ‘important’, or ‘gifted’, or ‘greatness’, so it looks good, not bad. Everyone thinks they’re something special; it’s inherent in our sin, but there isn’t any access to heaven until this self-importance is smashed. The thing Jesus came to save us from is our pride. Our pride is the expression of our sinful nature and it’s our inherent link to Satan. An eternal relationship with Jesus will not occur until our pride is removed from our throne.
Pride blocks what God has done
In Daniel chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar built a golden statue of himself and demanded everyone bow and worship it whenever the music played. Three Jews refused, so in his anger, Nebuchadnezzar threw them into a fiery furnace, then in his amazement, watched as Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego simply walked through the furnace. Even his own soldiers had been killed by the radiating heat, but these three Jews were unscathed. In v.28, Nebuchadnezzar blesses the God of Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego and decrees that everybody must only worship their God. Yet, despite his own proclamation, he honoured God but with his pride still in place. If pride isn’t broken then your worship is in vain.
Dance to my tune
Pride is building a golden statue of ourselves and demanding that everyone bow down and worship it every time they hear the music. What’s the music we play? It’s the music of moodiness, or false humility, or intimidation to get people to recognise our value and do things we want them to do for us. It’s getting people to bow to our wants and wishes and reacting with anger, fear or sadness when they don’t. Our reactions prove which god we really serve … if you won’t dance to my tune then I’ll throw you into my furnace of spite, envy and hate, until you do what I want.
None of us think we do that because we cover it with our lies and fake niceness; but when the opportunity arises, we do play our music and expect others to dance to our tune, and if they won’t, then we treat them as enemies and justify our hatred as them being the ones who are unloving. It’s not Holy Spirit; it’s satanic, and until we’re cut down to size, there is no salvation. In fact, if God isn’t cutting you down to size then He knows you’re beyond breaking.
Pride twists your mind
In Daniel 2:49, at Daniel’s request, Nebuchadnezzar had elevated Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego over the affairs of Babylon, yet when Nebuchadnezzar demanded everyone bend and bow to his golden statue, he didn’t have any regard for his valued servants. It was as though he didn’t recognise them. The same mind lapse occurred with King Saul in 1 Samuel 17:55. David used to play the harp to settle his spirit as well as be Saul’s armour-bearer, but when David killed Goliath he couldn’t recall who he was.
When the mind is full of its own importance there’s no room for the value of others; everything centres around our own value. You can camouflage it with niceness, helps and generosity but when the opportunity arises we demand everyone to bow to our music and dance to our tune. It’s the music that reveals our true selves, not the generosity or kindness.
The higher you are the further you fall
Why Nebuchadnezzar and not King Saul? Only God knows the heart of man. You’ll see Nebuchadnezzar in heaven but you won’t see King Saul. Most of us refuse to be broken no matter what the burdens against us, preferring to blame others, or God, or mother nature, too proud to see our own pride in the picture, always justifying our own rightness.
How stubborn is our human pride!
God uses evil to break our pride
God allows evil circumstances to bring down our stubbornness, so to wish for no hassles or no problems is just selfish foolishness. It’s the hassles of life that breaks our pride. The good things of life promote our pride. In fact, God said that those that live Godly in Christ will suffer persecution. The hatred of others towards you because you love God is a healthy sign (though not necessarily full proof) that your pride is in the right place.
Don’t think you’re not a Nebuchadnezzar
Don’t think that the story of evil Nebuchadnezzar is not relevant to you. If it wasn’t personally relevant to you, it would just be an historical fact. It wouldn’t be in the Word of God unless it was universally relevant. Everyone has a flavour of Nebuchadnezzar. Most feed that flavour, the chosen confront it by God’s faith through the hardships of life. The good news is, it’s not your goodness that saves you, it’s your brokenness.
Pastor Jonathan Faranze