“Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you…” Daniel 4:27

Scientists tell us there are four primary learning styles (visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic). We would not dare to argue against those. However, I would like to propose another, and I give full and complete credit to Dennis Keating. I submit the fifth style is the “learn by the ear or by the rear” approach. Are you familiar with it? Probably more than you would like to be, if you’re anything like me! Or King Nebuchadnezzar.

I find verse 28 fascinating in light of Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream, and especially in light of verse 27: “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Not only does Daniel interpret the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, but he gives him two solid action steps to take which will ward off the impending doom predicted by the dream! What does the king do with it all? Nothing! Twelve, twelve months later, as he is walking around his palace, the predictions come to fruition. One wonders what would have happened if Nebuchadnezzar had chosen to learn by the ear rather than the rear!

Alas, before we are too hard on old King Nebuchadnezzar, I bet we can each think of some fairly significant times in our lives when God sent someone our way with a warning, or caused a verse of Scripture to jump off the page, or made a sermon really hit the mark in our hearts, and yet we ignored it entirely and went on about our lives,only to suffer the consequences of not listening later.

And why don’t we listen? Is it a lack of trust in God’s ability to guide us? Is it a lack of trust in the goodness of God’s plans for us? Is it a view of God that says that His desire is to make me and my life miserable (so it would be best to only trust Him as Savior but to not follow Him as Lord)? Maybe I just think I know better? Perhaps it is a bit of all of those.

An encouragement we receive from this account is that God does reach out and offer His guidance to us (I figure if He’s giving it to a pagan king, how much more is He giving it to His children! [see Psalm 32:8]). Our response is to receive and act on it with humility. But there is a challenge here as well. Just like King Nebuchadnezzar, if we reject God’s wisdom, we will end up having to learn our lessons in other, less pleasant ways. (The King’s lack of humility led to humiliation.)

Your ear, or your rear? The choice is yours! May you choose wisely.

Scott Smith
Pastor of Discipleship Ministries

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