The Bigger They Fall

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 2, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

A few years ago our church expressed discontent over the shallowness of the commercial vacation Bible school curriculums in a can. We decided we would get our material straight out of the Bible, and I firmly recommend this strategy. The kids remembered so much detail from the skits and Bible stories, the songs, and of course the games.

Nearly the whole church participates in the venture. We begin building sets and making costumes several weeks in advance. We write all the skits and lessons ourselves. We make everything. It is a great time of fellowship and ministry for the church. Then, the army of children show up like some kind of barbarian invasion.

This year was the Life of Daniel. I was struck by the contrasts in his book which escaped me in the past. Israel had just been assaulted by Babylon and the best of the best were carried away to serve Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon grew incredibly prideful at becoming the masters of the known world. The world had become Nebuchadnezzar’s footstool.

Imagine him standing on top of his luxurious palace in his rooftop garden. From there he could see one of the wonders of the ancient world: his own hanging gardens. He had built a mountain and covered it with lush vegetation to please his mountain-born wife. Nearby was the grand temple of his god Marduk, one of the tallest buildings of that time. He could stand above the vast city of Babylon the Great. He could see the double wall which chariots could race on. He could laugh at all his enemies. Nebuchadnezzar, the head of gold, ruler of all the world, humbler of all nations. He said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). He just knew that he was great.

Then there is little Judah, so easily defeated by his grand army. They pulled down the walls, entered the city, and even took the sacred objects from the temple of the Hebrew God. He reasoned that this God was unable to stop Nebuchadnezzar! He waltzed right into God’s own house and took whatever he wanted.

Nebuchadnezzar’s prideful assumption reverberates in the Hebrew people as well. They wonder if God has abandoned them or maybe he wasn’t as strong as he said. Confusion abounds, but among the early exiles are only a few who continued to believe in the one true God.

Nebuchadnezzar goes completely insane. God strips him of his royal authority until he realizes that the reason that he was able to defeat Judah only because he had permission. God allowed it for his own reasons. These are his words:

“But at the end of that 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… Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, 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.” (Daniel 4:34, 37)

Nebuchadnezzar had to learn humility, a very hard lesson for the conqueror of the world to learn. But through several encounters with God’s people, he learned that God is more powerful than anyone.

Belshazzar never does learn the lesson of his father. He arrogantly sets out to prove his superiority as the king of the earth by drinking out of the dedicated cups from God’s temple in Jerusalem. He goes as far as to toast his own idols. But they cannot save him from Yahweh’s wrath. The handwriting on the wall humiliates Belshazzar. In front of everyone it says, “You have been weighed and measured and found wanting!” Oooh, sick burn. “Your stuff ain’t enough, Belshazzar.” He died that night. (Daniel 5)

But contrast this attitude of pride to the attitude of Daniel and of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They humbly accepted God’s working in their lives. They made their appeals and then trusted God to do whatever he wanted to do. When threatened with the fiery furnace, they showed a resolve. “God is able to deliver us if he wants to, but even if he doesn’t, he is still God!” (Daniel 3:16-18) Such trust. As the apostle Peter would later write to Christians who were being similarly persecuted by the Romans: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6). Victory came to the Hebrew children when they realized that it is God’s reputation that means anything. The same is true for us today.

These few were seemingly invincible. They not only survived a hostile culture, but they thrived and were advanced at every turn. Everything that was meant to destroy them was changed into their advantage.

I think about our own times. We see people compromising with modern culture all around us. People have lost faith in the one true God. They bow down to naturalism, post-modernism, and the homosexual cult, all at the expense of faithfulness to God and his Word. The Apostle Paul told us to not “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold!

“Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

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