Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Daniel 4: Nebuchadnezzar Acknowledges God's Sovereignty


Dan 4:24-34 "This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue." All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."  Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever."

Dan 4:36-37 "At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

Through the crisis of Nebuchadnezzar's first dream when the lives of all the wise men of Babylon were in the balance, Daniel had demonstrated that many times, God uses crises as stepping stones to promote us and to glorify His name. God revealed to Daniel Nebuchadnezzar's dream and gave him the interpretation of that dream. That situation translated Daniel's status above all other wise men that surrounded Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel had acquired the reputation as the wise man with "the spirit of the holy gods" in him. So, when Nebuchadnezzar's wise men ("the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners") couldn't interpret his second dream, he called upon Daniel to do so. The interpretation of the latest dream was so terrifying that Daniel was unable to speak for a while. When prompted to speak out by the king, Daniel told him the meaning of the dream -- that Nebuchadnezzar would lose his sanity, behave like animals for a period of 7 years before being restored back to his throne. And so it happened a year later. One day, while walking on the rooftop of his royal palace, Nebuchadnezzar, in his moment of self-aggrandizement, attributed Babylon's greatness to himself, instead of God: "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" (4:30). For taking away God's glory, he was struck with insanity and behaved like an animal.

But when his sanity was finally restored seven years later, he acknowledged and praised the Most High God: "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble" (4:37). Daniel when interpreting the dream told him his kingdom would be restored to him "when you acknowledge that Heaven rules" (4:26). Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledged rather belatedly that "Heaven rules".

It's interesting that this principle that "Heaven rules" ( ) was long acknowledged by ancient Chinese as the basis for the rule of an emperor. Perhaps that explains partly the longevity of Chinese dynasties. The first Chinese dynasty (Shang) lasted 17 generations ruled by 31 kings over almost six centuries (1600-1000 BC) of peace and tranquility.

Father, You are the true Sovereign King. Even pagan emperors who acknowledge You are given the mandate to rule. May we acknowledge Your right to rule even in our own lives, families and establishments. Amen.

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