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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: November 21, 2022

Nebuchadnezzar is a profoundly accomplished man, a man who has used his strength and brutality to accomplish great and glorious things, to conquer empires and scatter peoples. But when he encounters a problem he can’t solve, he makes the mistake that profoundly accomplished men often make. He goes back to the well of his prior success. He tries to use his strength and brutality to solve a problem those things can’t solve. As we heard in our reading from Daniel this morning, when the king of Babylon is going to war with a dream he can’t understand, he gathers his interpreters and treats them like a hostile foreign empire. He threatens them and gives ultimatums, tells them he’ll put them to the sword if they fail to give him what he wants, interpreting the dream he won’t even tell them. And yet, no matter how successful these tactics may have been with the Egyptians and the Assyrians and the Jews, Nebuchadnezzar finds that the empire of dreams can’t so easily be conquered with his strength and cruelty.

This prideful mistake is one that we make as well. Men who have accomplished great things with their physical strength tear their lives apart going back to the well of violence when they encounter problems that can only be solved with gentleness. Women who have accomplished great things with their beauty go back to the well of seductiveness to solve problems that can only be solved by modesty and thus rip their reputations apart. Those with great intelligence fail when they use that gift to solve problems that can only be solved with humility. Trust in yourself and you will be ripped to shreds by the challenges that you can’t fix.

And yet, when that Babylonian king was hopeless, where does his hope come from? It came from the God whose people Nebuchadnezzar proudly destroyed, the God who dwelled in the temple Nebuchadnezzar burned. Everything the king accomplished, it turned out, was not from His own strength, but from the strength of God. Nebuchadnezzar was nothing. It was God who was accomplishing great and glorious things through him all along.

Remember the lesson of Nebuchadnezzar well. No matter how great your accomplishments, you have accomplished nothing without God. No matter how great your success, you can succeed at nothing apart from His will. Everything you have can be taken away from you in a moment. All your earthly glory can be erased in a breath. In this life, never trust in your own strength. Rather, trust in the promises of God, the God who can bring the high low and who has sworn to bring the low high. Trust in the salvation that comes not from your hands but the nail pierced hands of Jesus Christ, the nail pierced hands that tore down the devil’s empire when they shed the blood that forgave your sins. Trust in the kingdom and the power and the glory that flows from the wounds of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. Trust the King who raised up the New Jerusalem from the rubble of Babylonian destruction and who gave you the right to live with Him forever.

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