02 June 2014

The Only Remedy for Pride's Curse

There's a reason the word humbled sounds so similar to the word humiliated.  

He wakes with a start, confused.  There doesn't seem to be anyone in Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom who can help him straighten out his thoughts, or even remember what they were, until a brash young captive offers to take the case before the God of his fathers.

Put yourself in his place.

You agree to wait just one more night, because somewhere deep down you know if you can get to the bottom of this nagging dream, you'll have a piece of knowledge and wisdom worth more than anything else on earth.

Yes, you wait.  Perhaps you pass another sleepless night in your wondering.  You wait until daylight.  You wait while Daniel takes time to offer praise to the God of heaven who revealed the secret.  You wait while the young man hurries off to find your captain of the guard.  You wait while Arioch in turn brings Daniel into your throne room, surpassed in earthly splendor by only Solomon's court itself.

You catch your breath as the Hebrew captive starts from the beginning of the dream, from this very moment in history, tracing the world's kingdoms and countries to the end of time.

Thou art this head of gold.

You're humbled by God's penetrating wisdom, given to a simple captive student on your behalf.  Yet it would be hard not to let that go to your head.  No one in the future of the world from you onward, except the King of the universe Himself, will surpass you in riches and glory.

You therefore begin to wonder how in the world they will overtake you, these lesser kings of silver, brass, iron, even clay.  Certainly you will never be so  weak as to be thrown down!  No, it can't happen.  

The more you think about it, the more convinced you become, until the miraculous circumstances surrounding the dream and the words of awe and praise that escaped your own lips slip into faded memories.

It's not a stretch at all now to make a giant image of gold as wide as Goliath was tall and point it up toward heaven as a symbol of your own enduring majesty, setting yourself directly in opposition to the only true King.

This time, you're humbled by a miracle.  

Hebrews again.  Captives again.  The same God who delivered a visual prophecy covering the rest of the world's history delivered his servants from death when they refused to worship the mock prophetic image on the plain of Dura.

You're humbled, but a root of that pride-weed is still strong in your heart, and you let it grow.

You even start to believe that the entire kingdom of Babylon in all its glory is a product of, well, nothing short of you.  It revolves around you, and you are the sole reason for not only its prosperity, but also its existence.

Hardly a memory remains of that God who could deliver a few Hebrew captives out of your hands, who was and is and shall be mightier than you throughout all the ages.  From the outside looking in, it might be easy for those same Hebrew captives to think you were a hopeless case.

Maybe, though, they kept praying for you, and that's how you find yourself troubled over another dream.  It's one more opportunity to break off your sins by righteousness, one more chance to show mercy to the poor instead of hoarding all the riches of the kingdom to yourself.

You, however, feel far too secure, and instead of taking a chance to change your ways, you settle back into your false security, letting that pride-weed grow a little bigger.

It takes more than a dream interpreted this time, more than a miraculous deliverance from a fiery furnace.  And so you spend seven years living the simple life of an animal, eating grass, waking and sleeping with the sun, moistened by the dew of heaven.

Amazingly, when you come to your right mind again after those seven long years of deepest humiliation, you're not angry at God for putting you through such a strange and stringent trial.  Instead, you bless Him.  You praise Him.  You thank Him.  You honor Him.

Somehow this time, you've realized that pride only brings a multitude of curses, and anything that can be done to get that awful root out of your heart is worth the price, and you're grateful for that new and beautiful humble-plant growing in its place.

And those last words of your letter to the world?

...and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.

They're no longer a threat, but a promise. 

Not just for you, the ancient king, but for anyone in the whole world, throughout history, down the ages of silver, brass, iron, and clay.  Because humility of heart before God is the real treasure after all.

Anyone whose heart is so hardened with pride in all its forms of fear, anxiety, and self exaltation--yes, all these and more--that there's not even so much as the hint of a desire for humility can be entrusted to the same God who lifted Nebuchadnezzar up from the grass of the earth and restored him to a glorious kingdom when he could finally be trusted to bear a faithful witness to the world.

The same God who saved Nebuchadnezzar from himself can still save you.  He can save those you love, too, and He is pride's only sure remedy.

1 comment:

Greetings, fellow climbers! Leave your marks on the steps--I'll be delighted to hear from you.