Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in
my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified
me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought
before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians,
enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream,
but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my
presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after
the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
'Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the
holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here
is my dream; interpret it for me. These are the visions I saw while
lying in my bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in
the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree
grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to
the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit
abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the
field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches;
from it every creature was fed.
visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there
before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven.
He called in a loud voice: 'Cut down the tree and trim off its
branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let
the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches.
But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze,
remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. Let him be drenched
with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the
plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that
of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven
times pass by for him. 'The decision is announced by
messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the
living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of
men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the
lowliest of men.'
The next step toward faith in the life
of Nebuchadnezzar could be called ... the receiving phase. The truths which Nebuchadnezzar received
in his dreams concerning the workings of God in
the realm of men are just as applicable and pertinent today as they were when Nebuchadnezzar
them, over 2600 years ago. The only difference is ... these truths
are communicated to us today by way of the written Word of God
... whereas, Nebuchadnezzar received them by way of a dream. He lived in
an era before the completed written Word of God, you see. In those
days, God often used dreams to communicate his truths. So, it was
by way of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams, that he
received the Word of God and was, then, in a position to respond and get saved. No one can be born
again, be saved apart from hearing the Word of God. As you have it
in I Peter 1:23,
you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of
imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
So, in order to be saved,
people must receive a word from God. It's just that simple. The word
that Nebuchadnezzar received was that the Most High rules, in and
over, the kingdoms of men. Nations rise and nations fall ... simply because the
true and living God is sovereign. And, he gives
them to whoever he wills. Someone might say, But not here in America. We
elect our leaders! Really? God's Word says,
powers that be are ordained of God. Romans 13:1
Did you notice that Nebuchadnezzar
said that he had learned that the Lord sets over the kingdoms of our world the basest of men (KJV)?
What do you make of that? A humbling but very enlightening truth, is it not?
If we think that people get, or pick, the best leaders, we don't know
history. Why does God set the lowliest of men over the kingdoms
of our world? It is because men universally reject His rule
and authority over them. We see this rejection, more
in our own country today. Separation of church and
state ... is the mantra that is heard on every
side. However, let's call a spade a spade. That catch phrase is a mere
pretext that is being used to eliminate God from every
aspect of our government, schools and, if possible, even our public
discourse ... in spite of our First Amendment rights. Make no mistake
about it, in America today, ungodly men are making every effort to reject
and repudiate the
one true and living God's rule and authority over our nation.
I believe in the separation
of church and state, by the way. However, the clear purpose of our founding fathers was not to divorce the God they loved and worshipped from the public sector ... rather, they wanted to insure this government would never impose any
single state church upon the people. They never dreamed that
one day their prohibition would be interpreted and expanded to
attempt to completely eliminate the true and living
God from every aspect of government and public life ... even going
so far as to prohibit prayer, remove Christian symbols or make
it illegal to so much as mention the name of God in the public
square! If you had told them that was what was coming, their mouths would have dropped in incredulity. What a tragedy.
There is a strong case in history that it was the true and
living God who established our nation, guided us in the making of
laws, and was central in the lives of the vast majority of
our founders. Hence, because this nation initially acknowledged the Most High God's
existence, rule and authority over us, God has greatly blessed the United States of America. And,
risen to be one of the greatest nations ever seen on the Earth.
However, in my life-time, this basic and fundamental core value ... of
acknowledging the Most High ... has changed ... and our country has abruptly
turned away from acknowledging the God of Heaven's rule and
authority over us. Is it any wonder then, that God would place over us the
lowliest of men, just as he has done with so many other kingdoms
of this world who reject Him? It is my prayer that
the American people will wake up to these axiomatic truths that
were in Nebuchadnezzar's dream ... before it is too late.
is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had.
Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means,
for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it
for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods
is in you.
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! The tree you saw, which grew large
and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to
the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant
fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the
beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its
branches for the birds of the air _
you, O king, 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.
You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, 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 like the wild animals, until seven times pass
by for him."
This is the interpretation, O king, and this is
the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the
king: You will be driven away from people and will live
with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle
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 the kingdoms of men and gives them to
anyone he wishes. 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. Therefore, O king, 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.'
I would call this stage of
Nebuchadnezzar's spiritual journey, the awakening stage. Although
he is still a polytheist (believing in more than one god), he has
heard from the one true and living God and now has something to
think about. There is a Biblical principle here that is very
important. It simply states that when someone responds to the
light that they are given ... God will send them more light.
That is a basic theological truth and is always the case ... whether a person lives amongst the most
sophisticated and civilized cities of the world ... or resides in the remotest, benighted and darkest
jungle. As you have it in Matthew 13:12,
whosoever hath, to his shall be given and he shall have more
abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even
that which he hath.
Nebuchadnezzar received the Word that God gave to him through his dream and
Daniel's interpretation of it. And, soon, he would be given
even more light ... the dream of his humbling ... in order that he might be saved. Salvation is always by
grace and grounded in faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Scripture says Abraham, believed God and it was accounted to him for
righteousness (Genesis 15:6; cp. Romans 4:19-25). What did
Abraham believe? He believed God when God told him that he and Sarah
would have a baby ... which flew in the face of their old age. The content of what God had said, both
to Abraham and to Nebuchadnezzar, is very small in comparison to what he has
said to you and me today. Today, God has unfolded to men the complete
history of the coming of his Son into our world ... the record of His
death upon the cross for their sins ... the record of His resurrection from the dead ...
and the record of His ascension back to Heaven. Have you believed what God has
said to you about his Son? Nebuchadnezzar and Abraham responded and
believed the light that God gave to them. Have you responded to the tremendous ... almost blinding ... light God has given
to you? Jesus said,
the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk
in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12b
It wasn't easy for Daniel to
tell Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of his dream. Just as it is not easy
to tell people today that they are sinners and that Christ came to
save them. However, nothing short of speaking the truth can save a
sinner. God always tells us the truth. He never pulls any punches.
In effect, Daniel had to say to Nebuchadnezzar, Pride is your
problem. God hates that in you and he is not going to allow you to
hold on to it! He is going to do something about it.
Proverbs 6:16-19, says,
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are
detestable to him:
a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart
that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush
into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man
who stirs up dissension among brothers.
God begins a work in the lives of haughty, blind and independent
sinners ... his ultimate goal is to turn them around with the truth
(save them) and then to set them on a new path to become like himself.
He desires to conform them to the image of his Son. It is an amazing
process that God alone can accomplish. And what is his Son like? Well,
for one thing, Jesus was and is the ultimate example of humility. As
you have it in
in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the
very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And
being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Therefore God
exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above
every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in
heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And again, Jesus said,
me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
What is God like? That is what
God is like. And, it is what you and I will be like ... one day ...
if we have truly come to know him as our Lord and Savior.
All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months
later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal
palace of Babylon, he said, 'Is not this the great
Babylon I have built as the royal residence,
by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?'
The words were still on his lips when a voice came
from heaven, 'This is what is decreed for you,
King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been
taken from you. You will be driven away from people and
will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like
cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you
acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the
kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.'
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was
fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass
like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of
heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle
and his nails like the claws of a bird.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty
spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
Nebuchadnezzar had to
learn his lesson the hard way. I would call this Nebuchadnezzar's
conviction stage. It was that time in his life that God would
apply what he had said to Nebuchadnezzar. I make no apology for the
description of what he became. To accomplish his purpose, the God who holds the universe
together by the word of his power, simply made the necessary changes
to Nebuchadnezzar's anatomy that were required and, immediately, he became
bestial. The Roman historian, Josephus, quotes the Babylonian
historian, Berosus, concerning this strange "sickness" of
The strange creature that
Nebuchadnezzar had become had to be driven out of the
palace and the city. Then, he began to live his life among all the
other wild beasts and to eat grass for his sustenance. His situation ranks among the most bizarre and
visibly humbling experiences from the hand of Almighty God ... that
can be found in all of recorded history. Nebuchadnezzar existed in
this state for 7, years (the term times refers to
years), before he was allowed to come to his senses again. Why 7, years?
Apparently, that was how long it took to break this stubborn and
prideful king's ego and cause him to completely accept the truth of God's sovereignty
over him ... without reservation.