Daniel 4:19-27 (Part 2) – Johnny Manziel & Nebuchadnezzar: They Would Have Been Great Pals!

Posted: June 2, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 4:19-27 (Part 2)

Daniel Explains the Dream

Pride. We all have it. We all struggle with it. You see it all the time where those who acquire great wealth and power often let pride get the best of them. They descend into lifestyles that ultimately destroy them. We see it happening right now with what was a promising young quarterback by the name of Johnny Manziel. Johnny took the world by storm when he burst on the scene as a college freshman as the quarterback of the Texas A&M University Aggies. He had an amazing freshman year which included some jaw-dropping moments of “how did he escape that situation?” Included in his bag of tricks that year was a simply amazing performance against the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide where he pretty much single-handedly beat them with his elusive style. His whole freshman season was full of ooh and ahh moments. So amazing was his freshman year, that he won the Heisman Trophy. He was the popular choice for it because he was simply amazing his freshman year. He was so good that year that people nicknamed him Johnny Football. Then, the troubles started slowly creeping in. Celebrities were enamored with the young man. He would appear at LA Laker games with celebrities on those beside the bench floor seats. Facebook and Twitter were ablaze with party pictures of Johnny. Pro football draft experts after his freshman year said that if he was allowed to go pro right at that moment he would be a first round draft choice. His sophomore year back on the football field (after living the jet set lifestyle after winning the Heisman after his freshman season) was not up to the standard he set his freshman year, but was still pretty darn good. Interceptions plagued him is sophomore year. Although the Aggies were expected to battle for the SEC championship and national title his sophomore year, his interceptions cost them several conference games and a shot at the SEC title and national title. All during the season though, you would see media news bytes of him continuing to live his party lifestyle. His behavior caused his coach to bench him for the first half of one of their ball games. Of course, on the field things still pretty much worked for him. By season’s end, they still earned a good bowl bid because of a pretty good record but also because of the celebrity of Johnny Manziel. In that Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl game, Duke blitzkrieged Texas A&M in the first half. They were down by like 28 points at one point in the first half. It was time for the magic show at that point. Down 38-17 at the half, Manziel engineered one of the most amazing comebacks in college football bowl history. The Aggies came all the way back and won the game 52-48. Johnny was an instant legend at that point.

 

The party lifestyle began in full force. Since he was a redshirted sophomore it meant that he was old enough at season’s end to declare for the NFL draft which he, of course, did. Without school work to hold him back, if he had ever done any while at TAMU, social media was ablaze with Johnny sightings. Johnny sightings became a new sport. Whose party would he show up at this week? That party lifestyle and the appearance of arrogance pretty much cost him the first pick in the draft. He fell to the middle of the first round before Cleveland picked him. And we have seen what has happened there. His life without borders as an NFL player with the wealth that comes with the first round draft status has been a disaster. He rarely the saw the field. When he did start for a few weeks, he was mediocre and appeared unprepared. All the while the partying was out of control. His party lifestyle prevented him from having any sort of time to be a prepared professional football player. His troubles mounted to the most that recently, he was waived by the Browns. They no longer saw his potential to be a great quarterback but rather a spoiled rotten kid who acted like life was a fraternity party. Add to that he got in trouble for domestic violence toward his then girlfriend. What was a promising football career is now over and Johnny will still be living his party lifestyle til (1) his wealth runs out or (2) he gets killed by his lifestyle. It is sad to watch his meltdown right before us in the public eye and the problem is that he doesn’t even realize that he has thrown an amazing opportunity away. The party is more important that the athletic ability that God gave him. The party is more important than the work that he had to do that would have led him to at least a decent career in the NFL. At some point, we will see a news report where Johnny is jail long-term or where he has been killed in a car accident or in a shooting or who knows. It will happen. He has descended into madness and he offers us a cautionary tale of letting celebrity go to our head, of not letting our own pride destroy us.

 

When we learn of the dream’s explanation here in Daniel 4:19-27 where Nebuchadnezzar is predicted to go insane and become like an animal, I immediately thought of the tale of Johnny Manziel. Both had the world in their hands. Nebuchadnezzar let his pride and arrogance and his pursuit of seeing himself as a god drive him insane. Johnny fell in love with his own celebrity to the point that he no longer cared about that which made him a celebrity, his football skills. The similarities are eery. Let’s read about the predictions for Nebuchadnezzar:

 

19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

 

Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.

 

23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

 

24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

 

Although Nebuchadnezzar was at the time the most powerful man in the world, God was predicting his downfall unless he repented of his sinful ways and recognize God as the source of everything that he had. He was king of the most powerful nation on earth at the time because it was part of God’s plan, not because of Neb’s greatness. God was even gracious enough to give him a warning through these dreams. All that was required was repentance. Daniel tells him, “stop sinning and do what is right! Break from your wicked past and be merciful and perhaps you will prosper.” You don’t have to be a celebrity like Johnny Manziel to know this cautionary tale. Many of us refuse to let go of our sins. We revel in them and even to the point of those sins destroying us before we open our eyes. Some of us go to our graves unrepentantly practicing our favorite pet sins and calling them good things even though they are destroying us and those around us.

 

Johnny Manziel was warned and warned and warned that his party, no-holes-barred, nothing is off limits lifestyle would cost him his pro football career. Did he listen? No. He’s probably sitting at bar somewhere right now trying to find that next perfect high, that next one night stand. He has become insane in a way that prevents him from seeing what he has lost. His pride makes him think that everyone else is to blame and not him. His pride deludes him into rationalizing away why he was cut from the Cleveland Browns. His pride deludes him into thinking that he will be able to play football for another pro team whenever he is ready. His pride deludes him into thinking that his celebrity is going to last. His pride deludes him into thinking that his entourage will be with him when the spotlight fades (and it will). His pride deludes him in to thinking that all the fame is because of himself, not his money, not his skills on the football field. He will soon find out and I pray that it does not take the grave to make him realize it.

 

Are you living a lifestyle like Nebuchadnezzar and Johnny Manziel? Is you pride preventing you from seeing your sins that are destroying you and possibly your family? Don’t become like an animal that has no cognitive skills to see that you are destroying yourself. Repent of your sins. Lose your pride. Come to the cross and submit this craziness that is your life to the Lord. He will give you value. He will cleanse your life and give you purpose. He will send the Holy Spirit to dwell in you to open your eyes to what is right and true. It takes repentance though! Repent and come to the cross. Don’t end up as an insane king of nothing. Don’t end up wasting your potential that God gave you. Wake up before it’s too late!

 

Amen and Amen.

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