God humbles those who do not seek Him first.
In Daniel chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar experiences a prophetic dream. Daniel interprets this dream to the king, declaring that God would temporarily remove Nebuchadnezzar from power. This must have come as quite a shock to the ruler of the Babylonian Empire. Like most of us today, he preferred to think of himself as a self-made man. From a human standpoint, Nebuchadnezzar was the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He had conquered the Assyrians and the Egyptians and established Babylon as the ruling power of the known world. He had remodeled and added to the capital city of Babylon so that it was the most glorious city on earth and his influence could be seen in almost every building. Doubtless he felt that he did this by his own strength and wisdom without the help of any god.
Like Nebuchadnezzar, we also frequently rely exclusively on our own resources. In our pride, we choose to believe that we are self-made. We fancy that both individually and as a society, our education, intelligence, beauty, wisdom, compassion, and strength have brought us the blessings that we enjoy. In assuming this, we forget that there have been many who were our equals in these areas who have not been allowed to enjoy what we enjoy. We also forget that many people better than ourselves have suffered while people whom we would consider our inferiors have excelled us.
In Daniel 4:27, Daniel advises Nebuchadnezzar to break off sinning and do good to the poor. This is the general application for the doctrine that God reigns. If God is sovereign, then the appropriate response on our part is to acknowledge by our actions that our fate is in his hands. We ought not to fight with one another over crumbs and shadows when God in his sovereign will gives all good things to those who seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matt 6:33; James 4:2). Why is so much of the church in America so divided and so carnal? Is it not because we have absorbed the belief that this life is all there is and that we need to take as much of it as possible by any and all means? How different would be our behavior if we remembered “That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes, And sets over it the lowliest of men.”1
God rules supreme. He judges the world in righteousness and the proud he is able to humble. Only those who recognize their own sinfulness and unworthiness, and who seek his forgiveness, not by their own merit, but by the merits of Jesus Christ, receive salvation and an eternal inheritance. What is more, in Romans 8:32 we read “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” This verse is not a promise of unlimited earthly health, wealth, and prosperity. It is, though, a reminder that God is in control, that he loves his own, and that he is fully able to supply our need as he sees fit.
Apparently, Nebuchadnezzar did not heed the words of Daniel; about a year later God caused him to loose his kingdom, and his reason, for a period of seven years. He was allowed to recover only when he acknowledged “[God] does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’”
I pray that I will not have to be similarly humbled. I pray that we all will seek first God’s righteousness and trust in his help.