Pride goeth before a fall
Proverbs 16:18; Isaiah 14:12-15
There’s something so fitting about an arrogant fool cut down to size.
– The Bond villain declaring “I am invincible” seconds before his grisly death.
– The cocky athlete slowing down for the cameras and then tripping before the finish line.
– The deluded despot, overstretched and finally overthrown.
At these times we love to quote from Proverbs:
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
Usually we just abbreviate it to “pride goeth before a fall.”
But there’s one scenario this phrase describes better than any other – the fall. The fall of humanity.
Because in Genesis chapter 3 we see the ultimate pride and the ultimate fall.
In verse 1 the serpent appears on the scene. The prophet Ezekiel assures us that he was not wicked when he was placed in the garden (Ezekiel 28:14-15). What we see in Genesis 3 is not only the couple’s fall but also the serpent’s. Genesis 3 is the fall of both men and angels. It was in fact an alliance of earth and heaven against God.
Isaiah 14 puts the serpent’s desire brilliantly:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14)
To be with the Most High was not enough. Lucifer desires to be like Him – as a competitor.
That was an offer too good to refuse. So the couple trust Satan’s words over the LORD’s. The alliance is formed. They raise themselves up. And the ultimate fall awaits.
Well, perhaps not. Perhaps we shouldn’t call Genesis 3 the ultimate fall. Because there has been an even greater climb-down than this. And from an even higher throne.
Yet how utterly different is Jesus Christ to all this!
- We went from nothing to dust to delusions of grandeur.
- He went from eternal glory to flesh to crucifixion.
- We amounted to nothing and laid claim to everything.
- He had everything and made Himself nothing.
- Our come-down was deserved.
- His come-down was deliberate.
- Our uprising was demonic.
- His uprising was divine.
- Our story is self-exaltation then humbling.
- His story is self-humbling then exaltation.
- Our pride brought the fall.
- His humility brought salvation.
“Christ Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)