When My Face Changes
Last week we saw in Daniel three that King Nebuchadnezzar’s face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He had put them in authority, but when they chose to serve their God instead of his gods, they lost favor with him. We discovered that sometimes this happens to us when we follow Christ. Sometimes, people who were once a friend now look at us with contempt. We discovered how to address such a situation and still find favor with God.
This week, we will be looking at faces changing from a different angle. This week, we are King Nebuchadnezzar. Our faces are the ones that are changing. Someone who we used to look at with delight is now someone that we are not pleased with. What do we do in that situation?
If you remember, Daniel 3:19 says, “…Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.” Why? They were not doing what he wanted them to do. His expectations of them were not being met.
Why did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s refusal enrage the king so quickly? Why did it affect him so violently? What was behind his expression being altered so drastically?
Part of our answer lies in verse fourteen. Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible says that King Nebuchadnezzar asks them, “Is it a laid plan?” Our translations today do not mention this, but the exact translation indicates to us that King Nebuchadnezzar believed that they were plotting a coup. He thought that they were staging a takeover and this refusal to bow was the beginning. He became suspicious of their motives.
That kind of thing makes us all furious, doesn’t it? Someone trying to get our job? Someone trying to usurp our authority? Maybe that person is simply trying to adhere to their beliefs, but if they question ours in the process, it infuriates us. Why?
I believe it is pride. Ick! I said it. Pride. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride cometh before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” Pride is never a good thing. King Nebuchadnezzar had it in spades and so do we. God dealt with King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride later in Daniel and He will deal with ours.
Proverbs 13:10 says, “Arrogance leads to nothing but strife….”
If our face has changed towards someone, then we must ask ourselves if our pride is involved. Actually, we need to ask ourselves where the pride is involved, because believe me, it is. Sometimes, it is just hiding a little better than usual. Pride is a constant battle for all of us, all the time. We must be willing to lay ourselves open before our Father for close inspection.
James 4:6 tells us that “God resists the proud….” When we are full of pride, God has to resist us. We must ask ourselves if our feelings toward another human is worth losing our right standing with our Father. We must ask His Holy Spirit to reveal to us our pride; ask Him to give us the power to remove it from our life and confess our sin before our Father. Psalm 103:10 says, “He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses.” That’s our God, always willing to forgive. We have to allow Him to reveal to us our pride and have Him to remove it from our lives.
So, we know that pride is a piece to the puzzle, but what do we do with the everyday struggle? How do we deal with the day to day issue of having to toil with someone who our faces have changed towards? How do we go from suspicious pride to the place where God would have us to be? How do we get back to a right relationship with those in the world around us?
Another piece of the puzzle is peace. We must turn our face toward good relations and the making of peace. Jesus Himself is our Prince of Peace and we want to be like Him. Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.” We are to seek peace with everyone, not just those who we favor. Romans 12:18 tells us “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” Verse sixteen of this chapter says, “Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
I dare say, if I were living these verses my face would never alter toward someone. If I were “not wise in my own estimation”, I would not have to have my own way. I would not resent someone’s opinion, I would invite it. I would not be scared of losing my job, I would encourage teamwork and support. Living out these verses takes total abandonment to the Holy Spirit’s leading. We cannot do this in our own strength. Being submitted to the Spirit is another piece to the puzzle.
Yet another piece to the puzzle of our face changing back to where God would have it to be is found in Daniel three once again. It reveals to us why King Nebuchadnezzar’s face changed back to favor towards Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Do you remember what happened to cause him to look on them with delight once again? It was when He saw the fourth man in the fire.
The final piece in the puzzle? We have got to see Jesus in the situation. Oftentimes, we just want the person to go away that has affected our pride or, caused us harm. We might not want them to be thrown into a literal fiery furnace, but our anger definitely causes us to daydream that we would never have to see them again. But, Nebuchadnezzar shows us the key. We have got to see Jesus in the fire. Then, our focus is on His work, not what others are doing. King Nebuchadnezzar stopped noticing that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not adhering to his expectations and started focusing on Jesus. The result? He simply saw the work of God’s Son. Seeing Jesus returned the favor that the king originally had toward the three because his focus had changed. Ours can as well.
There is freedom in seeing Jesus in a fiery situation. Freedom for ourselves and others. The binding that holds our focus to them and their actions is gone and the binding that we placed on them in our mind’s eye has vanished because we are focused on the one, true and living God. We are not concerned about others, we are seeing Jesus. We are open to His work. The Lord Himself speaks to us in Psalm 27:8. He says, “…You are to seek My face.” Our response should be as the psalmist’s was “Lord, I will seek Your face.” When this happens, our face is changed back to the image of Christ. It is not mauled by envy and strife, but beautiful because His expression towards others is now our expression as well.
I confess that just a few weeks ago my face changed towards someone. I would have NEVER thought that my face would change toward this particular person, but it did. As I look back, it was a somewhat gradual alteration with a final “fiery eruption”. I found myself praying things like “Lord, Your Word tells me to be angry and sin not so, I know it’s possible. You have got to get me through this day without sinning.” But, while praying this prayer, I admit that I still wanted them to know that I was upset. I wanted them to see that my face had changed. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to convict, I wanted to speed along the process. As you probably can gather, if I can avoid a situation and have a “cooling off” period, it is much better but, it was simply not possible. I had to deal with it head on, in the heat of the moment. The furnace was blazing and my face was altered. I could feel the intensity of anger and pride and hurt. The person was standing before me and I knew that only God Himself could get me through that moment. It was such a struggle and in all honesty there is still some tension, but I am trying, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to see Jesus in the flames. I am trying to focus on Him because He is here with me and the other person. He is doing a great work and I am praying to perceive it. I know that when I can hone in on His face, all else will fall away. The fire is hot at times, but God is here in the flames and I’m praying to see.
O, God, of all gods. Help us to see You in the flames. Help our faces to shine Your light, Your love and Your hope to the world. If our face alters, may they only be altered into the beautiful image of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus.