As I reflected on what I have been reading I realized that human beings are great at giving advice and declaring ideas as “facts”. We tend to twist anything and everything to what we want it to be and declare that everyone else is wrong. It’s a common trick of the enemy, divide and conquer, Satan is very good at it.
So today we are going to look at the question that is always being asked, “What makes a man great?” Actually that is the wrong question to ask and that is why we never get the right answer. The question really is “Who makes a man great?”. Of course we know that the correct answer is God Almighty. But even those who call themselves believers today believe that man has deity in him and can provide his own path to heaven. It is no wonder that our society is in such destruction!
Men have always worshipped other gods rather than the One true God. Evil entered through the Garden of Eden and continues to increase and will continue to increase until the end when God casts Satan into the Lake of Fire forever. However, that does not remove the necessity of our search for biblical truth. There is ONE way to the Kingdom of God and that is through Jesus Christ. We cannot believe that there is any good in us apart from the Lord. “as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” (Romans 3:10-12) Nor can we believe that we can live our life as our own, any way we desire, and still enter the Kingdom of God because of our morals or character or good works. Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
The first person we are going to study from the Book of Daniel, is not Daniel. Surprised? I was also. But as we proceed, if you allow the Holy Spirit to open your understanding, you will begin to understand more clearly why the question of “Who makes a man great?” is so important and how that is relevant to you and me.
King Nebuchadnezzar was the longest ruling king of the Babylonian empire, he was a fierce warrior. When I think of him I don’t immediately think of righteous deeds or obedience to the Living God. He didn’t have “faith” in God, he had faith in himself and his mighty armies.
This is a critical truth we believers need to understand. We have the “talk” down and love to brag about our faith and how God supplies our needs, but in reality a great deal of those needs are being met by our own efforts. We forget what the true definition of faith really is! ”Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) What are things hoped for? God’s promises! What is the conviction of things not seen? Receiving and believing without a doubt that God will deliver on those promises when and if it is in His plans! (We are not talking about name it and claim it, but standing on His promises and praying for His will to be done.) We may not see it in the flesh but that doesn’t mean that God is not at work implementing His plan. When we are in the midst of trials and tribulations can we joyfully praise God and rest in Him knowing that He will take us through them? “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” (Isaiah 43:2) My dear friends, the way He takes us through them is usually not the way we would have ever imagined! “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Another truth, which is often neglected, is that those trials and tribulations we are experiencing could be for someone else to see God. And, probably one of the hardest truths to receive is that the Lord will often use non-believers for His purposes!
And so, we meet King Nebuchadnezzar. As a matter of fact, we meet him in verse 1 but it is verse 2 that we need to understand, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…” (Daniel 1:2 emphasis mine). God had been speaking many years through His prophets that if the people would turn from their wicked ways, stop worshipping idols and return to Him as their Lord, He would protect them. But they refused to listen.
Hear this clearly, God didn’t disown them but because He is a perfect God He cannot condone sin and there has to be judgment. And do not be quick to dismiss this as something not relevant to today. In the Book of 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul rebukes the believing body for their not dealing with sin within the body. Let’s actually let the words of Paul speak to us, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 emphasis mine) “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.’ It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8 emphasis mine) The writer of this epistle was actually quoting from the Book of Job, verses 17-18. God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Dear readers, please remember that the WHOLE of Scripture cannot be divided nor separated, it is continuous and in complete agreement.
King Nebuchadnezzar had, of course, taken the royal family and other of the nobles captive and once they were in Babylon he ordered that his officials pick out the “youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding, and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court;...” (Daniel 1:4) They were to be taught their literature and their language and they would be fed with the choicest of foods that the king had. They would be trained for a period of three years. Three is a very important number in Hebrew. When it applies to God is means holiness but it also means a period of testing and proving. These young men were being groomed to serve in the king’s court. This would be a time that would test them and the outcome would produce either good fruit or bad fruit. It would also reveal something even more important, it would prove to whom their hearts and very lives belonged. They would either be captivated and eagerly come into agreement with the ways of the Babylonians or they would remain loyal to the Living God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Remaining loyal to their God did not make them unfit for service, but because of their submission to God they would be vessels in which God would use to reveal His glory.
My dear friends, God has a divine purpose in everything under the sun and His desire is for us to hear the Holy Spirit reveal His plan through His Word so that He can apply it to our lives! But if we have not made Him Lord of our lives, we will miss the opportunity to serve Him and to develop an intimate personal relationship with Him.
As I was reading this over again this morning I could hear the Holy Spirit wanting to challenge us. Like these young men who were taken into service for training for three years, so are we “taken into service” in our schools today. Prayer has been removed, all references to the Bible or the moral code has been removed. History has been watered down and changed so that it doesn’t even accurately reflect the past. In its place there is an agenda to “dummy down” or “brainwash” the students into seeing “a bigger picture”, to be “progressive”, to be “open minded”. Tolerate is now being used in a new meaning that anything goes, there is no moral right or wrong. So, just like the Israelites, minds were being “opened up” to accept new “literature/history” and a new language. In Scripture it was an actual cultural language they were learning much like if we would take a course to learn Italian or French or any other, but today it is a new language of changing the meaning of words that have been used for centuries but now being twisted for others purposes. Stay and linger here as long as you need until you have allowed the Holy Spirit to show you how you have been impacted by this truth.
Out of all these young men taken into the king’s program there were only four that had a deep relationship with the Lord that caused them to speak to the king’s guards to alter the program for them. This was a very dangerous move if you consider the circumstances, but it is also an extremely important lesson in faith. They trusted God, they were submitted to Him, they feared hurting Him more than they feared any retaliation from the king!
In the Book of Isaiah we read about the coming Messiah and His righteousness. Let’s read it together and see how these same attributes of Jesus are in those who are truly His and will guide their path in every circumstance of their lives. “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,...” (Isaiah 11:2-3) Daniel and his friends knew where their strength, wisdom and knowledge came from and thus trusted in Him to provide for their needs! “Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials,” (Daniel 1:9) “As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.” (Daniel 1:17)
In the second year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he had a dream that deeply troubled him. The way he chose to have his dream interpreted tells us much about him. Instead of relating his dream so that his magicians, conjurers and sorcerers could tell him its meaning, he insisted they tell him the dream! When they requested he tell them the dream his response is quite frightening, “The king replied to the Chaldeans, ‘The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.’” (Daniel 2:5-6) No amount of reasoning worked and finally the king gave the order to destroy all the wise men of Babylon (2:12).Even though this matter did not involve Daniel and his friends, they were included in the wise men of Babylon and would be killed. Daniel went to the king and requested time to seek the interpretation and it was granted. He, however, went to his three friends and informed them of the problem and instructed them to seek favor from the Lord that they would not be destroyed. God gave Daniel the interpretation and protected them all.
Don’t miss this next part, Daniel blessed God and thanked Him, for he knew it was not in himself to know these things but that the Lord had revealed them as a testimony and witness to His greatness! There is much we can learn by reading Daniel’s praise! “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said, ‘Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom and power; even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, for You have made known to us the king’s matter.” (Daniel 2:19-23 emphasis mine) What a beautiful prayer! Daniel gave glory to the only One who has the power to reveal the truth.
When Daniel was brought into the king’s presence to give the interpretation, notice Daniel’s delivery, “Daniel answered before the king and said, ‘As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.’” (Daniel 2:27-28 emphasis mine) “But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.” (Daniel 2:30 emphasis mine) Notice that Daniel was relentless in his presentation and understanding that God was the divine presence and his interpretation was from God and had nothing to do with his own ability. Daniel was totally submitted to the Lord and was a very humble man.
While the dream in total was a picture of the end times there is a very significant portion we need to note. “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.” (Daniel 2:37-38 emphasis mine) Nebuchadnezzar was not a believer, he had just conquered the people of God and taken them into captivity, yet...“You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all…” God can and will use whomever He pleases to bring about His will. While this situation had a lot to do with the discipline of the people of God because of disobedience it also has another aspect. God was making Himself known to Nebuchadnezzar as the One and Only God.
The king’s response was, unfortunately, much like the response we make when God moves in our lives. We are grateful for the answer but do not worship Him or repent of our sin and turn to Him. “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel,..” (Daniel 2:46 emphasis mine) Was God surprised by the king’s response? No, God knew what his response would be (just as God knew Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened each time Moses went to him asking that he allow the Israelites to go). But God’s plans are always more dimensional than we can see. He had placed Daniel in this position for a reason and now we find that Daniel was promoted. “Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:48) You might, at this point, be thinking how great that would be and how God is a rewarder of those who follow Him. That is true. However, there is much more to be considered. With God’s blessings also comes much responsibility and also much opposition from the enemy. Daniel was able to have his three friends promoted as well but this also put all of them in the direct line of fire from the enemy. And, as we well know, the enemy uses those around us as his arrows of destruction. Those three years of “testing” while in training in the king’s court prepared Daniel and his friends for the Lord’s work as much as it educated them in the ways of the Babylonian ways and customs.
While it is true that Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God’s greatness it did not change his heart. Instead of being amazed in what the Almighty God was doing in his life and revealing what would come in years ahead, his pride became great and he built a golden image to worship! Remember that in the dream Daniel revealed that he was the head of gold! The dream was not to magnify the king but to reveal to him forthcoming history. But like most of us, what he heard was what he wanted to hear, especially about how great he was and was to become! ”Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:1) All the government and the people of the land were assembled. “Then the herald loudly proclaimed: ‘To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language,5that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.’” (Daniel 3:4-6)
The only way to know the rest of the story is to read it as it is written by the Holy Spirit! “For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews. They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: ‘O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.’ Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?’ Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’ Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. He commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up.” (Daniel 3:8-23 emphasis mine)
Don’t rush through this account. The Holy Spirit is wanting us to see and understand what was really happening in this particular situation, but also to allow Him to examine our hearts and see if any pride has entered in that the enemy is using or is going to use against us. First of all, King Nebuchadnezzar only acknowledged God’s speaking through Daniel. Acknowledging there is a God does not save a person! This is a fatal mistake that many have fallen into today. The enemy has infiltrated the body of believers to such an extent that they are so worldly minded that the Scripture no longer is taken at face value. Notice what the following verse says and what it does not say. “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Romans 10:9 emphasis mine) It does not say you will be saved if you acknowledge there is a God. It does not say that you pray a little prayer acknowledging that you need Him. It says that we verbally confess that He is Lord in our lives! We acknowledge that His death, burial and resurrection was to cleanse us of OUR sins (and it should have been us upon that cross) and we now turn from those sins and commit our lives to Him so that we will live according to HIS Word, not our desires! It isn’t enough to acknowledge, say a little prayer and then go back to living the same old way we’ve always lived! This is exactly what the king did. The Word is challenging us today to examine ourselves and see if we too may have fallen into this deception. “Examine me, O LORD, and try me; test my mind and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2)
Most of us know the rest of this story but let’s stay here another minute. Remember when the king was addressing Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego? He said something that we need to take notice of, “and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” Elohim, the Creator of the Universe gave him a dream of the end of times that even showed him his part leading up to that day! He was still the supreme being in his own eyes and knew that no one dared to defy him because he would kill them. Pride is an ugly master. It blinds our eyes and minds to every truth that is presented to us. It builds a soundproof wall around us that doesn’t allow the voice of truth to penetrate our mind. It keeps us in bondage to the sin that separates us from the Lord. Pride is what got Satan kicked out of heaven so it is the logical choice for him to use against us. Pride will kill us, spiritually and physically. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of any pride in your life, take the time now to deal with them and repent. Then bless His holy name that HIs love for you is so great that He would give His life just for you to be with Him for all eternity!
Remember that question we just addressed, “and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” Well, we are about to meet Him! The fire is so hot that it killed every one of those soldiers who were responsible for throwing the three young men into the blazing furnace, so no one was standing very close to that furnace, but something miraculous is about to happen! “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, ‘Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?’ They replied to the king, ‘Certainly, O king.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’’ (Daniel 3:24-25 emphasis mine)
Now I don’t know about you but I really wonder what Nebuchadnezzar saw to make him exclaim that the fourth person in the furnace “is like a son of the gods”. But also notice that he still believed in many gods. And what did he think a god looked like that he would declare this figure was like a “son”? Was it because he was walking around in the fire with the three young men? I can have a vivid imagination at times and I imagine they were dancing around and singing “O Happy Day”! (Sorry, that was a side trip I had to share!) I honestly believe that the image was Jesus and that He was glorified in such a manner that the king just blurted out the first thing that came to mind. I also believe that since the king was able to draw near to the furnace to witness this phenomenon that there was a strong presence of the Lord all around.
Now I’m pretty sure I would be quite speechless if I was present! Can you even imagine? Really, stop and think about it a minute. What would your reaction be? Would it be pure excitement that the odds of such a thing happening? Or would you be overwhelmed that something and SOMEONE much greater than you was in your midst? This time the Lord God had Nebuchadnezzar’s full attention, at least for a few minutes. “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!’ Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire.” (Daniel 3:26 emphasis mine) Notice that he is still thinking he is in charge and taking command of the situation. Oh how like the king we too can be at times. God is on the scene and we want to make sure we are still in control and command!
Are you thinking, however, that the king is finally beginning to “get it”? Is he finally recognizing God’s omnipotence? His authority? His supremacy? His divinity? Read the above statement carefully again, “you servants of the Most High God”, they are very revealing in what the king is thinking in his heart. Let’s continue on and take all the words into consideration. “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’” (Daniel 3:28-29 emphasis mine)
Can you now see it? Can you now hear it? Can you now begin to understand how the words of people must be taken in context and we must allow the Holy Spirit to bring clarification and truth as to what the meaning is? The king sounds like he is acknowledging that the Lord God Almighty is the One and Only God of all of creation, but he is not. He has acknowledged that he is the “God” of these three young men and that He is indeed mighty and merciful and protected these young men because they trusted in Him. Even his next declaration was focused on himself as much as on the Lord! “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. 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.” (Daniel 4:2-3 emphasis mine)
My heart is heavy as I write this. There are so many pastors, teachers, leaders and others in authority who will use certain aspects of God’s character to defend their stance on an issue but they pick and choose what part of God and His Holy Word they agree with. Hear these words of Jesus clearly, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) While King Nebuchadnezzar declared that the Lord of the Hebrews was not to be defamed or blasphemed, he wasn’t testifying that he had denounced his worship of other gods. This, unfortunately, also fits a lot of the leaders in our pulpits and various ministries today. In these last days, God is challenging us to draw near to Him and seek His truth. My dear friends, it is critical that we are submitting everything to the Lord. Over and over again in the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is telling us that we must submit EVERYTHING to Him, possessions, money, family members, children, occupations, political affiliations. EVERYTHING in our lives are to be lined up with the written Word of God. Do your views line up with Scripture? If not, you have a problem, you are worshipping other gods. Maybe those other gods are even yourself, your pride. I don’t say that easily. The deception of lies that Satan has fed us have ensnared many and lead them down the broad path of destruction.
These three young men chose the narrow path. They worshipped the Living God. They didn’t consider their lives worthy of living if they had to deny Him. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us when He was on earth? “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’” (Matthew 16:24) “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27) “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24) “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39) Look up these verses and notice that they are different situations in which Jesus was teaching but the message doesn’t change. There is only ONE way.
Despite all of the dreams and situations in which God was declaring His sovereignty, King Nebuchadnezzar still was not allowing God to change His heart. What I love about this next portion of the Scripture is the demonstration of God’s mercy and compassion. The king received another very disturbing dream that the magicians and conjurers could not give an interpretation of and Daniel was again summoned to bring understanding of what the Lord was doing. Listen to the king’s description of the heart of this dream. “This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watcher and the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men.” (Daniel 4:17 emphasis mine) Even the king understood that this God of the Hebrews had sent him another frightening dream and this one was to display His sovereignty over all of creation. Even Daniel was alarmed by the dream but the king insisted on his honesty in interpreting it. I encourage you to read Daniel 4:19-27 for yourself. I am just going to relay the interpretation here but there is much to the dream that each of us needs to hear. “this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules." (Daniel 4:24-26 emphasis mine)
Seven periods of time represents seven years. Seven is a very important number, it represents sanctification, holiness of God, being set apart, brought to perfection or maturity. It truly amazes me of the specific details that God relates to the king. I truly believe His intention is to show us how much He cares and that we have a choice to avoid the consequences!
Remember at the beginning of this devotion we looked at the three years of training and testing the captives were being given? They could choose the way of the Chaldeans or they could choose the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Choosing their God did not disqualify them from service, it would make them even more indispensable and full of wisdom and discernment! Because the character of the Lord is the light in Daniel he expresses compassion and wisdom in his response to the king of his dream, “Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27)
When the consequences of our actions are not immediately applied we often forget about them or become lax in our diligence. We tend to go about our business as we’ve always done. That’s basically what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. “Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’ While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’ Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:29-33 emphasis mine)
In Hebrew the number twelve often refers to government, specifically the twelve tribes of Jacob which will be twelve elders in the Kingdom of God. Here it is also referring to government. God is removing the king from his position, the “government of Babylon” no longer belonged to him. Vanity and pride lead us all to paths of destruction. If nothing else, the Lord wants to examine each of our hearts to show us where we are susceptible to this same deception and either have been led astray or could be led astray. Vanity will destroy us. Remember the words of Jesus both in His teaching while on this earth and in His teaching to the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says.”
My heart overflows with joy when I read the outcome of God’s work in the king. It reminds me of the psalmist’s words, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” (Psalm 30:11-12) “Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart. Let not the foot of pride come upon me, and let not the hand of the wicked drive me away." (Psalm 36:5-11)
“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:34-37)
Abba Father, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You alone are God, there is no other Name to which every knee will bow and every tongue confess that You are God! Father, I pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit that hearts will be touched and that the words You have shared with us in the Scripture today will bring conviction upon each of us and that we would turn to You and seek Your face. You are the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Your desire is for us and Your truth has been declared for all to see and hear. The story of King Nebuchadnezzar applies to each and every one of us. We need not be in a position of great power. You know the path that You have chosen for each of us. Some have begun the journey on Your path and turned back because they felt that it was too hard. Others chose not to even try because they believed they had a better way. Many are like the five virgins who have never truly submitted to You to become Lord of their lives and are carrying lanterns without oil (the Holy Spirit) and therefore do not know Your ways or hear Your still small voice. They are unprepared for what lies ahead. Holy Spirit have Your way in each one who reads this devotion. Touch their hearts, turn the heart of stone into a heart of flesh, put Your Holy Spirit in them that they would be a witness and testimony to others. Father, gird our loins that we may not stumble or fall as we journey with You. Lead us in Your paths of righteousness for Your name sake! Thank You for Your amazing love! We bow our knee today and worship You! All this we pray in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, amen!