After two dreams and witnessing God’s actual presence in the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar was still resistant to fully acknowledging God’s divine sovereignty. It wasn’t until after God stripped him of his kingdom and caused him to live as a wild beast for seven years, that the Bible records the once proud king, now humbly saying, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him; ‘What have you done?’ ”—Daniel 4:34-35, NIV.
The life and experiences of this great King reveals to us the conversion process some go through before they recognize and serve the sovereign Lord of the universe. In the book, Prophet and Kings (pp. 514-521), Ellen G. White relates to the spiritual and political journey of Nebuchadnezzar based on Daniel, chapters 2-4. She says, “Exalted to the pinnacle of worldly honor, and acknowledged even by inspiration as ‘a king of kings’ (Ezekiel 26:7), Nebuchadnezzar nevertheless at times had ascribed to the favor of Jehovah the glory of his kingdom and the splendor of his reign. Such had been the case after his dream of the great image. His mind had been profoundly influenced by this vision and by the thought that the Babylonian Empire, universal though it was, was finally to fall.” White said further that “Nebuchadnezzar’s noble conception of God’s purpose concerning the nations was lost sight of later in his experience; yet when his proud spirit was humbled before the multitude on the plain of Dura, he once more acknowledged that God’s kingdom is an ‘everlasting kingdom’ ” (p. 514).
In spite of Nebuchadnezzar’s short-lived recognitions and acknowledgments of God, it seems that he had a deeper inclination toward resisting God rather than fully submitting to God. Before his conversion he demonstrated a spirit and attitude in three different ways: (1) there was an unwillingness and failure to accept the Word of God that his kingdom, Babylon, would pass away, (2) there was an unwillingness to accept that there is only one true God of the universe who deserves his full submission and attention, and (3) there was a sustained lack of humility before God because of his ego.
Now, as we look at King Nebuchadnezzar before his conversion, we may comfort ourselves by saying that we are not like him; that we live in a different time and place. However, his spirit and attitude toward God before his conversion may be very similar to many of us today in our unwillingness to accept the Word of God and our lack of humility because of our egos. We need to recognize the importance of giving humility and obedience to the commandments and teachings of God as revealed in the life of Jesus and His Word, the Bible.
Whatever path or journey we may be on, we need to understand and experience real conversion in 2016 and, in the end, conclude as Nebuchadnezzar did that we must daily exercise full surrender to the control of Jesus Christ. This can be accomplished through the power and assistance of the Holy Spirit and the reading of God’s Word. May this be the decision of us all in 2016.
Carlyle C. Simmons is the Atlantic Union Conference executive secretary and director of the Health Ministries, Human Relations, and Prayer Ministries departments.