Friday, January 31, 2020




As we study this week's lesson together and Nebuchadnezzar's experience in Daniel 4, I hope we will see that it has a deep significance to all of us today.

To start with, the author's statement on Sabbath afternoon warrants our consideration:

"Pride has been called the first sin. It is first made manifest in Lucifer, an angel in the courts of heaven…. Pride leads to Lucifer's fall; so now he instills pride in men thus leading them to be against God and so, to go down a path toward destruction. We are fallen human beings, dependent upon God for our very existence. Any gifts we have, any things we accomplish with those gifts, come only from God. Hence, how do we dare to be proud, boastful, or arrogant, when in reality humility should dominate all that we do?"

We see in Isaiah 14:12-14 that Lucifer, a created being, wanted to step up higher and higher to the point of being equal with God.

On the other hand, we see in Philippians 2:5-11, that Christ, Who is equal to God, in order to be our Saviour and redeem the human race stepped all the way down, and humbled Himself to the point of dying the eternal second death for each and every soul!

What a contrast!  What a Saviour!

Make no mistake. There is a battle going on in our lives today. Pride is selfishness and reflects our sinful human nature. Left to our own resources and inclinations, it will take control for "as it is written, there is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10). But, in the gift of Salvation, through Christ's complete and perfect sacrifice, He tells us in John 15 that when we abide (remain) in Him, He promises that He will abide (remain) in us. Thus, through His strength and power, the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we may claim the faith of Jesus and as He did when He walked this earth pray, Father not my will but Your will be done in my life.

I know that I can relate to this in my own life, and maybe some of you can as well. Not growing up in a Christian environment, at home and school I was taught to be self-confident, self-reliant, self-assured, to have self-esteem and to take pride in my successes, all of which of course going right along with my nature. So, whenever I did well in school, or later in my job and subsequent married life as a husband and father, I would naturally take the credit myself and think I was a pretty decent guy for all that hard work and making the "right decisions" in my mind. Even after I became a Christian, things didn't change and I continued to believe it was my responsibility to make decisions and solve problems as they might arise. God was still on the shelf and only would come off if things went wrong. It is only in recent years, that I have begun to realize that God deserves all the credit for any success or achievements in my life and He has been there for me every step of the way both in my non-Christian and Christian walk. Further, I look back with sorrow and see the pain and suffering I have caused my wife and family because I wanted things to be done my way and not asking for His will to be done. This means trusting Him in all things and that requires a moment by moment surrender. I know He is humbling me and showing me that I don't have the answers and that He does! By His grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, my prayer is that I will cease to rely on my own wisdom and ask for His. In many ways, my walk and maybe yours too is similar to that of Nebuchadnezzar where our pride has to be dealt with, we need to be humbled, and realize the infinite love, mercy and forgiveness that God, the Creator of the universe, has for us.

Let us now continue to look at Nebuchadnezzar's own experience and some of the insights that EJ Waggoner has for us:

"The propensity for making a show is one of the prominent characteristics of weak human nature. Fallen man, the weakest intelligence in the universe, is also the most boastful. The proud Nebuchadnezzar has his successors today, among nations as well as individuals, who desire to call the attention of the world to the great Babylons which they have built. But it is as true now as in his day that "Pride goeth before a fall;" for vanity is only another name for folly, and when vanity becomes so great that it must find vent in boastful displays meant only to glorify man, it is an indication that man's folly has arisen to such a height that it must be humbled by the hand of God." PTUK July 4, 1895, p. 432.16

"The Mind of the Natural Man. - Daniel tells how, just before Nebuchadnezzar was stricken and humbled, the proud king walked up the terraces of his palace, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" PTUK August 13, 1896, p. 513.1

Memorials of Vanity. - He not only spoke it, but engraved like sentiments in his inscriptions upon the royal tablets, now dug up and read. One of them says: "For the astonishment of men I built this house; all of the power of my majesty encompasses its walls.... In Babylon alone I raise the seat of my dominion." This vanity is the common frailty of the human mind. PTUK August 13, 1896, p. 513.2

The Mind of Christ. - Contrast with this Christ's attitude as He came into the world to show men how to live for man. He had not built a pile of bricks and mortar, but the very earth and all living things upon it and the heavens were the work of His hands. Yet He said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." "I came not to do Mine own will." "I have glorified Thee on the earth." Nebuchadnezzar glorified himself as the builder of a great city now buried in the sands. Jesus, in Whom all things consist, glorified God. "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who...emptied Himself."" Philippians 2:5, 6, R.V. PTUK August 13, 1896, p. 513.3

In these statements, we see the contrast between Christ's humility and Nebuchadnezzar's pride. We also see Jesus clearly bringing this to our attention in His sermon on the mount where in Matthew 5:3 He tells us: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." That is a beautiful promise to all of us from Him and clearly shows that we all need to be humbled (poor in spirit).campbell

Ellen White has some meaningful thoughts for us on this in the following quotes from Desire of Ages:

"Christ's first words to the people on the mount were words of blessing. Happy are they, He said, who recognize their spiritual poverty, and feel their need of redemption. The gospel is to be preached to the poor. Not to the spiritually proud, those who claim to be rich and in need of nothing, is it revealed, but to those who are humble and contrite. One fountain only has been opened for sin, a fountain for the poor in spirit. DA 299.4

The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, Whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isaiah 57:15." DA 300.1

We see in Daniel 4: 34-37 Nebuchadnezzar's own words testifying to the result of his humbling and resultant desire to recognize and serve "the King of heaven" as described in the following EGW quotes:

"In Daniel's life, the desire to glorify God was the most powerful of all motives. He realized that when standing in the presence of men of influence, a failure to acknowledge God as the source of his wisdom would have made him an unfaithful steward. And his constant recognition of the God of heaven before kings, princes, and statesmen, detracted not one iota from his influence. King Nebuchadnezzar, before whom Daniel so often honored the name of God, was finally thoroughly converted, and learned to "praise and extol and honour the King of heaven."" (RH Jan. 11, 1906).

"The king upon the Babylonian throne became a witness for God, giving his testimony, warm and eloquent, from a grateful heart that was partaking of the mercy and grace, the righteousness and peace, of the divine nature." (YI Dec. 13, 1904).

In Friday's lesson, is a good synopsis of God's reaching out to Nebuchadnezzar and as a result fulfilling His purpose for the most powerful kingdom in the world. At the same time, this would have had a powerful impact on the surrounding countries not to mention the Israelites in their captivity. Prophets and Kings, p. 521

"The once proud monarch had become a humble child of God; the tyrannical, overbearing ruler, a wise and compassionate king. He who had defied and blasphemed the God of heaven, now acknowledged the power of the Most High and earnestly sought to promote the fear of Jehovah and the happiness of his subjects. Under the rebuke of Him Who is King of kings and Lord of lords, Nebuchadnezzar had learned at last the lesson which all rulers need to learn --- that true greatness consists in true goodness. He acknowledged Jehovah as the living God, saying, 'I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all Whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.'

God's purpose that the greatest kingdom in the world should show forth His praise was now fulfilled. This public proclamation, in which Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the mercy and goodness and authority of God, was the last act of his life recorded in sacred history."

The experience of Nebuchadnezzar is the same experience that God desires for all of us. He wants to humble us to the point that we can only look up from the depths of our selfishness to a loving God that is waiting with open arms full of love, mercy, and forgiveness, anxious to give us a new heart.

Here are some additional EGW quotes that you may enjoy that further describe the battle between pride (selfishness) and humility that we all face in our lives as God seeks our hearts and a willing surrender to His will.

"God's work of refining and purifying must go on until His servants are so humbled, so dead to self, that, when called into active service, their eye will be single to His glory. He will then accept their efforts; they will not move rashly, from impulse; they will not rush on and imperil the Lord's cause, being slaves to temptations and passions and followers of their own carnal minds set on fire by Satan. Oh, how fearfully is the cause of God marred by man's perverse will and unsubdued temper! How much suffering he brings upon himself by following his own headstrong passions! God brings men over the ground again and again, increasing the pressure until perfect humility and a transformation of character bring them into harmony with Christ and the spirit of heaven, and they are victors over themselves." (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 p. 86.)

"The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven; while pride, selfishness, and covetousness too often go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God; for they are contrary to the benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere of the unfallen universe. He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give." (Steps to Christ, p. 30).

Nebuchadnezzar is meant to be an example to all of us of the impact that pride and selfishness can have on our lives as well as those around us. But we have a seeking Saviour Who knows our needs, and desires to humble us to the point that we want nothing else but to honor and praise Him for His love, mercy and forgiveness.

But this humility and realizing that we are poor in spirit goes beyond our individual experiences and also impacts us as a people as we see in the following EGW quote:

"A deeper and wider experience in religious things is to come to God's people. Christ is our example. If through living faith and sanctified obedience to God's word we reveal the love and grace of Christ, if we show that we have a true conception of God's guiding providences in the work, we shall carry to the world a convincing power. A high position does not give us value in the sight of God. Man is measured by his consecration and faithfulness in working out the will of God. If the remnant people of God will walk before Him in humility and faith, He will carry out through them His eternal purpose, enabling them to work harmoniously in giving to the world the truth as it is in Jesus." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 274.

Ellen White has told us repeatedly that Christ would have come prior to 1900 had His people not rejected the most precious message God had sent. In Testimonies to Ministers (p. 91/92) she tells us that "The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones." She also describes it as "the third angel's message in verity" and "the message that God commanded that we give to the world." Today, the Bridegroom is still waiting patiently for His bride, the church, that we would humble ourselves and repent for our pride which represents our Laodicean condition as described in Revelation 3: thinking we are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing (spiritually).

My prayer for myself and for all of us is that we will be willing to be humbled by a loving God, and as mentioned in the quote above, desire "to walk before Him in humility and faith" so that He can enable us "to work harmoniously in giving to the world the truth as it is in Jesus."

Blessings, John and Monica Campbell