Discovering the Greater King

Posted: February 2, 2017 in Daniel, Uncategorized

Daniel 4, “Discovering the Greater King”

Parents: how many times have you said this one?  “I’m giving you to the count of three…”  We’ve extended chance after chance for our children to obey, but finally our patience runs out.  Eventually, we have to follow up our commands with consequences, and (not too infrequently) our children force the issue. 

Of course, it’s not much different with the Lord God.  He gives us opportunity after opportunity to repent, or to bring about whatever change we know is required, and eventually He has to follow up His commands with consequences.  We test His patience, and though it extends far beyond what we can imagine, eventually even the patience of God runs out.  Even in terms of salvation, this is true.  God is so incredibly patience with men & women, granting us day after day to come to faith in His Son & receive the forgiveness He graciously offers.  Yet eventually the days stop coming.  The opportunities we have to receive the salvation of Christ are in this life alone, and when someone perishes, they perish forever.  That isn’t God’s desire, but that is the reality.  Eventually, the consequence has to come.  He loves us too much to allow us to remain in that position of disobedience.  The sooner we learn our lesson, the better.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had his own lesson to learn.  Like us, he had also rebelled against God, ignoring the multiple outreaches of God to him.  At first blush, we might not even consider the fact that God desired to reach a Gentile king with His grace – particularly not one who had led the conquest against Jerusalem and the rest of the kingdom of Judah.  Yet even Nebuchadnezzar was made in the image of God, and the Father desires that all people be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4)  So yes, God wanted Nebuchadnezzar to be saved.  He wanted even the king of Babylon to know Him and worship Him, just the same as He desired that of the Jews.  Thus God repeatedly reached out to Nebuchadnezzar in mercy.

The first time was an instance much like the events recorded in Chapter 4.  Nebuchadnezzar had repeatedly received a dream that disturbed him greatly.  Knowing that his cadre of counselors & magicians would invent an interpretation that suited themselves, the king refused to provide them the details of his dream, and demanded of them both the details of the dream and its interpretation.  Obviously they failed, and in their place came Daniel the Jew.  Still a young man at the time, and still in-training to become one of the king’s wise men, Daniel received the dream and its interpretation from the Lord God, and then related it to Nebuchadnezzar.  The dream was about the future of the Babylonian kingdoms, and all the kingdoms that would follow.  Each one would be temporary, all ultimately replaced by the everlasting kingdom of God that would encompass the whole earth.  At the time, Nebuchadnezzar was impressed, and understood that Daniel’s God was “the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets,” (Dan 1:47) – but that’s as far as he got, not yet truly coming to faith.

The second was an event involving Daniel’s friends, famously known by their Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah).  These three refused to bow in worship of a golden image erected by Nebuchadnezzar, who wanted a symbol of the greatness and (supposed) eternity of his kingdom.  God protected the three Jews from the fiery furnace prepared by the king, and the king was truly humbled by the God of the Hebrews who truly had power to deliver His servants from any earthly king.

These were two incredible miracles – personal interactions from the God of the Universe as He reached out to Nebuchadnezzar in mercy.  Yet the king still worshipped other gods – he still saw himself as most glorious of all.  In so doing, he almost exhausted the patience of God.  So God gives him one more chance.  A command had been given, and consequences were sure to follow.

Would the king of Babylon finally recognize the greater King of the universe?  Will we?

Daniel 4

  • Opening salutations (4:1-3)

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you.

  • What’s interesting about this is Nebuchadnezzar’s own signature (so to speak).  Obviously Daniel is the author of the book, but it seems that he chose to include a letter submitted by the king of Babylon.  A pagan king as the author of Scripture?  It may seem incredible to believe, but it is the truth.  (And perhaps it is one indication that Nebuchadnezzar really did eventually come to faith in the Living God!)
  • Otherwise, this is a standard opening that the king of Babylon would have used with any of his imperial correspondence.  He wasn’t literally addressing every nation on planet earth – he wouldn’t have known how many there were!  He’s addressing all of the peoples within his own empire.  Babylon had conquered many peoples & nations, who each had their own languages.  It is to them that he sends this royal decree.  What did he say?  Vs. 2…

2 I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me.

  • This is his personal testimony!  Right from the beginning, Nebuchadnezzar talks about the works of “the Most High God.”  Scholars have debated whether or not it can be definitively stated that Nebuchadnezzar truly came to saving faith the YHWH of Israel, and perhaps no answer can be given that doesn’t have at least some amount of lingering doubt.  After all, the historical record of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia says nothing about a conversion away from the national gods of Marduk or Nebo.  Of course, there shouldn’t be an expectation otherwise.  No doubt those who recorded Babylonian history would be hesitant to include such information.  Even so, the Scriptural record shows at least some faith on the part of the king.  If nothing else, even if Nebuchadnezzar never fully gave up his polytheism, he still acknowledged Daniel’s God as being “the Most High God.”  Of all the gods that could be worshipped, this one God was supreme over all.
  • God is supreme!  Not that there are other gods in the universe, but whatever else is there, God is supreme over all.  God is more powerful than natural forces.  God is more powerful than the angels and demons.  God is more powerful than the devil himself.  There is no spiritual power that holds a candle to the mighty strength of God – He is over them all!  He is infinite in His might, totally omnipotent in every respect.  There is nothing He cannot do, and no throne over which He does not reign.
  • And the amazing thing is that this God works on our behalf!  God the Father sent God the Son anointed with God the Spirit for our sakes, that we might be saved.  God has intervened between us and our sin, inserting His omnipotent power and infinite grace where the punishment for our sin ought to have been.  He has worked for you, me, and even for Nebuchadnezzar.
    • How amazing is it that the Most High God has worked for you?  He has rescued you from hell, given you life, filled you with God the Holy Spirit, and made you His child.  You will spend eternity with Him, all because of His grace.  Almighty God has done that for you!  What privilege – what grace!  However God did that for you, that is your testimony, and that is what you can share with anyone who asks.  When it comes to evangelism, a born-again Christian is never unequipped.  You’ve been given the Holy Spirit and your testimony of Christ – nothing else is required.

3 How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation.

  • Again, right from the beginning, we see that the king has learned his lesson.  He will relate the story of how he got to this point, but he doesn’t leave the reader in suspense.  This is exactly what the Lord had been trying to teach him for years (ever since his first dream, 2:44) – and finally it had sunk in.  God is truly great, and His kingdom alone is an everlasting, all-encompassing kingdom & dominion.  As great as the empire of Babylon may have been, it was nothing in comparison with the kingdom of God.  God’s kingdom is supreme, and will last into the ages.
  • And amazingly, it’s already begun!  When Jesus walked among us during His earthly ministry, He began instituting the kingdom of God.  Though His death and resurrection, He performed the work necessary for the kingdom to be extended to all the world.  During this present age of the church, the news of the kingdom continues to go out & the kingdom grows inch by inch, person by person.  After Jesus’ return, the kingdom will be gloriously installed over all the earth, and will be known in its fullness for 1000 years.  Then after one brief moment of rebellion, all Satanic attack and temptation will be forever removed, and the kingdom will continue into eternity.  So is God’s kingdom an everlasting kingdom?  Yes!  And we are blessed to be made its citizens in this present day!
  • That was just the introductory remarks.  Nebuchadnezzar goes on to write about his dream…
  • A dream given (4:4-18)

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.

  • This is all reminiscent of the event years earlier, when Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, and his spirit was anxious to know the interpretation (2:3).  One would think that based off his earlier experience (as well as his obvious trust of Daniel), that he might have sent for Daniel immediately.  Instead, he brings in the other “wise men of Babylon,” for their help in interpretation.  As to why Daniel wasn’t summoned, perhaps he was serving elsewhere in the kingdom at the time, or perhaps the position to which the king had promoted him was too high for this sort of thing.  Daniel seems to have been a kind of prime minister or vizier – perhaps Nebuchadnezzar wanted to go through the “normal” channels first.  Whatever the case, he asked the wise men, but they were no help…

7 Then the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream; but they did not make known to me its interpretation.

  • This was also the same as before, with one slight change: Nebuchadnezzar did not withhold the content of his dream from them.  He told them the details, but even with that information, the so-called “wise men” of Babylon could offer the king nothing in regards to the interpretation.  His dream had come from the Lord, and the wisdom of men had nothing to offer.
    • It never does!  No one knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Cor 2:11)  If we want to know the answer to spiritual things, we need to go through God the Holy Spirit and His resources (i.e. the Bible). 
  • Of course, Nebuchadnezzar had not yet totally come to this conclusion, so his answer is delayed until he sends for the one man in his court who actually knew the Living God: Daniel…

8 But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: 9 “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.

  • What’s interesting here is the contrast between Nebuchadnezzar’s conversation with Daniel & Nebuchadnezzar’s stated testimony.  In vs. 2, he plainly references “the Most High God,” whereas here, he still uses Daniel’s pagan name & seemingly talks in terms of polytheism.  The Aramaic used for “Spirit of the Holy God” is actually plural: “spirit of the holy gods.”  Although the Hebrew word for “God” is often seen in a plural form with a singular translation (plural of majesty), that’s not the grammatical case here.  In Nebuchadnezzar’s use, it is truly plural – which makes sense if he was still thinking in polytheistic terms at the time. (Which is why most English translations render “gods” as plural.)
  • This shouldn’t trouble us – it actually underscores the truth of the passage.  Nebuchadnezzar is simply relating the events as they happened.  Yes, he did eventually acknowledge Daniel’s God as the Most High God, but at the time he spoke to Daniel, he didn’t.  At that time, the king was just as pagan as he ever was.  He had a bit of respect for the true God, but he didn’t yet know Him as the true God.
    • There’s a lot of people in that same boat today.  They know of God, but they don’t know God.  They know God exists, but they do not know Him personally.  They might be able to answer some questions of doctrine correctly, but they still aren’t saved.  Think about it: cultists can correctly answer some doctrinal questions.  Jehovah Witnesses can affirm that God is the Creator of the heavens & the earth.  Mormons can say that Jesus provides the atonement for our sins.  What neither can do is affirm Jesus as being fully God the Son, along with God the Father and God the Spirit.  They might have a few ideas right, but they’ve missed the bigger picture.
    • We need more than a bit of knowledge about God; we need to know the true God as God.  The only way that knowledge comes is through Jesus Christ.  If we know Jesus, we know Jesus’ Father (Jn 8:19,14:7) – He is the only way to the Father (Jn 14:6).
  • One other thought: Nebuchadnezzar (for all of his faulty theology about God at the time) recognized that the Spirit of God was in Daniel…but the Spirit certainly was not in Nebuchadnezzar.  One of the glorious promises of the gospel is that through Christ, we are all baptized into one Spirit! (1 Cor 12:13)  Just like Daniel was filled with the Holy Spirit, you & I are filled with the Holy Spirit.  We have direct access to God just like any of the prophets of the past.  We might have different gifts, but we have one God.
  • Nebuchadnezzar goes on to explain his dream to Daniel.  Vs. 10…

10 These were the visions of my head while on my bed: I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great. 11 The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. 12 Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it.

  • So far, so good.  A huge fruitful, strong tree was seen in the dream.  Everything you could possibly want to see in a tree was seen in this one.  It was a blessing to all life, and its splendor “reached to the heavens.”  As with the king’s earlier dream, it started out wonderful – it’s what followed that troubled him.  Vs. 13…

13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, Bound with a band of iron and bronze, In the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, And let him graze with the beasts On the grass of the earth. 16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times pass over him.

  • Although Nebuchadnezzar didn’t really have the words to describe it, it seems that in his dream, he saw an angel.  The angel came with a proclamation to chop down the tree to the ground.  It’s common to prune trees & bushes, but this was pruning to the extreme.  This once-glorious tree would be taken down to a mere stump.  Its fruitfulness would be removed, and its ability to bless the beasts of the field would be gone.
  • That said, the tree would be left alive.  Most trees, if cut to a stump, would die.  Even the roots would shrivel up.  Not this one…this one would remain alive, if yet imprisoned in a “band of iron and bronze.”  It wasn’t going anywhere, but neither would it totally perish.
  • If that wasn’t disturbing enough, the picture changes from that of a tree to a man (end of vs. 15 & 16).  “Let it [the stump] be wet…let him [the man] graze…”  There’s no doubt that there was a personal punishment involved.  This man would no longer have the heart of a man, but have the “heart of a beast,” and he would remain in this state for “seven times.
  • There is all kinds of symbolism involved here (which is addressed in Daniel’s interpretation), but there was at least one thing clear: the purpose of the punishment.  Vs. 17…

17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’

  • The judgment was that of Almighty God, but the sentence was pronounced by the angels.  To say that “this decision is by the decree of the watchers” doesn’t mean that the angels had the right to pass judgment upon the king; it simply shows them as the messengers of God.  Nebuchadnezzar did not yet know the true God, but he could recognize angels when he saw them (such as in the fiery furnace with Daniel’s three friends).  Thus they were the best method by which the message could be given to him.
  • What was it he needed to know?  “That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men.”  Nebuchadnezzar needed to know that God is supreme – he needed to know that only one Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and that God is control of all earthly kings.  Of course, this is what was stated, and though it was plainly said, Nebuchadnezzar still required an interpretation.
  • It’s no wonder this dream made Nebuchadnezzar afraid!  No doubt, much of this would have been terribly confusing to him.  That’s why he sought out his friend Daniel…

18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

  • His concluding request.  Basically saying, “Everyone else failed, but I know you can do it.  You’re different.”  On that, Nebuchadnezzar is right.  Daniel was different, because Daniel had the “Spirit of the Holy God” (though not the “holy gods,” as the king imagined).
    • Likewise with every believer in Christ.  Our unsaved friends look at us differently, and rightly so.  We have the Spirit of the Holy God within us!  Because God the Son has saved us and God the Spirit indwells us, our very nature has changed.  We exude the aroma of Christ, and His light shines out from within us.  Whether or not they say anything, people see that, and they know the difference.
    • If they don’t see that, there’s a problem!
  • The dream interpreted (4:19-27)

19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!

  • It’s understandable why the dream troubled the king, but why did it trouble Daniel?  Because he was a friend of the king.  Yes, Daniel was a Jew in the middle of Babylonian captivity – no doubt he would have rather been back in Jerusalem, living under an independent monarchy of the line of David.  But he had made the most of where he was, and he served his king with honor.  He didn’t want to see anything bad come to the king. 
  • In addition, those bearing bad news to ancient kings often didn’t live long after delivering the message!  Daniel obviously understood the interpretation immediately, but was more than a bit hesitant to share his knowledge.  No doubt, he wanted to keep serving the king for as long as possible; not lose his head simply for doing his job.  Thus, Nebuchadnezzar gave him reassurances that he shouldn’t be troubled.
  • At that point, Daniel (using typical courtesies of ancient near eastern royalty) passed along the news…

20 “The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, 21 whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home— 22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.

  • In all likelihood, Nebuchadnezzar probably understood this much.  Fruitful trees as images of strength were common, even seen often through the history of Israel.  That the grandness of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would be likened to a massive fruitful tree was probably expected, and welcomed.  It was the events that followed that would have bothered the king.  Vs. 23…

23 “And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him’; 24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:

  • He directly relates the dream back to Nebuchadnezzar, not out of mere repetition or of a delaying tactic, but in order that the interpretation might be accurate to what the king had seen.  Notice how Daniel points directly to the Lord God in all of this.  This wasn’t Daniel’s word or opinion; this was “the decree of the Most High.”  IOW, this wasn’t something that the king would take lightly – this was the decree of Almighty God.  The God barely acknowledged by the Babylonian king, and certainly not worshipped by him, was speaking directly to him.  This was a final judgment – the consequences certain to come, decreed by God in His role as Judge and King of kings.

25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

  • Who is the “they”?  Probably the angels/watchers.  They would remove the king’s sanity from him, and he would become more beast than man.  God decreed that Nebuchadnezzar would no longer dwell in palaces, but live in the fields, eating grass like the cattle. 
  • For how long?  “Seven times” – most likely a reference to seven years.  There’s a bit of debate on the actual length, as the Aramaic word for “times” refers to any set amount of time and is not specific to years.  From later passages in Daniel, the context for the word is obviously years – it’s a bit more ambiguous in this particular context.  In any case, it would be for 7 times (be it years or seasons), with however long it was being long enough for Nebuchadnezzar to finally come to the realization that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses.”  IOW, for as long as it took for Nebuchadnezzar to realize that God is sovereign & that He reigns over every kingdom on the earth.
    • This is what God did in Nebuchadnezzar’s life to bring him to this point.  What does He have to do in ours?  Don’t push Him to the limit!
  • For as radical as this was, there was a silver lining.  Vs. 26…

26 “And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.

  • This is mercy!  Yes, the tree would be cut down to the stump.  Yes, the king would be literally driven insane for a time (for 7 times!).  But this punishment was temporary.  Nebuchadnezzar would not die in the fields in his insanity.  He would not permanently lose his kingdom.  All that God took away from him would be returned in due course.  God wanted Nebuchadnezzar to be humbled & come to faith – and then He wanted the king to continue to serve.  A humbled king was far better than a dead king.  The former could still be used by the Lord for His glory – the latter would just perish.
    • God’s desire for us is always repentance!  This is one reason why He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  Far better in His eyes that the evil person repents & lives!  The repentant person is a person who comes to grips with the love & mercy of God.  The repentant person is a person restored to relationship with God.  The repentant person is a person who glorifies God.  That’s the Father’s desire for each of us, if we would only receive of it!
  • That’s what Daniel pleaded for the king as well.  Vs. 27…

27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

  • God had decreed this punishment to come, yet Daniel knew that God is merciful.  If Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself in true repentance & faith, who knew what God would do?  God turned back from His judgment of Nineveh, when that city repented at the preaching of Jonah.  Perhaps God would have done the same with Nebuchadnezzar.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to know as Nebuchadnezzar never did it.
  • The dream fulfilled (4:28-36)

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

  • For 12 months, the king endured, perhaps shaken for a time by Daniel’s interpretation, but eventually going back to business-as-usual.  One day, as he was strolling about the palace, admiring all of the achievements there (and there were many!), he gave himself the credit & the glory, and thus incurred the wrath of God.
  • BTW – this wasn’t just spoken by the king; history shows that it was inscribed by him.  On what’s referred to as the East India House Inscription (now housed in the British Museum), a limestone tablet engraved with Babylonian cuneiform records some of Nebuchadnezzar’s accomplishments – which sound amazingly like the record here in Daniel.  [PIC] “To Marduk, my lord I make supplication; Oh eternal prince, lord of all being, guide in a straight path the king whom thou lovest and whose name thou hast proclaimed as was pleasing to thee. I am the prince, the favourite, the creature of thy hand. Thou hast created me and entrusted me with dominion over all people. According to thy favour lord, which thou dost bestow on all people, cause me to love thy exalted lordship. Create in my heart, the worship of your divinity, and grant whatever is pleasing to thee because thou hast my life; By thy command, merciful Marduk, may the temple I have built endure for all time and may I be satisfied with its splendour;”  Not only was this incredibly pagan, with no thought at all given to the Most High God (YHWH), but it was also incredibly proud.  These were the works of Nebuchadnezzar, all done for his pride and glory. 
  • How many times the king uttered statements or declarations like this is unknown, but there was at least one time that turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  He had exhausted God’s patience, and it was now time for judgment.  Vs. 31…

31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

  • Whether this was the voice of God, or of the watcher/angel is unsaid – but the judgment decreed earlier by the watcher in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was now reiterated and set in motion.  No doubt the words of Daniel came ringing back into Nebuchadnezzar’s ears during those last few moments while he mind remained sane.  The last sober thought he had was surely one of terror!

33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

  • It sounds utterly incredible, but this actually describes a very rare psychological disease known as boanthropy, in which a person believes he/she has become an ox/cow.  It’s part of a larger (yet still rare) group of disorders labeled zoanthropy, which includes all kinds of animals such as wolves (i.e. people believing they are werewolves), pigs, or anything else.  In one case documented in 1999, a woman believed she had claws growing into her feet. (History of Psychology, 2015, vol 25, pg. 93)  Nebuchadnezzar’s case is believed to be the oldest case on record, and it was incredibly severe with him.  For years (no matter how one counts “7 times”), the former king lived as an animal in the fields.  His hair grew out & became matted, and his nails were basically claws.  During this time, he was totally insane, probably thought of as a lost cause to everyone except Daniel.

34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

  • What glorious words these must have been for Nebuchadnezzar to write: “at the end of the time…”  Praise God that this time had an end!  It was a terrible consequence for Nebuchadnezzar to endure, but at last, it was over.  And just as God had decreed, the king of Babylon finally gave glory to the King of the Universe.  No longer did he see God as just one of many gods among his kingdom – now Nebuchadnezzar knew God as “the Most High and praised and honored Him.”  Again, some scholars debate whether or not Nebuchadnezzar ever truly came to faith, but the Scriptural record strongly indicates that he did.  He may not have had all of his theology right, but he knew this much: the God of Daniel was the true God, and this God had a kingdom that would never end.  This God was the Almighty God who ruled over all the earth, and no one and nothing can stand in His way.
  • This God is our God!  This God is the God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.  He is the King of kings & Lord of lords & He is utterly glorious in every respect!

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.

  • What mercy this was!  Just how sovereign is God over the nations?  He’s so sovereign that even after removing Nebuchadnezzar from the throne of Babylon for 7 years, He could restore Him right back to that same place, giving him an even greater majesty than what he had before!  Whoever it was that served as regent over the empire during the king’s absence did not stand in the way of the king’s return.  Perhaps it was Daniel himself; perhaps it was another.  Either way, God had taken out Nebuchadnezzar, and God put him back in.
  • Can God bring restoration?  You bet!  Nothing stands in the way of what God can do!

37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

  • With his lesson learned, the king concludes his letter with his confession of faith.  Here, he praised not Marduk, not Nebu, not Bel, but “the King of heaven.”  He praised the Most High God “whose works are truth and His ways justice.”  He praised the all-good, all-glorious, all-sovereign God.  Finally, the king of Babylon now rightly feared the King of the Universe, and that was the beginning of wisdom.

Our God reigns!  Our God is sovereign over all the earth – there is nothing He cannot do, and no person over which He has no power.  That’s true on a national level, in that God rules over every world leader, installing those whom He wills.  That’s true on a personal level, in that God is sovereign over every aspect of our lives.  He knows when the sparrows fall, and He certainly knows how to care for you & me.

To those who are full of pride, beware!  God desires you to know Him & worship Him, and He will not hesitate to take drastic measures to bring you to a place of humility.  That doesn’t merely apply to those who don’t know God (like a pagan king), but to His own people as well.  Don’t forget that the whole context of this event is the Babylonian captivity.  The entire Jewish nation was experiencing their own humbling at the hands of God, having pushed God to the points of Him pouring out His judgment.  If we ignore God’s commands, we too will experience the appropriate consequences.  Don’t push the limits & patience of God!

To those who are humbly repentant, rejoice!  God gives grace to the humble – His very nature is love, and He delights in restoration.  Trust His sovereignty & His will – trust Him to do what is right.

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