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Heaven Rules, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2022 12:00 am

Heaven Rules, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 28, 2022 12:00 am

God has many ways of humbling people, but the way He humbles an arrogant, narcissistic King named Nebuchadnezzar is perhaps the most unforgettable the world has ever seen. So join Stephen in this message to discover what Nebuchadnezzar learned through this unusual process.

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And I bless the Most High in praise and honor to him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. Don't forget, this is an open and official letter to his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar is effectively telling his entire empire that he is now a follower of the God of Daniel who disciplined him severely. And he's effectively saying, it was my fault. My reason has returned to me. He's just admitted to everybody.

I was out of my mind. Have you ever encountered someone and you thought that person might be too far gone to ever be saved? Well, someone like that lived years ago. One of the most amazing conversion stories in all of scripture is that of King Nebuchadnezzar. He was a harsh and brutal ruler. But when he was confronted with the truth of God and the realization of God's sovereignty, Nebuchadnezzar was humbled. He publicly declared his faith in God. Stay with us as Stephen Davey opens God's Word to the book of Daniel today. This is Wisdom for the Heart and Stephen's calling today's lesson, Heaven Rules. Reynolds Showers points out in his commentary on Daniel recent findings that Nebuchadnezzar had an obsession with trees because of their strength and their might.

He's kind of obsessed with them. In fact, he would take tours through Lebanon, the great cedars there. And on one occasion in one of his tours, they've discovered that Nebuchadnezzar actually chopped down one of those mighty cedars by himself. And he was so proud of himself that he had a picture of himself cutting that tree down, carved in stone. Nebuchadnezzar, let me give you, God says, another picture.

Carve this one in stone. You have been felled by the hand of God. And it was troubling to Daniel.

In fact, I want you to see this and I want to stop long enough to get it. Verse 19, then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while. He heard it. His thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, Belteshazzar, don't let the dream or its interpretation alarm you. In other words, come out with it.

Belteshazzar replied, My Lord, which is tantamount to Your Highness, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries. What? That's not what Daniel should be saying here. I mean, this is your chance.

He ought to be saying something like, Are you ever in for it? Think about it. Daniel is there because he's been abducted. He probably saw his parents killed. He could say to this king, Look, your day's up. You destroyed our temple. You destroy the city of Jerusalem. You put my king's eyes out only after you killed all his children. You threw my only three friends in the furnace to roast them.

Look, I got to tell you something. Am I ever glad to see God finally getting around to chopping you down? That's what it means, King.

That's what I would have done. Daniel didn't pile on the table all the things that could have been eating away at him, making him bitter and resentful or frightened. You don't hear Daniel say, I think God's letting you off rather lightly. Seven years for you.

I've had thirty five years here. But now Daniel provides the interpretation. Let me summarize it for you.

Basically, in a sentence, he says, King, there's trouble ahead. See, God has decided to change your mind. You go back to verse 16.

That word mind, you could render at heart. It speaks of the seat of the moral reflection. It is the place where the will decides. It is it is out of that which patterns of behavior emanate. So what he's basically saying is, King, God is going to touch your mind and he's going to turn the dial and he's going to take away the majority of your sanity until you understand his sovereignty.

You're going to act and live like a brute animal. And by the way, that took a lot of courage, even to compassionately give them the story. Eastern kings weren't in the practice of hearing bad news. In fact, we know from history that they didn't allow many of them bad news ever entered their palace grounds. There are some monarchs who wouldn't allow anybody to say the word death in their presence.

Only good news, only that it's sunny and and it's a great day. So what happens next is even going to require more courage. Look at verse 24. This is the interpretation of King and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my Lord, the king, that you be driven away from mankind in your dwelling place, be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven.

In other words, you're going to live outdoors. Seven years, seven seasons are going to pass until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever he wishes. And in that, it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree. That is, your kingdom be assured. Return to you after you recognize, get this, you ought to underline this in your text, you get this, King, that heaven rules.

Heaven rules. Now, that didn't take courage enough. What happens next is remarkable.

Daniel now kind of goes off script. He's not even going to be talking about the dream. He's going to make an application, which begins with the word, therefore. I'm not finished, King. I've given you the news.

Now, let me apply it to your life personally. He's no longer prophesying, he's preaching. Look at verse 27. Therefore, O King, may my advice be pleasing to you. Break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.

You believe this, O King, here it is. Stop sinning. You're a sinner.

You need to stop. You need to repent. Stop doing iniquity. Show mercy to the poor.

In other words, stop treating your people as if they're chattel. Break away from your sins, the imagery of repentance. Acknowledge that heaven rules. And notice the end of verse 27. Maybe, perchance, God will withhold this nightmare from taking place.

You don't know. All you need to know is you need to repent. And maybe God will hold it off without Daniel walks out and leaves the king alone with his thoughts. God evidently gave Nebuchadnezzar a year to repent and to think it over. Verse 29 tells us that 12 months later the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. Don't go too fast here.

Try to get this picture in your mind. From a human perspective, Nebuchadnezzar had every reason to believe his own press releases. He was probably the greatest builder of ancient times. In fact, already, or at this point, 49 different buildings with inscriptions on them point to their builder architect being none other than Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, most of the bricks being unearthed in Babylon, which is located in Iraq, modern-day Iraq, have stamped upon them the inscription, every brick with the inscription, I am Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. So you look at a building and every brick is stamped, I am Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

Don't want you to forget that. With every building you see. So here he is on top of the roof of the palace. We're not sure which building.

Maybe up there with the hanging gardens. He's up there in verse 30. The king reflected. He's looking around and he says, is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? He's so humble. I just love the way he worded that.

Twelve months to think it over and no, I did this. You see part of the problem is he's gotten his way his entire life. Nobody's ever stood up to him. He's always come in first.

Nobody's challenged him. The life of an oriental king, I had one gentleman come up to me, he's been a missionary for 50 years and he's just telling me the story of being in one country. I flew into the same little airport and it gives the name of the king, the only sovereign, used himself as king. Impoverished country, but you go to talk to him and you walk toward him on your knees. This one missionary said that he was invited to preach at the 25th anniversary of their ministry and preached about 25,000 people and they all were on the ground. The king was on his throne and he said on what point refreshments were brought in and the person literally came into the room, dropped to his knees and crawled on his knees with the tray to the sovereign. And then when you left him you backed up on your knees. That was oriental custom.

Still going on today. Nebuchadnezzar stood at the height of the greatest empire and his way was always the way it was. You know, I couldn't help but think he must have been a terror growing up.

Imagine Nebuchadnezzar at two or at four. In fact, as I was studying this text, I remember reading the true story, I went back and looked it up in my files of a little boy who arrived with his mother at the dentist office, a little five year old. He didn't want to be there and he kind of strutted into the dentist thinking he owned the place. The dentist introduced himself, could immediately tell this kid was used to calling the shots and he wasn't happy with being there. So the dentist said, son, go ahead and climb up in the chair. The little boy looked up at him and said, no. The dentist didn't quite know what to do. He said, well mom, why don't you stand over here and son, why don't you climb up on the chair? The little boy said, no.

In fact, if you make me, I'm going to take all my clothes off. The dentist didn't even bat an eye. He just nonchalantly said, well all right, go ahead and put your clothes on that table over there and then get up in the chair. The kid was stunned. But he wasn't bluffing so he took off his shirt, put it on the table. The dentist said, all right, now get up in the chair. The boy said, I mean it, I'll take my clothes off. The dentist said, okay, put them over there with your shirt and then get up in the chair. The little boy stripped down to his shorts and the dentist said, now get up in the chair and the boy completely wilted, climbed up on the chair, had his teeth cleaned while shivering there in his shorts. Finally, the dentist said, well that'll be all. The kid quickly hopped down, went for his clothes and the dentist said, oh no, we're keeping your clothes. If your mom wants them, she can come back later and get them. The little boy walked out through the waiting room holding onto the hand of his mother, which he hadn't done for a long time, and they walked through all the way out to the car. A couple of days later, the mom walked back in.

You'd think to sue the dentist. No, she came back in and said, and I quote, I can't thank you enough. He's threatened me with that in the grocery store and on the playground whenever he doesn't get his way. You're the first person to stand up to him and he hasn't been the same since. Frankly, Nebuchadnezzar is that little boy although he's just grown up. We've already seen his temper erupt. We've seen him treat people horribly. Nobody's ever stood up to him. Nobody's ever called his bluff.

He's just a big baby, all grown up. And now he thinks he's bigger than Daniel's God. Yeah, I heard what you said 12 months ago, but I'm up here on top of my palace and with thumbs in his lapels, he effectively says, I don't even think the God of Daniel can take me on.

Look at what I've done. Look at my glory, my kingdom. At that moment, God speaks, verse 31. While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven saying, King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared, sovereignty has been removed from you and you'll be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. Verse 33, immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven. His hair grew like eagle's feathers, grew long and his nails like birds' claws.

From so high a pinnacle, now on all fours, like an animal. Now from the perspective of Scripture, we understand that God has touched his mind and removed a large measure of his sanity. From the human perspective, the technical terms for these are, Boanthropy, if someone acts like an ox, Lycanthropy, if they act like a wolf, from Latin. Chuck Swindoll and his wonderful little study guide on Daniel uses the categorical term, Zoanthropy, that is all the animals in the zoo, it's a technical term for a rare delusional disorder in which a person believes they are an animal. And they manifest that belief in a variety of animal-like behaviors such as walking on all fours, eating grass, communicating only through the grunting of whatever animal they think they are.

Can you imagine how far he's fallen? By the way, Warren Wiersbe wrote in his commentary on this passage, a practical application, I'll drop it in and then move on, but he said this, whenever men and women refuse to submit to God as their God, they are in grave danger of descending to live like animals. We might not eat like them, walk like them, but we can live like them, can't we? Well, God keeps his promise of discipline and he also keeps his promise of deliverance. Notice verse 34. But at the end of the period, this seven-year period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me. And I blessed the Most High and praised and honored him who lives forever for his dominion is an everlasting dominion and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. Don't forget, this is an open and official letter to his kingdom.

Nebuchadnezzar is effectively telling his entire empire that he is now a follower of the God of Daniel who disciplined him severely. And he's effectively saying, it was my fault. It was my fault. My reason has returned to me. He's just admitted to everybody. I was out of my mind.

What was I thinking? But now my reason has returned to me and I understand that God loves me and cares for me. He caught me in my sin. He heard me speak those words and he kept his word and he, wham, disciplined me and I'm grateful he did.

So I want everyone in the empire to know I'm not embarrassed to tell you the truth. He's effectively saying the best thing that ever happened to him was when God caught him in his sin and cared enough to discipline him. Every parent in this room understands the value of catching your kids and no child understands the value of catching or being caught, right? As I was studying this, I thought about the many times as a kid that I was caught. I wish I had time to tell you some stories. I don't. It's past 12 already.

Would you like to hear one? That's what I was afraid of. In fact, my dad called me this morning at 7. He calls me every Sunday morning at 7 to see if I'm awake.

I mean to pray with me before the service. And I asked him about this because this had come back to my mind and we figured out that when this happened, he was about 32 years of age. He and my mom raising four boys in their missionary family trying to feed us.

I asked him some details and he clarified a couple of things. I remember he came home. They'd been away. They'd been to Tampa and they came back and they had with them a stalk of bananas five feet high. Huge.

One stalk. He'd gone right down to Tampa there at the docks and right off the banana boat for a couple of bucks. Got enough bananas to feed us for a century. He brought that back. I can still remember him lugging it down into the basement under the stairwell where it was cool.

He drove in a hook and then he hoisted that stock up there and underneath that stairwell and placed it on that hook and stepped back closed a curtain we had there on the stairwell and then he turned to the four of us. Ten eight five and two and said boys leave these bananas alone. And what did I say.

Yes sir. And I was a lot more sincere than my other brothers. I can testify to that man alive.

Can you imagine that he left to go back that time. As far as we were concerned behind that curtain was the ark of the covenant. We got to see it. We got to see it.

I wanted to be the high priest and go behind the curtain. So I sacrificed my little brother and when I know I'm teasing. Actually I went outside with my brothers and we just began to play. But then my friend Ronnie lived a couple of doors down came over to play and man I had the best news in the world. I mean this is a great story.

I said you won't believe this run. So we went down in the basement. I pulled that curtain open and we just stood there and stared. And then we thought one won't matter. I mean there were millions of bananas on that stall. So I took one he took one and then we took another and then we even started a race to see if you could eat bananas the fastest. And before you know it we had twenty four twenty five twenty six banana peelings at our feet and a stomach ache to boot. Now what are we going to do. Repent.

Not on your life. I saw over just to my right our piano. Large piano. Have you heard this story. Or did you do this to weight three thousand pounds but we pulled it away from the wall and we threw behind the piano those banana peeling pushed the piano back and knew that our secret was safe for years at least. However that night it was rather odd my parents thought that I wasn't interested in the banana pudding that my mom had made that afternoon. I was the only one that didn't want any of it and they thought that was a little strange and a week or two later for some strange reason my parents decided to change all the furniture around in the basement and they moved that piano and there were all those blackened dry shriveled up banana peelings and they put two and two together.

I was the only boy that didn't want banana pudding that night and they called me down in the basement to show me the evidence and judgment fell. I got caught for everything. I never got away with hardly anything and you know what I'm glad. Like my greater concern is now I might get away with things. Is that how you feel? I wonder if you have some banana peelings hidden away.

Nobody knows. The tragedy isn't being caught. The tragedy is not being caught and you end up ruining wasting your life. Here in this open letter the king is admitting to having been caught. He admits to having failed to sinning. I love this. Let me say just another word and then we'll move on.

But can you imagine this is a mass mailing. The king even admits to having been deranged out of his mind. Now he's honoring God. I mean wouldn't it be great if some political leader in our world, somebody high up in the echelons of power grabbed a microphone or said on national television, I just want all of you to know my reason has returned to me. I was out of my mind but now my reason has returned and I am giving glory to the God of heaven.

Wouldn't that be great? Nebuchadnezzar is now bragging on God. He basically brags on at least three attributes. First he announces that God is unequaled in ruling his creation. He is unequaled in ruling his creation.

That's verse 34. He is the most high God. He lives forever. His dominion is everlasting.

Secondly and again remember this is a mass mail. He brags that God is unaccountable in answering his creation. Not only is he unequaled in ruling his creation, he's unaccountable in answering his creation.

Look at verse 35. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing but he does according to his will and the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth and no one can war off his hand. No one can say to him, what have you done?

Nobody can say, what are you doing? When I take the gospel out on the street and I'm talking to people, this is one of the most infuriating things to people who don't believe in Christ. This one attribute. That God is sovereign and he owes mankind absolutely no explanation for what he does. See the very thing the human race wants is to be unaccountable and this is the very thing the human race dislikes the most about God. That he is unaccountable.

Spurgeon said, oh well and he said we all just like to be little sovereigns. He says here God is unequaled in ruling his creation. He is unaccountable in answering his creation.

Thirdly, he is unhindered in managing his creation. Verse 36, and at that time my reason returned to me and my majesty and splendor were restored to me. That is God gave it back to me for the glory of my kingdom and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out. So I was reestablished in my sovereignty. That word can literally refer to just my throne. God effectively put me back on my throne.

Now I'm on my throne because I understand God put me there. That's what he's saying. In fact notice in surpassing greatness was added to me.

That's not Nebuchadnezzar type language. He isn't saying it was deserved by me. It was earned by me. Now he's saying it was added.

Someone outside of me added it to me. And who is that Nebuchadnezzar? Verse 37 the formal letter concludes. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and exalt and honor the king of heaven. For all his works are true and his ways just and he is able to humble those who walk in pride. That's a long way of saying in a formal way now I know heaven rules. And by the way in this entire closing paragraph Nebuchadnezzar never once refers to himself as king.

That's all he'd live for. He stamped it in every brick. But in this last paragraph he attributes the title king to God. I would agree with those commentators and scholars that we will one day see Nebuchadnezzar in heaven proud as his life had been as horrific as these seven years were.

They brought about because of the grace of God and the gospel of Daniel who called him to repentance an alteration in the eternal destination of Nebuchadnezzar's life. And as he wraps the letter up you discover that he has become the emperor ambassador for the king of heaven and his message is fairly simple. And with that I conclude his message is simply heaven rules period. That was Stephen Davey and a lesson called heaven rules.

The story of the change in Nebuchadnezzar is an amazing one. I hope you were encouraged by it. November is quickly coming to a close but before it does please take advantage of the free resource we have for families. We have a resource to help you lead your family in an intentional Christ honoring activity. It's called the Advent event. This is a fun easy and enriching family activity to help focus attention on the birth of Jesus while discovering the big picture of God's plan throughout the Bible. Christmas might seem like a long ways away but it's important that you sign up for this free resource now. It begins December 1. So if you're a parent a grandparent you're going to want to be part of the Advent event and if not tell someone else about it. All the information you need is at wisdomonline.org forward slash Advent. Get signed up. Then join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-28 00:06:58 / 2022-11-28 00:17:17 / 10

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