Learn from Example

Learning from the example of others is some-thing that we see done all the time. There are many videos that show a child imitating their parent, whether it be cutting the grass with their toy lawn mower while the dad cuts the grass with a real lawn mower, or perhaps a daughter putting on makeup because she has seen her mom to do this and wants to be like her. From the youngest of ages, we learn from seeing how other people act. That means sometimes we learn there not do because of other’s actions and sometimes we learn the correct behavior because of someone’s ac-tions. For the Christian, it is not different. We learn from those around us and can imitate their behavior, as they imitate Christ. For our focus in this article though, we are going to be looking at mistakes made in the scriptures, and how these stories aren’t just stories, but are events that we can and should learn from right now! 

In Daniel 4, king Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in which there is a tree that grew large and strong, that was so tall it reached the sky, and it was visible to the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant and it was food for all and branches were resting places for the birds. This same tree is seen by an angelic watcher and that water says to chop down the tree and destroy but leave the stump with its roots in the ground. This vision was interpreted by Dan-iel, and we learn that the tree represented Nebuchadnezzar, because he had become so great on earth. The angelic watcher words were representing the decree of the Most High (God). What was coming to happen to the king is told in verses 25-26. As we jump to verse 28, we see this vision become reality. Nebuchadnezzar stood on the roof of his royal palace and in just one sentence used the words I and My four times! That’s a lot for one sentence and he was saying that this has all been built due to the might of his power and his honor. God humbles Nebuchadnezzar and he becomes like an animal in the field as seen in v31-33. He is allowed to return to being king and gives God the glory that He deserved in the first place. 

This brings us to chapter 5, where Nebuchadnezzar’s son is now king. Daniel is interpreting the writing of a human hand on the wall in the king’s palace. This hand was miraculous and scared those seeing this take place to a amazing extent. Verse 6 says that the king’s face became pale, his thoughts alarmed him, his hip joints loosed, and his knees began knocking together. He was scared to death and wants to know what this all means. Daniel speaking in v18-19, speaks of the greatness of Belshazzar’s father, Nebuchadnezzar. That he was given this greatness by God, and he was able to do whatever he wished, as it says in verse 19. But Nebuchadnezzar’s heart became arrogant and the events we went over in the previous paragraph occurred. Verse 22-23a is where we see someone who didn’t learn from the mistakes of oth-ers. It says, “Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but have risen up against the Lord of heaven.” Belshazzar had taken the vessels of God’s house and used them to drink wine and praised false gods made of earthy materials. He risen up against God, and only God. 

But to back up for just a second, can you imagine not learning from this story that happened to your father? Belshazzar knew that Nebuchadnezzar became like an animal of the field, eating grass, his body being drenched with dew, his hair growing like eagle’s feathers and his nails like bird claws. Belshazzar knew his own dad went through this, and he also knew that his dad realized who the Most High God was. Belshazzar didn’t learn from that example at all. He didn’t humble himself as his dad did. He didn’t learn from the example and is killed at the end of chapter 5. 

If Belshazzar would’ve just learned from the example of his dad, things would’ve turned out so differently for him. He still may have been wicked in other ways, but he would’ve learned not to be arrogant and understand who really is in control. Turning over to 1st Corinthians 10, we see two times (verse 6 and 11) that it’s mentioned that the things happened to Israel as an example for us, so that we won’t crave evil as they did. There are specific examples pointed out in the first 11 verses, such as verse 9 referencing the events of Numbers 21. Stephen in Acts 7 gives a sermon in which he shows that time and time again, God’s peo-ple resisted Him. They persecuted the prophets He sent. They killed those who had announced the coming of Christ and even had murdered Christ when He was on earth in bodily form. If the Israelites had just learned from the mistakes of others, how much better it would’ve been for them. 

If we would just learn from mistakes, whether our own or in this case, the mistakes of those in the Bible, how much better off would we be. There are plenty examples to show us that idolatry, sexual immorali-ty, murder, robbery, lying and overall disobedience to God is a big mis-take and shouldn’t be amongst God’s people. We need to look at these stories in the Bible and put ourselves in the shoes of those who were in these events. We need to learn from what they did and stay away from sin, just as God wants us to. Let us not follow the example of Belshazzar, who knew there is penalty of arrogance towards God, and yet didn’t learn from it. Instead, we need to take these examples, be thankful that we have them so we can learn from them and please God by staying away from sins that have been committed in prior times.