Now, we shouldn’t give him too hard a time. Everything in his life told him he was awesome. He conquered the civilized world in his day, the world he knew, including the very stubborn Jewish holdouts. He was incredibly wealthy and powerful. No one had existed like this king in history.
Of course, he could not exist without the failing of Israel and the work of God. God used Nebuchadnezzar to prove a point, and God had no problem reminding the Babylonian king of this fact.
Nebuchadnezzar had another dream. In this dream, there was an enormous tree that fed all the beasts of the field. An angel comes down and cuts down the tree but is told (by God) to leave the stump. The King is troubled by this dream, and he turns to Daniel again to get the interpretation.
Daniel tells him, “The tree is you, O King, and you rule to the end of the earth. But you will be sent out to live like a beast with the other beasts, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
And then Daniel does a curious thing. In a warning, he says, “Break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
In other words, you can avoid this by being humble and righteous and helping others. Sound advice for us all.
It takes a whole year before Nebuchadnezzar slips up. He looks around his Empire and his royal palace and says, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
Immediately, Heaven judges the King and he becomes like an animal. After a few days of this, God restored the man’s reason, and his response was to worship God and declare that it is God that is in control. His words express the supremacy of God’s Kingdom.
“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have you done?'”
Once again, the mighty Empire of Babylon and its king is forcefully reminded that there is a greater, better, more dominant King and Kingdom than any on earth. There is no comparison. That Kingdom controls all others.
I believe we are beginning to see a pattern in Daniel, aren’t we?
During this Christmas season, I’m reminded of the great carol Joy to the World which makes the following statement: He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.
The prideful will be resisted and brought low. The humble recognize the greater Kingdom and power above all things, all other nations, all other powers. The humble will enter that Kingdom and be exalted. That is the Gospel, and that is the message of Daniel.
Even when they throw us to the lions.