in the Christian Library
1. Our lesson examines a King of the Old Testament that is often mentioned in Scriptures. References to Nebuchadnezzar are found in 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc. He was one of the most powerful monarchs the world has ever seen. He reigned for more than forty years and when he died in 561 B.C. the city of Babylon was the symbol of glory and world domination. He was a victorious military leader, an amazing architect of world renown, and an absolute Monarch.
2. There is a danger of deception that few recognize. Often many are so engrossed in the affairs of this world that they forget how temporary this world really is. They are deceived into thinking that all they do will be permanent but it is actually perishable. Consequently they invest heaving in the perishables and sadly neglect the permanents. This tragedy is illustrated by Nebuchadnezzar, and other historical figures.
a. Even though Nebuchadnezzar established Babylon as the kingdom of the world, it would vanish into nothing! In 538 B.C., less than a quarter of a century after Nebuchadnezzar died, the great city of Babylon fell to Cyrus, King of Persia.
b. Alexander the Great, when he led his Grecian troops across the Hellespont to conquer kingdoms in Asia, did not know that in a few months he would be dead and his conquests would die with him.
c. Rome in the time of Augustus Caesar, when its legions were masters of all the Western world, had no conception that before long the barbarians would burn its city gates.
d. Philip of Spain, when his galleons were bringing back the plundered riches of the Americas, could not see the hand of judgment writing that his empire was at an end.
e. These references only illustrate the common tendency of mankind – trust in the perishable, strive for the perishable and forget the permanent! How often has man sacrificed the permanent joys and happiness for the fleeting pleasures of the perishable?!
3. The great King Nebuchadnezzar teaches us a fantastic lesson on the urgency of keeping the proper balance between the perishable and the permanent things of life. Daniel 4 offers Nebuchadnezzar’s personal insight to this point. The chapter is a blunt confession of the Babylonian Emperor that there is a significant difference between values in the world and that he had failed to keep the proper balance.
NOTE: Often modern minds confuse the perishable and the permanent.
a. Nebuchadnezzar’s struggle to balance the important with the trivial is faced by everyone. Earthly life is often chaotic because we confuse the true valuables. ASK – What are the true “valuables” of life? List those things that can be classified as the “perishable” and those that are the “permanent.” Why are these often confused? Why does this confusion lead to turmoil in our lives?
b. Look at the King’s confession and learn from his mistake so you will not confuse the valuables of life and lose happiness.
2. Nebuchadnezzar’s confession (Da 4) stresses the difference that exists between that which is perishable and that which is permanent.
a. Nebuchadnezzar valued the “Perishables” of life.
1) Offer self-congratulations and fuel sinful pride.
2) Provoke the praise of mankind.
3) Are often highly honored and sought.
4) Will quickly perish.
5) Promotes “forgetfulness” of danger.
6) Must be judged properly, cautioned against, and avoided.
7) A CASE STUDY: Luke 12:15-21. The rich farmer’s eyes were not on God, but upon Self. This “foolish one” had chosen to pursue the “perishables” of life; he was consumed by these. Even though this rich man’s material wealth was increasing, he was “empty.” In his obsession to get more and more, he lost the real purpose of life.
b. Nebuchadnezzar discovered the “Permanent” values of life.
1) There is the permanent value of humility.
2) There are rewards that are richer and more abiding than
the treasures of the world.
3) There is a rejoicing and celebration that surpass
the pleasures of the world (4:1-3, 37).
3. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was that which robbed the “permanent” of its eternal value but his humility restored the valuable.
a. He changed his evaluation of life’s valuables – no longer “I myself” but now “His dominion and kingdom” (Da 4:30, 34).
b. He changed the object of his devotion – no longer “I” but now “the Most High” (4:30, 34).
c. He changed the basis for security – no longer “my house and palace” but now “He does according to His will” (4:4, 35).
d. He changed the reason for happiness – no longer “the might of my power” but now the “true, just works” of God (Da 4:30, 37).
e. NOTE: All of these combined to help Nebuchadnezzar find joy in his life. He was convinced that true joy was not to be found in worldly standards of success but in humble service to the Almighty God. Whenever the King ceased trusting in his own strength, he found a wonderful reward. Could it be possible that many today are lonely, unhappy, and ill-content because they have not done as Nebuchadnezzar did – they are still pursuing the perishables!
4. From this King’s frank confession, we are able to learn the following Truths!
a. A troubling query – Am I striving after the perishable or
“There may be the perilous tendency to think in terms of size and quantity instead of asking the disturbing question: What quality of life is the church producing? Are figures and statistics and money and the favor of the well-to-do of any ultimate value in the development of souls? . . . Some who are entrenched in their selfish privileges and too much blinded by their own interests to see the Truth will not acknowledge the church’s true purpose. They want the church ‘to comfort the afflicted’ but emphatically not ‘to afflict the comfortable’” (Walter Russell Bowie, See Yourself In The Bible, 1967, 63-65).
2) In my personal life?
b. A troubling situation – Am I so “at ease” with the perishables of life that I have forgotten the somber warnings of God? How tragic that many today strive after worldly possessions/successes and find emptiness. They are “at ease”and “flourishing” but “troubled” and “alarmed.” (Cf Is 57:20-21).
c. A troubling prospect – Will my future be filled with fear
and alarm because I have pursued the perishable and neglected the permanent?
Is it possible that you will be like the Rich Fool (Lk 12:20)?
Copyright 1999 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no
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