A Tale of Two Kings

by Sheri Schofield

Yesterday, a close friend said, “Sheri, you have changed recently. I am seeing something new.”

I replied, “I wish I could take the credit for that, but it is the Lord working in me.” I’ve followed Jesus since age four, and the Holy Spirit is still not finished with me even as a grandmother! As long as I cooperate with Him, the Holy Spirit will continue to change and refine my heart until the day I step into God’s presence.

I am reminded of two kings in the Bible. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had an alarming dream night. He saw a huge tree with beasts and birds of the field sheltering under it. Birds nested in its branches. The tree was full of fruit for all the animals.

But suddenly an angel had come out of heaven and ordered the tree to be cut down and for Nebuchadnezzar to be given the mind of an animal (See Daniel 4).  In great fear as to what the dream might mean, Nebuchadnezzar sent for the one man who could help him understand it: Daniel.

Daniel was honest with the king. He told Nebuchadnezzar that because of his pride, God had issued an order that the king would lose his mind and be driven from mankind and his home and dwell with the animals of the field. There he would stay for seven years, until he admitted that the Most High God is ruler over all the kingdoms of men. Not until the king acknowledged God’s power and sovereignty would his kingdom be restored.

That is exactly what happened. In the end, Nebuchadnezzar did give testimony of God’s great power and sent the message out to his entire kingdom. He became a true believer.

But there’s another king in the Bible who went the opposite way when God confronted him: Pharaoh of Egypt (See Exodus 5). God sent Moses to Pharaoh. Moses’ people, the Israelites, were slaves in Egypt. Moses said to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.”

But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go!”

God gave Pharaoh many chances to change his mind. God sent plagues, one after the other, giving Pharaoh nine opportunities to change his mind. It was not until the tenth plague hit and Pharaoh’s firstborn son died that Pharaoh let Israel go. Yet, after all this, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army after the Hebrews, only to see his vast army perish in the sea.

Neither Nebuchadnezzar nor Pharaoh were role models of virtue! Yet we will meet Nebuchadnezzar in heaven but not Pharaoh. Why? Because one, with all his great faults, humbled himself before God and believed. The other did not.

God does not require people to clean up their lives before they come to Him. But the one thing He does require is for us to approach Him in humility. We must acknowledge our sin and understand we cannot earn His forgiveness.  We bring nothing to the table.

All the rest — the clean-up — is the job of the Holy Spirit working in us, washing us clean, giving us new purity and effectiveness.  So let us be patient with one another . . . and with ourselves. For God is not finished yet! The work is His. The response is ours.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.        Philippians 1:6 NASB

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, was launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: What makes you cling to the Rock?

Photo by Kaitlin Shelby on Unsplash

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