Summary: God is sovereignly in control over all. Acknowledge it or eat grass. This involves renoucing evil and acting mercifully toward the poor.
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Scripture quoted is from the New Living Translation
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Well, it happened again. King Nebuchadnezzar had another strange dream. And once again all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put ole’ Neb together again. None of his royal advisors and court magicians failed to decipher it for him.
And once again – Daniel comes to the rescue with an interpretation from the Lord.
And yet, once again the message has to do with the sovereignty of God (surprise, surprise – especially considering that the book of Daniel is about God being in control – even in the midst of adversity.)
Now, of course, none of us really need to hear this again. After all, none of us are control-freaks. None of us are acting as though we were all high and mighty. None of us are worried about the future.
Yeah, right! This is why Daniel is so relevant. We live in a world where people have more power and control than any time in history.
One of the cars in our family fleet is a 1990 Geo Storm – really a bucket of bolts.
The metal on this thing is so thin that if you lean on the side of the car my insurance premium goes up.
The hinge on the driver’s side door fell apart years ago – and one of the guys at Wilkey’s Sheet Metal jury-rigged something to keep it working.
I’m kind of hoping to get the duct tape people to pay us a promotional endorsement fee to drive it around.
This car is a real beater – great for doing around town stuff – but a beater.
Yet, that ugly, rattly car has more power and provides more mobility than any king of Daniel’s day enjoyed. It’s faster than any chariot -- and it has air conditioning.
Extend this idea out to our society as a whole. We go more places, see more things, experience longer lives, and in thousands of ways have mroe control over life than did even the most pwoerful of the ancients.
As a society we truly believe that we are on top of the world – that the future lies in our hands. If we don’t have answers now, science will come up with some kind of solution in the not-to-distant future.
In the overall scheme of things we are pretty hot stuff. And the temptation for demigods such as ourselves is to think that somehow we’re in control. Which is exactly where King Nebuchadnezzar was at.
He was the greatest king in the known world of his time. His kingdom stretched from what is today Egypt to Iran, Syria, and into modern Saudi Arabia.
He had conquered Judah – and that’s why a nice Jewish boy like Daniel was working in his court.
What the king said was law. When he walked by people bowed.
King Nebuchadnezzar was hot stuff.
But the dream described in Daniel 4 is aimed at taking him down a notch or two -- or three or four.
He dreamt of a giant cosmic tree under which and thru which everything thrived.
By the way, in ancient Mesopotamian iconography, the tree is a major motif representing the god Assur – with the king as a personification of the tree.
And there was something like that happening in King Neb’s dream. Except he saw the tree cut down by a divine messenger.
Vs. 13 – “Then as I lay there dreaming, I saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. The messenger shouted, ’Cut down the tree; lop off its branches! Shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit! Chase the animals from its shade and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass.
’Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live like an animal among the plants of the fields. For seven periods of time, let him have the mind of an animal instead of a human. For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones.
’The purpose of this decree is that the whole world may understand that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses — even to the lowliest of humans.’”
The point is clear, GOD IS SOVEREIGNLY IN CONTROL OVER ALL., which by the way, is the first of THE three points this morning.
And this is brought out again in Daniel’s interpretation of the dream.
Vs. 24 – "This is what the dream means, Your Majesty, and what the Most High has declared will happen to you. You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses."