Summary: Are you the type of person who learns things the hard way? King Nebuchadnezzar was a slow learner. Contemporary sermon with solid practical outline. Use it in series.
Nebuchadnezzar: Learning the hard way
Daniel Ch. 4
Intro: Have you ever wondered why some people choose to learn things the hard way? King Nebuchadnezzar was that type of person. Nothing came easy for him. He was a perpetural slow learner when it came to spirituality. If given the choice between a hard way and an easy way, King Nebuchadnezzar would choose the hard way.
Are you that type of person? My Mom used to tell me that I was hard headed kid. That was her way of telling me that I was stubborn. And she was right, I’ve learned a number of hard lessons in life because I did things my way.
Proposition: Why do people learn the hard way? Have you ever wondered? The lessons I have learned the hard were usually because one of the following three reasons:
1) PRIDE: King Nebuchadnezzar was a very prideful man. Prideful people are close minded. They have their own ideas and often feel threatened by other people who might oppose them. (ex. Shadrach, Meshach & Abendego in Ch. 3). And while King Nebuchadnezzar routinely sought advice, he did not always like the advice that was given him. He was a very prideful man.
The Bible teaches that "Pride goes before a fall" Prov. 16:18. According to the Living Bible "Pride goes before destruction" This was true of the King. His pride would soon become his downfall. God spoke to him in a dream that Daniel interpreted. Nebuchadnezzar was likened to a large tree that would one day be cut down. Only the stump would remain. Daniel warned the King that what happened to the tree will one day happen to him. Pride comes before a fall. Nebuchadnezzar is a little slow to get it. He is so caught up in himself that he doesn’t take action. He allowed Pride to get in the way. Pride is major stumbling block in our spiritual lives. It keeps us from doing what God wants us to do. And it prevents us from learning what he wants us to learn.
2) PROCRASTINATION: King Nebuchadnezzar put off taking action until it was too late. When Daniel interpreted the dream, he advised the King to renounce his sins by doing what was right and taking care of the poor. Sadly the advice that was most appropriate for King Nebuchadnezzar was forgotten for a whole year.
One year later, the King is walking around on the roof of his royal palace boasting about his greatness. He says, "Is this not the great Babylon I have built as a royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty." Vs. 29 The pronouns "I" and "My" appear 3 times in that one statement. King Nubuchadnezzar is so full of himself that he put off spiritual priorities.
What about you? Are a procrastinator? We all procrastinate things of varied degrees of importance. We may procrastinate things like paying bills, spending time with our family, making apologies. And sometimes we feel pain and pressure of our procrastinations. But there is one thing we never want to procrastinate. We never want to procrastinate spiritual priorities, the price is too high and the pain too great.
King Nebucadnezzar procrastinated making important life changes for a whole year. He put off until tommorow things that he should have been doing today. And as a result he was driven into the wilderness to live like a wild animal.
3) POSITION: I guess when your the King of the most powerful nation in the world, it’s hard to humble yourself. In Babylon there were a number of impressive building projects underway. Royal palaces were built. Hanging gardnens were established. The King used his position to advance his own political cause. He was obsessed with the idea of being a monarch. King Nebuchadnezzar was position conscious. He built a vast empire by exploiting and taking advantage of the poor. Daniel confronted the King’s preoccupation with self. In verse 27 he advises the King to be merciful to the poor. Sadly, King Nebucadnezzar made no such effort. His vast empire was built on the backs of poor people. King Nebuchadnezzar was not the first and won’t be the last to use position to advance a selfish cause. Sadaam Hussien idolized King Nebuachnezzar. And we know about his fate. He ended up living in a hole out in the middle of nowhere. Sadly, this pattern has repeated itself numerous times in the History of the world. And haven’t we all suffered at the mercy of someone who uses their position or title to Lord it over. Maybe for you it’s an unpleasable parent, an unsympathetic boss, or maybe a teacher or a professor who gives unrealistic assignments.
A word to those of who have positions or carry titles... Never use the power that you have to advance your own cause. Use the position and power you have to glorify God and serve other people. Don’t be position conscious, be people centered. The position you have is no excuse to take advantage of those who are less fortunate. King Nebucadnezzar was unable to learn what God wanted him to learn because he was obsessed with the idea of being King.