The Bible is full of examples of people who placed themselves as center of their worlds only to be completely and utterly humbled.
I heard the quote once, "I would rather listen to the whisper of God to humble myself, than feel His whip". In other words, will we learn from the example of those who have gone before us, were full of pride and then dramatically humbled (aka "the whisper") OR will we ignore the warning and be humbled ourselves (aka "the whip").
My goal is to highlight examples from the Bible as whispers for us to hear and be reminded: "humble yourselves and He will lift you up". Also 1 Corinthians 10:6 says, "Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." For our first "Hear the Whisper Wednesday"...
King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel)
The beginning of the book of Daniel describes the rise of the Babylonian empire and its capture of Jerusalem. Handsome, smart, young men were captured from Israel and taken to the land of Babylon to serve King Nebuchadnezzar (can I just call him "Neb"?). Among those young men was Daniel. King Neb has 3 collisions with the power of God and does not humble himself. Only after being dethroned and eating grass with cows does acknowledge God as essential in his life...the MOST HIGH.
Opportunity #1-Kingdom Statue Dream
- In chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar calls in Daniel to interpret a troubling dream. This dream lays out the end of the Babylonian empire and prophesies that several other empires will come and go until, "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 2:44)
- King Neb demonstrates a little humility after hearing Daniel's interpretation. He falls on his face before Daniel and says, "Surely your God is the God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries for you were able to reveal this mystery." (Daniel 2:47).
- His polytheistic words acknowledge the power of God demonstrated. Ultimately, King Neb was more in awe of Daniel's skill than his God. He did choose in this moment to place God in the center of his life. missed opportunity #1...
Opportunity #2-Fiery Furnace Miracle:
- Instead of being humbled, Nebuchadnezzar decides to build an image of himself that is "ninety feet high and nine feet wide." He then announces that when the music plays everyone needs to bow down to the statue or else they will be put in the fiery furnace. Guess who doesn't bow down to this false god? Daniel's Israelite buddies, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.They were thrown in the fiery furnace (which is so hot it killed the soldiers who threw them in). Once again Nebuchadnezzar is amazed by their God because these three men emerge from the fire completely unscorched and not even smelling of smoke!
- He says, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. (Dan 3:28).
- Even here Nebuchadnezzar sees the miracle and appreciates the Miracle Worker but does not claim God to be his own. missed opportunity #2...
Opportunity #3-Chopped Tree Dream:
- King Nebuchadnezzar was at the top of his game. He was "contented and prosperous" in his palace when he had another disturbing dream. When his wise men couldn't help him, then he resorted to Daniel and Daniel's God. Even when the king summoned Daniel he said that, "the spirit of the holy gods is in him." Neb could not stop the polytheistic thinking...he valued Daniel's God but did not see him yet as the one true God.
- The dream does not bring good news for King Neb. Daniel shares that the king, "will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven." Daniel immediately urges the king, renounce your sins now. do what is right. be kind to the oppressed. then perhaps this prophecy will not be fulfilled.
- Of course, 12 months pass and he does not heed the warning, the king makes no change. He even acknowledges the presence of his own pride, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence by my mighty power for the glory of my majesty? The words were still on my lips when a voice came from heaven...your royal authority has been taken from you." missed opportunity #3...
- The dream was fulfilled and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from the people and ate grass like cattle. But in chapter 4, Neb shares the words of humility at the end of his ordeal, "I raised my eyes towards heaven and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever" (vs 34). He returns to the throne and declares,
"I 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 (vs 37)."
Did you hear the whisper? Or do you want to feel the whip of wandering outside with animals and no shelter?
Do you struggle with thinking you are the source of your success? Cry out in this moment to God and acknowledge him as the MOST HIGH...hear the whisper.