03 Nebuchadnezzar and Judah

By John Thiel, Lessons from the Life of Nebuchadnezzar Conference, Audio: mp3

We now come to know Nebuchadnezzar by the way in which he handled the Jewish nation – Judah. In the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah, Judah was in wicked apostasy. Here are some excerpts from the book of Jeremiah in which the apostasy is being identified by God and by which we see the warnings that were given to Judah.

Jeremiah 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.

He is describing here the sad experience which he made with his own people who we remember, were meant to fulfill God’s purpose for the other nations.

Jeremiah 5:22 Fear ye not me? Saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand [for] the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? 23 But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.

He is describing these people: Judah.

Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear [is] uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. 11 Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with [him that is] full of days. 12 And their houses shall be turned unto others, [with their] fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD. 13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one [is] given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

This is the description of the condition of a people. “They cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it”. It is often the case with people who have lost their love for the Lord that everything they read is to them a reproach; there is nothing to encourage them. Everything that God says is a reproach to them. This is the condition that the Jews were in at that time. God is telling them of their deplorable condition and of what He is about to do.

Jeremiah 18:11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.

This language is very important to understand in reference to our study of Nebuchadnezzar. Are you noticing the language? “I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you.” I am doing things to make something happen by the orchestration of my activities in a very particular manner. He is devising something because of the wickedness of Judah.

Jeremiah 18:15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways [from] the ancient paths, to walk in paths, [in] a way not cast up; 16 To make their land desolate, [and] a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.

God had been communicating to the Jews all the way through from the beginning of Jeremiah to this point in chapter 18. By the time we get to chapter 21, having given them warning after warning, He now comes to a climax in His warning. Zedekiah was the very last king whom He was warning against their wickedness:

Jeremiah 21:7 And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.

By the time we come to this chapter under the ruler ship of King Zedekiah, they already knew who Nebuchadnezzar was because he had already attacked the previous kings. But now comes this final thrust and God is saying in substance, I am framing evil against this nation; I am going to use King Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah 22:25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand [of them] whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.

We have now arrived at a point where God says, “I am going to deal with the wickedness of Judah and I will use the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, and the Chaldeans, a people who are looking for your life; I am going to frame this destruction upon you by the use of these people.” It was a people who sought the life of the Jews. It was in the heart of Nebuchadnezzar to seek the life of the Jews and God said, I am going to use that.

What sort of people were they? A people who were hungering after the life and seeking for the destruction of Judah. What sort of a person was Nebuchadnezzar? What was his background?

Habakkuk 1:6 For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, [that] bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces [that are] not theirs.

How did God describe Babylon, the Chaldeans? A bitter and hasty people. In coming to know Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar was of the bitter and hasty people who were looking for the life of anyone whom they could capture in their warfare. This being the nature of Nebuchadnezzar God took this king, and let him exercise his nature as a scourge upon the apostasy of Judah. This is the introduction to help us understand what God will use to deal punishment upon those who He has warned and warned again, all through the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah. He would use the nature of a people. They would naturally function according to their nature,and God says, I am going to frame mischief against you by using these people and the way they are. Here was Nebuchadnezzar and God was going to let him exercise his nature upon Judah His people.

Each actor in history stands in his lot and place; for God’s great work after His own plan will be carried out by men who have prepared themselves to fill positions for good or evil. {12MR 390.2}

This is how God works. He will use men who have prepared themselves by their upbringing and characteristics, to deal for good or for evil in the activities of history.

In opposition to righteousness, men become instruments of unrighteousness. But their course of action is unforced. They need not have become instruments of unrighteousness any more than need Cain. God said to him, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” [Genesis 4:7]. Cain would not hear the voice of God, and as a result, he killed his brother. {12MR 390.2}

Men of all characters, righteous and unrighteous, will stand in their positions. With the characters they have formed, they will act their part in the fulfillment of history. In a crisis, just at the right moment, men will stand in the places they have prepared themselves to fill. Believers and unbelievers will fall into line as witnesses, to confirm truth which they do not themselves comprehend. All will cooperate in accomplishing the purposes of God, as did Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod. {12MR 390.3}

This principle is what we are looking at. God will use people even if they don’t realize that they are being used; they are simply carrying out the natural impulses of their personality and character. God says, I now want to let this particular actor fulfill his position; and as they come to the stage of action, He says go ahead, do what you like; I am not going to force you, you just do how you feel.

With this understanding in mind, we look at Nebuchadnezzar: He came on to the field of action, activating his own personality, being a bitter and hasty person in reference to the people whom he looked upon as his enemies, the people whom he wanted to conquer, and God said, Go ahead Nebuchadnezzar, act out what is naturally in you. God will use persons even if they don’t know that they are being used. They are just acting their own character.

Jeremiah 25:9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

God saw the nations of Judah, Egypt, and all the other nations that Nebuchadnezzar finally conquered to establish his empire, and He said, I am going to use Nebuchadnezzar’s hasty and bitter nature. I will use him as my servant. Are you beginning to picture something in your mind about God? We are learning to know God through Nebuchadnezzar. God is a person who orchestrates events, and as He sees His people who have become rebellious and would not listen to Him, He says, Alright then, there are people who hate you, there are people who want to destroy you, I am going to frame mischief against you from them. It is a little bit like the children of Israel in the wilderness. Snakes surrounded them but God had His hand upon them so that those snakes wouldn’t come to them. But in their rebellious attitude God said, Okay, I will stand back and let the snakes do what they have to do; and they came along and bit them all. Here Nebuchadnezzar was one of those snakes, and God said, I am going to use him as My servant to deal against these rebellious people of Mine; I am going to use him to punish them. This is the man whom God was using.

The work outlined in these scriptures is the work before us. The terms “My servant,” “Israel,” “the Lord’s servant,” mean anyone that the Lord may select and appoint to do a certain work. He makes them ministers of His will, though some who are selected may be as ignorant of His will as was Nebuchadnezzar. {9T 138.2}

He called Nebuchadnezzar His servant to deal with the rebelliousness of Judah. The term “the Lord’s servant” means “anyone that the Lord may select and appoint to do a certain work.” Yet these people that He selects as His servants may be completely ignorant. They are free to move according to their character. God does not force them; He lets them do what they have to do according to their nature.

God is letting Nebuchadnezzar be the man he is, a cruel dictator wanting to take the life of his enemies and capture them and destroy their land, and make it his own.

Within a few short years the king of Babylon was to be used as the instrument of God’s wrath upon impenitent Judah. {PK 422.2}

Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant, His agent that He would use as an instrument of His wrath against His impenitent people.

God had pleaded with Judah not to provoke Him to anger, but they had hearkened not. Finally sentence was pronounced against them. They were to be led away captive to Babylon. The Chaldeans were to be used as the instrument by which God would chastise His disobedient people. The sufferings of the men of Judah were to be in proportion to the light they had had and to the warnings they had despised and rejected. Long had God delayed His judgments, but now He would visit His displeasure upon them as a last effort to check them in their evil course. {PK 425.2}

Are we recognising God’s method of dealing? He does not do anything arbitrarily. He simply orchestrates His wrath by using the natural traits, the natural, evil characteristics of nations that He can use as instruments to deal with the evil in another nation. This is Nebuchadnezzar and Judah.

But although God uses this hasty, bitter and cruel king, there is another characteristic in this man. He had something else inside of him. Who was Nebuchadnezzar?

An idolater by birth and training, {PK 514.2}

By the time he became the king of Babylon he had been thoroughly trained in idolatry. He had given himself totally over to what was naturally inbred in him – Idolatry, bitter hastiness.

An idolater by birth and training, and at the head of an idolatrous people, he had nevertheless an innate sense of justice and right, and God was able to use him as an instrument for the punishment of the rebellious and for the fulfillment of the divine purpose. “The terrible of the nations” (Ezekiel 28:7), it was given Nebuchadnezzar, after years of patient and wearing labor, to conquer Tyre; Egypt also fell a prey to his victorious armies; and as he added nation after nation to the Babylonian realm, he added more and more to his fame as the greatest ruler of the age. {PK 514.2}

He was this idolatrous person from an idolatrous nation who were bitter and hasty, who were like ferocious beasts eager to tear their victims. Were not Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar identified as the lion that would tear its pray? When you watch these documentaries of lions, how they attack and pull down and tear to pieces their prey, this was Nebuchadnezzar. But what else was in him? While he was like that in nature, at the same time he had an innate sense of justice and right. Here comes the lesson for us now – this interesting trait within human beings.

God knows what is in the heart of every man and in Nebuchadnezzar He saw that He could do something with this man. He saw his cruel and idolatrous characteristics, but at the same time He saw within the king an innate sense of justice and right – the complicated nature of man.

Inside of the heart of Nebuchadnezzar was a twofold, complicated activity. Cruelty looking for the life of his enemy and yet at the same time, an innate sense of justice and right. Complicated. Human nature in its natural state with some elements within is a very complicated set-up. We are studying this as a lesson for ourselves. Are you a complicated person like me? Like Nebuchadnezzar?

It is in mercy that the Lord reveals to men their hidden defects. He would have them critically examine the complicated emotions and motives of their own hearts and detect that which is wrong, modify their dispositions, and refine their manners. God would have His servants become acquainted with their own hearts. In order to bring to them a true knowledge of their condition, He permits the fire of affliction to assail them so that they may be purified.—RH, Apr 10, 1894 (ML 92.) {2MCP 617.1}

Our study of Nebuchadnezzar is to show how God knows His way, and how He can bring man through trial that he may become purified as gold. God is using him according to his corrupt nature to punish Judah. But at the same time as He uses him to do that, He knows what’s in his heart, and in the process of going through this experience the Lord is actually using Nebuchadnezzar both to deal His judgment and to begin to work on Nebuchadnezzar to lead him to examine himself.

This is the lesson for us. Inside of the heart of Nebuchadnezzar there were emotions and motives which were complicated. There were two kinds of activities going on in the heart. I have often said it in the past that every human being is bipolar. There are two kinds of natures within. Nebuchadnezzar had those two as well. Cruel, evil, idolatrous, and yet justice and right were part of his internal sensitivities. He had this complicated condition, and this is the problem with every human being, and we are called upon to critically examine our own complicated emotions and motives of our own hearts, so that we can detect within ourselves what we can see about Nebuchadnezzar. That’s the lesson. We can so easily see the complicated situations of other people, but we are not told to look at each other and learn of each other, we are told to learn of the ones that God points at that we should learn from. Because when we do this, when we look at each other, we start judging each other and we do all sorts of horrible things to each other, God doesn’t want us to do that. But He has given us characters, actors in the history, to learn from. They are the ones that we learn from, not from anybody else. We are to examine ourselves as we look at King Nebuchadnezzar.

In his activity towards Judah he was permitted to act the natural motives and impulses of his complicated nature. But at the same time, God is going to use him as an instrument to function with that innate sense of justice and right as well. Let us learn the lesson to realise how real this is. I must learn the lesson for my own case first of all, and then the lesson of us dealing with others in this complicated manifestation that we see in Nebuchadnezzar.

It is this complicated condition of his heart that finally drove him to the insanity at the end. This is what we are being called upon to understand so that we can be recovered from our condition.

A refining, purifying process is going on among the people of God, and the Lord of hosts has set His hand to this work. {ML 92.2}

Remember how God works. He permits people to rub shoulders with each other with regards to their complicated natures. He uses Nebuchadnezzar to deal with Judah so that He can give them another opportunity to wake up to themselves. He used the harsh, bipolar nature of King Nebuchadnezzar, but at the same time He is trying to help Nebuchadnezzar. Are you picking it up? How many times we become upset because of certain people’s horrible nature working on me and I can hardly bear it and I have to get wild about it? Yet all it is God saying, you need to have some of the characteristics of your particular nature discovered to you. That is what He did to Judah through King Nebuchadnezzar. God is purifying His people, and they have to examine the complicated emotions and motives of their heart.

This process is most trying to the soul, {ML 92.2}

Haven’t you found it? This process of God using this activity is most trying to the soul,

…but it is necessary in order that defilement may be removed. Trials are essential in order that we may be brought close to our heavenly Father, in submission to His will, that we may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. . . . The Lord brings His children over the same ground again and again, increasing the pressure until perfect humility fills the mind, and the character is transformed; then they are victorious over self, and in harmony with Christ and the Spirit of heaven. {ML 92.2}

We have Nebuchadnezzar to behold how God does this because again and again He took him through the process until finally His design took place in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. That is what He does with us. We are studying Nebuchadnezzar so that we can learn about ourselves. Pay close attention because this is for our salvation who want to be among the 144,000. We have to examine our complicated natures and discover what is within and put aside those things that are cruel, terrible, and oppressive, and pursue that which God wants us to perfect.

God uses these terrible, uncomfortable, trying experiences and brings His people over the same ground again, and again. Haven’t you found that uncomfortable? Haven’t I learned the lesson yet? Here it comes again. First of all I don’t even realise what is happening to me, but then, “Ah, okay, I know I’ve been through this before, here it is again.” Aren’t you tired of it? God does this for a purpose.

The Lord brings His children over the same ground again and again, increasing the pressure until perfect humility fills the mind, and the character is transformed; then they are victorious over self, and in harmony with Christ and the Spirit of heaven. The purification of God’s people cannot be accomplished without suffering. {ML 92.2}

Do we want to be pure? Do we ask God to purify us? Well, it won’t happen without suffering. Sorry. So we are told.

He passes us from one fire to another, testing our true worth. True grace is willing to be tried. If we are loath to be searched by the Lord, our condition is one of peril. . . . {ML 92.2}

Have you ever said to God, Can’t you just leave me alone? No, we don’t say it outright to God, but haven’t you said it within your heart sometimes? “Why do I have to go through this all the time? Can’t God just help me here?” Well, He is. Remember the words of the hymn, “Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.” The providence is tough, the experience is rough, but God is smiling because I’ve asked Him to purify me. “You are my child, examine the complicated nature of your heart and of your motives.”

True grace is willing to be tried. {ML 92.2}

If God sees something in us that He can purify and purge, then be willing to let it happen. It’s good for you.

It is in mercy that the Lord reveals to men their hidden defects. {ML 92.3}

How does He reveal it? Through the hard times.

He would have them critically examine the complicated emotions and motives of their own hearts, {ML 92.3}

Examine them critically. Be honest with yourself. Admit to the fact of the complicated motives of your heart. Let God have it and tell Him, Alright Lord, You have your way, deal with me. Be happy to accept God’s work.

In order to bring to them a true knowledge of their condition, He permits the fire of affliction to assail them, so that they may be purified. The trials of life are God’s workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our characters, {ML 92.3}

What is He wanting to remove away from our characters? But I’m not rough, am I? I’m a German, very rough, very arrogant. God wants to remove it. If there is any arrogance inside of us, do never say, but that’s just my nature. No, don’t ever say that. It is not allowed to be your nature. God wants to clean it out of our life. He is going to do it while we are under His jurisdiction. If we don’t want it, He says, alright, I’ll let you go. That is why many people run away from this kind of message. But we are still here, praise the Lord, and He is doing this work.

Having read all that in reference to myself, how am I to treat my fellow brother and sister in the knowledge that they also have got the complicated situations of their hearts? What is written in reference to that?

You will have many perplexities to meet in your Christian life in connection with the church, but do not try too hard to mold your brethren. {5T 347.2}

Have you ever tried it? Such and such a person is just not behaving as I expect, therefore I have to mold them; I have to try and work upon them to change them. Don’t try too hard, the Lord says. Don’t do that.

If you see that they do not meet the requirements of God’s word, do not condemn; if they provoke, do not retaliate. {5T 347.2}

Is that easy? How frustrated we become when somebody in my life is not coming to what I expect of them? Argh, I want to change them. Is that right? This is not for us to do. “If you see that they do not meet the requirements of God’s word, do not condemn; if they provoke, do not retaliate.

When things are said that would exasperate, quietly keep your soul from fretting. {5T 347.2}

How many times have we fretted over another person’s behavior towards me? Has that happened to you? Is that natural for us to fret internally because that person is just not coming to the party? We all have the same problem. In the school of Christ we are to let Christ do the work, not to go and try to do it ourselves.

You see many things which appear wrong in others, and you want to correct these wrongs. You commence in your own strength to work for a reform, but you do not go about it in the right way. You must labor for the erring with a heart subdued, softened by the Spirit of God, and let the Lord work through you, the agent. {5T 347.2}

In the course of our study we will see how people who were God’s true workmen worked with Nebuchadnezzar, the right way. It is so totally different to the way that we are familiar with. “You must labor for the erring,” yes, but “with a heart subdued, softened by the Spirit of God,” and you must “let the Lord work through you, the agent.

Roll your burden on Jesus. {5T 347.2}

Isn’t it a burden that we have in our relationship with our fellow human beings? “If only they would give me an easier time.” Don’t bear your burden. Roll your burden on Jesus.

You feel that the Lord must take up the case where Satan is striving for the mastery over some soul; but you are to do what you can in humility and meekness, and put the tangled work, the complicated matters, into the hands of God. {5T 347.2}

Anyone who tries to help another person meets these tangled things, and they think, This is just impossible here. Can you correct the complicated situations of the hearts of men? It is not to be done, it is to be put into the hands of God.

Follow the directions in His word, and leave the outcome of the matter to His wisdom. {5T 347.2}

It is such an interesting characteristic we have inside of us, we go along and help somebody, and then we wait for it. Are you going to change here? And if the person doesn’t change, it frets me. That is all outside of God’s order.

Having done all you can to save your brother, cease worrying, and go calmly about other pressing duties. It is no longer your matter, but God’s. {5T 347.2}

Oh that God would help us remember this when we get frustrated with human beings, whether in the family, or in the church.

You will have many perplexities to meet in your Christian life in connection with the church, but do not try too hard to mold your brethren. {5T 347.2}

It is perplexing. Yes, it is. But through the study of Nebuchadnezzar we will see how God dealt with him, and where the human being comes into action. That is why it is so essential that we take it in, so that as we continue through the program we may see how it is done, and we may have a godly manner of dealing with the perplexities.

Do not, through impatience, cut the knot of difficulty, making matters hopeless. {5T 348.1}

What is this saying? You have the difficulty of the complicated knots of human activities in the heart, and because we become impatient with each other we say and do things that will make it impossible for the person to change. “Do not, through impatience, cut the knot of difficulty, making matters hopeless.

Let God untangle the snarled-up threads for you. He is wise enough to manage the complications of our lives. {5T 348.1}

The complicated emotions and motives of the heart are all tangled up. Haven’t you found it in your own self? It’s all tangled up, I can’t get it straight. So we try to untangle the tangled mess, but only God can do that. If God will use us, fine. He used Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego and Daniel, in a way that we have to learn. Then we must let God do the rest. Don’t let anything frustrate you, annoy you, and make you so impatient that you would go in there and cut the knot. No. God has skill and tact, and we are seeing it in His dealing with Nebuchadnezzar.

He has skill and tact. We cannot always see His plans; we must wait patiently their unfolding and not mar and destroy them. He will reveal them to us in His own good time. Seek for unity; cultivate love and conformity to Christ in all things. He is the source of unity and strength; but you have not sought for Christian unity that you might knit hearts together in love. {5T 348.1}

What are we to do? The opposite. We are to seek for Christian unity so that we can knit hearts together in love. This is our work.

I must therefore understand my own case, and also understand what happens with others but be patient with them, and concentrate on my own more than anything by looking to Jesus. In the following we have a profound and beautiful statement which helps us to appreciate our God in the interactivity of this nature:

Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God. As we realize our dependence upon God for both temporal and spiritual blessings, we may offer up fervent and effectual prayer. Our great need is in itself an argument that pleads most eloquently in our behalf. {BEcho, February 1, 1893 par. 10}

In our great need of being kind and courteous to those who are frustrating me and causing me problems, we have a matter of prayer. With this great need that I have because I become so impatient and erratic with my fellow brothers and sisters, husband or wife, let prayer, offered up fervently, be the eloquent plea on our behalf.

Your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, your fears, you may present before God. {BEcho, February 1, 1893 par. 10}

Isn’t that what we often do which each other? We have these cares and these fears that, This person is going to get lost, we have to do something about it! Just simply leave it with God. Commit it to Him in prayer. “Your sorrows, your cares, your fears, you may present before God.

You cannot weary Him, you cannot burden his heart. Nothing is too great for Him to bear; for He upholds the worlds and rules the universe. {BEcho, February 1, 1893 par. 10}

Remember who He is. He can handle the matter you don’t have to worry.

Nothing is too small for his notice; for He marks the sparrow’s fall, and numbers the hairs of your head. He is not indifferent to the wants of his people. The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. He is touched by our sorrows, and even the utterance of them moves his great heart of infinite love. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read, no perplexity too complicated for Him to unravel. {BEcho, February 1, 1893 par. 10}

We see those raveled up knots of human complications, but nothing is too hard for Him. Watch Him at work. Watch how He does it. Learn from Him, nothing is too hard for Him.

Our Heavenly Father is not unobserving; He sees our tears, He marks our sighs, He notes our joys and sorrows. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” {BEcho, February 1, 1893 par. 10}

With the meditation of this message, our hearts are being conditioned with an insight of our own nature to compare ourselves with Nebuchadnezzar and with how God deals with him. May we take the lessons from the life of Nebuchadnezzar and let them make the changes in our own life. Let us not lose the vein of understanding that has here been introduced to our mind.

Amen.

Posted on January 25, 2015, in Nebuchadnezzar Life Lessons and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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