Summary: This sermon from Daniel chapter 4 deals with King Nebuchadnezzar's dream about a tall tree and his pride which caused the dream to be fulfilled.
DANIEL 4, A Picture of Pride
CHCC: October 7, 2012
The last couple of weeks we’ve been learning about King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from Daniel chapters 2 and 3. Now we’re finishing up the story of this King in Daniel chapter 4. King Nebuchadnezzar had developed a deep respect for Daniel’s God, but King Nebuchadnezzar had a fatal flaw --- that flaw was PRIDE.
If you want to know what Pride is, just think of the difference between the nature of a dog and a cat. If you pet a dog, he wags his tail and looks up at you adoringly --- he’s thinking, “You must be a god!” If you pet a cat, he allows you the privilege, and he’s thinking “I must be a god!” Well Nebuchadnezzar had the mind of a cat!
In chapter 4, King Neb tells his own strange --- and kind of horrifying --- story of what PRIDE did to him. There are 3 parts to the story … and we’re going to simplify it by saying that King Neb went from glorifying self – to glorifying grass – and finally he ended up glorifying God.
We start with King Neb glorifying himself.
1. Glorifying self
Look in Daniel 4:4-5, "I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous." It’s like he was saying, “I was just hanging out, minding my own business” when I had a dream that made me afraid.
To make a long dream short: King Neb dreamed about a huge tree that could be seen all over the world. The leaves were lovely, the fruit was abundant. Wild animals could take refuge under the branches. Then a holy messenger shouted that the tree would be chopped down, leaving only a stump. The messenger went on to say something really strange … “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.” Daniel 4:15-16
King Neb didn’t know what all this meant, but he knew it was BAD news. The dream terrified him. Once again, King Neb called on his magicians to interpret the dream. When they failed, he turned to Daniel.
He said, 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.” Daniel 4:18 You see, King Neb had respect for Daniel’s God … but at this point in the story, Daniel’s God was not yet the king's God.
Daniel told the King “I wish I could say this dream was about someone else, but it’s not. This dream is about YOU.” He said, “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 the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven.” Daniel 4:24-25
Daniel then advised King Neb that if he would turn from his sins and start being kind to the poor, he could possibly avoid this awful fate. Maybe King Neb took this advice for a little while --- but a year later, here’s what happened. Look in Daniel 4:29-30. 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?”
This pin-points that King Neb’s big sin was PRIDE --- He was completely glorifying himself! Of course, if anyone had an excuse for pride, it would be King Neb. He ruled the greatest, most wide-spread and powerful kingdom in the entire world --- possibly in all of history.
But he failed to realize that in the eyes of God, Pride is never a small matter. C. S. Lewis said the following in Mere Christianity. “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Un-chastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison; it was through Pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
God was about to give King Neb --- and US --- a graphic picture of how human PRIDE looks in God’s eyes. King Neb would go from glorifying himself to glorifying GRASS.
2. Glorifying grass
Daniel 4:33, Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from the people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.