For 281 years, the Israelite’s vacillated in their faithful worship of God. Upon entering the Promised Land, and Joshua’s passing, the Israelites forsook God and served the Baals of the Canaanites and Asherites. The book of Judges tells all about this dark time. A sad cycle of turning from God, doing evil, suffering, then repenting and returning to the Lord, validates how merciful and loving our God really is. God’s chosen people had a very short memory.
“Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so. And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.” Judges 2:16-19 (NKJV)
As we enter into the New Year, it is wise to look back and review our recent past. Counting blessings can be difficult, especially if trials seemed to dominate our year. However, with a little digging and a God-like perspective, we will discover that blessings far outnumbered the trials we encountered. In fact, with the mind of Christ, we will come to understand the circumstances that once weighed us down were actually gifts. Did not God provide strength, friends, wisdom, lessons, and a deeper understanding of eternity? Trials help us to keep our eyes focused on the eternal, and hopefully, aid in our spiritual maturity.
The wise learn from experiences, mistakes, and hardships. What were the lessons that helped with your sanctification process this year? Try not to forget them. Apply them to your life.
Did circumstances transformed you even more into the image of Christ, or has a hard heart and a root of bitterness taken hold? A short memory afflicts many folks, as it did in the days of Judges. Take heed and learn the Master’s lesson for you. God often sends the same seminar our way if we have not grasped His intent and purpose. It will simply be wrapped in different wrapping paper. Various people and situations will shift but the instruction will remain the same.
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)
King Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldean empire eventually converted to Christianity, but he had to learn things the hard way. He was a prideful man and close minded. He may have been threatened by the new thoughts and worship of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego. Although he routinely sought the advice of others, he did not always like the counsel they gave.
God spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream that Daniel interpreted. Nebuchadnezzar was likened to a large tree that would one day be cut down. Only the stump would remain. Daniel warned the king that what happened to the tree would one day happen to him. Pride is a major stumbling block in our spiritual lives. It keeps us from doing God’s will and prevents us from learning what He wants us to learn.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)
When Daniel interpreted the dream, he advised King Nebuchadnezzar to renounce his sins by doing what was right and taking care of the poor.
“Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27
Sadly, King Nebuchadnezzar did not take action and ignored Daniel’s proposal. A year later, the ruler was struck down with bestial madness. Seven years later, he was restored after the Lord’s supreme power was made wholly evident to him.
“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:24 (NKKJV)
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” Daniel 4:37 (NKJV)
Surely King Nebuchadnezzar looked back many times, regretting his youthful arrogance and the consequences they incurred. With a godly perspective, I have little doubt he recognized the blessing God provided throughout his wild years of eating grass like an ox. For through the loss of his kingdom and his mind, he gained an eternal perspective and recognized God as the one and only true God.
Unlike the Israelites from the book of Judges, this king did not fall back into idolatry after his conversion. He did not forget the grace of God. He was not lukewarm, nor was he faithless.
As King Nebuchadnezzar pondered his past and the blessings of grace provided by God, we too should follow suit. God’s mercies are always abundant. He restores, heals, and blesses His children. King Nebuchadnezzar was restored with a new understanding and appreciation of God’s power and might. It is my hope that you too will enter into this New Year with a more comprehensible understanding of the love and efficacy of God.