The Testimony of a Changed Man

A Study of the Change of Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 4


June 19th 2011 AM (Father’s Day)

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

I. Introduction (Psalm 119:5-7)

A. Humour

1. One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?" The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room." A long silence was broken at last by his shaking little voice: "The big sissy."

2. The little girl was sitting in her grandfather's lap as he read her a goodnight story. From time to time, she would take her eye's off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. By and by she was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again. Finally she spoke, "Granddaddy, did God make you?" "Yes, sweetheart" he answered, "God made me a long time ago." "Oh she said," then "Granddaddy, did God make me too?" "Yes, indeed honey" he assured her. "God made you just a little while ago." "Oh" she said. Feeling their respective faces again, she observed, "God's getting better at it now isn't he?"

B. Today is Father’s Day! Such an important day for families! The media doesn’t think so, the culture thinks the world does just fine without strong men, women think they don’t need Dads and husbands – only mock him and ignore him as a push-over

C. Gentlemen, something has to change – and it is us! (Ps 119:5-7)

D. We men need the ability to be changed – made better!

1. Every woman knows it

2. And surprisingly, every man knows it too

3. I’m not talking about being a push-over, a wimp, or “getting in touch with your feminine side”

4. But someone who has the ability to be changed and developed into a real man – a godly man!

a. Like a Potter moulds a lump of clay – not to leave it a lump, but something better

b. Or like a craftsman, refines silver and gold by heat and pressure

E. So, Can a man actually change for the better, and how? That’s what I want to answer this morning

1. Can you actually teach an old dog new tricks?

2. You ladies are shaking your heads!

3. Every wife has asked this question over and over

4. Every man in here that is struggling against old habits & temptations has asked this question

F. The truth is, God is at work, already changing us

1. God works all our lives gentlemen, seeking to change us – from what we are naturally, to what we were designed to be by His grace (Philp 1:6; 2Cor 3:18)

2. Salvation changed our destiny – from heading to hell, to now heading to heaven (Rom 6:23)

3. AND, there will be an instantaneous change at death (1Cor 15:50-57)

4. God’s hand in our lives, works to change our character (Titus 2:14)

a. Reputation is what people think you are.

b. Character is to what you really are

c. Rare is the man whose Reputation matches his Character

5. People can naturally bend, and accommodate other people’s expectations – some people are very good at it! Put on a show - Change just to please someone else. But rarely truly change

a. Oh people WANT to change

b. They WANT so bad to quit smoking

c. To quit giving in to temptation, or to anger and bitter words

d. To stop being lazy

e. To overcome depression

f. And yet never see any difference in their lives

G. Change depends upon the following FIVE things

1. Who is doing the work on the man

a. His mother? She cannot make a better man

b. His wife? She cannot make a better man

c. Sometimes, a young man’s teacher will try and work on him. Can’t make him better

d. His friends work on him. They won’t make a better man

e. But what about God? You see, if GOD is allowed to make some changes in a man, then that man can be better!

2. The second thing that Change depends upon is WHAT is being changed in the man

a. It is his mind? Many a man has had his mind changed by his wife, or his friends – but is he actually a better man?

b. It is just his habits that need to be changed?

1) Dirty clothes in the corner

2) Not cleaning out the tub after a shower

3) Never cleaning up after dinner

4) Many a mother moulded a young boy into a clean, well dressed boy who never got dirty and never took risks – and they regretted for the rest of their lives!

5) Many a wife forced their husbands to do things, and MADE them comply, only to realise they had stopped their husband from being a man, and ruined him instead of helping him!

c. Or what about the heart? I think you know the answer!

3. The third thing that real change requires is Whether the man WANTS to be changed at all

a. Men are quit content to be what they are – haven’t you all noticed that?

b. Men don’t like change

1) We are terrified of our daughters growing up

2) We squirm when the wife wants to sell and move house

3) We go to the same shops, and buy the same foods and wear the same clothes for years on end – and never question ourselves!

4) We don’t WANT to check out a new shop that just opened

4. The forth thing that real change needs is How far he will allow himself to be changed

a. Only enough to keep his wife happy?

b. Only enough so he is not getting into trouble so often

c. Or, enough to be a great man – a man of God!

1) Are you content with just being a Dad, or do you want to be a strength to your home, and a blessing to your family?

2) Are you content with your boy-toys, and gadgets, or do you yearn to be something more – something more than your Dad was when you were growing up?

5. The final ingredient to change… is God!

a. No man ever made himself a great man in God’s eyes, without GOD doing the work

b. Many a man has accomplished great things – and then died and went to hell, bringing his whole family with him

c. If a man is going to change at all, it will be because GOD changed him

d. And it is more than just a change that happens – it is a TRANSFORMATION!

H. Do you want to help someone change; Need for someone to change? Here is how it happens!

II. Background (Daniel 4:1-3)

A. The Book of Daniel in the Bible is the life story of a young man named Daniel who is captured and taken away from his home in Israel to the massive ungodly city of Babylon

B. There, Daniel and his three young friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo face pressure and trials and temptations to conform to the wicked culture around them

C. And it was in that wicked culture that Daniel and his three young friends faithfully stood and shined as lights in world – and affected that empire for good!

D. Chapter 4 is written by King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:1-3)

1. By his own hand, and in his own words

2. He wanted to describe what God did to him

a. We normally only think of creation, and the splitting of the Red sea as God’s work

b. But Nebuchadnezzar writes that God worked on HIM!

c. Note that the WORST thing God can do to a man is leave him alone! If God is working on you, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, it is a good thing!

3. Remember just who Nebuchadnezzar was…

a. A Pagan King of Babylon – blasphemous – “I don’t need God” attitude

b. Worshipped his own gods – that he created, and that pleased him and did things for him

c. A Stubborn, Proud, Arrogant, Self-loving, Boastful, Ungrateful, Fierce, Entertainment and Pleasure Seeking kind of a guy

d. Sounds like most men today amen?!

4. Yet, here he is, writing a whole chapter in the Bible – praising God and humbling himself publically, and giving all the glory over to the God of heaven!

E. This chapter wonderfully shows how God changes the hardest of men, if they’ll only let Him

III. Message

A. The Warning (Daniel 4:4-27)

1. Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream (Daniel 4:4-18)

a. God could have just judged Nebuchadnezzar – he is the righteous Judge

b. But instead, he warned him

c. Just like God warned… Nineveh, and Pharaoh in Egypt

d. Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream before – back in chapter 3

2. The Meaning of the Dream (Dan 4:20-26)

a. The dream upset Nebuchadnezzar

b. Daniel is called to help explain the dream

1) The tree is you Nebuchadnezzar (4:20-22)

a) Strong; Wise; Stable; Supplying; Conquering; Protecting

b) All things that a man wants to be

2) The watcher and holy one is an angel from God (4:23)

3) The angel is condemning you

a) Cuts you down to size

b) Breaks everything in your life to pieces

c) Yet protects the stump

d) Your own people will drive you out into the fields

e) You will not eat the best foods anymore, but grass

f) You will not sleep on silk and linen, but upon dew drenched ground

g) Seven long years will pass until you finally learn that the most high God rules and is in charge of raising people up and knocking people down!

4) But there is hope

a) God will keep your kingdom for you

b) And you WILL learn this great truth

3. The Counsel of Daniel (4:27)

a. Break off thy sins – humble yourself – mortify yourself – put them off

1) Put off your pride

2) Put off your stubbornness

3) Put off your addiction to sins – whatever they may be – cut it off!

b. Do right – do what God said to do in His word – Nebuchadnezzar had the Bible – Daniel brought it with him

c. Show mercy

d. It may lengthen your life and keep you from facing this trouble

e. That is exactly what happened with Nineveh – judgment did NOT fall against that wicked city, because they DID repent and got right with God!

4. But Nebuchadnezzar didn’t change – didn’t think it was important – ignored the warning

B. The Breaking (Dan 4:28-33)

1. God let 12 long months pass before anything happened

a. We tend to think that because we haven’t had anything bad happen to us yet, that we have nothing to worry about – but we WILL reap what we have sown folks!

b. God let Nebuchadnezzar forget all about the dream and the warning by Daniel

2. Nebuchadnezzar is still full of himself isn’t he? (4:29,30) – of pride – no need for God

3. And then it happened – just as he was warned – God’s judgment fell

a. He lost everything, in one swift moment

1) His whole kingdom was taken away from him

2) He was rejected by his entire kingdom – public opinion turned against him

b. “Driven” out into the fields and the wilderness

c. Left out there until he learned that God rules, and not Nebuchadnezzar

d. He lived like an animal

1) God took away all the creature comforts so that he could make Nebuchadnezzar realise the kind of animal that he really was

2) Jet-black matted hair

3) And long, sharp fingernails like claws

4) He was just like a buzzard – a vulture – a scavenger – not the great leader and conqueror that he used to be!

e. But that was exactly what he needed to be for a while (Cf John 12:24)

C. The Change (4:34-37)

1. Stubbornness takes time to cure

a. It took 3 days of sitting in the belly of the whale before Jonah broke, and Jonah was willing to obey God’s will for his life!

b. It took 40 years for Moses to break, and for him to even talk to God after being rejected by all of Egypt!

c. Remember the prodigal son’s delay? It took him sitting in that pig pen for days and weeks before it came to him that he could go home!

d. People are funny aren’t they – how long it takes before they “cop on!”

e. 7 years for Nebuchadnezzar

1) Too proud to humble himself all those years

2) Too proud to admit he had missed God

3) To stubborn to humble himself and repent of his “I don’t need God” attitude

4) To hard a man to repent of his Stubborn, Proud, Arrogant, Self-loving, Boastful, Ungrateful, Fierce, Entertainment and Pleasure Seeking sinfulness!

5) And so he sat out in all kinds of weather

6) He was so stubborn he wouldn’t come in out of the rain or cold – he just sat out there waiting for someone to apologize to HIM

7) What a sight he must have been!

f. Some of you remember when you were drunkards – and how PROUD you were, and unwilling to be broken – no matter how low you went

2. But Change CAN Happen!

3. It all began with a look toward heaven (Dan 4:34)

a. For those 7 years he looked at what he lost

1) He was depressed and angry at people, and at God

2) He never looked up – never was sorry – never praised and worshipped God as God!

b. Yet here he was now!

1) He stopped looking in bitterness at people and what they had done to him

2) And instead, he blessed, praised, honoured God as the most high of his life – the most important of all his responsibilities

3) He realised that God was in charge – always has been and always will be

4) He realised that no one is anything next to God – not Bill gates, Barak Obama

5) God is working our HIS plan – thankfully (Eccl 3:11; Rom 8:28)

4. God restored to Nebuchadnezzar everything he lost (Daniel 4:34-37)

a. His reasoning – ability to think clearly

1) Right clear thinking begins with humility

2) It begins with God being allowed to be in charge of your life

3) Jesus is not just Saviour of your soul, but His rightful title is LORD of your life (Philp 2:11)

b. The glory of his kingdom

1) You would think that after 7 years, Nebuchadnezzar would have lost everything, but God kept it for him!

2) And God can keep your home, and family, and job, and future just fine while he waits for you to break!

c. Honour and brightness

1) People started thinking highly of him

2) And he felt good about it, because he wasn’t full of himself now

d. People sought him again and his will

1) He felt like a leader again

2) People looked to him for direction

e. Majesty – he was KING again!

f. All of those things he used to thin he deserved, but now he knew very well, that they are a gift from God, and not deserved!

5. Nebuchadnezzar now admits

a. There is only one true God of heaven

b. And he is ABLE to humble all that walk in pride!

c. And he is not ashamed to admit it

IV. Conclusion

A. We men need the ability to be changed – transformed - made better!

B. We have learned that you actually can teach an old dog new tricks!

C. But it depends upon FIVE things

1. Who is doing the work on the man? It better be God

2. WHAT is being changed in the man? It better be his heart and character

3. Whether the man wants to be changed at all? Oh how lost is the man who does not need God

4. How far he will allow himself to be changed? Hopefully as far as God will take him

5. The final ingredient to change… is God!

D. What God Does to Change a Man – a Summary of the Testimony of Nebuchadnezzar

1. He Scares Him

a. Maybe a health scare

b. Maybe a dream – I pray for some people to dream of hell!

2. He Warns Him

a. Through preaching

b. Through the word of God

c. Through someone speaking straight up with him

d. That’s GOD!

e. You may not like it, but that is the kindness and grace of God warning you what’s ahead!

3. He Ruins Him

a. Maybe a financial ruin

b. Maybe the loss of all his hopes and dreams

4. He Waits on Him – to break and humble himself (1Peter 5:6)

5. He Restores Him

E. God used a wicked king named Nebuchadnezzar to humble us men – to let us know that He is determined to do the same with us. It just depends on how hard we are going to make it for Him.

1. You could resist, reject and mock all you like – but God wins in the end, and you will lose

2. The nation of Israel did, and has been driven out of their land several times

3. Or you could only allow small adjustments, and never know the joy of just how far GOD can go with you in His hand

4. Or, you could humble yourself under His mighty hand, and enjoy the freedom and power of transformation!