..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daniel Bible Study: Chapter 3--The Narcissism of Nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold,
whose height was sixty cubits or ninety feet
and its breadth six cubits or nine feet (Daniel 3:1).

King Nebuchadnezzar had a large problem:
he thought it was all about him! Nearsighted
and self-focused, all he could see was himself.
We, like he, will make fatal mistakes
interpreting what God has said to us if
we try to make ourselves the center of the world.
The sun does not revolve around the earth.
Nor does the Son revolve around the creature
or the creation.

God sent Nebuchadnezzar a dream to reveal
to him what was in his heart and to show
Him that God, in Christ, would be the
ultimate King. He was shown to be the head
of gold in a great statue, but was also shown
that the Rock hewn without hands (Christ)
would overcome ALL the kings and the kingdoms
of the earth, including his.

Nebuchadnezzar, however, saw all this through
self-colored glasses. As the King of Babylon
he can be viewed as a type of Satan and he
had the same narcissistic personality as the devil.
God tries to save him by allowing him to
be humbled, but he is slow to listen and
quick to act to exalt himself.

In Chapter Two of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has
the dream of the statue. By the first verse
of Chapter Three he has heard only what he
wanted to hear about the dream and has built
a 90 foot golden statue to himself that everyone
must worship. Talk about not getting the point!
Talk about selective hearing!

We can, like Nebuchadnezzar, in lesser or
equal ways, misinterpret prophetic dreams,
prophetic words, even the Scriptures themselves,
when we view them through the near-sighted lens
of self-focus, self-importance, and self-aggrandizement.

Much was said to Nebuchadnezzar by Daniel, but
notice what he "gets" out of it: that he is
the greatest king and deserves not just a
gold headed statue, but a completely gold
statue, made in his image, 90 feet high and nine
feet wide! We hear what we want to hear, and
we see what we want to see: what tickles our
fancy, what bolsters our ego.

Viewing ourselves as God sees us is priceless.
That view only comes to the humble in heart.
Only the pure in heart see God, and only
the humble in heart can see themselves
as God sees them.

How can we NOT be like Nebuchadnezzar?

1) Don't interpret things with yourself
at the center. Christ is the center. He
is and always will be (Colossians 1:16-18).
When God reveals something to you, it is
not to exalt you but to help you find
your rightful place and that place is
not the center of the universe!
Matthew 23:12 says, "Whosoever exalts
himself shall be humbled and whoever
humbles himself shall be exalted."
Take the low place.

2) Guard against selective hearing.
Hear the whole counsel of God. (2 Tim 3:16,
Prov. 15:22). It is not wise to build your
house on one verse of Scripture or the
interpretation of one verse of Scripture.

The whole counsel of God has a wonderful
balance to it, themes reappear and are echoed
throughout Scripture. Beware of "new"
interpretations. We have more than enough
truth to walk in. It will take more than
a lifetime just to walk in a small portion
of what we know for sure.

God speaks to us, yes, but He is merely
including us in the fellowship He has
with His precious son, Jesus Christ:
His Word is for Christ and is to Christ.
His Word is Christ! We get to
be a part of that--we are not the center
of that.

If you receive a prophetic word or dream,
review it in the light of Scripture. Do
not hastily assume that you know what it
means or interpret it so that it works out
conveniently in your favor. Let God show
you what it means. Nebuchadnezzar took
his dream and the clear interpretation
that Daniel gave him and still did not
listen or hear correctly. Beware!

3) Beware of idolatry (2 Tim 3:1-6,Romans
1:21-25). It is so easy to worship the
creature rather than the Creator. It is
so easy to think of ourselves and look
out for ourselves rather than humble
ourselves before God. Nebuchadnezzar
built himself into a god, or tried
to--he soon ended up less than a man.

4) Put God first, and others before
yourself but after God (Deut. 6:4&5,13-15).
Romans 12:3 tells us not to think of
ourselves more highly then we ought,
but to rate our abilities with sober
judgment. Each of us is gifted in
some way, don't let the gifting God
has given you go to your head or
cause you to think you are better
than others.

When you serve God, do not be proud
of it, know that you are just doing
what is expected of a servant (Luke 17:10).

Much deception abounds in the world.
Most of the deception starts when
we do not give God His proper place
but instead, put ourselves above Him.
Narcissism is a fatal flaw: it is
called sin! Take a lesson from
Nebuchadnezzar and don't be like
him! He found out the hard way that
it was not "all about him." Save yourself
the heartache. Humble yourself in the
sight of the Lord.

(This is part of a series on the Book
of Daniel. Other studies are filed
in the archives under "Daniel Bible Study")

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your perspective on Narcissism through the lens of the Character of Nebuchadnezzar.

I believe that to move in the opposite spirit and to meditate on the word of God can keep us in perfect peace.

We live in a culture that is bent on the Narcissistic. Many people are subject to these personality disorders regularly. As believers, we do have weapons to fight the good fight, that weapon to the tearing down of strongholds and mindsets that exalt themselves about the knowledge of God.

Thank you for sharing your perspective, it helps me to focus on the nature of this "spirit" of self and how we are to "pull it down" in our authority as believers.