Bible Ballistics: An Attitude Of Arrogance??? Vol. 6#16
Daniel is fascinating, and one of my favorite books in all of scripture. It is so practical because of the living example of this faithful man of God, from whom we can learn so much. Daniel lived out his faith in the heat of spiritual warfare. He was in a foreign land, under a captive nation, working for a pagan king, yet doing an outstanding job as the servant of the Most High God. Ingetrity showed in everything that Daniel, and his three friends did. While we didn’t see Daniel in last weeks study, we saw his three friends stand fast, suffer the result of their stand, and consequently experience reward from God and an amazed king. As we continue on to chapter 4 we don’t see any further mention of Shadrach, Meshach nor Abednego but we know they have been faithful servants of God and toward King Nebuchadnezzar.
Much time has elapsed between the episode we looked at last week, and we find Nebuchadnezzar still a ruler of great power but seemingly erratic temper and arrogance.
“Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. 3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. 4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream. 7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.” Daniel 4:1-7
Once again we find Nebuchadnezzar the recipient of a notable and significant dream—a prophetic dream. But let’s not miss some very significant things about this chapter. Look at verse 1—this chapter is written as a personal narrative of King Nebuchadnezzar—a personal declaration to all the world of an experience that the King wants to personally share with the world!!! Whoa??? What’s happened? Last week we saw that Nebuchadnezzar recognized the God of Daniel and His friends as a unique God, a God who could over-ride the king’s edict:
“Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” Daniel 3:28-29
But here in chapter 4 we find the King with a new attitude. But what brought on this new ‘attitude’ in the King? Let’s read on about the dream that apparently precipitated this change of ‘heart’, a change that has King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging the work of God in his own life. Whoa? Say what? But again there’s a catch—a dream but no one able to give the interpretation to the King. But…….
“But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my God, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,” Daniel 4:8
Enter God’s man. Even a pagan King recognized that Daniel had a ‘spirit’ different from all the other “wise men” in his kingdom, so he confidently shares with Daniel the dream.
“O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. 10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. 11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: 12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. 13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; 14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: 15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: 16 Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. 17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. 18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.” Verses 9-18
We see not only the Kings respect for Daniel, but he knew that Daniel was a man gifted by his God to interpret dreams. While we only have a record of the dream dilemma that Daniel solved in chapter 2, it is likely that Daniel’s gift had been put to use on other occasions that aren’t recorded. At any rate, we find Daniel trusted by the King and he shares his dream of the tree (We’ll look at the specifics later when we see Daniel’s interpretation). But I want us to notice the confidence that he had in Daniel, “but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee”. Daniel had earned the respect and confidence of a pagan King by standing fast for God and doing excellently in all his actions! How do I know that, you might ask? Well, we see later that even his enemies admitted his integrity was impeccable, and they couldn’t accuse him in any matter of his work.
“Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Daniel 6:4-5
Oh, to have a testimony of such godly integrity, a testimony that even his enemies couldn’t discredit. It didn’t make them like him, but they couldn’t deny his integrity. We’ll see they still sought to have him killed, but they couldn’t escape his integrity, and that was after some 50 years of public service in Babylon. What a difference it would make if we could find some politicians with that kind of integrity!!! But we see something else about Daniel in this encounter, we see his compassion for this pagan king, his deep grief over the judgment of God that is going to come on one that he has served and prayed for all these years.
“Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.” Verse 19
What about us? Would we have jumped and shouted “hotdog”—he’s getting his ‘dues’? Or would we have been broken and grieved like Daniel? Do we care enough for those that oppose us, those who hate us, those who seek our harm, that we are grieved when judgment falls on them? Or do we rejoice? Do we focus so much on the evil around us, that our attitude is more similar to their’s than to God’s? Our call is to exhibit the ‘love’ of God (charity=love) to a world that needs it desperately:
and is kind;
charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself,
is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly,
seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked,
thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity,
but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
We have a standard that only Jesus can empower us to meet! But it IS our standard, because Jesus calls us to it. Daniel knew his God, and he knew the love of his God and I think we see that he had extended that compassionate love toward this king who was 180 degrees opposite to him. But Daniel still cared!!! How about you and me? Now, what about that dream?
“The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; 21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: 22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. 23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; 24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: 25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.” Verses 20-26
The Dream and its Interpretation:
The tree: Nebuchadnezzar
Meat for All
High & Visible
The Watcher: Decreed from God
A holy one Upon the King
“Cut” it down Be driven from man
But leave the stump Dwell among beasts
Place a band around it Behave like the beasts
It’s portion with the beasts
Till seven times pass over 7 periods (uncertain if years or
months but set by GOD!)
“till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.”
Daniel has just pronounced a judgment from God upon the King whom he serves. He expresses no glee or satisfaction that judgment has come, but great grief and compassion for this king. And Daniel declares to the king that this judgment will continue until he, the King of Babylon, recognizes and bows before the Almighty God of the universe. Daniel then calls King Nebuchadnezzar to take action to seek the mercy of God and perhaps avoid this grievous judgment.
“Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” Verse27
But the king’s arrogance superseded his discernment, and he ignored Daniel’s advice. In fact, he so much ignores it that his arrogance becomes even worse. Let’s see:
“All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. 30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. 32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” Verses 28-33
I find it interesting that even “as he spoke” of his own greatness, power and honor, the judgment fell upon him, and that it was 12 months later. How easily we can get caught up in our own ego, our own selfish ways, our own accomplishments and successes—with no regard for the God who gives us breath; who grants us life for each day; with no regard for the sure and sovereign rulership of God Almighty. We live in a world full of arrogance, of self-focused people, of total independence, who take the longsuffering mercy of God as permissiveness. But there is a day too late to change ourselves. And while the king had warning—he ignored it. While the king had one who cared enough to call him to repentance—he ignored it. While the king thought he was a ‘self-made’ king, he found out different. He found out that the God, who truly rules, is able to reveal Himself to men who will receive it, and judge those who don’t’. But even judgment can bring repentance!
“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. 37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” Verses 34-37
What a change of heart!!! Instead of “out of the mouths of babes”, here we have ‘out of the mouth of the king’—a humbled king. What about us? Are we willing to humble ourselves, or will God have to move in harsh ways to get our attention? To change our heart? To humble us?
Just a few verses to ponder as we close for today:
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4
“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:14 (be sure and read the context)
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” 1 Peter 5:6
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6
So the choice is yours! Will you be the exalted arrogant one, or will you humble yourself before God and others, and leave the exalting to God—in His time and in His way? Consider the consequences, the choice is yours, but there is a day of reckoning coming.
“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” Isaiah 2:11
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth
take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12