Nebuchadnezzar's Testimony

INTRODUCTION: Daniel had a close relationship with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, even to the point of being saddened when God revealed to him the meaning of the king's vision that could not be interpreted by the pagan advisors. Nebuchadnezzar had been used of God to end the corrupt ways of the Jewish people in the southern kingdom of Israel when he took them into captivity in Babylon. He had no thought of serving the LORD during that period, for he thought he was in complete control of everything he did to enlarge his kingdom. But after he was dramatically converted to believe in the one true God, he made a royal decree to spread his personal testimony throughout the vast regions he ruled. Proverbs 21 "1 The king's heart is in the LORD's hand like the watercourses. He turns it wherever he desires."

NOTE: All scripture is from the New Heart English Bible(NHEB).


A - NEBUCHADNEZZAR PRAISED GOD'S EVERLASTING KINGDOM OF PEACE

Daniel 4 "1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, to all the peoples, nations, and languages, who dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 2 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked 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."

COMMENTS: What a beautiful opening in this chapter filled with genuine praise to the one true God of all creation. And these words came from the heart and mind of a man who had formerly worshipped a false god, and was steeped in his own self pride. This declaration was to be widely distributed under his reinstated authority over a vast territory. The descendents of Israel had been chosen as part of God's plan for the gospel to spread among the nations. The general falling away of the children of Israel to the worship of false gods brought about their dispersion as captives to pagan kingdoms. The LORD used men like Daniel who were part of the minority who believed in the one true God, to have impact on those who worshipped pagan gods. So the message about the LORD God spread to non-Jews who were outside the land that had been promised to the descendents of Israel. The Gentiles who heard about the LORD God and placed their trust in him did not need to become part of the nation of Israel to be accepted by God.


B - BABYLON'S WISE MEN WERE SUMMONED TO INTERPRET THE DREAM

Daniel 4 "4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid; and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore I made a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7 Then came in the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. 8 But finally 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 I told the dream before him, saying, 9 Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no secret troubles you, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.

COMMENTS: Daniel had accepted the judgment of the LORD upon everyone in the southern kingdom of Judah without personally turning away from his faith. This was despite the fact that he was taken captive with many other young men to Babylon under the rule of a pagan king. But Daniel submitted to the king's rule without disobeying God's higher authority in his life. The LORD blessed Daniel and brought him to the position of being a trusted advisor to this king who ruled a flourishing and strong kingdom. In the above passage, Nebuchadnezzar spoke of his dream which greatly disturbed him and even made him afraid While he was in his own bed, seemingly secure in his palace.

So he made a decree to have all of the wise men of Babylon brought to him to interpret the dream which he described to them. The magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and the diviners with their supposed powers could not interpret the dream for him. After they had failed, Daniel came in before the king, and was treated with special respect even though he had been given the name Belteshazzar after the king's false God. Nebuchadnezzar told him the dream, referring to him as chief among the magicians, but also saying he knew that the spirit of the holy gods was in him, and no secret troubles him. At this point Nebuchadnezzar was expressing the difference he saw in Daniel in the only terms he knew to use at the time. So Nebuchadnezzar asked him to interpret the visions of the dream.


C - NEBUCHADNEZZAR DESCRIBED HIS TROUBLESOME DREAM

Daniel 4 "10 Thus were the visions of my head on my bed: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth; and its height was great. 11 The tree grew, and was strong, and its height reached to the sky, and its sight to the end of all the earth. 12 The leaves of it were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all. The animals of the field had shadow under it, and the birds of the sky lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. 13 I saw in the visions of my head on my bed, and behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from the sky. 14 He cried aloud, and said this, "Cut down the tree, and cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit. Let the animals get away from under it, and the fowls from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump of its 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 the sky: and let his portion be with the animals in the grass of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from man's, and let an animal's mind be given to him; and let seven times pass over him. 17 The sentence 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 rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whoever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men. 18 This dream I, king Nebuchadnezzar, have seen; and you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation. But you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.""

COMMENTS: Nebuchadnezzar reviewed all the elements of the dream which had troubled him so deeply. he knew the tree was symbolic of the vast territory, provisions, and military strength of a domain that was now judged by a holy one who kept watch over such matters. There was a spoken declaration against it and the tree was cut down and all the widespread benefits for men and animals from it were scattered. The stump remained with a chain about it, and the ruler the stump represented would be in the wilderness like an animal for a specified time. Nebuchadnezzar recognized the dream as a sentence of judgment from the holy ones, announced by watchmen. Nebuchadnezzar believed This vision was to let all who live, know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whoever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men. Despite all that Nebuchadnezzar characterized in the elements of the dream, he didn't seem to relate any of it to himself at all. Nebuchadnezzar had come to respect this man he called Belteshazzar, believing he had been given a special spirit like no other advisor. Therefore he could genuinely interpret the dream in detail.


D - DANIEL WANTED THE KING TO AVOID FULFILLMENT OF THE DREAM

Daniel 4 "19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was stricken mute for a while, and his thoughts troubled him. The king answered, Belteshazzar, "Do not let the dream, or the interpretation, trouble you." Belteshazzar answered, "My lord, the dream concerns those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries. 20 The tree that you saw, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached to the sky, and its sight to all the earth; 21 whose leaves were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all; under which the animals of the field lived, and on whose branches the birds of the sky had their habitation. 22 It is you, oh king, that are grown and become strong; for your greatness is grown, and reaches to the sky, and your dominion to the end of the earth. 23 Whereas the king saw a watcher and a holy one coming down from the sky, and saying, 'Cut down the tree, and destroy it; nevertheless leave the stump of its 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 the sky: and let his portion be with the animals of the field, until seven times pass over him. 24 This is the interpretation, oh king, and it is the decree of the Most High, which is come on my lord the king: 25 that you shall be driven from men, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field, and you shall be made to eat grass as oxen, and shall be wet with the dew of the sky, and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will. 26 Whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree; your kingdom shall be restored to you. After that you shall have known that the heavens do rule. 27 Therefore, oh king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, and break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if there may be a lengthening of your prosperity."

COMMENTS: Daniel understood the meaning of the dream, but he cared enough about Nebuchadnezzar that his emotions left him unable to speak at first. Nebuchadnezzar seemed to recognize this delay was because Belteshazzar was troubled by what he understood. The king asked Belteshazzar not to let the dream, or the interpretation, trouble him. When Daniel began to speak, he addressed the king as his lord. He said the dream depicted what the king's hated adversaries would like to see happen to him. The symbolic tree and the qualities related to it were directly representative of King Nebuchadnezzar and his domain.

Daniel said the removal of all authority and the condition of living like an animal in the wild was the decree of the Most High, which had come on his lord the king. Nebuchadnezzar would be driven out from men and live like an animal as seen in the dream, until the set time had passed. Then he would know that the Most High completely rules in the kingdom of men, and he gives it to whomever he determines. The stump was left to indicate that the kingdom would be restored to Nebuchadnezzar, and he would know for certain that the heavens do rule. Daniel then asked the king to accept his counsel to realize that he had sin and iniquities in his manner of rule, and that he would turn toward righteousness by showing mercy to the poor. If Nebuchadnezzar would accept this counsel from Daniel, it might allow the king's prosperity to continue.


E - THE DREAM WAS FULFILLED TWELVE MONTHS LATER

Daniel 4 "28 All this came on the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spoke and said, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" 31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from the sky, saying, "Oh king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken. The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from men; and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field; you shall be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he wants." 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and ate grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the sky, until his hair was grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws."

COMMENTS: There is no further mention of Daniel over the twelve months after he interpreted the dream, and apparently there was no change in the prideful manner of King Nebuchadnezzar. The judgment came one day when Nebuchadnezzar began to brag to himself in his palace about all he had accomplished and how his own greatness had brought him fame and authority. While these words were still on his lips, a voice came from the sky telling him the kingdom was taken from him and he would go out into the wild as the dream had described. He would remain there until he knew that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he wants. After the voice had spoken, everything began to take place as it had been described.


F - NEBUCHADNEZZAR TURNED HIS HEART TO THE LORD

Daniel 4 "34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who lives forever. For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are regarded as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or tell him, "What have you done?" 36 At the same time my understanding returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me; and my counselors and my lords sought me out; and I was established in my kingdom, and even more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.""

COMMENTS: At the end of the appointed time that Nebuchadnezzar had lived like an animal, he looked up to heaven and his ability to reason and to comprehend came back to him. He blessed the Most High God with praise to the King who lives forever and rules over all who exists from generation to generation. He declared that all the inhabitants of the earth have no significance without the blessing of the Most High God. he does whatever is his will within the host of heaven, and throughout all the earth. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that no one can resist the will of the Most High or question anything that he does. Since Nebuchadnezzar was able to think and reason again, his counselors and his lords found him. he returned to his kingdom with majesty and splendor, which became even greater than before he was in the wild. He spoke personally again as he declared that he now praised, extolled, and honored the King of heaven; because he knew all his works are truth, his ways justice. He surely is able to humble anyone who boast in their achievements without praise to the LORD God as the true source of all blessings.

Nebuchadnezzar's reign in Babylon was centuries after the descendents of Israel had grown to a large number in Egypt, and the LORD brought them out of that captivity. Their first rebellion against him was in the wilderness while Moses was leading them. Then they continued to stray for centuries while in the promised land during the period of the judges. Under the rule of King David, followed by his son King Solomon, the LORD unified the twelve tribes. During those years Much praise was directed to the LORD through the writing of many of the Psalms and of the Proverbs.

Psalm 33 "8 Let all the earth fear the LORD. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spoke, and it was done. He commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing. He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands fast forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."

Proverbs 3 "5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the LORD, and depart from evil."

Several centuries of rule by kings in Israel were ended as the LORD sent them into foreign captivity due to their rejection of his sovereign rule. The prophet Jeremiah was directed by the LORD to write much about judgment for Israel as they turned their hearts to self-pride and foolish worship of false gods. The northern kingdom had already fallen, when Jeremiah began to write his prophecies about the captivity of Judah.

Jeremiah 9 "23 Thus says the LORD, "Do not let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, do not let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight," says the LORD. 25 Behold, the days come," says the LORD, "that I will punish all those who are circumcised in uncircumcision: 26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that have the corners of their hair cut off, who dwell in the wilderness; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.""

Jeremiah 17 "7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose trust the LORD is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, who spreads out its roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat comes, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? 10 I, the LORD, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. 11 As the partridge that sits on eggs which she has not laid, so is he who gets riches, and not by right; in the midst of his days they shall leave him, and at his end he shall be a fool.""

After the LORD judged Nebuchadnezzar, he was used as a very influential Gentile to give witness to others that he had come to believe in the one true God. His praise distributed by his personal royal decree, was to him who is the eternal King of all creation. Christ Jesus came in the flesh in accord with many prophecies, and his finished work was recorded by New Testament writers to benefit many generations of both Jews and Gentiles. Two passages from Paul's letters are among those examples, which also makes clear the need for humility before Christ Jesus, the Sovereign LORD.

1 Corinthians 1 "23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers, that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble; 27 But God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise. And God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong. 28 And God chose the lowly of the world, and the despised, what is considered to be nothing, to bring to nothing what is considered to be something, 29 that no flesh might boast before God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.""

Philippians 2 "8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

I am thankful, LORD, for the reminder in this ancient record of how you changed a Babylonian king by your sovereign will. No matter how many seemingly powerful nations and governments around the world fail to recognize the LORD God, you still determine the course for all mankind. You can indeed turn the heart of the ruler of any nation however you desire. I thank you, LORD, that you opened my understanding to the truth about your never ending, and absolute rule that can bring peace to my heart. My security is in my Savior while the majority of the world does not give glory and honor to your name from generation to generation. You are merciful to those who humbly accept you as the eternal, all powerful, gracious, and loving King. I ask that you guard my heart and my lips, for I believe what Jeremiah wrote about the deceitfulness that lies deep within the heart of mankind. It can only be controlled by the power of your Spirit within those who have placed their faith and trust in you. I have adapted part of Paul's letter to the Romans (11:33-36) to be my own prayer to my Savior and Lord. Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are your judgments, and your ways past tracing out! For who has known your thoughts Lord? Or who could ever be your counselor? Or who has first given to you, that you would then repay them? LORD, all things are from you, from your creation, and in you. To you, LORD, be the glory forever! Amen.

Published 20 August 2017