WHEN GOD TURNED A POLITICIAN INTO A COW
A. HUMOR: SCRIPTURE-QUOTING SHOP KEEPER
1. The owner of an all-in-one store in a small country town was fond of quoting a scripture after each sale. He had three old friends that would sit around and listen to see what verse he would come up with.
a. A lady purchased some material and he said, "She seeks wool, and flax, and works willingly with her hands."
b. A man bought a loaf of bread and he said, "Man does not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
c. A little boy bought some candy and as he rung it up, he quoted, "Suffer the little children to come unto me."
3. One day a well-dressed man entered. "I need a blanket for my horse," said the man. "Bring me the nicest one you've got!" The store owner went in the back store room and came back with a brown blanket. "That'll be five dollars."
4. "Five dollars? You've got to be kidding!" said the man. "This horse is a thoroughbred. He gets only the best!" Without comment, the store owner took back the blanket, then merely selected a different color of the $5 blankets. "This one's $25 dollars."
5. "Now, look," said the young man, "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. This isn't just any old horse! He's worth thousands! I want the most expensive blanket you've got! Understand?" The owner went into the store room, pulled out a different color of the same $5 blanket and brought it back. "This is the best I’ve got. It's $100." "Now that's more like it!" He took it and left.
6. The old timers waited to see what possible scripture he could come up with for that sale! As he rang up the register, he said, "He was a stranger, and I took him in."
4 “I, Nebuchadnezzar….5 had a dream that made me afraid. I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 13 A holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven…. 14 called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree…15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.’ [Daniel answered], “22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built…by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.” 33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 34 “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. 36 At the same time…I was restored to my throne…. 37 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.”
1. We’re looking at a man who thought too much of himself. He ascribed to himself the attributes that are really reserved only for God!
2. The title of this message is, “When God Turned a Politician into a Cow.”
I. CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE DREAM
A. THE MOST POWERFUL KING OF HIS TIME
1. Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful king of his time, with an empire extending over 1,200 miles, including Egypt, all of Palestine, Syria, half of Saudi Arabia, half of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Armenia, part of Russia, etc. Daniel the Prophet said God had given him rulership of the nations.
2. His capital was Babylon. It’s walls were 350 feet high (high as a 35 story building), 87 feet thick, and had no less than 250 watchtowers positioned on them! It was surrounded with a moat and had a second inner wall. The city was impregnable.
3. Nebuchadnezzar had already been reigning for 35 years when he had this dream. He had finally conquered Egypt, his last great rival nation, ending his wars.
4. If anyone could feel secure, he could!
B. HIS PROSPERITY UNMATCHED
1. He was also extremely rich and prosperous. He controlled of all the monies donated to the idol’s Temples as well as the royal revenues. He was wealthy beyond imagination.
2. But prosperity is a dangerous thing. God warns us, “Beware that in your plenty you don’t forget the LORD 12… when you have…built fine homes to live in, 13 and… your silver and gold have multiplied 17…never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ 18 Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” Deut. 8:11-13, 17-18.
3. We Americans have prosperity. It’s easy to get an outsized view of ourselves. We think we can never be brought to our knees, but Nebuchadnezzar’s experience gives us pause. May God keep us humble!
C. AMERICAN’S WANT AN EASY GOSPEL
1. Dietrich Bonhoffer, in his book, "The Cost of Discipleship," says, "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
2. BUT GOD DEMANDS WE TAKE UP THE SAME CROSS JESUS HAD TO BEAR – A CROSS OF SURRENDER, SUBMISSION, AND DYING TO OUR OWN WILL & WISHES! Will you take up your cross?
II. WARNING FROM GOD
A. MANY TIMES GOD GIVES DREAMS TO WARN US
1. EXAMPLES of them for warning.
a. Joseph and His Family were warned of famine;
b. Joseph was warned in a dream about Herod;
c. Pilate’s wife was warned in a dream regarding Jesus;
d. Nebuchadnezzar received warning by dream about his dangerous pride. WHY? It’s not God’s will for us to sin
2. God is so kind that He reaches out to prevent us from sinning. He warned Cain not to kill his brother, Gen. 4:6-7; Abimelech not to take Sarah, Gen. 20:6; Pilate not to condemn Jesus, Mt. 27:19; Judas not to betray Him, Mt. 26:25; Peter that he would deny Him 3X, Mt. 26:34, etc.
3. And God warns us by the witnesses of our conscience, the Word, the Spirit, and godly messengers. If we’ll be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit and submissive to God’s will, we will turn from the sin we might have fallen into.
B. WHY IS PRIDE SUCH A BIG DEAL?
1. HOW BAD IS PRIDE? Bad enough that it:
a. Caused the fall of the Arch-Angel Lucifer (Isa. 14:12);
b. It destroyed Pharaoh of Egypt (Ex. 5:2);
c. It caused King Uzziah to get leprosy (2 Chr. 26:16);
d. It made Paul have a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7).
2. 4 CHARACTERISTICS OF PRIDE:
a. It makes us think we're BETTER THAN OTHERS because of our skills, wealth, beauty, intelligence, attainments, etc. What do any of us have that wasn't given to us by God?
b. PRIDE PROMOTES STRIFE; "Only by pride comes contention" Prov. 13:10. This means that:
1). There's never been a war, a divorce, an argument, or a church split without pride being a major factor! The Devil would rather start a church fuss than sell a barrel of whiskey any time!
2). Problems are not too big, but pride is too big to solve the problems.
3). 2 Egocentric people get married. You have 2 kingdoms living under one roof. It's a house divided against itself & cannot stand -- divorce.
4). But, if Christ is put on the throne of each life, then there's one King and one kingdom and suddenly the problems can be worked out.
3. PRIDE SAYS –
a. "I know more even than God or the Bible."
b. Pride says, "My secrets are nobody’s business."
c. God wants to help us with our problems, Pride denies there is a problem.
4. PRIDE KILLS. Union General John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops. He got to a parapet in a stockade, and gazed towards the Confederate Army.
His officers suggested he should duck when passing the parapet. He snapped, “Nonsense! They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…”
A moment later, he fell to the ground fatally wounded. Prov. 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
C. REASON WHY GOD JUDGED HIM FOR SUCH A SEEMINGLY SMALL SIN?
1. Because this guy should have known better. The greater our revelation of God (or access to God’s revelation) the greater our accountability (Lk. 12:48).
2. Here’s a King who was given greater revelations from God than possibly any king in history! (with the exception of David)
a. Consider: he was shown in a dream a view of world history, all the way from 570 B.C. until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ – the “Stone” cut out without hands, which demolished all the kingdoms of the world and set up an eternal kingdom reigned by God (Dan. 2).
b. If that’s not enough, in Daniel 3 Nebuchadnezzar is witness to God preserving the 3 Hebrews in the fiery furnace and gets a glimpse of the preincarnate Son of God!
c. Abram had a foreshadowing, David mentioned Him (Ps. 2), Joshua saw the Angel/ Messenger of the Lord (Jericho), Elijah & Moses appeared with Christ at the Mt. of Transfiguration (but not sure it was during their earthly life) – but I can’t think of anyone else who ever saw the preincarnate Son of God! But Nebuchadnezzar did!
3. So here’s a man, who was living right in the middle of mighty revelations from God, but was unaffected by it. How frightening!
4. It's a terrible danger to be exposed to the Presence of God and the ministry of the Word of God and feel no fear of God or need to repent!
5. We’ve become so hypnotized by Hollywood’s theatrics, by modern science, and technology, that we’ve ceased to see the majesty of God!
6. May God again restore our vision of the glory of God! May we know the Eternal, unchanging, limitless Creator of the universe, Who alone possesses all knowledge and power beyond comprehension.
III. THE JUDGMENT FELL
A. THE DEPTHS OF HIS PUNISHMENT
1. He lost his sanity. There’s been some times people thought YOU were crazy. A.W. Tozer talked about how CRAZY CHRISTIANS MUST LOOK:
2. The Christian “feels supreme love for One whom he’s never seen, …expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He died so he can live, forsake in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passes knowledge!”
3. Nebuchadnezzar became worse than most of the cases you’d see at state mental institutions. Not only did he lose his identity, but he thought himself to be an ox or cow (called Boanthropy). Don’t we wish God would turn more politicians into cows?
4. He became – not of a noble animal such as a Lion or a Bear, but a demeaning animal – a dumb ox! He began to eat grass. He crawled around on all fours. If you’d encountered him, with his long wild hair and his finger/toe nails like long claws, you would’ve shuddered to see someone that insane!
5. His psychosis didn’t last for just a month or a year, but for seven long years. His teeth probably became worn down (eating the raw grains, wild berries & insects) and his body became emaciated.
6. There’s a certain insanity to sin. The prodigal son became like someone insane. When his money was gone, and he was suffering, the Bible says he “came to himself” or “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). His moral reason was restored. For many of us, that’s what it took.
B. HIS RESTORATION
1. And God had mercy on Nebuchadnezzar; he did nothing to merit God’s help, but it was a brilliant display of God’s desire to forgive and give people a second, third, and fourth chance!
2. Undoubtedly Nebuchadnezzar’s officials heard the prophecy and maintained the kingdom in his absence, until his sanity should return, and he was restored to his throne & honor.
3. RESULT? It appears that Nebuchadnezzar was finally converted to the worship of only Jehovah from this point on. Now he begins and concludes his testimonial by declaring the wonders of the Most High God. Praise God for his mercies!
A. ILLUSTRATION: FIGHTING OVER THE CONTROLS
1. In August 1994, a Korean air jet skidded across a rain-soaked runway and rammed into a safety barricade in Cheju, Korea. All 160 passengers escaped to safety, just moments before the plane exploded into flames.
2. So what caused this near tragedy? According to news reports, the pilot and co-pilot had gotten into a fist fight over who was in charge of the landing controls.
3. Obviously, one of the pilots has the right to land the plane and wouldn’t give it up. The other pilot wouldn’t give up fighting for that right. [https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-08-12-mn-26400-story.html]
4. Are you fighting with God over the control of your life? If you’re not careful you will end up in flames like that Korean jet!
B. THE CALL
1. If we ignore the Voice of God long enough we’ll grow calloused to it. Nebuchadnezzar WAS warned, but he failed to respond to the warning. It’s pride that keeps us from responding when God warns us that sin is sin.
2. God gave Nebuchadnezzar 12 months—how long will He give you before He’s forced to allow judgment to fall?
3. Will it take something disastrous happening to you before you acknowledge the sovereignty of God over your life? Will you have to lose everything you have before your renounce your sin by doing what is right?
4. Heb. 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” We all will die, and we will all stand before God in judgment.
5. Most people naively think that they will be found innocent when they stand before Almighty God in Judgment, but they have no idea of how searching the judgment storm that is coming will be.
6. They are like the builder of one of the first Eddystone Lighthouses (on the dangerous rocks, 9 miles south of Rame Head, England). He was so enthusiastic about his design and workmanship on the lighthouse, that he said, “My greatest wish is to be in my lighthouse in a storm!”
7. He was in that lighthouse in a storm, and neither he nor the lighthouse were ever heard of again. There is only one righteousness which will withstand the hurricane of God’s Judgment, that is the righteousness of Jesus Christ!
8. How many people want to trust in Jesus as your righteousness today? How many of you have had pride issues and you want to give that to God this morning? Let’s pray.
[I surveyed and used the ideas of many for this – Matthew Henry, Ian Humphrey, Guy Glass, Perry Greene, Todd Coget, etc. Thanks to all!]