This is a story about a king, with a lesson for kings and presidents just as valid today as it was 25 centuries ago. But it’s also a story about every one of us. One way or the other we must learn this lesson or we will perish. And if we learn it, we are in for the greatest joys in the universe.
So what I would like to do is look at your story and mine in this text first, and then look and its relevance for Mr. Bush and Mr. Dukakis and the future of our nation.
The Pathway from Pride of Self to Praise of God
What Daniel describes in this story is the pathway of a man from the pride of self to the praise of God through the valley of humiliation. And that’s a pathway that every person in the world must walk if he wants to get to heaven and have eternal life.
Ever since Adam’s first sin we have all been born with his disposition. Do you remember what the essence of that first sin was? It was the abandonment of childlike dependence on God in favor of God-like dependence on self. And ever since then, all people everywhere have been born with this sinful nature of pride.
That is bad news, because God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13). InIsaiah 2:11 God said, “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” God hates pride.
But God also loves proud sinners. That’s why he sent his Son into the world to save us from the power and the penalty of our pride. So Jesus says in Matthew 18:4, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus came into the world to convert people from God-like dependence on self to child-like dependence on God. And then he died to pay the penalty for our pride and to show us the way of humility and to send all our boasting toward God and not toward ourselves.
So God has provided a path that leads from pride to the kingdom of heaven and to eternal life. That’s what the Bible is all about. That’s what this story in Daniel 4 is about, and I want us to walk it together this morning.
Three Stages of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Story
It has three stages: It starts with the pride of self and leads through the valley of humiliation to the praise of God. Let’s look at these three stages in the story of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.