Until We’re Not

“O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty.”—Daniel 5:18 (ESV)

We pick up here with the prophet Daniel giving a bit of a history lesson to Belshazzar, king of Babylon and descendant of previous king, Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel does this because he wants to connect a lesson that Nebuchadnezzar had learned years previously with Belshazzar, who was on the verge of learning the same lesson.

What’s the lesson? Daniel tees it up by pointing to the past and recounts the power God had entrusted to Nebuchadnezzar: “And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled” (Daniel 5:19 ESV).

Like Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar was in complete control (or so he thought). But then, something happened that undermined his power, something within himself: “But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him . . . until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom He will” (Daniel 5:20-21 ESV).

Nebuchadnezzar made the mistake of confusing his power with God’s power. Without acknowledging that all he had was on loan to him from the Lord, his pride began to blind him. God had to remind Nebuchadnezzar who was truly in control and did so until the king understood where he stood in relation to the throne of Heaven (you can read the full account of this in Daniel chapter four). This is the lesson that Belshazzar was also about to learn!

The takeaway for us is simply this: It’s easy for us to think we’re in control, especially if the Lord has entrusted something to us. And with a sense of control there soon comes a sense of accomplishment and pride. But like Nebuchadnezzar had learned, and as Belshazzar was about to learn, we’re in control until we aren’t!

God has a way of teaching us that He is the one who has entrusted us with all that we have, and that He’s in control, not us. Let’s learn this lesson now, rather than later, by seeing all that we have as a gift from Him and trusting in His complete control over our lives.

DIG: What point did Daniel make to Belshazzar in telling Nebuchadnezzar’s story?

DISCOVER: What is the essential lesson both men had to learn?

DO: Write down some actionable steps can you take today to avoid learning this lesson the hard way.