Narcissistic Nebuchadnezzar

https://ebcstanton.org

BIG IDEA 

Pride is spiritual insanity, placing you where only God belongs.

INTRODUCTION

“Narcissus was a hunter in Greek mythology… He was a very beautiful young man, and many fell in love with him. However, he only showed them disdain and contempt. One day, while he was hunting in the woods, the Oread nymph Echo spotted him and immediately fell for him. When Narcissus sensed that someone was following him, Echo eventually revealed herself and tried to hug him. However, he pushed her off and told her not to disturb him. Echo, in despair, roamed around the woods for the rest of her life, and wilted away until all it remained of her was an echo sound.

Nemesis, the goddess of retribution and revenge, learned what had happened and decided to punish Narcissus for his behaviour. She led him to a pool; there, the man saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it. Although he did not realise in the beginning that it was just a reflection, when he understood it, he fell in despair that his love could not materialise and committed suicide.”

https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Narcissus/narcissus.html

     From this totally false legend, we have created a modern word, “narcissist.” According to the Mayo Clinic, “Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” That pretty well describes Nebuchadnezzar. 

  • He had a bad dream and threatened to kill a whole group of counselors
  • He built an idol 90 feet tall, presumably in his own image
  • He told everyone to bow down to the idol, and if they didn’t do what he said, he’d throw them into a fiery furnace.
  • He believed that Babylon was built by his own strength 

I’ve entitled today’s sermon, “Nebuchadnezzar the Narcissist.” 

EXPLANATION

Chapter 4 is an autobiography by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel took the writings of Nebuchadnezzar, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and included them in the sacred text. If you notice in Daniel 4:1, there is a greeting, the opening of a letter from Nebuchadnezzar. “King Nebuchadnezzar, to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.”

Then in verse 4, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that made me afraid.” This is a first-hand account of the story of Nebuchadnezzar. It is a recording of his testimony.

Nebuchadnezzar then called all his counselors, much like he had before, but only Daniel knew the interpretation of the dream. In the dream, the King saw a great tree, full of leaves, providing shelter in and under its branches for animals. Then, a watcher came from heaven and said, “Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze.”

The king went on to describe one who would lose his mind and be wet with the dew for seven periods of time. The King begged Daniel for an interpretation.

Daniel said, in verse 22, “It is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth.” Verse 25, “you shall be driven among men, and your dwelling shall be with the bests of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”

The prophecy was clear. You, King, have been lifted up, but you are going to be laid low. You are about to receive judgement, but it is not too late. Look at verse 27, “break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.” There was room for grace if the king repented, but he did not.

Verse 29 says, “at the end of twelve months, he was walking on the roof of the royal palace.” One year went by, but there was no change in the king. Looking over his kingdom he said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence for the glory of my majesty?” Here was a King who put himself on a pedestal. Narcissistic Nebuchadnezzar.

I. The King who put himself on a Pedestal 

  • The Scope of his accomplishments
    1. When a full year went by, and nothing bad happened, the king considered the scope of his own accomplishments. “Look at this great Babylon.”
    2. Babylon was a marvel to behold. There was a double wall 15 miles long, 85 feet high, and nearly 24 feet thick protecting the city. Chariots would literally race upon her walls they were so thick.
    3. There were hanging gardens which became one of the Wonders of the World.
    4. It was the most powerful empire in the world, at the time.
  • The Source of his accomplishments
    1. “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built…”
    2. The King took credit for building the whole empire. Listen, nothing great is ever accomplished without a great team. Great teams share the credit. Narcissists hoard the credit.
    3. At this point in his life, Nebuchadnezzar’s favorite words were “I, me, and mine.”
  • The Strength of his accomplishments
    1. How did all this happen, “by my mighty power.”
  • The Significance of his accomplishments 
    1. What was the significance of the accomplishments? “It is a royal residence for the glory of my majesty.”
    2. Literally, this empire was built to contain my glory. How boastful and arrogant!

The King who was put out to Pasture

  • The Delay in Judgment
    1. As I mentioned a moment ago, the king had a full year to repent. But he didn’t.
    2. Just because you do not see the judgment of God today, does not mean that it is not coming tomorrow. God is patient, loving, fore-bearing, and slow to anger. But there will come a time when judgment can no longer be withheld for God knows without the judgment you may never turn to him.
    3. Look at verse 31. “While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven..” Judgment was delayed, but it was definite. 
  • The Depth of the Judgment
    1. God said, “O King Nebuchadnezzar…the kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling place shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox…”
    2. The carnal king became crazy! The rule of men was driven out from men. The one who sat on the throne now slept with the animals. The one who ate lavish royal dinners now ate grass.
  • The Duration of the Judgment
    1. How long would this last? Seven periods of time. Literally, seven years. Why this long?
    2. God said this would last until “you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”
    3. The judgment would last until Narcissistic Nebuchadnezzar became a Repentant Royal. Judgment would last until the King realized that it was only the King of Heaven who allowed him to be a king in the first place.
    4. And the crazy king “was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew long as eagle’s feathers, and his nails like bird’s claws.”
    5. What a picture! Narcissistic Nebuchadnezzar was put in his place by being put out to pasture.
    6. “This is all that is said about his seven years of insanity. One moment he is surveying his royal kingdom, the next he is ripping off his clothing, making strange snorting noises, and galloping on all fours. Soon he is running on all fours down the main street of Babylon, totally naked and stark, raving mad. Those who have studied this text say that the king had a complete nervous breakdown. That’s true, but it doesn’t seem to do justice to the text. He went totally insane and lost all connection with reality. Some say he was afflicted with lycanthropy, a strange condition where a person thinks he is a wolf. More likely it was boanthropy, the condition where a person thinks he is a cow or a bull.” (https://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/the-king-who-went-crazy)
    7. And then as quickly as it began, it ended. Verse 34 says, “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever.”
      • The King looked up.
      • The King woke up.
      • The King spoke up.
    8. This is the third time Nebuchadnezzar spoke favorably of God.
      • In Daniel 2:47, the King said to Daniel, “Surely YOUR God is God of gods and Lord of Kings…”
      • In Daniel 3:28, The King said, “Blessed be the God OF Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…”
      • But now, in Daniel 4:37, the King says, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
    9. Narcissistic Nebuchadnezzar was now Newborn Nebuchadnezzar. I believe that the King humbled his hardened heart and the King of Kings gave Nebuchadnezzar a new heart. He was saved! 
    10. Nebuchadnezzar, the least likely to be saved, became a son of God! And God used Nebuchadnezzar’s trials to give him a testimony.

The King who was put in his Place

  • A Personal Testimony
    1. Daniel 4:34 gives a personal testimony. “I Nebuchadnezzar…” No longer is it Daniel’s God, or the three friends God. It was his God.
    2. The glory of the Gospel is found in this: God meets you where you are to make you into what He wants you to be. Salvation can be taught, but it cannot be caught. Sin may be contagious, but salvation is not. It is personally received or personally rejected.
  • A Public Testimony
    1. Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony was not only written in his autobiography; it was written in God’s Holy Book for all time!
    2. The King’s testimony was not only given to the people of his day, but it remains for the people of our day.
    3. Friends, salvation came to you so that it can flow through you as a testimony to another. Salvation is not a message to be contained but a message to be proclaimed.
    4. It is not to be hidden, but heralded.
    5. In recent days, I have had a few conversations with some of you who have seized the opportunity to proclaim the goodness, the grace, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ right where God has planted you. It gladdens my heart!
  • A Powerful Testimony
    1. Daniel 4:37 is a powerful testimony. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
    2. What a change! When you humble yourself and allow God to rule your life, a tremendous change happens.
      • Before, Nebuchadnezzar would have bragged about the walls of his city. Now, he boasted in the wonders of God.
      • Before, he would have bragged about his hanging gardens. Now, he boasted in a Holy God.
      • Before, Nebuchadnezzar would have bragged about his power over man. Now he boasted in the power of God in his life.
      • Before, he would have boasted over military conquests, or massive construction projects. But now, he simply acknowledges that God is able to humble the proud.

APPLICATION:

  1. God’s justice is powerful and painful, but it is purposeful
  2. God’s lessons last until you learn them. 
  3. God will shake you, but not break you, so He can wake you

CONCLUSION

Charlotte Elliott born in Clapham, England, on March 18, 1789. As a young person, she had lived a carefree life, gaining popularity as a portrait artist, musician, and writer of humorous verse…

[A visit one] night by the noted Swiss evangelist, Dr. Caesar Malan, proved to be a turning point in Charlotte’s life. Charlotte thrilled the audience with her singing and playing. When she finished, the evangelist threaded his way through the crowd which was gathered around her.

When he finally came to her and had her attention, he said, “Young lady, when you were singing, I sat there and thought how tremendously the cause of Christ would be benefited if you would dedicate yourself and your talents to the Lord.

“But,” he added, “you are just as much a sinner as the worst drunkard in the street or any harlot on Scarlet Street. But I am glad to tell you that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will cleanse you from all sin if you will come to Him.” In a very haughty manner, she turned her head aside and said to him, “You are very insulting, sir.” And she started to walk away. He said, “Lady, I did not mean any offense, but I pray that the Spirit of God will convict you.”

[T]hat night this young woman could not sleep. At two o’clock in the morning, she knelt at the side of her bed and took Christ as her Savior. And then she, Charlotte Elliott, sat down and, while sitting there, wrote the words of a favorite hymn “Just As I Am”:

Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot, To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am, tho’ tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

And then the final stanza: Just as I am—Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come!

Throughout the remainder of her life, Miss Elliott celebrated every year the day on which her Swiss friend had led her to a personal relationship with Christ, for she considered it to be her spiritual birthday. Although she did not publish this hymn until 1836, fourteen years after her conversion experience, it is apparent that she never forgot the words of her friend, for they form the very essence of this hymn.

(https://discoverthebook.org/just-as-i-am/)

Narcissistic Nebuchadnezzar nearly died obsessed with the glory of his own reflection. Newborn Nebuchadnezzar died obsessed with the glory of the God who humbled him.

Charlotte Elliot nearly died obsessed with her own glory. She died reveling in the glory of Christ who humbled her.

What about you? Are you haughty or humble? Are you narcissistic or newborn?

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