By Dr. Terry Kirby
Senior Pastor, Alpha Baptist Church, Morristown
Focal Passage: Daniel 4:28-35
Americans are nostalgic concerning their movies. Celebrations occur as the movies of the past are remembered on special anniversaries. One recent celebration was for the late 1980s trilogy “Back to the Future.” These movies are about a time-traveling teenager and his scientist mentor. As they travel into the past or the future they try not to change the future by their actions while visiting the past. The main reason for all the hype was that the second movie was set in October 2015. It was fun to see how the predictions of the movie concerning life in 2015 matched or conflicted with present day reality.
As the events of Daniel chapter four unfold we encounter a powerful story concerning a prediction about the future. This story contains a mysterious dream, an all-powerful king, and a guarantee from a man of God that everything treasured by the king would be taken away from him in the future if he does not honor God. This is no fictional tale. Hollywood’s best attempt at storytelling cannot compare to this real story in the Word of God.
Once again Nebuchadnezzar needed Daniel’s help interpreting a dream. This time his dream was about a giant tree. Daniel knew immediately the meaning of this dream. In the dream, the king was a giant tree. God would cut the tree down if the king did not humble himself before God. In other words, God would take Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom away from him until he humbled himself before the one and only all powerful God. Why would anyone ignore Daniel’s prediction that guaranteed such a horrible fate? Nebuchadnezzar’s pride must have blocked out the memory of his own eyewitness account of God’s power. How could he forget the furnace?
The Bible states in Daniel 4:29 that God gave Nebuchadnezzar 12 months to respond to the warnings of his dream and humble himself. The king refused and God acted as the very boastful words poured out of the king’s mouth. Why wouldn’t he be full of pride? Babylon was a beautiful city that contained one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the hanging gardens. The city displayed the power of the kingdom and its king with palaces and walls that protected the city from anyone who dared try to attack Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. The king declared that he had built everything as far as the eye could see and beyond.
In an instant, God took it all away. Daniel 4:31-33 reports that the kingdom had departed from him. If this action was not bold enough, the promises continued to be fulfilled. This once proud king was now looking and living like a wild animal. The text states that Nebuchadnezzar remained in this condition for seven years.
Why seven years? Under these circumstances it would have taken some people only five minutes to repent of this pride.
Insights into the level of pride that the king had can only be gained by focusing on his prayer found in Daniel 4:34-35. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride made him insane. Sanity only returned after he repented. The king continues his prayer by praising the one and only God. The most telling insight is found in verse 35. He states, “There is no one who can hold back His hand. …” The hand that the king is referring to is God’s. It took the king seven years of fighting against the hand of God before he realized that living a life of humility was his best option.
God restored Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. He was greater in many ways but primarily because he had finally learned how to live in humility and recognize the greatness of Almighty God.