Weekly Wisdoms for the week of December 27, 2004
Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." This principle can be clearly seen in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, by examining Daniel chapter 4.
King Nebuchadnezzar started out praising God and giving Him the credit: "It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation" (Daniel 4:2-3). Here, Nebuchadnezzar is humble.
However, over the course of a year, something happened that caused the king to begin to take credit for his circumstances: "As the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, 'Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?' " (Daniel 4:29-30, italics added). Nebuchadnezzar is no longer giving God credit. Instead, he is full of pride and is puffing himself up.
However, as is always the case, "Pride goes before destruction." So, God punished Nebuchadnezzar by sending him out to live like a wild animal for seven years (See Daniel 4:31-33).
Then, Daniel 4:34 records the king's response: "At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored." Interestingly, the king said that his pride caused him to lose his sanity and that now, as a result of being humbled by God, his sanity was restored. In order to humble him, God humiliated him. Indeed, a humiliating experience will almost always humble someone.
The chapter concludes with Nebuchadnezzar's reflection: "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble" (Daniel 4:37).
In Exodus 20:3-5, God gives Israel this command: "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God."
It is easy to label an idol as some wooden or bronze statue, or a golden cow, or something else like that. And certainly, such things could be idols; however, an idol is much more than that. An idol is anything you put in front of God.
Ezekiel 14:3 says that "men have set up idols in their hearts," meaning that their internal priorities are wrong. Today, although probably very few people in Western culture still bow down to statues or other such physical idols, many people bow down to idols "in their hearts."
For example, money and status are things that we often place ahead of God. However, God is "a jealous God," and He demands first place in your life. Therefore, take to heart the instruction found in 1 John 5:21: "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."
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