Year 3 Day 18
Read - Daniel 4v1-37
Message - Scott Woodburn
Nebuchadnezzar was a man who had seen the great and mighty works of God and as chapter four begins he is determined to let everyone know exactly that. He declared "How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation." (v3) It would appear that Nebuchadnezzar was slowly coming to the realisation that his false gods could not compare with the living God and yet tragically it seems that he couldn't quite resist putting the Lord alongside all of the other "gods" of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar was in his palace when he had another troubling dream (v5). He saw a giant tree which reached up to heaven and could be seen throughout the world (v10-11). It was a fruitful tree which provided shade for the animals and food for the people (v12). But an angel came from heaven and commanded the tree to be chopped down leaving only a stump (v15). The angel then referred to the tree as "he" commanding that "he" should lose his mind and be given the mind of a beast until a complete time had passed (v16). This would take place to show that God was sovereign and He rules the kingdoms of men and gives power to whomsoever He pleases (v17).
So to have his dream interpreted Nebuchadnezzar called Daniel to his palace. Despite understanding the majesty of God, Nebuchadnezzar still called Daniel by his pagan name Belteshazzar and he still recognised Daniel as having the spirit of the the holy "gods". This wasn't a saved man, instead Nebuchadnezzar was a committed polytheist - he recognised many gods.
Daniel was dismayed by the content of the dream - its message wasn't positive and Daniel knew that it referred to Nebuchadnezzar. The tree represented the king whose greatness had reached to heaven and his rule to the ends of the earth (v22). But the chopping down of the tree foretold that Nebuchadnezzar would lose his mind, he would dwell with the beasts of the field and he would be driven away from humanity (v25). This illness would strike Nebuchadnezzar for a complete time (v25) until he realised that almighty God rules the kingdoms of men and gives power to whomsoever He pleases (v26).
Daniel understood the severity of the dream and his counsel was forthright. Nebuchadnezzar was to repent and turn from his sins (v27). Sadly it would appear that the king refused to listen. Twelve months later he was still filled with arrogance and pride as he marvelled at his kingdom (v30). At that moment the Lord spoke against Nebuchadnezzar and he immediately lost his mind and made his dwelling amongst the beasts (v31-33). Some think Nebuchadnezzar was struck by lycanthropy which is an illness that makes the sufferer believe that he is a wolf.
By the grace of God, after a complete period of time, Nebuchadnezzar came to realise his foolishness. He lifted his eyes to God and praised and honoured Him (v34). The king understood that only the kingdom of God lasts forever (v34) and He stands over humanity without equal (v35). Nebuchadnezzar's reason returned to him and his kingdom grew (v36) and it seems that the pagan king continued to worship the Lord (v37). Yet as we read the words of king Nebuchadnezzar it does not appear that he heeds Daniel's call to repent. He is restored to health, his kingdom continues to prosper, he even praises the Lord but nowhere do we find him confessing his sin and falling humbly before the Lord.
What are we to make of this chapter? Nebuchadnezzar was to learn the hard way that God along is king. One day everyone who has ever walked this earth will stand before the Lord. It is an unavoidable interaction. We can be more certain of meeting the Lord on the final day than we can be sure we'll see tomorrow. How will we face that day? It isn't enough to say that you believe God exists and that He sovereign over all. The demons believe that God exists and they tremble at the thought (James 2v19) but they are not saved. What is required is turning away from sin (repentance) and a turning to Jesus (faith).
I hope Nebuchadnezzar was a saved man. I hope that the king eventually came to throw himself upon the mercy of God. I hope Nebuchadnezzar today rejoices in heaven. But you and I cannot do anything for him now - where his eternal destination is has already been set. This is not the case with you. Today it may seem to you that the Lord's hand of judgement is heavy upon you, your life is a mess and you do not know which way to turn. Let me counsel you the way Daniel once counselled Nebuchadnezzar. My friends, repent of your wicked deeds and believe the Gospel. Only those who have trusted Christ will be saved. Here is your pressing need of this or any day - trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
Q24 How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet? Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.