Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I, Nebuchadnezzar

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to 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;
Daniel 4:34

Nebuchadnezzar was so full of himself that God brought him by divine decree to complete insanity and back again in order to show him that God alone is the sovereign controller above all things. The king of Babylon had been warned in a dream that such a humiliation awaited him. Daniel urged the king to repent so that such an experience could be avoided (Daniel 4:27). But the king did not follow the advice of his wisest and most reliable counselor.

His "answer" back to God's call to repent came a year later when in a particularly grandiose display of megalomania, he patted himself on the back for achieving all the greatness of an empire (Daniel 4:30). No sooner had his voiced ended in the self-aggrandizement of prideful speech than God spoke from heaven to inform the arrogant king that his kingdom was taken from him. What followed was seven years of complete insanity. Nebuchadnezzar went from palace to field, from living like an emperor to living like an animal. His reason was gone, and there was no way for him to take pride in his present accomplishments. It is hard to brag about mental illness, especially when you can't speak in human language any longer! Nebuchadnezzar went absolutely stark-raving certifiably nutso! And God made it happen to get the king where He wanted him to be.

After seven long years of living life completely off his rocker, God amazingly restored Nebuchadnezzar, and he found himself again back into his former position at the center of the Babylonian empire. This time the king is humbled. He returned to sanity both mentally and spiritually. He immediately blessed and acknowledged God's sovereign rule over him. No more was he filled with just himself. That was a tough lesson to live and learn.

So what can I learn from a mad king's pride, fall, and humiliation? I know that when left to myself, I too am Nebuchadnezzar. I may not have his palace or his riches. I do have his tendency toward manic self-aggrandization. It is what sin does to me. If I focus just on me, I am well on the road to a kind of Babylonian insanity. But if I focus on what God had done, I can rest in faith that all I am and all that I have are the product of God's grace and care. That is personal sanity that keeps me in balance.

No comments: