Who do you think is beyond hope when it comes to salvation? Is there someone you have dropped off your prayer list because that person seems to be beyond the reach of God’s grace? Then be encouraged by the personal testimony of one of the most wicked kings in history.
At one time, Nebuchadnezzar was king of the greatest empire in the world (Daniel 2:37-38). He was also one of the most evil leaders in human history–the tyrant who threw three Hebrew men into the fiery furnace when they refused to bow to his image (Daniel 3:13-23). This same Nebuchadnezzar was converted! He wrote down his testimony as a witness not only to the world of his day, but also to future generations (Daniel 4).
The Lord used a dream to warn the king of what would come, but the king wouldn’t listen. He became more and more delighted with himself, and cared little to nothing for all those under his rule. He thought of himself great, had a large golden image of himself made and expected the people to worship his image as a god. Most did, but three refused. “Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?’” (Daniel 3:13-15)
This same king later began his written testimony, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth: May you prosper greatly!” (Daniel 4:1) What a transformation! His priorities had changed from consumed with his own greatness and power and demanding others bow to him, to wanting others to prosper.
He was previously preoccupied with thoughts of his own greatness: “he said, ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?'” (Dan. 4:30) He claimed glory and majesty for himself, and gave no honor to the Lord God. He had been warned by a holy messenger from heaven in a dream that Daniel interpreted through God’s revelation: “You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone He wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” (Dan. 4:25-26)
But then in the second sentence of his testimony he said, “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” (Dan. 4:2) This same king who thought much of himself and wondered what god would be able to save someone from his own hand, now glorified the Lord God as the Most High.
What had changed his perspective from believing that he himself should be worshiped to praising the Most High Lord God? As soon as Nebuchadnezzar claimed glory, majesty and power for himself as creator of Babylon, the holy messenger’s warning came true. “Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” (Dan. 4:33) He experienced the mighty wrath of God and was driven insane.
After seven years, he looked up to the heavens, and humbled himself before God. “At the end of that time, 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 the 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?’” (Dan. 4:34-35)
And not only did he have the experience alone, he testified to others. His life was changed. “At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:36-37)
Jesus had to teach this lesson to His disciples who wondered who among them would be “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. Jesus taught them to enter heaven we must become like children: humble, with sincere hearts, trusting in the Lord and wanting to please Him as children want to please their parents. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3-4)
Have you asked the Lord to show you any pride within you? The Lord often shows me where pride rears its ugly head within me in order to refine me. We are new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17), and He will refine us throughout our lives until we are like children: humble, with sincere hearts, trusting in the Lord and wanting to please Him as children want to please their parents. Can others see that you are a new creation? Do your actions verify your faith in Christ (James 2:17)?
If you are a child of God, you know that you have been saved by His grace (Eph. 2:8-9), and you know that His grace is sufficient for you (2 Cor. 12:9). Now think about whoever it is that you have stopped praying for the Holy Spirit to give them the revelation of their need for a Savior, and put them back on your prayer list. Our Lord God can work a miracle in everyone, just as He did you, me and King Nebuchadnezzar. Time is short so, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.” (Col 4:5)