Summary: Things covered in this sermon...Pride humbled; God is in control; God places rulers; Glorify God not man or yourself.
Some lessons in life are hard to learn, some may even seem impossible. Many of us have found ourselves in situations that seemed impossible and yet some how we made it through and even grew from those experiences. I would say one of these lessons is losing a loved one for instance. We must learn to let go of someone we spent years learning to love; that can be tough. Some of us may find putting the toilet seat down as an almost impossible habit to build up. Some of your kids may make putting their toys away seem like an impossible task to learn. Some lessons, by choice, are made harder such as not wanting to study to understand school work. You cannot learn a lesson without studying.
In today’s text, a king has a great lesson to learn himself and he will do so the hard way by choice. In the book of Daniel chapter 4 we find the story of Daniel serving in King Nebuchadnezzar’s household. This passage is a rare site in the Bible as it is the only chapter written by someone other than the writer of the book. This king was not a Hebrew and did not serve God and yet his words are recorded here because he learned a very valuable lesson. Listen to the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and let us see what lessons He had to learn.
The Story of King Nebuchadnezzar
King Nebuchadnezzar sent this letter to the people, nations, and those who speak every language in the entire world: I wish you peace and great wealth! The Most High God has done miracles and wonderful things for me that I am happy to tell you about.
His wonderful acts are great, and his miracles are mighty.
His kingdom goes on forever, and his rule continues from now on.
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was happy and successful at my palace, but I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying on my bed, I saw pictures and visions in my mind that alarmed me. So I ordered all the wise men of Babylon to come to me and tell me what my dream meant. The fortune-tellers, magicians, and wise men came, and I told them about the dream. But they could not tell me what it meant.
Finally, Daniel came to me. (I called him Belteshazzar to honor my god, because the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) I told my dream to him. I said, "Belteshazzar, you are the most important of all the fortune-tellers. I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, so there is no secret that is too hard for you to understand. This was what I dreamed; tell me what it means. These are the visions I saw while I was lying in my bed: I looked, and there in front of me was a tree standing in the middle of the earth. And it was very tall. The tree grew large and strong. The top of the tree touched the sky and could be seen from anywhere on earth. The leaves of the tree were beautiful. It had plenty of good fruit on it, enough food for everyone. The wild animals found shelter under the tree, and the birds lived in its branches. Every animal ate from it.
"As I was looking at those things in the vision while lying on my bed, I saw an observer, a holy angel coming down from heaven. He spoke very loudly and said, ’Cut down the tree and cut off its branches. Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals under the tree run away, and let the birds in its branches fly away. But leave the stump and its roots in the ground with a band of iron and bronze around it; let it stay in the field with the grass around it.
"’Let the man become wet with dew, and let him live among the animals and plants of the earth. Let him not think like a human any longer, but let him have the mind of an animal for seven years. "’The observers gave this command; the holy ones declared the sentence. This is so all people may know that the Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth. God gives those kingdoms to anyone he wants, and he chooses people to rule them who are not proud.’ "That is what I, King Nebuchadnezzar, dreamed. Now Belteshazzar, tell me what the dream means. None of the wise men in my kingdom can explain it to me, but you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you."
Daniel Explains the Dream
Then Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was very quiet for a while, because his understanding of the dream frightened him. So I said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning make you afraid." Belteshazzar then answered me saying, "My master, I wish the dream were about your enemies, and I wish its meaning were for those who are against you! You saw a tree in your dream that grew large and strong. Its top touched the sky, and it could be seen from all over the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, and it had plenty of fruit for everyone to eat. It was a home for the wild animals, and its branches were nesting places for the birds. O king, you are that tree! You have become great and powerful, like the tall tree that touched the sky. Your power reaches to the far parts of the earth.