I’m familiar with the story of Nebuchadnezzar and how God allowed him to live like an animal because of his pride. What I didn’t know or had forgotten or had missed the significance of is that God gave him advance warning. Look at Daniel 4:24-27. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a scary dream, and finally asked Daniel what the dream meant. Daniel (who had been renamed Belteshazzar) answered him:
This is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts 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, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
Twelve months later, Nebuchadnezzar still hadn’t taken action. And, he suffered the consequences.
I’m thinking on this because of my kids: it’s not a problem to tell my daughter that if she does not obey, she will receive a spanking. There’s a current of understanding that would criticize any warning, even during times of instruction (like for my toddler who is still learning that obedience is not optional). It’s a helpful reminder that warnings are a part of how God parents us.
I’m also thinking on this because of me. There are things that I know are right, but for some reason or another I avoid taking serious action about it. Cindy mentions that learning about diabetes a year ago gave her the impetus for changing some things about her lifestyle. Sometimes we need those external motivators, but I don’t think any of us would deny that it would be better to heed the warnings before we deal with the consequences.
Something as simple as Deuteronomy 6 fits here. I know that God tells me his word should be in my heart, before I teach my children. But do I live as though that is truth? Sometimes, I act no different than a nice unsaved mom who loves her children. My children are young. They’re not even saved yet, and we can’t carry on lengthy conversations about the Bible. There’s time to obey God’s Word.
I wonder if that’s what Nebuchadnezzar thought.