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March 11, 2022 9:00 am


Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 11, 2022 9:00 am

Just when we think we’ve nailed it, pride creeps in and can destroy us. Just ask the character in our teaching. He learned some pretty serious lessons about the sin of pride and its consequences.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The most fundamentally determinative factors in your life you had no control of. Yes, you may have worked hard but you were using health and energy that was supplied to you by God. None of us are truly self-made men. We took gifts, good gifts that God gave us, and we utilized them.

And to not acknowledge that is cosmic plagiarism. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer. I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. Let's start today with a question. Is pride a problem for you? Chances are, if you answered no, that actually could be a prideful statement.

You know why? Because we're proud of the fact that we're not prideful. It's a tricky thing, pride. Just when we think we've nailed it, it creeps in and it can destroy us.

Just ask the character in our teaching today. He learned some pretty serious lessons about the sin of pride and its consequences. So grab your Bible, open your heart, and let's see what God has to say to us today about the roots of pride. Amen.

All right, Daniel chapter four, if you got your Bible this weekend, Daniel chapter four. This behind me here, this is Mike Tyson. If you were under the age of 30, you may not know this guy.

I don't want you to get confused. I know some of you saw that and thought that might have been a picture of me with my shirt off for a minute, but that's not true. It is hard to describe what an icon that Mike Tyson was when I was in middle and high school. He was, along with Michael Jordan, one of the 80s great sports phenoms. He was a boxer unlike any who had ever come before him. He had this whole string of heavyweight challengers between 1985 and, say, 1990 that he knocked out in one minute or less, like 10 of them.

And I am not exaggerating. He even had a video game named after him called Mike Tyson Punch Out. It was my favorite arcade game for a while.

My parents could drop me off at the mall with $2, and I could play that game for three hours. He got so rich from his wins that there was this infamous story about him running his Ferrari out of gas and just leaving it on the side of the road, never returning to pick it up. Well, at the peak of Mike Tyson's career, 1990, Iron Mike was his nickname squared off with a no-name fighter named Buster Douglas.

Now, when I say nobody, I mean nobody. It was not even supposed to be a challenge. Mike Tyson had knocked out his previous opponent in 93 seconds, so the Vegas odds were not about whether he would win. There were 42 to 1 that he would win.

In most places, the casinos wouldn't take the bet. The bet was really on how long it would take Mike Tyson to knock out Buster Douglas. But Mike was so heady from his previous successes that he didn't even prepare for this fight.

He stayed out late, for example, partying the night before. And, of course, you can guess what happened. Buster Douglas won by knockout in the 10th round. And I remember, I was a junior in high school, I remember when it happened, just being bewildered because this was literally the plot of Rocky III, which had just come out a few years before this fight. Rocky takes himself for granted, gets fat and out of shape, then loses to Mr. T, Mick dies. It was terrible.

It was like the low point of the 1980s for me. And Mike should have known better, I thought. I was like, he's Steve Boxer.

He's seen the movie. How did he not know this was coming? But, see, Mike thought he was special. Mike thought he was special. And Buster showed him that night that he was not. That fight, by the way, proved to be a watershed in the career of Mike Tyson.

At that point, his career went pretty rapidly downhill after that. Mike Tyson's life illustrates a very tragic truth, a truth that some of you, in less dramatic ways, have experienced in your own life, and that's this. Defeat is difficult. Defeat's always difficult, but success can be fatal. Defeat is difficult, y'all, but success can be fatal. In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar is suffering from a bad case of what I'll call the successes, and the Almighty is about to knock him out with a right hook.

But unlike the punch by Buster Douglas or Mr. T, Clubber Lang, the hit that God lands is going to be a healing one. Y'all, it is truly a crazy story. It is one of the craziest stories in your Bible, but you need to read it as the final round in God's battle versus Nebuchadnezzar. Round one, if you recall, was when God had prospered Daniel and his friends after they defied the king's order to eat defiled foods that were forbidden by Jewish law. And so they decided that they were going to obey God rather than Nebuchadnezzar. But at the end of the time of the examination, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel 1 says, were found to be smarter, healthier, and brighter than all the other wise men.

So round one goes to God. Round two was when God gave Daniel the ability to do what none of Nebuchadnezzar's wise men were able to do, and that is to reveal and then interpret a mysterious dream, a dream you might remember about a gigantic statue warning Nebuchadnezzar about setting up a kingdom independent of God. In that encounter, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that there was indeed something special about Daniel's God, that he was a God that could do what no other God could do. He said, and I quote, chapter two, verse 47, surely your God is the God of all gods, and he is the Lord of all kings.

In other words, he's better and higher than my gods. Nebuchadnezzar was a little dazed from this round, but he wasn't knocked out yet. So Daniel chapter three, round three, was what I'll call the skirmish by the furnace, where Nebuchadnezzar sets up a 90-foot gold statue of himself and commanded everybody to bow down to it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were Daniel's friends, refused to do that, not set up another confrontation between Nebuchadnezzar, where Nebuchadnezzar threw the three teenagers into a fiery furnace. But instead of dying instantly like Nebuchadnezzar expected, Nebuchadnezzar saw them up walking around in the fire with a mysterious fourth man that Nebuchadnezzar called the Son of God.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego then emerged from that fiery furnace without so much as even a hair on their head singed or the slightest whiff of smoke on their clothing. At the end of this round, round three, Nebuchadnezzar exclaims, you might remember, blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel and delivered his servants, the servants who trusted in him, who defied the king's command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve or worship any other god except their own god. There is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.

In other words, he said, God is your God is one of a kind. You know, it seems like we're getting somewhere, right? Like Nebuchadnezzar might be ready to throw in the towel. But as round four opens, we see that Nebuchadnezzar is still fighting.

So Daniel four is going to be God's knockout blow. Strangely enough, I will tell you that there is no story in the Bible, no story that I think I personally identify with more than this one. No, I did not have a season where I went insane, ate grass, and didn't cut my fingernails for seven years like we were about to see happen with Nebuchadnezzar.

Although, my mom would quickly point out that that kind of describes my hygiene as a middle schooler. But the point is, when I was a teenager, I felt like God did some rather dramatic things to humble me. And I remember reading this chapter at the end of that season, and when I got to the part where Nebuchadnezzar summarizes how God humbled him, and what God had taught him through that humbling, and Nebuchadnezzar, who was one of the wickedest, most pagan kings in history, when he finally lifts his humbled eyes in worship to God.

Y'all, I felt like I was reading something that could have been written by my own autobiography. Let's take a look. Chapter four, verse one. Now, to those of every people, nation, and language, there's your phrase again, who live on the whole earth, may your prosperity increase. I am pleased to tell you about the miracles and wonders that the most high God has done for me. How great are his miracles, how mighty his wonders. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace. By the way, this is a chapter of your Bible that was written by a pagan king. I had a dream, he said.

I had a dream, and it frightened me. So, as was Nebuchadnezzar's custom, he called in all the wise men of Babylon to give him an interpretation. But none of the wise men could do it. They were probably still a little gun shy since Nebuchadnezzar had threatened to have them all killed for making up dream interpretations. You might remember that from Daniel 2. But finally, verse 8, Daniel. Daniel, who was also called Belteshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar says, after the name of my God, but the spirit of the holy gods is actually at him. He came before me, and I told him the dream.

Here it goes. There was a tree in the middle of the earth, and it was very tall. Its top reached to the sky, and it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit was abundant, and on it was food for all.

Wild animals found shelter under it. The birds of the sky lived in its branches, and every creature on earth was fed from it. But then Nebuchadnezzar said, while I was admiring this tree, a messenger suddenly dropped down from heaven and proclaimed with a loud voice, cut down this tree. Verse 14, chop off all its branches. Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from underneath it. Let the birds from out of its branches, but leave the stump with its roots. Let him be drenched with dew from the sky and share the plants of the earth with the animals. Let his mind be changed from that of a human, and let him be given the mind of an animal for seven periods of time. This is so, verse 17, that the living will know that the most high is ruler over human kingdoms.

He gives them to anyone he wants, and he sets the lowliest of people over them. Now verse 19 says that when Nebuchadnezzar told Daniel this dream, Daniel was deeply troubled and asked Nebuchadnezzar not to force him to give Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation. He said, verse 19, my Lord, my Lord, no, may the dream apply to those who hate you. May its interpretation apply only to your enemies.

By the way, could I just observe? It appears that Daniel, by this point, had learned genuinely to love Nebuchadnezzar, right? Nebuchadnezzar, the one who had taken him captive. Nebuchadnezzar, the one who had destroyed his country. Nebuchadnezzar, the one who likely had killed his parents.

He'd learned to love him, not to admire him, not to approve of all his practices, far from it, but to love him as a person. You see, Daniel had obeyed God's command that we saw in Jeremiah 29 a few weeks ago to make his home in Babylon, to seek the blessing of its inhabitants, and he'd learned genuinely to love Nebuchadnezzar. So I might ask you, is that how you feel about the antagonistic Babylonians around you, whether the ones in politics or the ones that live next door to you, the ones maybe even in your family, even when they threaten to throw you in the fiery furnace?

Are your Babylonian neighbors around you with their offensive signs in their yards or their offensive Facebook post, are they primarily political opponents for you to overcome, or are they people you genuinely love, weep for, and pray the best for? Daniel learned to love Nebuchadnezzar. So Daniel said, please, please, Nebuchadnezzar, don't make me interpret this dream.

And Nebuchadnezzar, who, evidently by this point, had also learned to genuinely trust Daniel, responded, verse 19, about the shazar. Don't let the dream or its interpretation alarm you, just tell me. So Daniel said, verse 22, King Nebuchadnezzar, you are the tree. Like this tree, you have become great and strong. Your greatness has grown and even reaches the sky.

Your dominion extends to the ends of the earth. But God has issued a decree from heaven that because of your pride, you, like this tree, you're going to be cut down. Verse 25, you're going to be driven away from people to live with the wild animals.

You're going to feed on grass like cattle. You're going to be drenched with dew from the sky for seven periods of time until you acknowledge that the most high is ruler over human kingdoms, and he gives them to whomever he wants. Verse 26, as for the command to leave the tree stump with its roots, your kingdom will be restored to you as soon as you acknowledge that heaven rules. Daniel pleaded with the king to repent, to turn his life over to God.

He pleaded with Nebuchadnezzar to listen. So he said, verse 27, therefore may the king heed my advice. Separate yourself right now from your sins.

I'm starting to do what's right. Separate yourself from your injustices by showing mercy to the needy. Perhaps there will be an extension of your prosperity. Sadly, Nebuchadnezzar didn't do it. So verse 29, at the end of 12 months, as Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, admiring its power and its beauty, his heart filling with a swelling sense of pride over what he had accomplished, the king exclaimed, is this not Babylon the Great that I have built to be a royal residence by my by my vast power and for my majestic glory? While the words were still in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven. King Nebuchadnezzar, to you, it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you.

You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass-like cattle for seven periods of time until you acknowledge at the most high this ruler over human kingdoms, and he gives them to whomever he wants. And at that very moment, the message against Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. God gave Nebuchadnezzar 12 months to repent, and really, honestly, a lot more than that.

That was only after four chapters worth of warnings and signs. But the day came. The day came when Nebuchadnezzar crossed the line, and God said, that's it, enough. By the way, God knows when that day is for you.

It never is when you think it is. But God says, you have walked in disobedience long enough. You have resisted enough pieces of counsel.

You have dodged your ears to enough things that I've said to you in your heart, through your pastor, through your parents, through your friends, enough. And that very hour, he sends something to destroy your foundations, to rock you to your core. And so it happened to Nebuchadnezzar. For seven periods of time, he ate grass like cattle.

His body was drenched with dew from the sky until his hair grew like eagle's feathers and his nails like bird's claws. By the way, we're not exactly sure what seven periods of time meant. Most scholars say it probably means seven years, and I think that's right.

Probably more important, though, is that the number seven is the Old Testament number for fullness. So this is the Bible's way of saying that Nebuchadnezzar suffered for the full amount of time. In other words, as long as it took.

Or let me make it really simple for you. As much time as it took for Neb to realize that God was God and Neb was Neb and that Neb needed to abdicate the throne he had usurped from God. During those seven seasons, the mightiest king in Babylon was reduced to a groveling madman. He lived outside. He ate grass like a cow. His hair grew out like eagle's feathers and his nails like the talons of an eagle. By the way, that's another reason that I think it was seven actual years. We're not talking about a no-shave November or a bad case of split ends because you didn't use conditioner or wearing the same pair of underwear for a week. We're talking about so many years that his hair became so long and matted that it looked like feathers instead of human hair. And during this time, he ate grass like a cow. It was utterly humiliating, okay? A moving experience.

No, no, sorry. Believe it or not, believe it or not, psychologists actually have a classified name for this. It's called bowanthropy, a mental disorder that, while rare, the victim believes that he or she is a cow. God was using Nebuchadnezzar to give us a picture of what happens to humanity when we rebel against God. You see, like Nebuchadnezzar, you and I were created to rule on the earth, but when we reject God and when we give ourselves to sin, we become like beasts. We become insane. You see it here in the life of Nebuchadnezzar. I'm gonna show you in a minute how it applies to us as individuals, but this is not just true of individuals.

It's true of whole societies that turn their backs on God. The apostle Paul said, for example, the human race, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. In other words, all our sophistication and advancement, in all of it, as far as we came, we go insane. We say things like the human race is nothing more than the product of chance plus time. That's what they say in the most erudite halls of our universities, that nothing times nobody equals everything, that we're just slightly evolved beasts, no different than monkeys, except for some reasoning capacity and opposable thumbs. Insanity. We say things like, you know, if you're an advanced parent, right, if you're an advanced parent and you think your 10-year-old boy is really a girl trapped in a boy's body, well then give him hormone therapy and irreversibly give him hormone therapy and irreversible invasive surgery to make him a girl, and if anybody opposes that, we'll call that a hate crime.

Insanity. This is not just about Nebuchadnezzar. This is about the whole human race. It's about you.

It's about me. So let's stop here for a minute and let's reflect on human pride, because that is what is most at work in this chapter. This is the source of all of Nebuchadnezzar's other sins.

It's like C.S. Lewis said, pride is the mother sin. The mother sin that gives birth to all the other sins. So we're gonna look at pride's roots in Nebuchadnezzar's life, then we're gonna look at pride's fruits, and then I'm gonna show you pride's cure. Number one, let's look at pride's roots. In this chapter we see that pride has at least two roots. Number one is a failure to see that every good thing comes from God.

A failure to see that every good thing comes from God. In verse 30, Nebuchadnezzar exclaims, right? Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built to be a royal residence by my vast power and for my majestic glory?

There is no acknowledgement at all that it comes from God. So God says, verse 32, you think you did all this, Nebuchadnezzar? I'm ultimately in charge of it all. Every talent you have, every breath you take, every ounce of strength you exert is a gift from me.

And I set up whoever I want and tear down whoever I want. I'll tell you that Americans, we Americans in particular, believe this myth of the self-made man. Many of us look out on what we have and we say, you should have seen where I came from. I worked for everything I have. Look at what I've created by my vast power and now for my majestic glory. I do not want to take anything away from human ingenuity or your hard work. I'm a huge believer in a free economy. But even the slightest moment of self-reflection will show you that the whole self-made man myth is not entirely true, right?

I mean, think about it. The biggest factors contributing to your success, you had no control over. Like where or when you were born, the education you received, the society you were born into, the influences that inspired you to succeed. Even the genes that gave rise to your talents were gifts from your parents.

The most fundamentally determinative factors in your life you had no control of. Yes, you may have worked hard, but you were using health and energy that was supplied to you by God. None of us are truly self-made men. We took gifts, good gifts that God gave us and we utilized them and to not acknowledge that is cosmic plagiarism. Y'all know plagiarism? Plagiarism is when you borrow something from somebody else and then claim to be the sole author of it, right?

I've never been the victim of that, have I? There's a whole fake J.D. Greer out there that's just something but plagiarized, right?

Whoever he or she is, I mean, that's what they do. Your whole life ought to have one big footnote every time you sign your name. A little number for the footnote that says this came from God.

Not my doing. My whole life should have a footnote that says it ultimately came from God. Pride's first root is a failure to see that everything we have is a gift of God. Pride is also accompanied always by a second root.

They kind of go together. Number two is the foolish assumption that the good life is going to last forever. Nebuchadnezzar, y'all, he assumed he was safe. And to be honest, if there were anybody in history who could have assumed that, it should have been Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was in his time the most powerful man in the world.

Furthermore, historians say that no more than five people in all of human history have enjoyed the same kind of power and status that Nebuchadnezzar had. Babylon, his capital city, located in modern-day Iraq, were the headquarters of the known world. It was an architectural wonder. It was built like a great terraced hanging garden on two different sides of the Euphrates River, connected by a tunnel underneath the river.

His palace had a 400-foot high waterfall. The city was bedecked with jewels and gold. You remember I told you that Herodotus, who was a contemporary historian, visited Babylon during the days of Nebuchadnezzar and wrote that never in his life had he seen such an abundance of gold everywhere. Nebuchadnezzar's capital was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

It was like New York and LA and San Francisco and Hollywood and London and Dubai, all combined. Furthermore, Nebuchadnezzar had made Babylon virtually impregnable. He built a wall around Babylon, I told you, that stretched for 56 miles.

And in many places, most places, most places it was over 80 feet wide and in some places over 300 feet high. They would race chariots on top of the wall, it was so wide. The point I'm making is if anybody should have felt secure about the future, it was Nebuchadnezzar. He could not be attacked.

Literally no army in the world compared to Babylon's. He couldn't be fired. He was an unchallenged monarch. He can't go bankrupt.

He's the World Bank. But you and I both know that God has a way. And you might be sitting right now on top of the world.

You might have enough savings for any contingency. Or maybe you're young with so much talent that everybody keeps telling you, the world is your oyster, it's all there for you. But then everything changes with a simple three word diagnosis.

You've got cancer. For a little over a year ago, an invisible virus that none of us had heard about shut our society down. Reminds me of the famous words of the builders of the Titanic who famously boasted, not even God could sink this ship.

Oh, but then there's that iceberg. Where are the roots of pride in your life? An important question to ask ourselves from today's message. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. Like Daniel, we live as exiles in a hostile culture. Daniel and his friends took on Babylonian names. They spoke the Babylonian language, spent time in the Babylonian palace, and worked for the good of their Babylonian neighbors. But they did so as faithful servants of God. As we live our lives in our own Babylon, we should pray for its security and welfare.

For as it thrives, we thrive. We have a Bible study designed specifically to help us process this exactly. This study comes with our thanks when you give a suggested donation of $35 or more. So call us today at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or request the workbook when you give online at You can also sign up for our e-newsletter to get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor J.D. 's latest blog post delivered straight to your email inbox.

Sign up when you go to I'm Molly Vitevich. Thank you so much for being with us this week. Join us again next week when Pastor J.D. continues our study in the book of Daniel here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-23 10:48:24 / 2023-05-23 10:59:17 / 11

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