Robert Morris - The Reversal of Pride
All right, we're going to finish our series today called "The Kings of Babylon", and we're gonna be talk about the fourth king, which is Cyrus, and I'm going to just give you a little bit of history on the Book of Daniel, first, and then I'll tell you what this message is about. You need to know, that Daniel minister to all four of these kings. and just let me show you some quick scriptures, Daniel 1:21 says, "Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus". And we're gonna talk about Cyrus today. And Daniel 6:28, this is actually where we ended last week at the end of chapter 6, "So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian".
So we've talked about Darius last week, now Cyrus. Now, to let you know Daniel has 12 chapters: the first six chapters are historical chapters, they're the history of what happened during the exile. The Exile is the seven years, when God took Israel, the people of Israel out of the land into Babylon, kept in captivity, okay, that's called the Exile. So the first six chapters are the history of the Exile, the second six chapters, chapters 7-12 are the visions that Daniel received, that most people believe are about the end times, and some are about the end times, but some are about things that were going to happen until the Messiah came, and when the Messiah came, all right?
So let me just show you, you can read this, but it would take a whole other series, but just Daniel 7-8-9-10-11-12, just the first verse, alright.
Daniel 7:1, "In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream".
Daniel 8:1, "In the third year of the reign King about Belshazzar a vision appeared to me".
Daniel 9:1, "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who has made king over the realm of the Chaldeans", now here's what I want you to notice, "in the first year of his reign I, Daniel", now keep hold this phrase for later in the message, "understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem". So, Daniel was saying, "I understood that we would be released after 70 years". Just once you notice that, we'll come back to that.
Daniel 10:1, "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel".
Daniel 11:1 "Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, sood up to confirm him strengthen him". So, you see how it just keeps going through, how it saying, "In the first year this king I had this dream". and "the third year of this King I had this dream". Y'all follow me?
Now, Daniel 12:1, I want you to watch how it starts, and watch how many scriptures in the New Testament, this one verse, I wish I could have given them to you, but I don't have time, if this was a seminary class I'd give them all to you, but I don't have time on a weekend message. But Daniel 12:1 says, "At that time Michael shall stand up", Michael the Archangel shall stand up, "the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble", a Great Tribulation, "such as never was since there was a nation, even that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered", there's a rapture, "every one who has found written in the book", and the New Testament talks about the book of life, "and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake", that's 1 Thessalonians 4, those who asleep will awake, right, "some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt", that's Revelation 20, that's Daniel. Y'all following me?
So, it's amazing, alright, so we're gonna talk about Cyrus, and I've been telling you that Cyrus is the surprise. What does Cyrus represent? So here's the title of the message this week, this is the surprise: the reversal of pride. Pride can be reversed. Let me say it another way: a prideful person can become a humble person. A prideful person can become a humble person.
So let's ask this though, because we've got Nebuchadnezzar, and God humbled him. Darius and God humbled him. We've got all through scripture God humbling people. So does God humble people? Yes God does humble people. Why would God ever humble anyone? I'm gonna give you some answers, but let me just give you one that's not even in my notes, all right, and that is: that we've heard "Pride comes before a fall", that's actually not what the Bible says. It says, "Pride comes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall", look it up yourself. But our little saying has become, you know, "Bible says pride comes for fall", no, it comes before destruction, a haughty spirit comes before fall. Okay, so why would God ever humble anyone? Simple, to keep them from being destroyed. In other words because he loves you.
So, let me give you three reasons, that God wants to reverse pride in your life:
1. God's plans for you are for your good.
Deuteronomy 8:16, "Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know", listen to all my children Israel in the wilderness, watch, "that he might humble you", so God did this to humble him, "that he might humble you and that he might test you, to do you good in the end". There it is right there, I strayed out the Bible. Why would God ever humble anyone? To do him good, for their good. Matter of fact, you've probably made this statement at some point, "I know God is humbling me, and I know God is testing me right now, but I know, it's for my good". If you're a mature believer, you know Romans 8:28, but all things work for good for those who love God who called according to his purpose, right?
Okay, so he's doing it for that, but we're talking about the exile, that was telling about the wilderness. Do you remember Daniel said, I told you to remember this, he said "I started reading The Book of Jeremiah, and that's when I figured out it was seventy years", remember that? Let me show you the scripture. Jeremiah 24:5, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel", by the way, this is right for their taken captive, "Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place", you might say these words, "for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans", which is Babylon.
I told you, God did this for the good of his people, not to punish him, not because he's mad at him, not cause he's gonna get it back, teach him a lesson, "I'm gonna really teach them a good lesson" - he's doing it for their good.
Now, there's another scripture in Jeremiah, that you know, as a matter of fact we quoted, as a matter of fact it was in the little ceramic bread thing on my grandmother's table. Anyone's remember that? It was "The verse of the day", bread for the day or something like that, and you'd pulled it out, and read a scripture, and put that one in the back, you know. Okay, so I remember, you have quoted this scripture, I'll bet you. But I also bet you, you didn't know the context. Jeremiah 29:11, you ever heard of this scripture? "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace", and one version says, "not a pit, but thoughts of good", "and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope".
Now, you're ready for this scripture you quoted? You want to know what the context is of it? Watch verse 10, the verse right before it, "For thus says the Lord: after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you", that's where the verse came from, it's referring to the Exile.
Now, let me show you one more scripture here, II Chronicles 36:22-23, these are the last two verses of II Chronicles, "In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled", we just read the two scriptures, "the Lord stirred up the spirits of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation through all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 'Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And he has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem". Now we're going to see that actual Scripture as well, where he commands Cyrus to fund the building of the temple, "a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you all of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up"! In other words, all of you, who are other of Jerusalem, y'all go up and do this, and I'm gonna fund it, I'm gonna resource it.
Okay, now here's what I want you to know about this, II Chronicles 36, two verses we just read, the last two verses II Chronicles 36, are you ready for this? These are the last two verses, chronologically, of the Hebrew Scriptures, not Malachi. This is the way the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures end, right here, with the rebuilding of the temple. Jesus comes along and says, "You see this temple? You've worshipped at this temple, but I'm telling you", listen the way he says, it I think he said like this, "tear this temple down, and I'll rebuild it in three days. I'm changing the way you thought about the temple, I'm about to make my temple in your heart". But here's what I want to tell you, here's the good news, okay? If you get yourself in trouble, even if God is disciplining you, like he was his children, he's doing it for your good. He's doing it for your good. If you're going through something right now, you need to know, it's for your good. It was always for your good, and he said it over and over again.
2. God knows you before you know Him.
So, no matter what type of home you grew up in, or no matter what you went through, God knew you before you knew Him. So, it is believed that Daniel, not only when he's reading Jeremiah, he also read Isaiah and showed these scriptures to Cyrus, and that's why Cyrus gave the decree to build the temple. We don't know that Daniel showed him, because the Bible doesn't tell us that, but we think Daniel would have been the logical one, because he's the one who had access, okay. But let me show you Isaiah 45:1, "Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held". Verse 4, "For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name", watch this, "I have named you, though you have not known Me". Isaiah 44:28, "Who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, "you shall be built," and to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid"'".
Do you remember he makes the proclamation, that "God has told me to rebuild Jerusalem, build the temple"? Where else would he have known, except if Daniel said to him, "Look right here, your name is in Isaiah also". And by the way, this was written a hundred and fifty years before this, a hundred and fifty years. Now here's the amazing thing: God said, "I named you. I'm the one that gave your name". What you don't know is, that when Cyrus was born, his grandfather was the king, and his grandfather had a dream, that his grandson was going to overthrow him. Now, the grandfather, the sons name who was the father of Cyrus, yes to get that, listen to what his name was: Cambyses the First. Why wouldn't his son been named Cambyses the second? By the way, Cyrus named his son Cambyses the Second.
Okay, so the grandfather has this dream, that his grandson is going to overthrow him, so he orders him to be killed. They handle him, they give him to one of the kings, upper guys there, he takes him out, but he meets a shepherd and his wife, who are burying their stillborn son. And he switches babies with them, he takes the dead baby back and says, "look, the infant has been killed", to the grandfather, the king. The shepherd names him Cyrus, even though his father named him Cambyses the Second, because if he had been named that, someone would have known who he was. Y'all follow me?
He names him Cyrus, God says a hundred and fifty years before he comes into power, "I'm the one that named you, I knew you", and then he makes this statement, "And you're my shepherd". For the first 10 years of his life he's raised by this shepherd and his mother, and he thinks that's his parents, and he thinks he's a shepherd, and he learns to tend sheep, and he thinks he's going to be a shepherd.
Every year, when they took the baby back, the grandfather had ordered him to be killed, mourn so much, every year on his birthday, that finally on his tenth birthday, he was mourning so much, on his tenth birthday, that they finally said to him, got the nerve up, say: "King, he's not dead, he's not dead, he's still alive". And he said: please, restore him, I want to be able to meet my grandson. So they go and take him. He has no clue though, he thinks he's been taken from his real parents, see the shepherd. He goes and begins leaving the palace, finds out he's the grandson, by the way the prophecy came passed, he did overthrow his grandfather, he did become the ruler of the world, but when he becomes the ruler of the world, the Prophet comes to him and he says to him, "look right here, this was written 150 years ago, and God says: I'm the one that named you". This is amazing. This is amazing. I'm telling you, our God knows, he plans, he's got it all planned out, everything. So he knew you before you knew him.
3. God's plans for you include provision.
Ezra 1:4, "And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem".
Ezra 3:7, "They also gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the permission which they had from Cyrus king of Persia".
God was providing for them everything they needed through Cyrus. This is the reversal of pride. When pride gets reversed in your life, you immediately step into God's plan for you, you also step into God's provision for you. And Daniel, Shadrach, and Meshach, and Abednego, were always provided for. The children of Israel, their clothes didn't wear out, and the shoes didn't wear out, and I know, you ladies wouldn't like having the same pair of shoes for 40 years, but they didn't wear out, because there wasn't a Nordstrom's in the wilderness, so God provided for them.
So, even when the children of Israel were in a time of correction, God was providing, but as soon as they were humbled, the children of Israel in the wilderness walked into the Promised Land, with a which was a land that had houses built by giants. The giants were over nine feet tall, 9 foot king-size beds, 9 foot big-screen TVs, not bad. And then, when the children of Israel were released and went back to rebuild the walls of their city, and their temple, every penny was provided for already. This God. This is God.
So, God humbles us, but that's not the ultimate. The ultimate is, that you humble yourself, because even when God humbled Nebuchadnezzar, he had a choice, he had to humble himself. God humble Darius and Cyrus, and they humble themselves. Belshazzar did not humble himself, remember that? Even though God humbled him. Okay, so how do you humble yourself? I ask God that question for many years. I said, "God, I want to be humble, but I really don't want to be humbled. I want to be humble, Lord, but I really don't want You to humble me". But the Bible says "humble myself", so how do you humble yourself? Well, the Lord showed me one day, and he gave me the greatest example of humbling yourselves. It's the person, that humbled himself the most, that ever lived - it's Jesus.
Philippians 2:5, "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God", though he was equal with God, "as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges", he gave up his equality with God, "he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared a human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on the cross". So, how do you humble yourself? The word "humble" has about four or five definitions in the Greek, this is one of the definitions: "to rank yourself below others". To rank yourself below others. And Philippians 2, if you backed up a little bit, verse 3 says this, "Let each esteem others better than himself".
When I thought about this, the person that I thought of, that has always esteemed everyone better than herself is my wife. Always. She's the greatest example of humility I know. She esteems me, she esteems everyone we meet. She's constantly wanting us to help a person in need, she's talked to me about giving cars to single moms, we give cars when God tells us to. And years ago, the Lord told me, I handle all the finances in our family, I don't mean that in a wrong way toward her, but she can't count, and she will admit it, she does not understand numbers... I was telling her one time something about the finance, and she says "ba ba ba ba ba ba", she just cannot, so I just handle it. The years ago the Lord told me, "When she wants to give something, whatever it is, you give it". He told me that, whatever she wants to give you give, because she'll come sometime to say, I remember the first time she said, "I'd like to help this single mom, I like to get her a new car", a car, we bought her a used car, but I like to get her car. And the Lord said to me, "Whatever she says you do".
She's very generous, but she's always generous with everyone else, she's never generous with herself. So, every year at Christmas, and anniversary, and birthday, I call Elaine, our daughter Elaine right there, to find out, what does mom want, because she won't tell me. Because she knows, I'll go back. So, Elaine starts hinting around, just letting you know, Elaine is the spy, you knew Elane is the spy. So, a few years ago, I said, "what does she want"? And she said, "Mom swore me to secrecy". I said, "Sugar, I'm gonna pull rank". She said, "Well, she would like a certain purse, but it's very very expensive and very extravagant. And so, she said to me, 'Please, don't ever tell your dad this, cause this is too expensive purse, but I like this purse'".
And so, because she said it's very expensive, I said, "Well, how much is it"? When she told me, I came close to having a heart attack, it was the closest I've come to dying, other than the helicopter. And I thought: are you sure? She doesn't want a another car? You know, that's just crazy, just crazy. So, but I went to Lord, "Lord, what do you want me to do"? Here's what the Lord said to me, now listen, he said, "I would like to give that purse to my daughter". He said, "I want to show to my daughter how much I love her".
So, a few weeks after that, we go to speak at this church, and a widow in this church came to Debbie and said, "God told me to buy you this", and she opened it up, and it was the exact same purse she wanted, the exact same, and she said to her, "This is from a father to his daughter, God wanted you to have this". I'm telling you, God's plans for you are good, no matter what you're going through. God knew you, before you knew him. And God's plans include provision.