Day 256: Come Awake!

Daniel 3-4; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Oh the folly of this world’s power and might. Who was this Nebuchadnezzar? He was the king of Babylon – the most powerful man of his time. He was so powerful that he commanded the death of others on a whim. He commanded limbs be torn and houses be demolished… and for three men who refused to bow before the golden statue made in his likeness, he commanded that they be thrown into a fiery furnace.

He sounds like a spoiled toddler to me – but unfortunately, he was no toddler. He was the king.

But he wasn’t The King.

Nebuchadnezzar got too big for his britches. He failed to realize he was just a pawn in God’s hand. God tried to warn the king through Daniel… (Dan. 4:27), but unfortunately… he didn’t listen.

“O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 4:31-32).

How the mighty fall! But do you see that even this severe act of God towards Nebuchadnezzar was an act of grace? Because of God’s humbling hand upon Nebuchadnezzar, he could say, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

For ultimately, our goal is heaven. It must not be earthly power, success or comfort – for these will all be wiped away. Just as our very bodies are perishable – all the things of this earth will be destroyed in the final day.

But. But…

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

This is our hope. This is our song!

Day 240: God’s response to pride

Isaiah 28-29; 1 Corinthians 4

The Corinthian church was divided over leadership… Some claimed to follow Paul, others followed Apollos – and still others were loyal to Peter. Paul tries to help them see that they should be united in following Christ!.

Each group was puffed up – thinking their “leader” was better than the others. Paul cuts straight to the heart of the matter… pride.

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Similarly, in Isaiah, we read two chapters of vivid imagery describing the pride of both Ephraim in the north (Chapter 28) and Jerusalem in the south (Chapter 29). Isaiah, like Paul, cuts straight to the heart of the matter… “Ah, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim” (Isaiah 28:1).

Pride caused the Israelites in both the Northern and Southern kingdoms to set aside their God and look to self for salvation. They exalted human wisdom, alliances with foreign kings, self-sufficiency and shallow worship to the place of deity. They had turned the order of the world upside down – foolishly thinking that they, as the clay, could mold the Potter to their whims (Isaiah 29:16). Pride was at the root of their sin – just as it was in the Corinthian church.

But thankfully, God’s grace abounds. He always gives an opportunity for repentance – just as Paul echoes at the end of today’s reading:

What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness (1 Corinthians 4:21)?

What would you want? Discipline for an unrepentant heart? Or forgiveness in the face of humble repentance? I know what I would prefer!!!! But hear this… both discipline AND forgiveness are rooted in love.

God brought judgment on the Israelites out of love for His people and zeal for His name!! Even as the great pride of His people is on display in these two chapters, God promises that He will break their pride and change their hearts! This is a message of hope for those who struggle with pride (like me). It’s a message steeped in His persevering love!

“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale.
For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction” (Isaiah 29:22-24).