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Nebuchadnezzar had become proud of his achievements. Is it possible for us to become like Nebuchadnezzar? If our hard work has brought us some solid achievement and career success, whether it be academic, commercial, professional or ecclesiastical, we might be tempted to think it is the result, or even the reward, of some spiritual merit.
But even worse than complacency in his culture and arrogance in his prosperity, was the hardness of his heart. God had shown amazing forbearance with Nebuchadnezzar. In each of the three preceding chapters, God had revealed himself to Nebuchadnezzar in unmistakable ways through his young servants, Daniel and his three colleagues, Shadrach. Meshach and Abednego. The young Hebrews in their faithfulness to their Godís dietary laws had proved to be the best scholars of their year; then Daniel had been able to unravel the dream of the image which had within it the destiny of great empires; and then the Lord himself had stood with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. But even this was not sufficient to make the king forsake his heathen ways.
Romans 1 warns that there is a line that can be overstepped beyond which God leaves people to their own lost cause, as their irrevocable choice. Nebuchadnezzar had virtually reached that point of no return. It is a dangerous game to play. If we fail to listen to Godís voice it can have dire consequences. God is a patient God. When he wants to teach us, convert us, and conscript us into his service he first tries the most gentle way. He prefers the way of calling us to follow through our willing co-operation. Of course, when we think that God is speaking to us, we have the duty to test the spirits to see if they are of God, but one thing we must not do is to ignore it. If Godís first approach fails to get a response he may well have to turn the volume up a bit to make sure the message is received loud and clear. To change the metaphor: the ride is likely to be uncomfortable.
Nebuchadnezzar had been reasoned with, but to no avail, so a more harsh confrontation was necessary - he had reached "the Last Chance Saloon" - it was going to be now or never. So we read of the dream that he received. The Word of the Lord came one night in an unforgettable way and it forced itself on his mind so that he could think of nothing else. What could it all mean? We have thought about the Vision and why it came, and we must turn to:
Nebuchadnezzar had come to the end of his resources. He confessed that "the images and vision that passed through my mind terrified me" (8). What did he do? Call for Daniel who had proved to be so reliable in the past? Apparently not: this is amazing as Daniel was the head of the corps of wise men. I wonder if Nebuchadnezzar knew in his heart what the vision meant but wanted to hear something more comforting from his pagan advisers? That is a trick that Satan has worked before - to bring a false peace to a troubled spirit by offering a wrong answer to a question. Sometimes we hear only what we want to hear so as to avoid an unpalatable truth.
But even in this situation God in his mercy overruled, for we hear Nebuchadnezzar confessing that he told his wise men the dream "but they could not interpret it for me" (7). God
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