Lesson Twenty One
THE UNSEEN WATCHER
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Memory Verse: Romans 14:10-12
Further Study: Daniel 4, 5; Prophets and Kings, 514-538; The Bible Story, vol. 6, pp. 44-54
I was the chair of my church’s building committee. It was a long and arduous path to the successful completion of a new Pre-K to grade 12 school. I remember the complete satisfaction standing in front of the red ribbon with scissors in hand. So, I get Nebuchadnezzar.
Ezekiel called Nebuchadnezzar “the king of kings” (Ezek. 26:7). And he was in the mortal sense. Nebuchadnezzar left destruction in his wake when he left Babylon conquering nations all the way to Egypt. Then he returned to Babylon and rebuilt the city. The very bricks used in building Babylon were engraved with his own name—Nebuchadnezzar was the city. He built temples and ornate city walls and gates, so well-built we can see some of them in museums today. He built the famous hanging gardens, considered one of the seven wonders of the world. And we find him standing on his rooftop surveying all he had accomplished.
Beware when kings stand on rooftops.
Beware when kings stand on rooftops. It didn’t go well for David, and it doesn’t for Nebuchadnezzar either. Yet maybe we can excuse Nebuchadnezzar. After all, he wasn’t the man after God’s own heart like David. He was a pagan king who worshiped a myriad of gods of stone and wood. But God had revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar in marvelous ways. First, there was the dream revealing the future of which Babylon was only a part. Then, right before his eyes, there was the miraculous saving of the three Hebrews thrown into a fiery furnace. And this pagan king saw what many have not—the actual form of Jesus walking amidst the fire. God then gives him a third revelation in the form of a dream. The question is: To whom will Nebuchadnezzar bow? Will it be to himself or to the real King of kings—the mighty and powerful, all-saving, all-knowing God? A year later revealed the answer—Nebuchadnezzar worshiped himself.
To whom will Nebuchadnezzar bow? Will it be to himself or to the real King of kings?
The difference between Nebuchadnezzar’s building projects and mine is God. When one accomplishes great things there are two ways to tell the story. It can be told with yourself at the center, or you can tell it with God at the center. Our school building project had God’s fingerprints all over it. To this day, now almost 15 years later, I can’t walk through its halls and not remember how He led the way. For the most part, the administrators, teachers, and students who are there each day weren’t around when the school was built, so they don’t remember God’s part in the story. It’s up to me, church members, and others to tell them so that they understand God and His leading.
We may not feel that we would ever have an ego like Nebuchadnezzar, but don’t be too quick to think it can’t happen to you. God entrusts us with talents of all kinds. Everyone has at least one and we are called to use that talent for God. But more importantly, we are called to remind people of God while we do it. It’s when we partner with God, we are ultimately successful. And it’s when people see God instead of us, that we are renewed.
Nebuchadnezzar understood the interpretation of the dream initially and accepted it. But as time passed he convinced himself that it actually wasn’t important, eventually dismissing it. He forgot to give glory to God and instead took it for himself. Here are two important quotes from Ellen White that speak personally to each of us as to how we are to view self.
“None but God can subdue the pride of man’s heart. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot regenerate ourselves. In the heavenly courts there will be no song sung, ‘To me that loved myself, and washed myself, redeemed myself, unto me by glory and honor, blessing, and praise.’ But this is the keynote of the song that is sung by many here in this world. They do not know what it means to be meek and lowly in heart; and they do not mean to know this if they can avoid it. The whole gospel is comprised in learning Christ, His meekness and lowliness.” (Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, no. 9, p. 62)
“When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When they begin to praise and exalt God all the day long, then by beholding they are becoming changed into the same image. What is regeneration?—It is revealing to man what is his own real nature, that in himself he is worthless.” (Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, no. 9, p. 62)
Making it Real
Think of a time when you used your talents for God. For worship, tell the story first the way you might tell it if you were the star of your story. Then tell it again with the focus on God. How is the story the same? How is it different? Why is it important to give God the glory in our accomplishments?
If you have younger children, help them to identify things they do well. Then talk to them about how they can use that talent for God as well as how to help others see God in the process.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.