Daniel Episode 5: God Humbles Nebuchadnezzar… and Us - Part 1
December 27, 2023 | Andy Davis
Repentance, Sovereignty of God, Prophecy
God humbled King Nebuchadnezzar and taught him that he rules over all kings and kingdoms.
- Podcast Transcript -
Welcome to the Two Journeys Bible Study podcast. This podcast is just one of the many resources available to you for free from Two Journeys Ministry. If you're interested in learning more, just head over to twojourneys.org. Now, on to today's episode. This is part one of episode five in our Daniel Bible Study podcast. This episode is entitled God Humbles Nebuchadnezzar and Us, where we'll discuss Daniel chapter four.
I'm Wes Treadway and I'm here with Pastor Andy Davis. Andy, what are we going to see in these verses that we're looking at today?
Well, Wes, I'm so excited to go through Daniel chapter four. It's one of the most impactful chapters there's ever been in the Bible. It's really remarkable how its scope addresses both individual sinners like you and me, individual Christians who are listening to this podcast. Then, the rise and fall of mighty nations and God's sovereignty over the ebbs and flows of human history, including potentates, emperors, tyrants, kings. God is sovereign over all things.
The fundamental lesson here is at the very end, the final statement that Nebuchadnezzar makes, "Those who walk in pride God is able to humble." For me to understand the seriousness of that statement and the weight of it, and as I'm going to say when the time comes to share how for me, there was a movement of understanding that verse from a threat to a promise.
Threat is usually something you don't want to have happen. This chapter's full of things you don't want to have happen to you. As Nebuchadnezzar is struck with insanity for seven years, and he loses everything. That's a terror, and we could be afraid of that. God can lay you low if you walk in pride. But the converse, then, I started to realize, what a significant problem pride is for me personally and for all of us, indeed it seems to be the core sin.
It wasn't like if you should happen to walk in pride, God will be able to humble you. It's like should happen to, I walk in pride every moment of every day. It is the single greatest grief of my life. The cause of most of my problems, whether my marriage, my parenting, my pastoring, my evangelism, my preaching. Everything is hindered by my pride, and I do walk in pride, and I actually want to be humbled. I want to be as humble as I possibly can on earth, and I know I'll be perfectly humble in heaven. And so I do walk in pride, and oh, I yearn for God to humble me. I want to be much more humble when I die than I am now. So It became a promise, not a threat, and so it's both. I'm excited to walk through this chapter.
Well, let me go ahead and read Daniel 4 as we begin:
King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth: peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.
How great are his signs, how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures from generation to generation.
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me. So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans and the astrologers came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not make known to me its interpretation.
At last, Daniel came in before me-he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods-and I told him the dream saying, "O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretations. The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.
"I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. He proclaimed aloud and said thus: 'Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from a man's, and let a beast's mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.' This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar saw. And you, O Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because 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 gods is in you."
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, "Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you." Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived- it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 'Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,' this is the interpretation, O king:
"It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity."
All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of 12 months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?" While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, "O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will." Immediately, the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.
At the end of days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason 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 endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
At the same time, my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Andy, how is this chapter really written as a personal testimony of a humbled and now worshipful king, a poignant display of God's sovereignty and mercy? And why do you think God chose to have King Nebuchadnezzar write a chapter in the Bible?
Well, Nebuchadnezzar is one of my four key witnesses in the Bible on the statement, "God can save anyone." We should never give up on any person that's alive on planet earth thinking they're beyond the grace of God or God could never save them. Rahab the prostitute is the first just from her background, her lifestyle, the likelihood of her actually being converted, and yet there she is, a woman of faith, and I believe she's in heaven.
Then Nebuchadnezzar, this mighty potentate, pagan, prideful, powerful, successful, prosperous, seemed to be like the last person who would feel a need for God. The last person, as Jesus said, "It's easier for camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich man to enter the kingdom of God." There was no richer man on earth at that moment, rich in power, prestige, and certainly in possessions. God converted and saved him. I do believe he's in heaven, and so that's the answer to your question.
This is a story of a continuing unfolding working that God was doing from chapter one through chapter two, chapter three, now into chapter four in this one man Nebuchadnezzar, saving him individually and personally. Because right now, his Babylonian empire means nothing to him. What matters to him is the value of his soul, as Jesus said, "What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" Nebuchadnezzar came to realize that.
The two others, of course, are the thief on the cross and he because there was so little time and such a radical change in such a short time at the end of his life with so little evidence as Jesus was visibly at his lowest point in his earthly ministry and still converting power. Then of course Saul of Tarsus, who is adamantly vigorously, energetically opposed to Christ, and yet God converted him, stopped him dead in his tracks.
Those four individuals, if God can save Rahab, if he can save Nebuchadnezzar, if he can save that thief on the cross, the last possible moment, if he can save Saul of Tarsus, who can he not save? This is an unfolding story. Also, it says in John 6, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I'll raise him up at the last day." This is a drawing; God is drawing Nebuchadnezzar. He could easily have struck him dead, easily, when he took that prideful walk on the roof of his palace.
"If God can save Rahab, if he can save Nebuchadnezzar, if he can save that thief on the cross, the last possible moment, if he can save Saul of Tarsus, who can he not save?"
He did strike another king dead for not refuting people who said, "This is the voice of a God not of a man." That was King Herod in the book of Acts. God struck him dead immediately and yet here is the grace of God. I look on this as a marvelous testimony and I do expect that Nebuchadnezzar is in heaven.
What is Nebuchadnezzar's attitude as he writes these words? Why does he speak of miraculous signs and wonders in verse two?
Well, the miraculous signs and wonders here in this chapter is the instantaneous striking of him with insanity so he thinks that he is a cow, it seems, eating grass like a beast of the field. The fact that it had been so clearly and specifically predicted in a dream and happened just as God said. So, the prediction of the future and the instantaneous fulfillment of it, and then, at the end of the allotted time, seven years, the instantaneous restoration, that is amazing.
I think miracles are just wonders, they're just amazing things. I think one of the most underrated, remarkable aspects of this story is how Nebuchadnezzar had a throne waiting for him after seven years of absence. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something's going to rush in there and take its place, especially when it comes to the most powerful seat on earth. Who is there, what king doesn't have people plotting to topple him and take his place? How did he have a throne waiting for him? But he did, and that's pretty remarkable. So, it's amazing what happened, and it's amazing how God restored him.
How does Nebuchadnezzar praise God in verse three?
He says, "How greater His signs, how mighty His wonders, His kingdom is an eternal kingdom. His dominion endures from generation to generation." He's amazed at the work of God, and he's amazed at the scope of God's kingdom. And he should know- he was the most powerful potentate on earth, but God is the King of kings. His kingdom is so much greater and so much more glorious and certainly eternal where mine is not. That's how he praises him for his sovereignty and his kingdom.
Now having introduced the chapter, Nebuchadnezzar turns to relate the situation from the beginning. What was Nebuchadnezzar's situation at the start of this incident? Why is it sometimes more difficult to be spiritually healthy in times of prosperity than in times of adversity?
I'm going to go back to the statement I just quoted in reference to Jesus. Jesus said, "It is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved." And Jesus said, "How hard it is for the rich to be saved." Why is that? They don't feel any need. They don't have any need for God. Jesus said, "It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
So, essential to the whole chapter is humbling, a humbling necessary for salvation. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. That's a key explanatory text for Nebuchadnezzar's testimony and indeed for Daniel 4. In order to be saved, we have to first be humbled. Here's this man who is contented and prosperous. He's at the peak of his powers, probably still a relatively young man, healthy as far as he can tell, doesn't seem to have any enemies at this point, they've all been subdued militarily.
He is contented and prosperous. He's like that man who's fields produced bumper crop. He said, "What shall I do? I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger barns." Nebuchadnezzar is probably doing that, making bigger barns for the gold and silver that was rolling in. He was at the peak of power, at the peak of pleasure. He was self-satisfied and very prideful.
Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar responded to the dream with such terror? How does this relate to the expression, "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown"?
Well, he's afraid of losing it all. Of course, he must know, as I said a moment ago, there were always people ready to topple him. In the end, the Medo-Persians were ready to topple his grandson Belshazzar that very night in Daniel 5 next chapter. He knows at any moment there are people that want to take his place. I think he also knows what we all know- we're mortal, and I think we're afraid to die.
I think about how Jesus came, and it says that He came to free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. I think what made him terrified was death. What made him terrified was the power of God, and of losing it all, losing his kingdom. And so this dream terrified him. Again, that fear is essential to salvation. As John Newton put it in Amazing Grace, "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved." So he has to first be afraid, and he was made deeply afraid by this dream. Also, we just realize what dreams are like, you're immersed in a symbolic world that you believe at the time is completely real, and you can wake up screaming or sweating or whatever because that's how vivid dreams can be in your mind.
What was Nebuchadnezzar's first response to this dream in verses six and seven? What was the outcome?
He brings in the most overpaid people in the entire Bible. These people are complete losers. There is never a time that they do anything worthwhile. The magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. I do think that the magicians, the word is related to magi and it could be that their great, great, great, great great grand-magi's were some of the ones that came to see Jesus, and I think that's probably because of Daniel and the ministry of the word. At any rate, these guys, these astrologers and soothsayers and oath givers and omen givers and all that, they come in, and this time they don't even need to do the hard thing of chapter two, "Tell him what the dream is and then interpret it." He's going to tell them the dream, and he does tell them the dream and they can't figure it out.
What's the significance of the fact that Daniel did not come in with the rest of the counselors? What does Nebuchadnezzar's description of Daniel show us about the king's view of God?
Well, I think that these counselors are occultic men. They are in league with the devil and demons. Demons are mentioned in the Old Testament, though not often. The worship of pagans is demonic and Daniel knew it. He understood that, he wanted nothing to do with these people. He did not hang out with them. He didn't socialize with them, he didn't eat with them, he wasn't with them. He was apart from them. And I think he had earned that in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar. He's given a special status here because of the things that have already happened by now. No, he's not coming in with them, and he comes in at the right time.
Now, as you mentioned, it seems like this first group comes frequently and does very little. If Nebuchadnezzar is so confident in Daniel's ability to interpret the dream, why didn't he call him the first time with the rest of these?
I really don't know. I think it's just that was part of the system, and I just think it's hard to change. It's hard to come out of your culture, out of your religion, out of your patterns and repudiate them. I think he was the kind of man who could do it because he was ready to, he openly questioned their abilities in chapter two, he says, "The only way I'm going to let you interpret this dream is if you tell me first, you have to earn the right." He is skeptical of them, but I think these old habits die hard.
Now, what were the details of this dream? What's the significance of God using a mighty, fruitful, shading, lush tree to symbolize Nebuchadnezzar?
The dream comes in two stages. The first is the image of a tree, and the tree is so huge, it can be seen from the ends of the earth. It's a big tree. It dominates the landscape. You can imagine something like that. It's got all kinds of branches. Not every tree has lots of branches. We have loblolly pines in my yard; they have hardly any branches. They look like telephone poles; they just go straight up.
There are other trees like a live oak or something like that that branches out and keeps branching and branching and branching. If you can see it from a hundred yards away, it's very imposing. And so, it was that kind of a tree. It was tall and verdant, lots of green on it, lots of branches. There's all of this richness; furthermore, it provides shade, protection, shade for the beasts of the field who all find shade under its branches. Then, birds of the air come and perch on its branches. It's got fruit for all. It says that its leaves were beautiful, it's fruit abundant and on it was food for all. It's a provision.
It represents Nebuchadnezzar and the empire as massive, dramatic, a place to live, a place to prosper yourself, where under that system of government things will be orderly, and you can become wealthy and well-fed and cared for. Nebuchadnezzar represents that. He is the tree, and that's the first phase. Why a tree? We actually have a number of places in scripture where we see this same idea of king as tree, king as fruitful tree or kingdom as a fruitful tree.
Ezekiel 17 gives us this image, and there's actually other places in Ezekiel in which the beasts of the field are given over to the king, and so he has power and rules over the beasts, so that's Ezekiel. Then, there's of course, the very famous parable of the mustard seed. Though its the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it's planted becomes the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree so large that the birds of the air can perch in its branches.
The image is consistent of a kingdom, a vast, powerful, providing and protecting kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar is it, that's part A in the dream. All right, that tree gets chopped down and that kind of ends part A of the dream. Part B is let him be turned to an animal, let his mind be turned. Like who? The tree's mind being turned like an animal? No. Now, we're focused on an individual, and now we have an image of a man who is like a cow or a beast of the field.
Then, that actually just becomes a simple predictive prophecy. It's more like a simile or a metaphor, whatever, like Jesus going to separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. They are not sheep and they're not goats, but there's a kind of comparison. Nebuchadnezzar becomes like a beast of the field. His hair grows long, his nails grow long. He's still human, but he thinks he's a beast, and he's out because of what he thinks.
He's drenched with the dew of heaven, and he's out there eating grass like an animal. And that's going to happen seven times, passing over him seven years. This will happen until seven times passed by over so that you may learn the lesson. The lesson is given very, very plain. Verse 17, "The decision is announced by the messengers. The holy ones declare its 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."
"I'm able to take somebody who's a peasant, an uneducated peasant and make him the king of the realm if I want to, I can do anything. And I can lower somebody, I raise the one, I lower the other. I am sovereign over all of human history." Let me pause for a moment and say, let's remember where we're out at here in redemptive history. The unfolding story of the Old Testament is a story of the Jews. It's God's dealing with the world through the Jewish nation, through the descendants of Abraham, "Through your offspring, all peoples on earth will be blessed."
So, Abraham and his descendants, the Jews, are the cultivated olive tree. Everything's coming through them. What's going on in their history right now? Well, they've been exiled by a pagan nation just as God threatened in the song of Moses that he would do if they did not obey his commands, his covenant. Now, they're totally under the dominion, the domination of Gentile rulers. It's not going to end with Nebuchadnezzar or the Babylonians.
It's going to go from one empire to the next, to the next, Jesus said, until the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled, and that continues to this present day. The Jews have to get used to the idea of Gentile rulers like Nebuchadnezzar dominating them, but do not fear. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the universe is above every kingdom. Everything's on schedule, do not fear. God rules over governments, and so I think that's the big picture.
We need to just pause and say, "What's going on here?" That's what's going on, God has the power to control empires because he has the power to control emperors and kings. He absolutely can get involved in their brains as Proverbs 21:1 says, "The king's heart is like a water course in the hands of the Lord. He directs it whatever way he pleases." That's God.
Andy, what's the significance of the way that this vision is delivered in verse 13 and elsewhere? We get these, in the ESV it says a 'watcher' or a holy one. Why do you think God used an angel to speak to Nebuchadnezzar in this vision?
The word angel is just the transliteration of the Greek word, angelos, which means messenger. And so some of the translations here say messengers, that's what my translation says in verse 13. What does yours say?
A watcher, a holy one. That's probably a different Aramaic word at this point. Messenger, I mean they played that function. The Old Testament we're told was mediated by angels to Moses. We never hear about that in the Old Testament, we found out in the new. Maybe the 10 Commandments were given to Moses by an angel. We also have the Book of Revelation, clearly we have an angelic mediator between Jesus and John.
It says, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to a servant John who made known," et cetera. It's God to Jesus, to angel, to John, to us. The angel is a mediator delivering messages. Then, we see angels again and again, literally just delivering messages like Gabriel did to Zechariah and to Mary. It's just amazing.
In the dream, the angel is in the dream giving the message. Now, we need to understand this is exactly what happened to Joseph, Mary's husband, future betrothed. He was told in a dream, "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." He's dreaming and the angel is speaking to him in the dream.
The same thing later when he warned to flee from, and then later again when he's told the time has come to come back. All three it's angels in dreams. That just tells me angels have access to our brains. They can put thoughts in our minds, so can demons. It's amazing that in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, a watcher, a messenger speaks and gives the message.
"That just tells me angels have access to our brains. They can put thoughts in our minds, so can demons."
Nebuchadnezzar has related his dream. What was Daniel's reaction to Nebuchadnezzar's dream and what does this teach us about Daniel and his relationship to the king?
Well, in verse 19, it says then Daniel was greatly perplexed for a time and his thoughts terrified him. He knew right away what it meant. It's amazing that these magicians and soothsayers and all that can't figure it out. I mean, it's kind of obvious, this big tree with all this, that, probably is a well-known symbol. It being chopped down; I think they just didn't want to be the bearers of bad news. I mean, I don't know if they really didn't understand the dream.
Daniel doesn't have any trouble understanding and he knows because he knows what kind of man Nebuchadnezzar is. He was deeply concerned and troubled. Why? Because he loved Nebuchadnezzar. He cared about him. You can tell that because he says, "My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries." It's amazing the affection that Daniel has personally for Nebuchadnezzar.
We should not think that this is a guarantee because he has no such affection for Belshazzar, his grandson, which we'll see in the next chapter. He has nothing but disdain for him. But with Nebuchadnezzar, he has a genuine affection. What we have here is a remarkable combination in Daniel of genuine compassion, but a courage to stand there and tell Nebuchadnezzar the truth. He knows that Nebuchadnezzar needs to hear the truth, there's a message.
This is a massive shot across the bow here. The dream is, and even its fulfillment is. Daniel knows it's not going to end in Nebuchadnezzar's death because seven years are going to pass by. Well, he needs to repent, but he's going to be restored, maybe given one last chance. At any rate, the fact of the matter is he's deeply compassionate, and yet he delivers the goods.
For me as a Christian and for us as evangelists, we need to develop that kind of character. To have a genuine compassion for lost people around us, but a willingness to stand and deliver the truth as Daniel does. He is deeply concerned and terrified and troubled because he doesn't want these things to happen to Nebuchadnezzar.
One of the things that's striking to me as we've walked through these last couple of chapters is the amount of repetition, the things that are repeated over and over again. Details that we get once and then again, and sometimes even a third time. Why do you think Daniel repeats the dream's details so closely? What does verse 22 teach us about Nebuchadnezzar's empire and his power over it?
The repetition is in verse 20-21, he goes over the details of the tree, and we don't need to do that now for this podcast. The tree was like this, we're like that, it had this and that and the other. All of that that you saw, "You, O King, are that tree." He waits, it's two verses of detailed repetition. I think it's for emphasis. I think when things happen multiple times, it's for emphasis.
When Peter had the vision of a sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of unclean animals, he told "Get up, Peter, kill and eat." It happened three times. Why? It's emphasis. There's a sense that the repetition is for emphasis. He says, "You, O King, are that tree." Then, he links it to the actual situation. You have become great and strong. Your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky and your dominion extends to the distant parts of the earth. He links it directly to Nebuchadnezzar.
What's the significance of verse 23, and how does it connect to verse 24, where Daniel says, "This is the decree the most high has issued against my lord the king"?
You saw the very thing we were talking about a moment ago, a messenger, a watcher, an angel come down. He's just going over the content of the dream. It's basically line by line exposition is what it is. "Then this happened, let me talk about that, then that happened." He's sticking right to it. He considers the dream to be effectively the word of God to Nebuchadnezzar. He considers the details of the dream to be very significant.
They become the word of God when Nebuchadnezzar writes down his testimony, which is what this chapter is, it's written for the most part in the first person. It's like he's giving his narrative and his testimony, and he says, you saw this messenger coming down and this is what the messenger said, "Cut down the tree and destroy it. Believe 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 and let him live like wild animals until seven times passed by for him." He has just recounted the substance of the dream. That's the dream and now let's walk through the interpretation.
How does Daniel interpret the dream? What hope does Daniel give Nebuchadnezzar to induce him to repent?
The interpretation is: the Most High has issued a decree against you. The decree is, effectively, if you don't repent, that's the implication here, God's giving you a chance by all this because it hasn't happened. I'm looking at you, you're on your throne, you're sane. The whole point is this is a shot across the bow, this is a warning to you. The Most High has issued a decree against you. You will be driven away from people, and you will live with wild animals, and you'll eat grass like cattle. You'll be drenched with the dew of heaven.
Seven times or seven years will pass by for you until at last you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. Now, the fact that the stump is left in the ground with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you once you acknowledge that heaven rules, so that's what's going to happen. Now, let me give you some advice. Again, you see the courage and the love of Daniel, the courage and compassion.
"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. I'm not going to make you any false promises. It may be that none of this will happen. If you repent, it could be this whole thing, the dream, did its work in you and you don't need to go through it. It was just a dream. I'm telling you now as a messenger from God, if you would just repent, humble yourself before God, obey Him."
He specifically mentions his tyranny, his oppression. It is the constant temptation of powerful men to use their power to oppress people and to use them for their own purposes, to enslave them in some sense. Nebuchadnezzar had done that, was doing that. He warns, Daniel warns Nebuchadnezzar, and he speaks this bold truth to a very powerful man, Repent. I find this remarkable. I want to say one more thing, and that is the statement, it may be that your prosperity will continue.
"It is the constant temptation of powerful men to use their power to oppress people and to use them for their own purposes, to enslave them in some sense. Nebuchadnezzar had done that… Daniel warns Nebuchadnezzar, and he speaks this bold truth to a very powerful man, Repent."
We actually see this pattern repeatedly. Jonah in the Book of Jonah, the king of Nineveh himself said it. Who knows, maybe none of this will happen to us. There's that who knows aspect. I find it amazing that God actually says it at one point, the ultimate anthropomorphism. He said, "Who knows?" It's like, "Well, you do." The idea is we don't. God is under no obligation. The wages of sin is death. God could kill you this afternoon for your sins, but it may be that your prosperity will continue, that's just another statement of sovereignty.
Well, this has been part one of episode five in our Daniel Bible Study podcast. I want to invite you to join us next time for part two of episode five where we'll continue our discussion of Daniel 4. Thank you for listening to the Two Journeys Podcast. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Thank you for listening to this resource from twojourneys.org. Feel free to use and share this content to spread the knowledge of God and build his kingdom only. We ask that you do so for non-commercial purposes and in accordance with the copyright policy found at twojourneys.org. Two Journeys exists to help Christians make progress in the two journeys of the Christian life, the internal journey of sanctification and the external journey of gospel advancement. We do this by exporting biblical teaching for the good of Christ's church and for the glory of God.