4. The Gospel of the Kingdom (continued)
The three cases under consideration reveal three different forms of pride. Nebuchadnezzar's sin was the pride of independence. He himself confessed that he had walked in pride (4?37). It might be thought that he had reason for boasting, since Babylon with its hanging gardens was one of the wonders of the world; yet he could have done nothing without God's help. This was soon demonstrated when that help was withdrawn, for his reason left him and he became lower than the meanest of his subjects. However successful or prosperous we may be, the spirit which is seemly in our relationship with God is one of deep and humble gratitude. To act or think as though we were self-sufficient is a sin against the love of God.
Conceit brings blindness. It lays us open to deception. That is why Nebuchadnezzar made the mistakes which he did.
He mistook goodness for weakness, as many have done since, who have drawn wrong conclusions from the favors which God has granted them. Nebuchadnezzar received many blessings from God; he was helped and prospered by Him in many ways. But instead of fearing God and submitting to Him in humble gratitude, he only despised Him and swaggered along on his own proud path of independence, as though he could manage his own affairs and achieve glory without God. It was a big mistake.
He also mistook a warning for a wonder. In addition to all His other mercies, the Lord sent him a warning in the form of a dream. At first he was startled by the dream, and he must have been taken aback when Daniel gave him its interpretation, especially as the prophet earnestly entreated him to pay heed and repent while there was still time. It seems, though, that Daniel's words only fascinated his mind - they did not reach his conscience. He was thrilled to listen to the words of enlightenment and warning. No doubt Daniel was worth listening to; he was interesting, even enthralling; but what a pity to enjoy the words and miss the message. Alas! it is often so today. People listen to the Word of God; they are interested and perhaps moved in their emotions; but they fail to obey the Word.
Furthermore, he mistook delay for forgetfulness. The Lord was very longsuffering, giving Nebuchadnezzar a whole twelve months before judgment actually fell. No doubt as the days went by Nebuchadnezzar grew careless again, as we so easily do; indeed his pride grew worse, for when we harden our hearts to the Lord's warnings we almost inevitably grow bolder in our unbelief. So, presuming on the Lord's goodness and forbearance, he began to talk boastfully of the might of his power and the glory of his majesty; and, while the word was in his mouth, "there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: the kingdom is departed from thee" (4:31).
(continued with # 22)