By Henry Mahan
Those who know the living God, who have seen a little of his glory and majesty in the face of Christ Jesus are troubled by the low opinion that men today have of God. 'There is no fear of God before their eyes' (Rom. 3:18). 'Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself' (Psalm 50:21). Such trash and trite that is permitted in the pulpit and church in the name of God and such familiarity, irreverence, small thoughts, and loose talk about the Lord God is unheard of in the scriptures or among our ancient fathers. Let us look at the text and see how the Lord dealt with Nebuchadnezzar and what he was pleased to teach him.
No one ever accused Nebuchadnezzar of being a prophet; but the Lord taught him, as he taught Jonah, some powerful truth in a most unusual way. Nebuchadnezzar was a great and powerful man, also a very proud man (vv. 22, 30). Because of his pride and boasting, the Lord took away his kingdom and his understanding and he became like an animal for a time (vv. 32- 33). Through this experience be learned four things:
1. He learned the majesty, greatness, and sovereignty of God.
v. 34. At the end of those days, Nebuchadnezzar said, 'I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion.'
When Moses stood before the bush that burned and was not consumed and asked, 'What is thy name?' the Lord said to Moses, 'I AM THAT I AM.' There was a time when man was not; there was a time when the world was not; there was a time when the heavens were not; there was a time when time was not; but our God is, was, and ever liveth. 'I praise him that liveth forever.'
The Lord God's dominion and reign is everlasting, infinite, irresistible, and immutable. The hymn writer wrote:
'Thy throne eternal ages stood,
ere seas or stars were made;
Thou art the ever-living God,
were all the nations dead.
Eternity with all its years
stands present in thy view;
To thee nothing old appears,
great God, there's nothing new.
Let idols topple to the ground
and their own worshippers confound,
But Judah shout and Zion sing
and each confess our sovereign King.'
He is absolutely sovereign in creation. All things were made by him and for him, and by him they are held together. By him they shall be destroyed, and he shall make 'all things new' (2 Peter 3:10-13).
He is totally sovereign in providence. 'Not a bird falls to the ground without him.' He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will' (Isa. 45:5-7; 46:9-11; Eph. 1:11). He so orders all events, all men, and their actions that 'all things work together for good to them that love him and are the called according to his purpose.'
He is sovereign in salvation. He said to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy' (Rom. 9:10-18; 8:28-31). Our Lord said, 'The Son quickeneth whom he will' (John 5:21).
How did David identify the Lord God when the heathen asked, 'Where is your God?' He replied, 'Our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.'
2. He learned the nothingness of man.
v. 35. 'And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.' 'All the inhabitants of the earth are as nothing;' not some, not the poor, the rich, the weak, the openly wicked, but all together. Kings, emperors, the rich, the powerful, the learned, the talented, the wise, and the foolish are all before him as nothing. Men came from the earth and will return to the earth. 'We brought nothing into this world and we carry nothing out.' 'Without him we can do nothing!'
Isaiah wrote in Isa. 40:15-17, 'All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him as nothing.' We are a 'drop of the bucket.' This is the unnoticed drop of liquid which falls from a bucket when it is emptied. We are 'counted as the small dust of the balance.' This is the dust upon the scales which does not affect the weight nor the outcome.
This knowledge of who God is and what we are enables us to praise God and give him all the glory for the mercy and grace he gives us in Christ Jesus. This knowledge made David to exclaim, 'What is man that thou art mindful of him' (Psalm 8:3- 4). It made Paul say, 'O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord' (Rom. 7:24-25).
3. He learned that the will of God is unchangeable and shall be done
v. 36. He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say unto him, what doest thou?
Only God has a free will! One may argue about my will, your will, free will, and whosoever will; but in this universe there is one sovereign, immutable will, and that is the will of God. 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Even men such as Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17), Judas (John 17:12), and the crucifiers of Christ (Acts 4:27-28), doing what their perverted wills wanted to do, were at the same time fulfilling God's will (Acts 13:29).
David said, 'Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, and in the seas, and all deep places' (Psalm 135:6). What has it pleased God to do?
It pleased God to make you his people (1 Sam. 12:22).
It pleased God that in Christ shall all fullness dwell (Col. 1:19).
It pleased God to bruise Christ (Isa. 53:10).
It pleased God to reveal Christ in us (Gal. 1:15).
It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Cor. 1:21).
4. He learned that those who walk in pride the Lord is able to abase
v. 37. Over and over in the scripture the Lord has revealed his wrath against pride. Pride is the first on the list of seven things which God hates (Prov. 6:16-17). He will turn away the proud and bless the humble (James 4:6).
May it please God to have mercy upon us according to his lovingkindness and his tender mercies, to blot out our transgressions, to create in us a clean heart and a right spirit, and to save us for Christ's sake!