6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: King Nebuchadnezzar had a problem with pride and God by both dream and judgment makes him aware of what the real issue is -- God’s ultimate control over the affairs of men


Daniel Chapter 4

INTRODUCTION: Nebuchadnezzar was a prolific builder, with a reign as king spanning some 43 years from 605BC – 562BC. He is responsible for some of the most interesting structures of ancient times – most notably would be that of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Excavation has revealed that the walls of Babylon were 350 feet high, 87 feet thick, and had no less than 250 watchtowers positioned on them! The events of chapter 4 take place after all of his building programs have concluded, some 30 years after the events recorded in chapter 3. It seems as though Nebuchadnezzar has forgotten the events of both chapter 3 and chapter 2

I Stirred in the midst of peace

A According to 4:2 we know two things

1 Nebuchadnezzar and the empire were at peace – the wars were over

2 Nebuchadnezzar and the empire were prosperous – the word literally means green (like a healthy tree)

B Peace does not bring contentment – 4:5-9

1 Nebuchadnezzar is disturbed about a dream

2 Consults the wise men

a Obvious question – Why was Daniel not there?

1) God’s providence – unregenerate man and his inability to discern God’s will

2) Daniel had been elevated beyond that position

3) Wanted to try the home town first

4) Spiritual struggle

3 Consultation with Daniel

a Aware of Daniel’s experience with dreams – “I know”

b Torn between God and idols

1) holy gods

a) Gods – plural – pagan belief

b) Holy – reference to Daniel’s God as the god’s of the Babylonians were anything but holy

II THE DREAM – 4:10-17

A The tree in the middle of the land

1 Prominent position

2 Authority that emanates far in all directions

3 The description of the tree

a Tree – the king

b The Branches – the princes

c The leaves – the soldiers

d The fruit – the revenues

e The shadow – the protection

Quite a description of the purpose of the empire – at least from God’s perspective

§ Protection of men

§ Provision for men

§ Purpose was abused by man

§ Ultimately God would establish His own empire!

B Decree against the tree

1 Divine decree – messenger or watcher

Psalm 103:20-21

Praise the LORD, you his angels,

you mighty ones who do his bidding,

who obey his word.

21Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,

you his servants who do his will.

2 Decree of judgment

a Regardless of its importance

b Cut down

c Bound to prohibit growth

d Future restoration --- the stump is not removed

3 Purpose – to acknowledge the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men

a Duration is seven years

b The talents of man do not elevate man

c The will of God elevates man – 4:17


A The meaning overwhelms Daniel

1 He is perplexed

2 Understands immediately that the dream pertains SPECIFICALLY to Nebuchadnezzar


B Nebuchadnezzar would be driven from society

1 Would behave as an animal

a Today we have a name for this – zoanthropy

b Then it was madness

c Nebuchadnezzar would live in the wilderness

1) Not too difficult for this to happen as the kingdom of Babylon was huge

2) The palace referred to here in the text is some 6 miles square

d Nebuchadnezzar would eat grass

1) Literally herbs

2) Meaning is Veggies

Genesis 3:18

It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

and you will eat the plants of the field.

2 Nebuchadnezzar’s condition would remain for 7 years

a Till he acknowledges the sovereignty of God

Psalm 83:17-18 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace. 18Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD--

that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Jeremiah 27:5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.

C The Kings response

1 First Daniel pleads with the king to repent

a Reveals the source of the problem

1) Was not doing what is right

2) Was oppressing the people

b Daniel instructs the king to “renounce” what he is doing

1) Literally to throw off a heavy load

2) We need to understand that activity outside of God’s boundaries for us is too heavy a load for anyone to carry!

2 The king does not deal with the issue

a Silence related to Daniel and the kings response

b Possibly not bothered at this point

c Has no impact on him

D God is a patient God

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