Pastor Bryan Watson
Good morning. Let’s begin with a word of prayer.
Last month, we went through Daniel Chapter 3 together. I called that message, “Through the Fire”, and it was the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego being thrown into the fiery furnace because of their faith. If you recall, God miraculously saved them from the blaze, and Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed the glory and power of God.
I used this message as a reminder that as Christians, we may, and sometimes do, face persecution in this world. We need to decide here and now that we are going to remain faithful to God, no matter what.
I’ve called today’s message, “Pride Goeth”. Our scripture passage for today is Daniel 4:37. If you aren’t familiar with this chapter in Daniel, then this verse, which closes the chapter, contains a significant spoiler that I don’t want to share quite yet. So, I will highlight this verse when we get to it.
As I have done with other sermons in this series, I am going to go through the story without reading all of the text verse by verse. If you haven’t done that already, I expect you will want to do so on your own this week, and I encourage you to do so. It is one thing for me to tell the story and preach a sermon, but if you want the Bible to truly come alive in your life, you need to read it for yourself.
As with Chapter 3, it is important to note that a significant amount of time has probably passed between the end of chapter 3 and the events that take place in chapter 4. That would explain Nebuchadnezzar’s forgetfulness about the power of God. It’s also a good indication that up until this time, God hadn’t become personal in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, even though Nebuchadnezzar had seen God’s mighty works, and had even acknowledged them. The Bible says in Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly.”
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Daniel 4 starts out with a bit of a surprise. It’s a letter. But not just to anyone. It’s addressed to you. And to me.
And it’s not a letter from just anybody. Listen to how the letter is addressed in verses 1 through 3:
1Nebuchadnezzar the king,
To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:
Peace be multiplied to you.
2 I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me.
3 How great are His signs,
And how mighty His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And His dominion is from generation to generation.
Now this is something new! A pagan king, arguably the most powerful man in the world at the time, has had an experience so profound that he sees fit to write about it. Nebuchadnezzar wants the whole world know what he knows. And so Daniel includes the letter in his book, and we are fortunate enough to hear the direct thoughts of the famous Nebuchadnezzar, because he wants us to know them.
Verses 4 through 7 play out as a bit of déjà vu. Nebuchadnezzar is bothered by a dream that he had, and he asks the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers to interpret it. This time, he even tells them what the dream was. But again, they are unable to help him. Nebuchadnezzar isn’t so angry this time, however. He knows something that he didn’t know the last time he had a bad dream.
Verse 8 and 9: “But at last Daniel came before me…” “Finally!” he thinks to himself. “Somebody who is going to make some sense out of this.”
And so Nebuchadnezzar pours out the dream to Daniel, and this is what he dreamed beginning in verse 10:
10 “These were the visions of my head while on my bed:
I was looking, and behold,
A tree in the midst of the earth,
And its height was great.
11 The tree grew and became strong;
Its height reached to the heavens,
And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.
12 Its leaves were lovely,
Its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches,
And all flesh was fed from it.
13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus:
‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.
Let the beasts get out from under it,
And the birds from its branches.
15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth,
Bound with a band of iron and bronze,
In the tender grass of the field.
Let it be wet with the dew of heaven,
And let him graze with the beasts
On the grass of the earth.
16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man,
Let him be given the heart of a beast,
And let seven times pass over him.
17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’
18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”
Now, I’m not sure exactly how much time has passed between the dream of the statue in Chapter 2 and the dream of the tree in Chapter 3, but it is apparent that a trust relationship has developed between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel. In verse 19, we see that Daniel is very troubled by the dream, and doesn’t want to tell the interpretation to the king. But Nebuchadnezzar insists, and Daniel replies, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!”
It’s obvious that Daniel’s heart is breaking as he tells Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation in verses 20 through 26.
Daniel points out that this magnificent tree, so strong and vibrant, towering over the whole earth, seemingly providing food and shelter for everybody and everything, is none other than Nebuchadnezzar himself. And a “watcher”, some spiritual being from heaven, comes down and orders that the tree be cut down, with the stump and roots left in the ground and bound with a band of iron and bronze, so Nebuchadnezzar himself is going to be cut down from power, although by leaving the stump and roots in the ground, his removal from power is not permanent. Daniel explains that for 7 “times”, commonly interpreted as 7 “years”, Nebuchadnezzar will live like a beast, like an ox, until he comes to fully understand that it is God who is the powerful one.
And so Daniel pleads with Nebuchadnezzar to heed the warning. Verse 27: “ Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
Dreams Do Comes True
One year later, Nebuchadnezzar is out walking around the royal palace. He’s admiring the hanging gardens that he built, known today as one of the seven wonders of the world. And probably remembering back to the head of gold that he was told he was, he says to himself in verse 30: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
Those words are probably still echoing off the walls of the palace when a voice from heaven declares in verses 31 and 32: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
And in that instant, Nebuchadnezzar’s life was changed. The body of a man with the mind of an ox, he lived like a beast. Verse 33 says, “he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.”
This is really our lesson for today. God. Hates. Pride.
God. Hates. Pride.
Proverbs 16:18 is probably one of the most famous and quoted verses in the Bible. Hundreds of years before Nebuchadnezzar, King Solomon wrote, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Jesus taught a lot about pride. In Luke 14, Jesus teaches a parable about being invited to a wedding feast. Beginning in verse 7, we read, 7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
I want to highlight another time when Jesus taught about pride in one of His parables.
The Bible says in Luke 18:9-14 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Different Types of Pride
There are different types of pride, and I think we need to be clear about the type of pride we are talking about here. Proverbs 8:13 says “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.”
Yet, in Galatians 6:4, we read, “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”
So, arrogance is markedly different than feeling good about a job well done. We can, and we should, feel good when we do good work. We don’t have to be a jerk about it, but taking pride in our work helps to motivate us to do good work, and that’s not a bad thing.
Lucifer and Pride
The Bible says in Psalm 10:4 that The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God;
God is in none of his thoughts.
Isaiah 14:12-15 recounts the fall of Lucifer whom we know as Satan, or the Devil, from Heaven, how in his pride he wanted to elevate himself above God. Verse 14 specifically says that Lucifer said in his heart, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.”
Ironically, the verses immediately before that, Isaiah 14:3-11, recount the fall of the King of Babylon, specifically referring to him being “cut down” as Nebuchadnezzar was in his dream about the tree.
I like the way it is said by the website “gotquestions.org”: “Pride has kept many people from accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Admitting sin and acknowledging that in our own strength we can do nothing to inherit eternal life is a constant stumbling block for prideful people.”
Up until Nebuchadnezzar was cut down, this matched him to a T. And God had given him an entire year to reform himself before pronouncing the judgment.
In retrospect, Moses was pretty much the exact opposite of Nebuchadnezzar in the way he ruled. The Bible says in Numbers 12:3 that Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.
We saw this in his leadership style. Did he get frustrated with the people he was leading? For sure!. But each time they rebelled against God, and God threatened to destroy them but preserve Moses, Moses pleaded with God on their behalf, much like I imagine Christ intercedes on our behalf before the holiness of God.
In Exodus 32, while Moses was on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments from God, the Israelites grew impatient and made for themselves a golden calf to worship. God threatens to consume them and make a great nation out of Moses. Moses could have said, “That’s right, God. I stayed faithful to you. Even when everybody else turned away, I remained righteous when they did not. Teach them a lesson, God. They deserve it!” But, no. Instead, Moses pleads with God on their behalf, and the people are spared. In fact, Moses even says to God, “32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”
In Numbers 14, after spying out the promised land, the Israelites rebel against God and say that they wish they would have remained in Egypt. They accuse God of bringing them out into the desert to kill them. Again, God’s wrath burns hot against them and he threatens to destroy them and make Moses a mighty nation. Again, Moses humbles himself and pleads for the people, and God listens to Moses.
So, you can see the humility that Moses displays. With an opportunity to make himself greater than he already was, he humbles himself to be willing to take on the punishment that he does not deserve, but the people deserve.
And in an example that stands in the most contrast to Nebuchadnezzar, in Exodus 33:12-17 we see how Moses is seeking God’s guidance rather than relying on his own abilities. 12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
If we are to succeed as a people; if we are to thrive as a Church; we need to humbly seek God’s guidance as Moses did.
Who Was In Charge?
By the way, have you ever wondered who was in charge of Babylon during the 7 years that the king was eating grass and grunting like an ox? The Bible doesn’t say, but I suspect it was Daniel, based on previous promotions and successes.
Back to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar continues his letter to you and me by stating what happens next. I want to read this word for word because of how amazing this testimony is, considering who it came from. Verses 34 and 35: 34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding 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 is from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
I believe that this statement testifies that Nebuchadnezzar had become a true follower of God. You see, up until this time in the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar had always referred to God as “The God of Daniel”, or “The God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.” For the first time, Nebuchadnezzar refers to Him as “The Most High”, a personal recognition of who God is in relation to who Nebuchadnezzar is.
Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom and power are restored to him, and the chapter, and in fact, the entire narrative about Nebuchadnezzar, ends with today’s scripture passage, verse 37: Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.
Those who walk in pride, He is able to put down.
How’s your walk these days?
Amen. Let’s pray.
The Case For The Cross
Pastor Bryan Watson
I’m going to make an assumption that we have all heard the Easter story. Probably many times. But if we hear it without accepting it, it’s like reading a book about a place but never going there. It isn’t real to us. And in the case of the Easter account, there are real and eternal implications.
Today, I want to review several prophecies, written more than 800 years before Christ was born, that predict many of the details about His crucifixion. There are many prophecies. Originally, I had 25 different prophecies in this message, but for this message, I selected only 10. My prayer is that you will hear the prophecies, and their fulfillment, and come to the reasonable conclusion that not only was the Crucifixion true, but that it was truly the Son of God who died in your place on the Cross. And I pray that you will take that, and not just tuck it away, or discard it when you leave here today, but that you will truly consider it, and do something with it.
PROPHECY #1: JESUS WAS SOLD FOR THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER
Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12 - And I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.
Fulfillment: Matthew 26:14-15 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?” And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver.
PROPHECY #2: THE MONEY CAST TO THE POTTER
Taken by itself, the first prophecy about the 30 pieces of silver may seem like a coincidence. But the very next verse removes that as a possibility:
Prophecy: Zechariah 11:13 Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter,” that magnificent price at which I was valued by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:5-7 This passage refers to Judas Iscariot, and what he did with the money he was paid to betray Jesus. And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7 And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers.
PROPHECY #3: JESUS WAS SMITTEN AND SPIT UPON
Prophecy: Isaiah 50:6 I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:30 And they spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.
PROPHECY #4: JESUS WAS SILENT BEFORE HIS ACCUSERS
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:12-14 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.
Why was He silent? This is my personal opinion, but I believe that if Jesus had said anything at this point, He would have jeopardized the Crucifixion. I believe that He remained silent in order to ensure he would be crucified, because this was the divine purpose for His coming into our world.
PROPHECY #5: JESUS WOULD BE WOUNDED AND BRUISED
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, And by His wounds we are healed.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:26, 29 Then he (Pilate) released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified. . . . And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
So, Jesus was whipped and beaten, and in the process of placing the crown of thorns on His brow, they would have pushed it in, with one to two-inch thorns piercing his scalp all around.
PROPHECY #6: HIS HANDS AND FEET WOULD BE PIERCED
Prophecy: Psalm 22:16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:33 And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
NOTE: Christ was crucified in the customary Roman manner, the hands and feet being pierced by huge spikes which fastened the body to the wooden cross.
PROPHECY #7: JESUS WOULD BE CRUCIFIED WITH THIEVES
Prophecy: The first part of Isaiah 53:12 reads: Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors…
Fulfillment: Mark 15:27-28 And they crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 (And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with transgressors.")
PROPHECY #8: JESUS PRAYED FOR HIS PERSECUTORS
Prophecy: The last part of Isaiah 53:12 reads… Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
PROPHECY #9: JESUS’ GARMENTS WERE PARTED AND LOTS CAST FOR HIS CLOTHING
Prophecy: Psalm 22:18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
Fulfillment: John 19:23-24 The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24 They said therefore to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
NOTE: How exact the inspired prophecy, that some clothing would be torn, and one piece would be distributed by casting lots. This would seem unbelievable unless explained by the eyewitness record of the scene at the cross.
PROPHECY #10: HIS FORSAKEN CRY
Prophecy: Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? “that is, “ My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me ?”
These are only the prophecies that I have chosen to identify today. I have not even touched on the Old Testament prophecies that predicted:
HIS DISCIPLES WOULD ABANDON HIM AND FLEE
GALL AND VINEGAR WOULD BE GIVEN TO HIM
HE WOULD COMMIT HIS SPIRIT TO GOD WHILE ON THE CROSS
HIS BONES WOULD NOT BE BROKEN
HIS HEART WOULD BE BROKEN
HIS SIDE WOULD BE PIERCED
DARKNESS WOULD COME OVER THE LAND
HE WOULD BE BURIED IN A RICH MAN’S TOMB
And these are just the prophecies of His Crucifixion. Thanks be to God that we have reason to believe that these events were true. Because if they were not true, we would be lost in our sins forever.
But they ARE true. These events were predicted hundreds of years in advance by multiple people, and they all came true in one 24-hour period. And so even though we mark with sadness Christ’s death on the cross, we can still have the hope that will come on Sunday morning when death will be swallowed up in victory!
Jesus gave us the ultimate gift. Do you believe? If you would like to know more, or if you feel the Holy Spirit speaking to you now, please come and see myself or Pastor Dennis. We would love to pray with you and help make this the best Easter of your life so far.
Lord Jesus, what can we say to thank You for the suffering that You endured on our behalf? How can we thank You, Precious Saviour, for taking our place so that we would not be lost, but would be gathered with You in paradise?
Lord, “thank you” is not enough, but it is all that we have. We are Yours, Lord. We have been bought with a price. We are not our own. We are saved because we believe in what You did for us on that Good Friday so long ago.
Thank You, Jesus.