I believe each of you has many plans whenever a new month or a new year comes. To make all the plans succeed, we are to rely on God rather than on our own abilities. We may make plans, but it is God who fulfills them. We can confirm that through the Bible and through our life.
When people see a tree that has produced lots of fruit, they tend to pay attention to its visible fruit and branches but neglect to think about the invisible root’s role and influence. Seeing a tree, we should consider not only its fruit and branches but also the root which supplies water and nourishment until the tree produces good fruit. No tree can support life or bear fruit if it has no root, however strong its branches may be.
It is the same in bearing the fruit of the gospel. Sometimes we are not conscious of God’s invisible power and help, but only take notice of ourselves as the visible branches bearing fruit. Whether we achieve something or not depends totally on God, not on our own abilities and wisdom. So, we should always think of God first in everything, and understand that God presides over the world and leads all peoples and nations. Then we will be able to fulfill all our plans for the gospel and achieve the goal we’ve set.
Now, let’s have time to take a look at ourselves and repent, through the case of King Nebuchadnezzar described in the Book of Daniel.
In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about serious matters to come upon the world. In Daniel 4, he dreamed a terrifying dream again-it was about what would happen to him. In his dream, he saw a tree. It grew large and its top touched the sky. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches. He saw a holy one coming down from heaven and calling in a loud voice, “Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots leave, … till seven times pass by for him.”
The wise men, enchanters and sorcerers of Babylon couldn’t interpret the king’s dream. So the king called for Daniel and told him to interpret the dream (Da 4:4-19). The interpretation was as follows:
“ … you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth. You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’ This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle 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 the kingdoms of men 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. … ”Da 4:20-27
We do believe in God, but sometimes we are not conscious of God’s ruling; for the root is always invisible, while its branches and fruit are visible.
Daniel told the king that his kingdom would be restored to him when he acknowledged that God ruled, just as the root, though invisible, supplied nourishment. The point of the visions God showed King Nebuchadnezzar was that God ruled over the whole world; He set up kings and deposed them and made kingdoms strong or weak.
Time passed and King Nebuchadnezzar forgot what he had heard about his dream from Daniel. One year later, one day he looked down at the capital city of Babylon as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace. Then he grew arrogant and thought, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built by my own power and authority?” From that time, he began to fall.
… Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the palace of Babylon, 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?’ The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchad-nezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. … Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. 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. At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. … 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.”Da 4:28-37
As soon as King Nebuchadnezzar thought, ‘I did it myself,’ all his wisdom perished and he was given the mind of an animal and driven away from his throne. For seven years he had lived like animals, and then he realized how weak and feeble men were and came to think of God.
‘I can’t even control myself. How dare I say that I myself have built this great city of Babylon? God Himself has accomplished all this.’ When he realized that, his mind got changed from that of an animal and his lost wisdom and understanding returned to him; and he was restored to his throne and administered the affairs of the kingdom again.
‘I did it myself.’ This is a very dangerous thought. If you feel proud of yourselves, you must realize that it is the flaming arrow of Satan, eating into your hearts. The very moment King Nebuchadnezzar thought, ‘I did it myself,’ all his wisdom perished and he was given the mind of an animal and lived like animals. We too will have the mind of an animal if we forget God and think, ‘I did it myself.’ We must always think of God, so that we may not have the heart of an animal.
It is desirable that we feel proud of the truth. However, we must not be conceited. It is not by our own abilities that we have found many of our lost members; when we preach the word to them, we ourselves cannot move them. As we’ve completely depended on God, He has helped us to find them. We are weak; we can’t keep our own soul by ourselves.
God does not need any excellent person in accomplishing His works. He could have chosen anyone other than Nebuchadnezzar as the king of Babylon who would fulfill His purpose. When Judas Iscariot fell away from the Twelve Apostles, wasn’t his place soon occupied by another disciple called Matthias? (Ac 1:15-26) God has chosen us among six billion people. It is not because there is nobody except us in the world. If any of the 144,000 falls away, his place will be taken by any other person.
God reigns over all; He rules over us, our home and church. When we understand that, we and our family and church can be in perfect order. After King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that, his kingdom was assured to him. God said, “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation” (Isa 60:22). Though we are weak and small, we do believe that the prophecy will be fulfilled, because we trust in God.
In the Old Testament, Moses was described as the great prophet who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. Actually, he could not enter Canaan, with it near at hand. It was because he thought, ‘I did it myself,’ and let such a word come out of his mouth, as did King Nebuchadnezzar.
Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? … The LORD said to Moses, ‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” … He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”…Nu 20:2-13
The Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron because there was no water. Then Moses, who had heard their complaints for forty years, could not stand any more. He got angry and made the greatest mistake in his life, saying, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?”
It was God who could bring them water. However, Moses spoke as if he and his brother Aaron had been able to give them water. Then God rebuked Moses for speaking that way, for he had served Him for almost forty years. King Nebuchadnezzar lost everything-his glory and authority-and lived like animals when he forgot that God worked. We may bring such a misfortune on ourselves if we think, ‘I did it myself.’ That’s why God sternly warns us against thinking that. Finally, Moses and Aaron failed to enter Canaan and died in the desert.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim range and see the land I have given the Israelites. After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.) Nu 27:12-14
Forgetting God, they said, ‘I did it myself.’ That was the reason why they disqualified to enter the land of Canaan. This must be a warning for us who want to enter the heavenly Canaan.
In the days of Moses or King Nebuchadnezzar, there was no historical event for their warning or instruction. Now, we can see many examples as warnings for us through the Bible. God’s grace departed from King Nebuchadnezzar when he said, “I did it myself.” Moses could not enter Canaan when he said, “We shall bring you water.” These things were written as a warning and instruction for us living in this age.
This earth is like a melting pot where God trains and refines His royal priesthood. All ages, histories, a lot of ties, and circumstances around us, …. Putting all these things together, let’s take a look at ourselves. Then we can understand that God, who knows our weakness, has provided the most suitable circumstances for each of us, and that He has led us in all kinds of ways to bless us in the end.
We should continually ask God in prayer to be with us always. He has chosen us, small and weak, and given us various circumstances, so that we may be refined and purified. Remembering that, we should always rejoice and give thanks and praise and glory to God in all circumstances.
Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to thick darkness and change it to deep gloom. But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD’s flock will be taken captive.Jer 13:15-17
God grieves and weeps bitterly over those who are perishing by giving glory to themselves. We must give glory only to God. It is God who accomplishes the work of the gospel. We are called by God to be the workers for the gospel; we just obey God, because we know that His command leads to eternal life.
Why does God, who presides over the whole universe, command us, who are nothing at all, to give glory to Him? It’s for our own sake. Pride goes before destruction. The kingdom of heaven is only for the humble who give glory to God.
When we have done something, whether it is small or great, we should realize that it has been accomplished by God’s power and must give glory to God. In the Psalms we see our forefather David giving praise and glory to God all the time.
I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.Ps 121:1-2
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. … You who fear him, trust in the LORD-he is their help and shield. The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the LORD-small and great alike. … it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore. Praise the LORD.Ps 115:1-18
God loved David because He saw his humble heart. David was always conscious of God and trusted in Him and gave glory only to Him. That was why he could win every battle, approved by God to be a man after His own heart.
Like David, when we always think of God and give all glory to Him, we can become stronger and be exalted above all peoples; and the light of the truth we preach will shine forth more brightly.
We may become proud in heart unwittingly; we are apt to think that we bear fruit because we are able and that we have some duties because we are surpassing. This is the proud heart that King Nebu-chadnezzar and Moses had. However, if we always rejoice and give thanks to God for having chosen us to be His holy people, we will never become proud.
We can do nothing without God. God is our light. Without the light, we can’t see though we have eyes, and we can’t walk straight though we have feet.
When we are conscious of God, our faith will grow and the light of the truth of the new covenant will shine more brightly, so that all our spiritual family-our brothers and sisters-will be united in love and truth. If we are only conscious of ourselves, God will no longer remain in us and we will not become one; each of us will just remain a member of the 144,000 respectively.
The Bible teaches us that we become stronger when we realize that God presides over everything. Let us always think of God and graciously fulfill the gospel in accordance with the words of our Father and Mother.