The Pathway To Brokenness
Intro: Perhaps you were fortunate enough in years
gone by to see an old mill operated by a water wheel. The water from the creek flowed down
and made the wheel turn, rotating the shaft of the mechanism inside the building to grind
the wheat into flour. If the miller came up one day and found that the stream was clogged
up, his wheel wouldn't work. He could push and shove and try to turn the wheel himself. He
could even call in the men from the surrounding farms to help him. His efforts would be in
vain until he went up the creek and pulled out the dead logs and debris that dammed up the
water. With those hindrances out of the way, the water would flow down again and those
wheels would begin to turn.
Today we have pastors and Christian leaders striving and
straining everywhere trying to make wheels go around. Church bulletins list all kinds of
activities. Church members are urged to visit, call folks, sing in the choir, invite
others to church, and pray for revival. There's nothing wrong with all that. It seems to
me that this is our situation in the modern church. We have all the necessary machinery,
we have the know how and the resources, we just don't have the water. I think we need to
wade back up the streams of our lives and look for the log jams and whatever else is
stopping the flow of the water from above and take care of them. What we need is a good
old fashioned dose of repentance! That's a word you don't hear much of these days, but it
is one that will unlock the storehouses of blessing quicker than any program or work of
In our text, we are presented with a
man by the name of King Nebuchadnezzar. This man was a powerful, prideful man until he was
broken by the Lord. When God brought him down, he repented before the Lord and God blessed
him. The thing that lacked in Nebuchadnezzar's life is also sadly lacking in the lives of
many today. That thing is a spirit of brokenness before the Lord.
When I refer to brokenness, I am not talking about people running around
in sack cloth and ashes. Neither am I referring to those who climb stone stairs on their
knees to try and impress God. I am referring to a state of the heart that dwells in
humility before the Lord. It is a heart that see itself just as it is and, it also sees
the Lord as He is. It is simply a state of openness and honest before the Lord. It is
being in a position where the Lord can use you for His glory. For the Christian, it is
being moldable and yielding to the Lord. For the lost sinner, it is being in a place where
you see your own need and are willing to turn to the Lord to get that need met.
Some may ask, "What is so important about being broken before the
Lord?" The importance lies in the fact that God uses that which is broken in a
greater way than that which is rigid and unyielding to His will. Notice:
God uses for His glory those people and things which are
the most perfectly broken. They are the sacrifices in which He delights.
- It was through the breaking down of Jacob's natural
strength at Peniel that he was brought to the place where God could clothe him with
- It was the breaking of the surface of the rock at
Horeb by the striking of Moses' rod that let the cool water flow out to the thirsty people
of Israel. It was when the 300 elect soldiers under Gideon broke their pitchers (a type of
breaking themselves) that the hidden light shone forth to the consternation of their
- It was when the poor widow broke the seal of the
little pot of oil and poured it forth that God multiplied it to pay all her debts and to
supply a means of her support.
- It was when Jesus took the five loaves and broke them
that the bread was multiplied-- sufficient to feed 5000 men.
- It was when Mary broke her beautiful alabaster box of
ointment that the pent-up perfume filled the house.
- It was when Jesus allowed His precious body to be
broken by the thorns, the nails, and a spear, redemption poured forth like a crystal
stream from which sinners could drink and live.
Yes, the Lord blesses broken things!"
This sermon is about the steps God used to bring
Nebuchadnezzar to that place of brokenness before Him. Steps that He will use in your life
if you will not bow humbly before Him. This morning, I want you to search your heart
throughly, and I want you to see if there are hidden areas that need to be dealt with this
morning. Whether you are saved, or lost, this message is for you and can literally change
your life this morning, if you will heed its message and respond to the call of God.
Today, as the Lord leads, I want to speak for a while on The Pathway To
Brokenness. Let the Lord speak to your heart as I do.
I. 1:1 NEBUCHADNEZZAR IN HIS POWER
A. V. 1 The Scope Of His Power - In his day,
Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man in the world. He ruled the mighty kingdom of
Babylon and was unrivaled in power and military might.
B. V. 2 The Source Of His Power - Notice that
the Bible tells us that God gave the nation of Israel into his hand! Nebuchadnezzar was at
the pinnacle of success and power because the Lord allowed him to be in that position!
(Ill. There is no such thing as a self-made man! We are nothing more that what God in His
Sovereign will has allowed us to be. It is sheer pride for anyone to brag about his/her
accomplishments! After all, without God, you would be in Hell this morning. He deserves
glory for everything you have and are today!)
C. The Shame Of His Power - While Nebuchadnezzar
was a great and powerful king, he was a shameful man in the sight of the Lord. You see, he
was in power and in control. He was living independently of God and cared nothing for God
or His will.
(Ill. This could picture any of the billions of lost
people on this globe today. They have locomotion, emotion and intellect, but they are dead
to God and to spiritual issues, Eph. 2:1. They take life for granted. They ignore God and
His plan of salvation. They trudge stubbornly on to Hell where damnation and eternal
separation from God awaits everyone of them. You may be in control of your life, but if
you die without Jesus and end up in Hell, what have you accomplished for yourself? (Ill.
Mark 8:36-37) When that day comes, don't get angry at God! He did everything He could do
for you, but you made the choice to blindly follow your own self will; you took yourself
to Hell! In truth, the sinner isn't in control of his life. The Bible states this fact
clearly in at least 2 passages - John 8:44; Eph. 2:1-3.)
(Ill. Sadly, there are many "professing Christians" who act
this same way. They call all the shots in their lives without regard for God and His will.
In truth, they live as if God were dead! "Professing Christians" who insist in
going on in their sins, who refuse to repent and humble themselves before the Lord are a
blight on the name of Jesus! They are certainly not humble and broken before the Lord.)
D. There is Nebuchadnezzar, and the billions of other just like him, who
refuse to acknowledge God in their lives. Does that describe the way you live this
morning? If so, then listen on, God has a word for you!
I. Nebuchadnezzar In His Power
II. 2:1-3:30 NEBUCHADNEZZAR IN HIS PRIVILEGE
(Ill. In this life, we have been given the tremendous responsibility of
a "free will." In other words, we have been given the God given right to chose
the path we will take through this world, Joshua 24:15. It will either be a path that
brings glory to the Lord, or it will be a pathway of shame and reproach. One that will
eventually face the wrath of God. For, regardless of how strong our resolve, there will
come a day when God's will will be done in every life! Ill. Eph. 1:11, "In whom
also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him
who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" There are 2 ways
given in chapters 2 and 3 in which Nebuchadnezzar exercised the privilege of his free will
before the Lord.)
A. 2:1-49 He Exercised The Privilege Of
Indifference - (Ill. The context of this chapter.) Nebuchadnezzar came face
to face with God in this episode with Daniel. He received great light and had the
opportunity to turn to the God of Heaven, v. 28; 37. However, he faced this day of
decision by worshiping Daniel, v. 46 and saying that God was just one God among many
others. After all this light, his heart was still hardened against the things of God. He
was simply indifferent!
(Ill. Many are in this same shape today. They are cold to the things of
God. They see His light, they feel His tug, yet they refuse to bow before Him in
repentance. This is a dangerous place to be! Do not be guilty of taking the things of God
for granted! One day, they will not be around. In Hell, there will be no preaching, no
godly praying, no hymns sung and no love of God drawing you unto Himself. Do not make the
same mistake as Nebuchadnezzar, but flee your sins and run to Jesus for salvation.)
B. 3:1-30 He Exercised The Privilege of Indulgence
- (Ill. The context of this chapter. The fact that this man persisted in building this
idol, either of himself or his god, is a clear indicator that he was unchanged from his
previous brush with the Lord.) In this instance, Nebuchadnezzar comes face to face with
God again. This time, he sees God working in great power in the lives of others. This
time, he goes farther than before in his praise of God, yet he still stops short of total
commitment. He exalts God and says that He is above other gods, yet for old
Nebuchadnezzar, God is still "their" God! He is softening, but he is still not
broken before the Lord. It seems that by this point, Nebuchadnezzar has become just a
(Ill. Again, this could describe millions! They have come into contact
with God. They have been made to face His reality and have seen His power. Still, they
refuse to acknowledge Him as the Lord of their lives!)
C. Many, both saved and lost, fit the profile offered by these 2
chapters. The lost sinner is given light by the Lord and he sees that Jesus is the answer
to the problem of sin. Yet, he remains indifferent to the Gospel call, preferring to
indulge his sinful nature. He may even get a little religious when the heat is one, but it
produces no change in their heart and life. There is no brokenness over sin and no
repentance before God!
We see this same tragedy among those who claim Christ! Often, there is
indifference to the word and will of God. The Christian can harden his heart to the place
where he/she gets to the point that they will refuse to respond to what God says and only
care about what they want. They act religious, but their hearts are hard as flint. They
have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof!
(Ill. What is needed in both these cases is for people to stop hiding
behind their sin and their religion. Men must come clean before God before there can be
forgiveness and salvation.)
I. Nebuchadnezzar In His Power
II. Nebuchadnezzar In His Privilege
III. 4:1-33 NEBUCHADNEZZAR IN HIS PRIDE
A. Nebuchadnezzar In The Place Of Blessing -
(Ill. The context of this passage and Nebuchadnezzar's dream.) Nebuchadnezzar is told that
he will be brought down, but that this judgment can be avoided by repentance and by
turning to the Lord. However, it is apparent that Nebuchadnezzar chose his sin over the
warnings of the Lord. By this time, his hard heart had ceased t be touched by the Lord.
Nebuchadnezzar is walking totally in his price, v. 30-31.
(Ill. The greatness of Babylon and what he saw as he walked - The great
walls of Babylon were 387 feet high and 87 feet thick. Each side of this great wall was 15
miles in length. They enclosed an area of 225 square miles. The walls were so wide that 4
chariots could be drive abreast on top of the wall and were on great race days. The mighty
Euphrates river flowed through the middle of the city. On one bank were terraces, covered
in rich greenery that led to a central altar. In the middle of the city was the massive
temple of Bel with all its buildings and smaller temples and shrines. As Nebuchadnezzar
looked on this great city, he could see the spacious gardens and orchards that fed the
entire population of 2 million. As he walked he talked and in verse 30, he took credit for
the whole thing. Completely forgetting the God of heaven who had said it would be so - 2:37-38.
Nebuchadnezzar had also forgotten that the same God who promised to bless him also
promised to break him! This man was walking in the sin of pride!)
(Ill. These events took a full year to come to pass - 4:29. Never
mistake the patience and longsuffering of God for forgetfulness! He will always remember
your sin, until it is taken care of at Calvary. You may feel that you are getting away
with something today! You may think that nobody but God knows about your sin. If God
knows, then it is enough! Your sin will catch up with you - Num. 32:23, "and be
sure your sin will find you out."; Gal. 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is
not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.")
B. Nebuchadnezzar In The Place Of Brokenness -
There are millions today who fit this pattern of life! They have had their hearts pricked
by conviction and know they need to repent before the Lord, but in their pride, they chose
to go on living as though God had absolutely no say in the matter. May I remind you that
God knows exactly how to get your attention, (V. 31-33)!
(Ill. Nebuchadnezzar is afflicted with a disease now called "lycanthropy."
This is a compound word from the words lycos, meaning wolf, and anthropos,
meaning man. This mighty king was turned into a wild animal for 7 years by the word of the
Lord! This man before whom millions trembled, is now reduced to a pathetic, wretched, ugly
beast. He goes into this condition with the last words he heard being those of the
judgment of God, v. 31-32.)
(Ill. As I said, God knows how to get your attention. He knows just what
your heartstring is. There is a story in the Bible that demonstrates this truth very
clearly - 2 Sam. 14:28-33. If you are too proud to humble yourself before the Lord in
repentance, He will take whatever means are necessary to break you! This is especially
true if you are one of His children and you are wandering around in sin - Heb. 12:6-12. If
you refuse to submit to one form of brokenness, He will surely send another!)
(Ill. What will it take to break your heart and make you come to Christ
for salvation? Christian, what will it take to break you and make you come fully clean
before the Lord? God knows! He will not hesitate to use whatever means are necessary to
I. Nebuchadnezzar In His Power
II. Nebuchadnezzar In His Privilege
III. Nebuchadnezzar In His Pride
IV. 4:34-37 NEBUCHADNEZZAR IN HIS PERSUASION
A. There Is A Realization - 34a - Nebuchadnezzar
finally realizes that what he needs is a personal relationship with the God of the
Hebrews. He realizes that God has been right all along. He realizes that he is a sinner
and turns to the Lord in repentance.
(Ill. This is the place that many, whether saved or lost, need to come
to today! When we reach that place of brokenness, whether it comes by means of a tragedy,
or by our being intelligent enough to humble ourselves when God simply speaks, we will
realize that God and His will are all that we need for our lives! Ill. Have you reached
that place yet? Again, I ask you, what will it take?)
B. There Is A Reception - There is an obvious
change in the attitude of Nebuchadnezzar. Before, he either ignored God or just gave Him
mere lip service. Now, he begins to praise the Lord and to glorify God's works. This is a
saved man! One day, when we get to Heaven, there will be a man there named Nebuchadnezzar!
He will tell you that those 7 years of affliction were the single greatest blessing he
ever received on this earth. It was those years that broke him and caused him to bow
before the God of Heaven and receive Him into his life.)
(Ill. You can tell this man is right with God. He praises the Lord and
renders all glory and honor to the God of Heaven! This is a sign of a truly broken heart.)
(Ill. Is this how you live your life before the Lord this morning? Can
you honestly say, "Preacher, in everything I do, God is glorified and as far as I
know, ever sin has been confessed to Him and I am broken and humble before the Lord?"
If this isn't your life, then you need to come clean today!
Conc: Again, I ask you what is it going to take to break you before the
Lord? We humans are a stubborn lot! We must be broken before we can ever be used of the
Lord. He has many means of breaking men. What will it take in your life? Death? Sickness?
Sorrow? Poverty? Exposure? What will it take? Instead of forcing God's hand, why not come
to Him while He is still operating in longsuffering and grace? Why not come now, while He
still calls gently to your heart? Why not bow and allow Him to break you with grace rather
than judgment? The choice is yours, but the options seem pretty clear. What will it be for
your life today? Where do you stand on the Pathway To Brokenness?