Friday, April 13, 2012

Nebuchadnezzar—His Sinful Pride

We’ve been studying the book of Habakkuk and in my last post we examined the Habakkuk 2:4.  We noted that the sin of pride is the root of all sin in some way or another.  Pride refuses to submit and a prideful person refuses to submit to God.  Prideful people think they are a law unto themselves and therefore they mock God’s law.  You see it every day—a man cheats on his wife and blames his mistress when caught because his uncontrollable lust is more important that his marriage vows because of pride.  A woman falsifies an expense report that she turns in at work because she feels she deserves more compensation than she’s getting.  You see it in churches—a man believes he has the right to decide who will and will not be part of a Sunday school class/choir/etc because of pride, or insecurity, or both.  A woman believes that, due to her superior musical talents, she should always be the featured soloist.  All of these things are the result of pride, and as we read in Habakkuk, a prideful person’s heart is not upright.  A classic biblical example of that, and very relevant to our study of Habakkuk, is Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. 
Nebuchadnezzar was prideful and worshipped his military might.  In short, he was a bully.  Now, some bully’s stalk their targets for some time before preying on them.  Nebuchadnezzar was a different kind of bully.  He knew he had the power to crush his opponent and he made sure they knew it.  They knew it because when he decided to attack a city, his fierce army was relentless.  They had better weapons, more fierce warriors, and a larger army than anyone they went up against.   
I remember a kid in elementary school named Paul Kahauna who played a similar game.  Paul had taken karate lessons since he was very young—and he made sure you knew it.  He was constantly making little asides like “If that boy had messed with me, it would have been very bad for him” or “Maybe you ought to think about it before you confront someone with a black belt” (I'm not sure if he had a black belt or not).  Classic bully tactics.  Just like Nebuchadnezzar, he knew he could do what he wanted, say what he wanted, because no one could stand up to him.  His sinful pride led to him being a bully, just like the world conquering Nebuchadnezzar.  However, Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was finally broken by God. 

We read in Daniel 4:28-33 how Nebuchadnezzar looked over his kingdom and said (loosely paraphrased) “Man, am I bad or what?  Check this stuff out.”  His sinful pride led him to take credit where no credit was due.  His sinful pride led to him self-worship.  When we sin, ultimately, it is self worship.  We are saying that our pleasures, passions, fears, or whatever else motivates us is more important than God.  Therefore, we are more important than God.  And God will not take second place to anyone.  Nebuchadnezzar learned this lesson the hard way—he was driven mad and lived like a wild animal for a period of time.  The Lord graciously restored Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity, but what a way to have to learn that lesson. 

We should take seriously any pride in our lives and pray that God would root it out so that we don’t have to learn a lesson the hard way, like Nebuchadnezzar.

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