13 A Year to Forget

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

There is a vast field of lessons to learn in the life of Nebuchadnezzar.  

In the experience of Nebuchadnezzar is contained a lesson to which we should give heed, lest we fall into temptation. The perils of the last days are upon us, and we should watch and pray, read and heed the lessons that are given us in the books of Daniel and Revelation. {13MR 67.1}

Like the book of Revelation the book of Daniel has lessons in it for us upon whom the perils of the last days are come. Sister White wrote that over a hundred and twenty years ago. Where are we now? The perils of the last days are truly upon us. The lessons learnt from Daniel and from Nebuchadnezzar are to be heeded lest we fall. She is here writing to converted people, people who have already started their walk with God. We observe in our progressive search in the life of Nebuchadnezzar that he himself was given profound lessons through his dreams and the associated experiences in continuation after his dreams. But how well did he retain the lessons? How well do we retain the lessons?

…for a time after the vision of the great image, [Nebuchadnezzar] acknowledged God as supreme. Falling back into idolatrous habits, he was again, by the miraculous deliverance of the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace, led to acknowledge that God’s “kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.” But once more the king perverted the warnings God had given him, and turned aside from the path of humility to follow the imaginations of his naturally proud heart. {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 6}  

Because Nebuchadnezzar did not continue to walk in the light he had received from heaven, he lost the holy impressions that had been made upon his mind. {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 1}

Continually we are seeing in the quotes we are reading and repeating that Nebuchadnezzar was so impacted by God and yet he would not continue to remain under the impact of God. Although he acknowledged God, like we do, yet the holy impressions implanted upon us can be lost because we don’t continue to walk in that light, because we don’t take time to be holy because so many things press us like it did with him.

He lost the holy impressions that had been made upon his mind – We are shown here the entrenched condition of the natural heart. Nebuchadnezzar had a second dream and he received warning, but he had a year to forget. After he had the second dream, again he forgot. It is fascinating to see that over the next year the impact of the dream he had had was forgotten again. Before that, he had given that strong acceptance to Daniel, “Daniel, if it’s against me, tell me just the same.” He had honoured God. This was a genuine thing on his part; but genuine as it may have been, over the next year he forgot again and went back. He went back so far that he even ridiculed what the Lord had shown him.

The entrenched condition of the natural heart is what we are seeking to understand. We want to understand our natural heart. What do the Scriptures say the heart is like?

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked:

That is not somebody else’s heart; it is mine. We see it revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. Apostle Paul deals with the natural heart and tells us that this natural heart that is in humanity is definitely not to be trusted.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

The natural man in us, the natural heart, is frequently placed into bewilderment because the spiritual things that God is trying to communicate to us, the natural man regards as foolishness. Have you ever thought to yourself that, This is just foolish; yet afterwards you realised that that was the Lord? It is because the natural heart regards it as foolishness.

I have been shown that the doubts expressed in regard to the truthfulness of our position and the inspiration of the word of God are not caused as many suppose them to be. {1T 440.1}

What is the reason that people express doubts in regard to the truthfulness of our position? You know how it is in today’s modern Adventism; they no longer regard the early Adventist position as genuinely true. Where does that doubt come from?

These difficulties are not so much with the Bible or with the evidences of our faith as with their own hearts. {1T 440.1}

The evidences are there and they were convinced at one stage. I will never forget the conversation I had with my brother-in-law who was a colporteur when I was a youth. He was a devout colporteur, he really believed what he was doing. But now? It’s all changed. Here is the reason that the Spirit of Prophecy identifies as to why people doubt:

The requirements of God’s word are too close for their unsanctified natures. {1T 440.1}

That is the reason why they begin to doubt. Because this is too close. My natural heart just doesn’t like it.

“The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” If the feelings of the natural heart are not restrained and brought into subjection by the sanctifying influence of the grace of God received through the channel of faith, the thoughts of the heart are not pure and holy. {1T 440.1}

What do we have to do? The feelings of the natural heart are to be restrained and brought into subjection. They won’t be completely eradicated. The natural heart is always there but constantly the impulses that come up from my natural heart must be restrained and brought into subjection. How? “By the sanctifying influence of the grace of God received through the channel of faith.” This is the reason why we are spending time in conferences and divine services and the study of the Sabbath School Lesson – to let my natural heart become overwhelmed by the sanctifying influences of God’s grace and to cause my natural heart to be brought into subjection.

The conditions of salvation brought to view in the word of God are reasonable, plain, and positive, being nothing less than perfect conformity to the will of God and purity of heart and life. We must crucify self with the lusts thereof. We must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. {1T 440.1}

Holy impressions are made of none effect because of the natural heart. This condition of the natural heart which we all have to continually deal with often makes our spirit think, what hope have I got? I begin to feel totally hopeless but after all that reality, God with Nebuchadnezzar tells us He hasn’t given up on us just because that condition is there. God had powerfully touched Nebuchadnezzar and He continues to do as we come to the very close of his life. But time kept on wearing off these constant inroads of God’s love upon his life. After the dream by which the king’s mind should have been startled and which should have led him to rise to a decided reform, what happened? He had a year to forget. What he had done with the previous impressions, he again did with this last impression.

The impression was made upon Nebuchadnezzar by Daniel, a deep impression of the knowledge of the dream that he received and of what it meant for him and Daniel desired and counselled him that he should respond to his dream. What did Daniel say to him?

Daniel 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

Here was the impact of the dream and the counsel; do something about it. Have we ever been impacted and we said, That was a real powerful manifestation? But did we do anything about it? That is the question. Did Nebuchadnezzar do anything about it?

Sister White is here writing to Dr. Kellogg and he was a very similar person to Nebuchadnezzar. Unfortunately he didn’t pay attention to this counsel.

Dr. Kellogg, please read this chapter prayerfully and carefully, and present it before all your associates. Under another symbol his power and glory were presented before Nebuchadnezzar. Read this with a heart open to understand its significance. The interpretation was plainly given to the proud king, and [was] followed by a message from God. The counsel was given to the king in these words, “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor” [Daniel 4:27]. {13MR 61.3}

For a time Nebuchadnezzar was impressed by the warning and counsel that had been given him, {13MR 62.1}

Nebuchadnezzar’s heart was impressed, even by the counsel.

…but a heart that is not fully transformed by the grace of God soon loses the impression of the Holy Spirit. {13MR 62.1}

If mine inmost soul is not converted, what will happen? The impression received of the Holy Spirit loses its impact.

For 12 months the king was placed on trial, {13MR 62.1}

Would the king heed the counsel?

…but at the end of that time he manifested the spirit that had led him to set up the golden image. {13MR 62.1}

He went back to the same spirit that he had when he set up the golden image.

At the end of 12 months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. “The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty” [verse 30, R.V.]. {13MR 62.1}

That was the spirit he had when he had built the image, My glory and my majesty, bow down everybody. Same spirit. He did not retain the counsel and the impact of his second dream that God had so graciously given him.

The repeated, sharp impressions that God had given him, now with an extra warning behind it, gradually wore off. How does the natural heart deal with an impression that was once very solemn?

Warnings had been given him of God; Daniel had appealed to him to change his course of action, to break off his sins by righteousness, in order that this terrible sentence might not be fulfilled. {13MR 62.2}

God gave him the dream to arouse him to change his way so that it wouldn’t happen. But did he? God gives His people warnings, but are they listening? Are they doing what He says? We see here an object lesson in this king’s life.

But self-indulgence, inordinate ambition, was not eradicated from his heart, and after a time revealed itself in words of vanity. {13MR 62.2}

We just shake our heads and say, Is that possible? It certainly is, and with us as well. These are the principles we are to learn because the natural heart, if it is not diligently laid aside, will play havoc like that with us also. This is why Sr. White said to Dr. Kellogg that it was essential for him to read carefully and prayerfully this whole chapter – Daniel chapter four.  Are we much better than Dr. Kellogg? Dr. Kellogg was a deep believer in the Adventist message and he was right at the top of the medical missionary institution; he was a great man.

Notwithstanding the instruction so graciously given him, and the warnings of past experience, Nebuchadnezzar again allowed himself to be controlled by a spirit of jealousy against the kingdoms that were to follow. His rule, which heretofore had been to a great degree just and merciful, became oppressive. {PK 519.1}

He changed. He already had progressed to become a just and merciful king but now he reverted and became oppressive. We can be so touched by the Lord and be so kind and courteous and loving and then we can become oppressive again.

Hardening his heart, he used his God-given talents for self-glorification, exalting himself above the God who had given him life and power. {PK 519.1}

For months the judgment of God lingered. But instead of being led to repentance by this forbearance, the king indulged his pride until he lost confidence in the interpretation of the dream, and jested at his former fears. {PK 519.2}

Is this possible? Have you ever been deeply convinced of something, and then because the fear of what would happen if you didn’t do that begins to wear off, after a period of time you begin to think, what was I so scared about that for? Nothing is happening, everything is fine. That was Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude. But God wasn’t finished with him yet.

After so many lessons gained, he had a year to forget once again. It is terrible to behold that King Nebuchadnezzar would actually dishonour the mercy of God to him in giving him such a dream dishonouring the Lord’s mercy towards him by even jesting over this help from God. Are we missing the point when we see him and we say, why would he do a thing like that? Come on Nebuchadnezzar, wake up? By saying that about him, we are saying it to ourselves. Come on John, wake up; are you missing the point?

Whatever the position we are called to fill, our only safety is in walking humbly with God. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 8}

That is why Sister White was writing to Kellogg. He had a high position and she was telling him read Nebuchadnezzar’s story because whatever the position we are called to fill, our only safety is in walking humbly with God.

The man who glories in his supposed capabilities, in his position of power, in his wisdom, in his property, or in anything else than Christ, will be taken in the net of the enemy. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 8}

Examine yourself closely. Is that our nature? Do we look for comfort that I am a capable person? Do I have within my soul a sense that, You can really do that well? This is the natural heart. And if I don’t have that sense that I can really do that well, I fall in despair and begin to think, I am not getting any encouragement here. We look for encouragement from the things that we can do. That is self. If I glory in my supposed capabilities, in my position of power, in my wisdom, in my property, or in anything else than Christ, what will happen to me? I will be caught in Satan’s net.

He who fails to walk humbly before God will find a spirit rising up within him, prompting the desire to rule others connected with him, and causing him to oppress others who are human and erring like himself. He appropriates to himself jurisdiction and control over other men,–an honor which belongs alone to God. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 8}

Can we be in that position? I am a long standing Seventh-day Adventist and here come all these new-comers and I have to be someone who is to rule them because they don’t know what I know,and I can say, you should be doing that and you should be doing this. This mentality, this spirit, comes when we are responding to that natural heart as then we become oppressive to others. Do you feel oppressed when somebody hones in on you? This is what we are to learn from Nebuchadnezzar because when he did that, he became an oppressive ruler.

The mixing up of things sacred with things carnal, the conforming of the church to the world, [the] making [of] laws to bind the consciences of those whom God has made free, [all this, done] through secular influences, will be the masterly working of satanic agencies in cruel imprisonments. And the human agent exercising a power over the religious faith and conscience of his fellow men, will hinder many poor, timid, ignorant souls from doing the will of God. {4MR 6.3}

Timid individuals who come into the church, ignorant and needing to learn, what will they do when they are under this kind of church dictatorial oppression? We know how we suffered under that from the previous church that we came from. But remember, all the reformers that came out of an oppressive church began to become oppressive to others. You just have to read the history of the Puritans who had to flee from England and went to America – there they became oppressors as well because of this problem.

But many will be taught of God. {4MR 6.3}

That is the beautiful part. This oppressive nature as with Nebuchadnezzar, doesn’t stop God from teaching them.

They will learn aright from Jesus Christ. They have been more slow to learn lessons relating to religious liberty, because of the attitude that man has assumed toward his fellow men, calling men his property. Imperfect discernment exists still in many minds in reference to their own God-given rights. {4MR 6.3}

Sister White is here addressing the problems of leaders in the church who are letting the natural heart intermingle with the spiritual principles. This is what we see with Nebuchadnezzar when he made the decree that anybody who would not worship God would see his house turned into a dunghill and he himself chopped to pieces.

One finite human being compelling another to do his will, claiming to be mind and judgment for another—this sentiment, that has Satan for its originator, has presented a history, terrible, horrible in oppression, tortures, and bloodshed. {4MR 7.1}

That is where it leads to. It starts on a small level. We have to disfellowship this heathen and we are going to stamp them out of our church fellowship. This kind of mentality grows into what happened in the history of the past.

How did all this affect Nebuchadnezzar? In the vision he was represented by that tree and the birds were sitting in it being protected by the tree and the animals dwelt underneath and there was fruit for the people to eat and beautiful leaves. What happened?

Nebuchadnezzar again allowed himself to be controlled by a spirit of jealousy against the kingdoms that were to follow. {PK 519.1}

He was jealous of the next kingdoms and empires that were to follow his own. Therefore what did he do?

His rule, which heretofore had been to a great degree just and merciful, became oppressive. {PK 519.1}

A spirit grabbed hold of him so that he reverted and became oppressive to his subjects. Has it been the blight in God’s church and also among our former experiences? To us, as to Nebuchadnezzar, the counsel of James 3:13-18 is given. The precious impressions of God’s mercy and love and goodness have brought us to where we are and have made us the kind of people that we have become, but the forgetfulness of those impressions makes it easy to fall back according to our natural heart.

James 3:13 Who [is] a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?

Here is a good question. Who of you is wise and endued with knowledge? So we say, yes, I’ve got lots of wisdom.

James 3:13 …let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

We begin to become oppressive and there is jealousy of others. When we don’t cherish what the Lord has said and we begin to revert to the natural heart.

James 3:15 This wisdom [that comes from the natural heart] descendeth not from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle,

We experience difference of opinions sometimes in the church and then there comes a heated argument. Is that peaceable? That is not the wisdom from above. This wisdom is gentle. There is no room in God’s church for debate and cutting each other down. None of that.

James 3:15 …[and] easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers. How fragrant is it around you?

What is lying against the truth? {7BC 936.10}

“If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” We usually interpret that to mean, I don’t agree with the truth, I teach error. No, that is not what this means here.

What is lying against the truth? It is claiming to believe the truth while the spirit, the words, the deportment, represent not Christ but Satan. {7BC 936.10}

We think we’ve got to defend the truth, and we fight for the truth; and we do it according to the natural man. But we lie against the truth when we do it like that. “It is claiming to believe the truth while the spirit, the words, the deportment, represent not Christ but Satan.”

To surmise evil, to be impatient and unforgiving, is lying against the truth; but love, patience, and long forbearance are in accordance with the principles of truth. Truth is ever pure, ever kind, breathing a heavenly fragrance unmingled with selfishness (RH March 12, 1895). {7BC 936.10}

Are we picking up what truth is? It is upholding truth with the right spirit, in the right kind of communication skills; because the truth will give me wisdom and communication skills. It is manifesting purity, kindness, and a heavenly fragrance.

There is a tendency in us to think that evil surmising is wisdom.

He who opens his heart to the suggestions of the enemy, taking in evil surmisings, and cherishing jealousy, frequently misconstrues this evil-mindedness, calling it special foresight, discrimination, or discernment in detecting guilt and fathoming the evil motives of others. {7BC 936.11}

I have had this given to me many times in the past. “Oh, Brother John, I can discern better than you.” That has actually been said to me. “I know some of these people, you don’t know them. I know what they are like, and this is going to happen, and that is going to happen.” I just shut my mouth, because I thought, You poor soul.

They regarded their evil surmising and judging the guilt of others as special foresight. “It is going to happen! I am such a smart person I can see exactly what is going to happen.” I have said to some people, No, no. They answered, “Oh, yes.” Then when it happened they said, “See? I told you so. I have foresight.” But there is something written about that. If you believe something is going to happen, you will be instrumental in creating it.  Then of course it happens, because I have imposed it upon people by my spirit.

He considers that a precious gift has been vouchsafed to him; and he draws apart from the very brethren with whom he should be in harmony; he climbs upon the judgment seat, and shuts his heart against the one he supposes to be in error, as though he himself were above temptation. Jesus separates from him, and leaves him to walk in the sparks of his own kindling. {7BC 936.11}

Let no one among you glory any longer against the truth by declaring that this spirit is a necessary consequence of dealing faithfully with wrongdoers and of standing in defense of the truth. {7BC 936.12}

We think we are standing in defence of the truth; we think we are keeping the church pure by this spirit.

Such wisdom has many admirers, but it is very deceptive and harmful. It does not come from above, but is the fruit of an unregenerated heart. Its originator is Satan himself. Let no accuser of others credit himself with discernment; for in so doing he clothes the attributes of Satan with the garments of righteousness. I call upon you, my brethren, to purify the soul temple of all these things that defile; for they are roots of bitterness. {7BC 936.12}

How true are the words of the apostle, “Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” One person in an institution or in a church who gives loose rein to unkind thoughts by speaking evil of the brethren, may stir up the worst passions of the human heart, and spread abroad a leaven of evil that will work in all who come into association with him. In this way the enemy of all righteousness gains the victory, and the result of his work is to make of no effect the Saviour’s prayer when He pleaded that His disciples might be one as He is one with the Father (RH March 12, 1895). {7BC 937.1}

I thank God that through Nebuchadnezzar we could come across this instruction; because Nebuchadnezzar was different until he decided that he would make of none effect the dream and the counsel that he was given; then it was that he became more oppressive. That is what happens with the natural heart.

Those who criticize and condemn one another are breaking God’s commandments, and are an offense to Him. They neither love God nor their fellow beings. Brethren and sisters, let us clear away the rubbish of criticism and suspicion and complaint, and do not wear your nerves on the outside. {7BC 937.2}

Have you ever worn your nerves on the outside?

Some are so sensitive that they cannot be reasoned with. Be very sensitive in regard to what it means to keep the law of God, and in regard to whether you are keeping or breaking the law. It is this that God wants us to be sensitive about (GCB April 1, 1903). {7BC 937.2}

We have been reading of the One who knows our hearts; and He knows exactly what is the cause-to-effect of the natural heart and how it plays havoc with the beauty of the truth.

Let us receive the lesson as we would expect Nebuchadnezzar to have received it. But if we fail to receive it, God hasn’t given up on us yet. He will bring it about, if He knows that deep down I do love Him and I want to serve Him but I am getting confused with my natural heart. The Lord will bring us through. But let us take the lesson to heart so that we don’t have to go into a destruction of our tranquillity. God wants us to have tranquillity; He wants us to have peace, but this kind of activity takes away our tranquillity; it makes us insane. That is what had to happen to Nebuchadnezzar because he wouldn’t listen. Let the Lord bring the lesson home, so that we can get rid of, and discard decidedly, this thing. Don’t let it continue. The Lord pleads with us, break off your sins by righteousness.

Amen.

Posted on March 21, 2015, in Nebuchadnezzar Life Lessons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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