Read Daniel 4:1-27
To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world:
May you prosper greatly!
2It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
3How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.
4I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) 9I said, "Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10These are the visions I saw while lying in my bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. 13"In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14He called in a loud voice: 'Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field." 'Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him. 17"'The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.' 18"This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you."
19Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you." Belteshazzar answered, "My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air— 22you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth. 23"You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 'Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.' 24"This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25You 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. 26The 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. 27Therefore, 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." (NIV)
In chapter 4, we see the second major dream of Nebuchadnezzar. The first dream God gave Nebuchadnezzar was a positive dream. We see this dream is not positive in what will happen to the king in the short term. If one was reading this for the very first time, we know that the king will come out ok as it is the king who is telling the story.
We see in this that God will go to great lengths to reach people. There are some people who can so deny God that even in the face of miracle after miracle, will still not believe. This is the story of King Nebuchadnezzar up to this point in the story. He has seen God at work, has proclaimed God’s greatness, but has not accepted God as his God. He still holds to the Babylonian gods.
There are many people in life who will not accept God until life hits a very bottom. We all have sins which we carry in our life. Sins of both commission and omission. And the sin being put before the king is the sin of pride. Some say that God will only tolerate an arrogant ruler for so long. But here, the sin of pride is connected to madness. The dream is that it will take seven years for the king to come to his senses and acknowledge God as the Most High God.
We also see the hesitancy of Daniel to tell the king the bad news. We see this in verse 19. But here, like Eli with Samuel when Samuel had his dream, Daniel is told to tell the interpretation and he will not hold it against him. Sharing truth can be hard, especially if the truth is painful.
But the truth of being away from God is death, not just madness for three years.
We see Daniels love for the king in after he interprets the dream. Daniel pleads with the king to renounce his sins, change his ways and praise God. Daniel says there is still hope that you will be spared this thing.
That is true of prophecy. It is not always what will happen, but what might happen if things continue on a certain course. Prophecy is often a warning to change for the better. This was what we saw in Jonah. He prophesied the city of Nineveh would be destroyed, but when the people repented, God relented.
Here is a reminder that we need to share God’s goodness with people. We need to share it in love and truth. It is easy to be silent, but in our silence, we are condemning people to eternal death. How do you share God’s hope with people? When was the last time you shared this hope with an unbelieving friend or family member? Daniel was afraid to share because he probably thought the king would turn against him. We need to be more concerned with life than with what people might think of us.
Blessings and Peace