First off, I apologize for the length of today’s reading. I usually try to keep it down to 10-15 verses, but in this case it was unavoidable. I couldn’t find any small set of verses that summarized the story well enough.
I have a confession to make besides the apology: Another reason I didn’t have the heart to abridge it was because this is one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture. It’s not as famous as Daniel in the lions’ den or the young men in the blazing furnace, but that’s actually a plus for me. If you’re not as familiar with it, then there’s a slightly better chance I’ll say something you haven’t heard before.
Remember when both Jack Dawson and James Cameron loudly proclaimed that they were “The King of the World”? Well, Nebuchadnezzar actually could make a case that he was, in fact, King of the World. Nobody stood up to his armies and won. He was the proverbial 900 lb gorilla, going wherever he pleased.
Then he had a dream, probably near the end of his life. He saw a tree, strong, proud, providing shelter to all sorts of animals. A holy messenger from the Heavens proclaimed that this great tree was about to have its limbs lopped off, sending all the animals fleeing. Then, dispensing with all pretence of symbolism, the messenger proclaimed that “[he would] be drenched with the dew of heaven; [he would] live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him."
What exactly was the time period the angel was referring to? We’re not sure, and the language isn’t clear. It might mean days, seasons, or years. And to add to the confusion, seven was the number of completion, so “seven periods of time” could just mean “until the time is completed,” or “until God determines that he’s had enough.” Seven days would probably not cause a man's fingernails to grow as long as described, but the exact length of time isn't all that important. The king went to his most trusted servant, and that servant had to deliver the bad news.
Apparently the monarch was too foolish to really listen to what Daniel said, because a year later, he was walking on the roof of his palace, seemingly the master of all he surveyed. Just for fun, count the number of times he used “I” and “me” and “my.” This was all for his glory, all that he had built.
Um, no. The Lord came down and said, “Maybe a change in your diet will change that attitude.” Yeah, a diet of grass and dew. For a long period of time, he literally lost his mind and it was replaced with that of an animal. His hair grew to be like “the feathers of an eagle,” and his fingernails became like a bird’s claws.
And then finally he quite literally came to his senses. He realized how foolish he had been, and he actually composed a hymn of praise to the Almighty. He saw that in the eyes of the Lord God, all the might and glory and honor that he (the king) had accrued was absolutely worthless and could be removed in an instant at a whim. He learned the hard way that
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
This is a great corrective to both our pride and to our fear. To any of us who start spouting off “I” and “me” and “my” statements, this stands as a warning. To those of us who fear where the world is heading, it reminds us that our Father is in charge.
And finally it offers a word of hope and reconciliation. One of the wickedest and proudest and ungodly men in history was brought to his knees (literally and spiritually) and acknowledged who really is in charge. When he did, he was given back everything he had lost, and then some. I might be wrong, but I sincerely think that I’ll meet Nebuchadnezzar some day in Glory. I hope so.
Father, you are God. I’m not. You’re in charge of everything, I’m not. How humbling, how refreshing, how comforting, how. . .wonderful.
Post a Comment