“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.” — Daniel 4:34
Everett Wayne described himself as “one of the orneriest old rascals who ever walked on this earth.” However, God has ways of arresting the attention of even ornery old rascals! Everett often told of the day when God radically changed his life.
“When I came to the Apostolic Faith Church, I was a rank sinner. I had stepped out of a card game — the thing that had cursed my life and broken up my home. As I sat at the card table that night, God talked to me. He said, ‘Old feller, except you do something, you’re a goner!’ The Almighty was speaking to my heart, and I knew it. I pushed the pack of cards across the table for the last time. I got right up from that card game and left that place.
“I remembered seeing the sign on the Apostolic Faith Church building that said, ‘Jesus, the Light of the World.’ I had walked past that sign many times when I was drunk. I had never been inside, but God said, ‘This is the place for you to go.’ I went right to the church, passing up every beer joint along the way. I could hardly wait until the service was over so I could go to the altar.
“My clothes were dirty, and I was dressed like a tramp, but I knelt at their altar. Not one of the people in that church knew me, but they gathered around me and prayed that God would save my soul. And I prayed also. I meant business with God, and He gave me an honest heart. I said, ‘God, be merciful to me, a wretched sinner.’ God heard my prayer and answered. What a change! In a moment of time, the old habits and appetites were gone.
“My past life was well covered up, but God sent me back over my past, and I straightened up things that could have put me behind prison bars for the balance of my life. I had committed every kind of sin except murder, and I had that in my heart. I had lost my citizenship, but God restored it. Today I don’t have to sneak around the corners to see if the law is looking for me. In a moment of time, God gave me a clear conscience and a clean life. Today, I have joy, peace, and victory in this heart of mine because God is in it.”
Like Everett Wayne, in today’s text Nebuchadnezzar experienced a radical change through the power of God. Nebuchadnezzar’s reason had departed from him because of his pride, and he had lived like an animal in the fields for seven years. However, when Nebuchadnezzar recognized God and blessed “the most High,” God gave him back his sanity. Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was restored, and he responded by praising, extolling, and honoring the King of Heaven.
The change that resulted in both Everett Wayne and Nebuchadnezzar when they turned God’s way with an honest heart was life-transforming, and resulted in heartfelt praise. May that be the attitude of our hearts as well, when we consider God’s amazing grace to us!
This portion of chapter 4 gives the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its fulfillment.
When Daniel heard the dream, he was overwhelmed and did not speak for one hour, giving evidence of his concern for Nebuchadnezzar. The message of the dream was one of judgment, but Daniel was careful to address the king respectfully throughout the conversation.
The tree that was great, strong, visible to “all the earth,” and a source of food and shelter represented the king. Even though Nebuchadnezzar was known throughout the world as a mighty and brilliant king, Daniel told him that he would become mentally incapacitated and act like a wild beast “till seven times pass over him,” a period of time that many scholars believe was seven years. The purpose of this judgment was clear, “Till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (verse 25). Yet in the dream, the stump remained, indicating that the kingdom would be restored to Nebuchadnezzar once he understood that God was sovereign.
In verse 27, Daniel pled with the king to turn from his sins, hoping that the pending judgment could be averted. However, Nebuchadnezzar did not heed Daniel’s words and humble himself as advised. One year later, he was walking in his palace and said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built . . .?” (verse 30). Archaeologists have ascertained that Babylon was a splendid city encompassing approximately four square miles, making it the largest in the world at that time. The walls were forty to seventy-five feet high and wide enough for chariots to race side-by-side on the top. Entrance to the city was through fortified gates, eight of which have been excavated by archaeologists. Temples and palaces were decorated with glazed tiles in brilliant colors. The city was built on both sides of the Euphrates River, and had quays for ships and a bridge with brick piles. Canals were used for both irrigation and navigation. The ruins of ancient Babylon are located in present-day Iraq.
God’s response to Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was immediate. The king’s reason departed and he lived as an animal in the fields. Some scholars suggest his affliction was a form of lycanthropy, a type of mental disturbance involving the delusion of being an animal, with corresponding altered behavior. Ancient historians made brief reference to this, noting that there was a time when Nebuchadnezzar was ill or weak and did not reign. It is not unusual that the account is not further detailed in official archives, because defeats, wickedness, and weaknesses of monarchs were often omitted from national records.
When Nebuchadnezzar recognized God, blessed “the most High,” and gave Him praise and honor, God restored his sanity. Also, as Daniel had foretold, his kingdom was given back to him.
Nebuchadnezzar’s praise to God was expansive. He stated that God is eternal and sovereign (verse 34), as well as omnipresent and omnipotent (verse 35), and just (verse 37). He recognized that God was well able to abase anyone who walks in pride.
II. The prophetic history of the Gentiles
C. The dream of Nebuchadnezzar (the pride of Gentile world powers)
3. The tree vision explained to the king (4:19-27)
4. The tree vision fulfilled in the king (4:28-33)
5. The restoration of the king (4:34-37)
Our lives should always reflect a humble dependence upon God. If that is not our mindset today, we should pay heed to the consequences that befell Nebuchadnezzar, and mend our ways!