09 A Selfish Reaction

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

We are beginning to discover what is actually behind the events of the rising of the Babylonian empire; the life of Nebuchadnezzar in developing that empire, God entering into his mind very decidedly, the vision that Nebuchadnezzar had, and the way God orchestrated the events that finally explained the vision.

The history of man is to show us the philosophy of history, which is to learn that the strength of the individual is measured by the fidelity with which he fulfils the purposes of God. This is our study – the purposes of God and our fidelity. Remember what the purposes of God are. They are to have God’s people be instrumental in saving people who are not God’s people. This is God’s purpose; this is the reason why He raised Israel. But only a small company did the work correctly. And so it is for our time today. It is in reference to our relationship and association with every member of the human family. That is what we are learning in the lessons from Nebuchadnezzar.

Our hearts were warmed as we saw Nebuchadnezzar convinced that the Lord was the one who had given the explanation of his vision. He fell on his face, so deeply affected by God. We would think that this man had now gained a lesson that would remain with him for good, a lesson that he would retain for the rest of his life. But notwithstanding that hope and expectations, human nature and long entrenched habits of thought are so powerful that overtime they erase the impact of such a momentous experience. This is the principle that we are to pick up on. Not only observing it in him, but realising it for ourselves. The deep impression that I may have received once can be worn out by my entrenched habits and my human nature. It overwhelms the deep convictions that come to me at times. This is what we observe now in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. What happened?

Daniel 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height [was] threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 5 [That] at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down [and] worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

In this representation you wonder, “What happened to Nebuchadnezzar? He had just fallen down and worshipped God beforehand in reference to the vision he had of the image, and after a period of time he comes along with this?” It is a strange observation coming from an intelligent man who has had such a strong impression that only the God of the universe is to worshipped and that He is above all others. Let us review the initial conviction that he had.

The dream of the great image, by which were opened future events reaching to the end of time, was given to Nebuchadnezzar that he might understand the part he was to act in the world’s history, and also the relation that his kingdom sustained to the kingdom of heaven. This wonderful dream caused a marked change in his ideas and opinions, {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 1}

Something had happened to him. His ideas and opinions were markedly changed,

…and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of God; but his heart was not yet cleansed from its pride, its worldly ambition, its desire for self-exaltation. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 1}

Here is this deep impression that was laid upon his heart, but something still was not complete.

The king had acknowledged the power of God. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 6}

He had acknowledged it. He recognised that it was of God.

At the time when Nebuchadnezzar saw the vision of the great image, he had purposed to destroy the wise men, because he discerned their deceptions, and was convinced that they did not have the learning and power that they claimed to possess. Only by the intercession of Daniel had they been saved from a cruel and ignominious death. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 7}

Here were those first impressions. He was convinced, and he would have killed those lying wise men, but Daniel prevented him from doing it. What happened? After such impressions, what happened? Why did he go ahead and build this image of gold? Why? What went wrong?

…his heart was not yet cleansed from its pride, {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 1}

Although he had been humbled, although he had fallen down upon his face and humbled himself and acknowledged the God of the universe, his heart was not yet fully cleansed from its pride,

…its worldly ambition, its desire for self-exaltation. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 1}

This is the case with the impressions that God makes upon the human heart, and we see it illustrated in Nebuchadnezzar. There is a wonderful change of ideas and opinions, but temporarily, because there is still something in there that plays havoc.

The prophet Daniel described to King Nebuchadnezzar the rise and fall of the kingdoms that were to succeed Babylon; but the king did not cherish the conviction that came to his mind in regard to the fall of all earthly governments, and the greatness and power of Jehovah’s kingdom. After the first impression wore away, he thought only of his own greatness, and studied how the dream might be turned to his own honor. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 2}

Now I plead with you to listen to the Holy Spirit and to what He is saying to us because we do not know ourselves apart from what the Holy Spirit shows us. He is showing us in the example of Nebuchadnezzar that convictions strike us on certain matters, but we don’t always cherish them. “Yes! God is right. But, argh… I don’t like that.” I don’t cherish it. I want you to examine yourselves as I examine myself here continually as I study God’s word. I am convicted of something, Yes, the Spirit of Prophecy makes it very clear that I should be following dress reform, I should do this, that, or the other thing. But it’s a cross, I don’t cherish it. It might be convicting at the time, but I don’t cherish it. It’s a bit of a burden. This is what happened here, and this happens in many different areas of our life. If we are honest with ourselves we will discover that in my heart I am saying, Yes! Yes! God is right! and I am ready to stand behind Him, but this particular point, I think it could be that way. I think we don’t have to be quite so… whatever. That is what Nebuchadnezzar was doing. Where does it end up?

The words, “Thou art this head of gold,” made the deepest impression upon Nebuchadnezzar’s mind. Seeing this, the wise men who had been unable to tell his dream, proposed that he make an image similar to the one seen by him, and set it up where all might behold the head of gold, which was a representation of his kingdom. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 3}

Although God gave him this beautiful vision, Nebuchadnezzar’s mind didn’t cherish the thought that his kingdom would have to give way to another kingdom, and that all would eventually come to the end, when another kingdom would finally take over, which is God’s kingdom. He didn’t cherish that, and he was now thinking, Wow, I am that head of gold. He began to lose his focus upon the conviction he had, and then came the people that he was going to kill, and they might have told him, Listen Nebuchadnezzar, I can see that you were impressed about that head of gold, well, why don’t you put it up before the people to show that you are a very special person? That is what was happening.

The king had acknowledged the power of God. saying: “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, . . . and a revealer of secrets;” but notwithstanding this acknowledgment, the years of prosperity that followed filled his heart with pride, and he forgot God, resuming his idol-worship with increased zeal and bigotry, and cherishing the thought that the Babylonian kingdom would stand forever. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 6}

He didn’t cherish the thought that it would give way to another kingdom. He did not like that thought. Therefore, after that dream, as his kingdom was flourishing, he began to drift away from that humble conviction that struck him at first. We want to take the lesson very strongly upon our mind’s hearts now.

Those who are willing to be taught, may learn a lesson from the conduct of the king of Babylon. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 10}

Are you willing to be taught? What is the lesson?

As Satan sought to make God-given light serve his own purposes, by leading the king to work for his own glory instead of the glory of God, so the enemy works today to pervert truth in order to hinder God’s purposes. Truth unmixed with error, is a power mighty to save; but if we allow the enemy to work through us; if, by means of the light given us, we seek to exalt self, even truth, perverted, may become a power for evil. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 10}

This is a lesson that we are to learn in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. If we are willing to be taught we will realise that while self is still lingering within me and affecting my life, the truth that comes to me I will pervert to suit my own selfish esteem. You want to believe that because I know it to be true, and I see it played out in front of me all the time. We have just gone through an experience ourselves as a company, where the beautiful truth that was conveyed was taken out of its correct appreciation, and it lead to the power of evil taking its course. We cannot trust our own selves, even with the truth we have, because if self is still functioning inside of me and governing me, I am going to permit Satan to affect my deep convictions that are aroused by the revelations of God’s word.

I may put away the practices of the world because I am convicted that the world is evil; I might put on my dress the way it should be; I may be convicted on health reform; I might be convicted that the pleasure of the world are not to be followed; but while so convicted, I may not cherish the convictions. I am convinced because God has so powerfully made it clear for me, but deep inside there is a canker – I do not cherish the conviction. It’s a bit uncomfortable. Why should I wear my clothing like this when I’m so hot? Self goes, I don’t like what God is telling me here! I don’t cherish the cross. My first impression under that kind of activity of not cherishing it wears away, and the impression I had, on any subject, begins to become blunted, and then I drift back to my entrenched way; because the remnants of pride, of worldly ambition, of desire for self and self-exaltation begin to play havoc overtime in my being, and I begin to drift.

Our friends who have been watching us and how strict and how faithful we were, how we were on fire for what we had found, they say, They are over the top aren’t they? But when we drift back, when they begin to see us deviate just a little bit, then they come like the wise men of Nebuchadnezzar. Friends and relatives who heard our stand, who watched Nebuchadnezzar fall before God, chafe under it and make suggestions to please our indulgence, and we turn under these kinds of influences over time. This is what we are seeing in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. How far did Nebuchadnezzar turn? He began to make an image to worship again, his image. He became idolatrous again, in such deep entrenchment. Meditate upon the seriousness of his decline after he had so valiantly worshipped the God of the universe. He was impressed by the head of gold being him.

Seeing this, the wise men who had been unable to tell his dream, proposed that he make an image similar to the one seen by him… {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 3}

This suggestion pleased the king. His pride was flattered by the thought that he could thus represent his greatness; and instead of merely reproducing the image seen in his dream, he determined to make an image that should excel the original. This image was not to deteriorate in value from the head to the feet, like the one he had been shown, but was to be composed throughout of the most precious metal. Thus the whole image would represent the greatness of Babylon; and he determined that by the splendor of this image the prophecy concerning the kingdoms which were to follow, should be effaced from his mind, and from the minds of others who had heard the dream and its interpretation. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 4}

What was Nebuchadnezzar doing here? He was rebelling against the conviction he had. He wanted to change the conviction entirely to obliterate from his mind that other kingdoms were to follow. “No, this is the kingdom.” That is how far he deteriorated.

…but notwithstanding [his] acknowledgment, the years of prosperity that followed filled his heart with pride, and he forgot God, resuming his idol-worship with increased zeal and bigotry, and cherishing the thought that the Babylonian kingdom would stand forever. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 6}

That is how far he fell again.

At the time when Nebuchadnezzar saw the vision of the great image, he had purposed to destroy the wise men, because he discerned their deceptions, and was convinced that they did not have the learning and power that they claimed to possess. Only by the intercession of Daniel had they been saved from a cruel and ignominious death. The king now united with these men in planning to dishonor the God of Daniel. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 7}

How crooked a perversion was here displayed. He was going to kill them and now he wants to side with them. That is how far a clinging to self will take us.

The wise men, in counsel with the king, concluded that Babylon was the kingdom which was to break in pieces all other kingdoms; and they endeavored to make an image that would represent Babylon as eternal, indestructible, all-powerful,–a kingdom that would stand forever. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 7}

That is what this image of gold that they built represented.

Thus the grand lesson which God had given to the heathen through the vision of the great image, was misconstrued and misapplied. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 9}

Here we see an illustration of how truth in the minds of people with their own opinions and their natural hearts, will be misconstrued and used for evil; the very truth. Haven’t we seen that in the development of the papal religion? It was the Christianity that was then perverted

It takes us right through to now. We are in exactly the same danger while self and human pride is still there. It must be totally cleansed out, or else we go down the same path.

That which was designed by God to give to the world clear, distinct rays of light, Nebuchadnezzar turned from its purpose, making it minister to his pride and vanity. The prophetic illustration of God’s glory was made to serve for the glorification of humanity. The symbol designed to unfold important events was used as a symbol that would hinder the spread of the knowledge that God desired the kingdoms of the world to receive. By the magnificence and beauty of his image, the king sought to make error appear more attractive, more powerful, than the truths that God had revealed. {YI, February 2, 1904 par. 9}

Are we learning the lessons of Nebuchadnezzar? In other words, he went right back to his idolatrous ways after he had already bowed to the King of heaven. Therefore Daniel 3:1-7 was carried out. As I was reading that, I thought, did God make a mistake in showing this wonderful dream to this pagan king? It looks like that, doesn’t it? If you don’t know the rest of the story which is to follow; if you were just right there and then, you might have thought, “What did God show him that image for? Look at what they have made out of it.” But God wasn’t finished with Nebuchadnezzar yet. God sees not as man sees. God looks past the atrocities that are enacted in human lives, where the heart becomes overwhelmed by fleshly corruptions. God looks beyond that.

How would you have judged Nebuchadnezzar if you were there at this stage, discovering these events which have just illuminated our minds? How would you have judged them? Think carefully. What would you have concluded about him? Hopeless case? It looks like it, doesn’t it? Hopeless case; corrupt; why do I spend more time with him? Not worth it. Do you know that today we meet humans who are demonstrating exactly what Nebuchadnezzar demonstrated? We rub shoulders with them and we think, “What hopeless cases. They have already been convinced, and now look at what they are doing. They have already been convinced of the things that we know to be true of God, and of the Spirit of Prophecy, and now they do the exact opposite.” Do you write them off? Do you talk of them, and say, Look at that? We have just such temptations, don’t we? What those who used to be with us are now doing. “Look at that!” Do we talk about them? Do we shut them out of our mind?

1 Samuel 16:7 …[the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

God knows Nebuchadnezzar and the hopeless cases of sinful people. This verse above was originally put the other way around. There was this noble, lofty person that Samuel thought could be the king of Israel, after he had been told to go and anoint the king. It was one of the sons of Jesse, but God said, No, no, not this noble-looking fellow. On the surface he looked noble, but God knew the heart. Reverse that and see somebody corrupt and idolatrous, and the same principle remains. God looks at the heart. We see the surface only. That was the case with Nebuchadnezzar.

The eye of the Lord is upon all the work, all the plans, all the imaginings of every mind; {TM 463.3}

Not what is on the surface, but what is in the heart.

He sees beneath the surface of things, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is not a deed of darkness, not a plan, not an imagination of the heart, not a thought of the mind, but that He reads it as an open book. Every act, every word, every motive, is faithfully chronicled in the records by the great Heart Searcher who said, “I know thy works.” {TM 463.3}

This is to be understood in both positive and negatives approaches. God knows it all, and God knew Nebuchadnezzar. We only see at this stage a man who was corrupting his original convictions, and using the truth that God gave him, to develop it towards evil.

1 Chronicles 28:9 …the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts

We can’t. God can. Ponder upon this. We worship the God who knows things we do not know. Therefore how careful we must be that we do not, as His true followers, impugn anything upon anybody that we do not know. I hear it many times, and I hear it in a way which says, This is terrible, that is what is going to happen; and I sometimes say, Don’t say that. “Oh, yes, you wait and see; I am not wrong; it’s going to happen.” And true enough it happens. So what? Just because you were right doesn’t mean that that was necessarily going to be so forever, because we do not know what is in the heart of another person! Only God knows that. Therefore what are we in danger of doing when we see things and we see people’s behaviour and we see where that is leading to, and we put ourselves up on the judgment seat and say, “This is it”? What are we doing?

Our problem is that we with our natural vision are prone to both make judgments and then talk about those judgments as though they are truth. This is very serious.

Psalm 50:20 Thou sittest [and] speakest against thy brother; thou slenderest thine own mother’s son. 21 These [things] hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether [such an one] as thyself: [but] I will reprove thee, and set [them] in order before thine eyes.

Take that in reference to Nebuchadnezzar. Imagine that you don’t know what the future is because it hasn’t been revealed to you, and you see him there and you say, Nebuchadnezzar is a hopeless case. Then we go and talk to other people about him, and we slander him, “See? He is a heathen. He was a heathen to start with, he was cruel to our people, and now look at that, he goes and honours God, and then he does that.” We slander him. As we do that we think that we are right and that God is behind my judgment. That is what is meant here, “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence.” God didn’t say, No, no, it’s not true. God didn’t do that. He kept silence, and He let us continue with our conclusions, and think that He is altogether like me in my judgments. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” If we have made a judgment of Nebuchadnezzar, now we are going to go on studying and He is going to set them in order. We want to learn that lesson, because we are going to see God working in ways that we do not expect, on people whom we thought were completely blotto This is to be entrenched in our understanding in the lessons from Nebuchadnezzar.

What God intends to do with these apparently unpromising ones, you do not know. He has in the past accepted persons no more promising or attractive to do a great work for Him. His Spirit, moving upon the heart, has aroused every faculty to vigorous action. The Lord saw in those rough, unhewn stones precious material that would stand the test of storm and heat and pressure. God sees not as man sees. He does not judge from appearances, but He searches the heart, and judges righteously. {3SM 240.3}

I hope and pray that from God’s word, at this point in the study, we take the lesson very definitely and don’t let time take away the convictions. Next time you want to slander somebody else because of what they have been doing, remember this because we don’t know what is yet to happen and God may still be working.

God knows. And because He knows what is in Nebuchadnezzar’s heart, He is not finished with him. No matter how bad he was becoming God had a predestined conclusion for him. This is the true knowledge of predestination:

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Nebuchadnezzar, whom He did foreknow, was predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He, His Son, might be the firstborn among many brethren. “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called;” can you see how He was working through Daniel to call him? “And whom he called, them he also justified;” yes, he has just done this corrupt thing, but I am justifying him, he is going to come through. “And whom he justified, them he also glorified;” at the end He glorified him. Here is a very deep and important lesson for us to take to heart. May God help us not to forget the lessons from Nebuchadnezzar.

Amen.

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

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