Summary: The course of modern American history parallels that of ancient Israel. This is a wake-up call!
Daniel Chapter 4
Grant S. Sisson, MSCP, CI
We will return to the book of Daniel today. We diverted course last week for Mother’s Day, and we may divert again for Memorial Day, but we’ll keep after it until we get through Daniel.
Chapter four contains an interesting story of the omniscience of God, demonstrating His power even over the mightiest political rulers of humanity. It’s a story of God’s power over human pride and arrogance. King Nebuchadnezzar was a most powerful man, and he had been thoroughly impressed by the young Hebrew men captured from Jerusalem. He had come to believe in the God of the Hebrews, but there was still something not quite right about his conception of the matter, and certainly not right with his heart.
King Neb was a very arrogant man. It must have been a terrific jolt to his psyche to have to admit that the Hebrews he had conquered and taken into captivity were greater and wiser than all the best soothsayers and wise men in his kingdom, but when Daniel not only interpreted his dream, but told him what the dream was before the King revealed it to him, he was forced to modify his theology, at least somewhat. So he believed that God was mighty, and superior to all the gods that he had worshipped, but there was still a flaw in his reasoning.
He didn’t realize yet that God is not only better than, but THE ONLY God that exists. King Neb. apparently continued to think of his gods as existent, but ruled over by the God that Daniel worshipped, and who had saved Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego from the flames of the fiery furnace. His religion encouraged a belief in many gods, each of whom demonstrated a given aspect of life, and who ruled over that mode of human existence, but his religion did not rule out the possibility that there were some gods that were superior to others, and this was apparently how he modified his thinking to accommodate his experience with his Jewish slaves. You can see this in the fact that he still called Daniel Belteshazzar, by the name of one of the Babylonian gods, even though he had come to know the true God of heaven through his experiences with the four Hebrew friends. But God wasn’t through with his training just yet.
We have all heard the saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It came into common use after WWII, I believe, referring to Hitler. Perhaps this was King Neb’s problem. He was on the very top of the food chain, the most powerful of the most powerful, and it had gone to his head. So God – our God – communicated something to him in a second dream. In this dream, a huge tree became strong and tall to the heavens. It was seen by all to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were lovely and its fruit was abundant so that it provided food for all. Beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the air dwelt in its branches. But a “watcher,” a holy one, came down from heaven and said, “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches. Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, Bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him.”
Now King Neb called for Daniel and asked him what the dream meant. Daniel was reluctant to say, but at length told the King that the dream was about him. The tree was King Neb. He had grown strong and tall, and all the peoples of the earth could see him and his kingdom. He provided food and shelter for the whole region, and his dominion to “the end of the earth.” But God held his pride in contempt. It was to be that God would cause him to be as an insane person who would be cast out of normal society, and he would eat grass like oxen. He would be wet with the dew of heaven, and dwell with the beasts of the field. All this was to occur for seven “times.” This could have been weeks; don’t know what that means literally, but for a period long enough for the King to know that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives to whomever He chooses.”