DANIEL CHAPTER 4

THE SECOND DREAM OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR – THE VISION OF THE HIGH TREE

 

A number of years have passed between chapters three and four of Daniel--most scholars suggest at least 30. Late in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, he writes a proclamation, a monologue, to everyone in the civilized world under Babylonian rule. Some suggest that the prophet Daniel may have helped him write this declaration. Nebuchadnezzar may have been saved through this experience. He reigned for a total of 42 years.

1 Cor. 10:6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

(Don’t set your hearts on the same kind of evil as Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.)

Daniel 4:1-37

King Nebuchadnezzar (He ruled 44 of the 70 years of Babylonian empire.), To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly! 2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. (This is the purpose for writing this statement.) 3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. (What happened in his life to bring about such a public declaration and such a radical change in his perspective?)

 

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. (Note, he was content and prosperous. We like he, live in a very prosperous nation.) 5 I had a dream that made me afraid. (Another terrifying dream, like the one years before.) As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream (this time, he tells them the dream), but they could not interpret it for me. 8 Finally, 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.) (He thought Daniel to be in tune with the gods of Babylon.)

THE DREAM OF THE TREE

 

9 I 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. 10 These 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. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its 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. (This is a vision of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian Kingdom, which was growing and flourishing as the great power of his day.)

 

13 "In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one (an angel), coming down from heaven. 14 He 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. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. (The stump was not to be removed, but secured with bands of metal.) " 'Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let 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. (We will see that Nebuchadnezzar is going to lose his mind for 7 years of insanity.)

 

17 " 'The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict (the angels announced the lesson that God alone is calling the shots, not Nebuchadnezzar, not the Antichrist!), so that the living may know that the Most High (El Elyon) is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.' (Through this illness Nebuchadnezzar would come to acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes.)

 

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."

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DREAM – NEBUCHADNEZZAR IS THE TREE

 

19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. (Daniel was astonished and stunned by this dream. He wasn’t sure how to break the bad news to Neb, and Nebuchadnezzar sees it on his face. It seems that they have become friends.) So the king said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you." (Daniel, don’t worry about the content; even if it’s bad, I need to know the meaning.)

 

Belteshazzar answered, "My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! (I wish this dream was for your enemies, instead of you! Again, Daniel apparently has a genuine affection for Nebuchadnezzar. He has been his faithful counselor and worked with him for over 30 years.) 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with 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 — 22 you, O king, are that tree! (Just as Daniel had done in Chapter 2 declaring that Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold, Daniel declares that the tree represents Nebuchadnezzar.) 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. (Neb came on to earth’s scene like a flaming meteor! And he ruled for 44 years and he dominated the world through mighty Babylon as a brilliant military genius, an able, strong leader and administrator. But he was lifted up with pride!)

 

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. (Don’t dig out the root system.) Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.' (Neb will go insane and be transformed into an irrational beast for seven years. In the last 7 years of the time of the gentiles, the nations will go insane as they seek to deify man and follow the Antichrist.)

 

24 "This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 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. (Nebuchadnezzar is going to go insane for 7 years, thinking and living like an animal.) Seven times (years) will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High (El Elyon) is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. (Nebuchadnezzar had not done that yet. True, he did acknowledge God as the revealer of mysteries in chapter 2 and as powerful enough to rescue his servants in chapter 3, but he had not yet acknowledged God as sovereign over all the peoples of the earth.) 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree (in the ground) with its roots (still alive) means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. (When you acknowledge heaven rules! Where would we be without God? For Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge this, he is going to have to be cut down to a stump. Have you ever been cut down to a stump? Whoever God loves, he disciplines. The goal of cutting back the tree is that it will grow again. To the Father’s glory.)

27 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." (Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Babylon. And Babylon ruled over Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian mentality had taken over his heart. He was defiled and corrupted by Babylon. Q: What are some warning sides we are being corrupted. 1. Showing mercy to the poor, the oppressed. 2. Self absorption. Daniel compassionately confronts and exhorts him to change his ways so that the discipline might be deferred. Over the course of time he did not heed Daniel’s plea and unfortunately, there was no repentance in the heart of this proud king, and so the dream was fulfilled.)

 

We can learn the teaching and philosophies of Babylon, but be careful not to accept them. The Babylonian Philosophy is recorded in Isa 47:8-10 and reflects an attitude of complete self-absorption…

 

Isaiah 47:8-10

"Now then, listen, you wanton creature,

lounging in your security

and saying to yourself,

'I am, and there is none besides me.

I will never be a widow

or suffer the loss of children.'

[9] Both of these will overtake you

in a moment, on a single day:

loss of children and widowhood.

They will come upon you in full measure,

in spite of your many sorceries

and all your potent spells.

[10] You have trusted in your wickedness

and have said, 'No one sees me.'

Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you

when you say to yourself,

'I am, and there is none besides me.'

 

(Babylon represents the attitude “It’s all about me.” We live in a similar culture, eaten alive by self-absorption, and we in God’s family are miserable with it, but it’s what we are taught day-in, day-out. And if we are not doing everything we can to fight that Babylonian mentality, we will be sucked in by it. This battle is so tough, that we must be very deliberate and extremely intentional to live for God or we will not be people He can use..)

 

GOD KNOWS WHEN AND WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE

 

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof (a flat roof) of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 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 city of Babylon was truly a marvelous, spectacular city, but Neb’s. pride gets the best of him.)

 

31 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. (The tree that reached to heaven and the ends of the earth is about to be cut down!) 32 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." (The 7 years of insanity represents the nations living apart from God during the Times of the Gentiles, particularly, what it will be like in the end times and Daniel’s 70th week. The Jewish people believed that the current age we live in a “bad age” associated with sin. There is a golden age to come. We call that the Millennium. In between, there is a very brief period called the “end of the age.” We call that the Day of the Lord.)

 

33 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. (Nebuchadnezzar is being forced to deal with mental illness, but this is a lesson about God’s divine discipline, not mental illness. Maybe you have had to deal with something like Nebuchadnezzar had to deal with. What would it look like if you wrote out a list of what issues you have had to deal with as a family? Alcoholism, depression, bankruptcy, mental illness, cancer, paranoia, sexual addictions, religious fanatics… Either you deal with your stuff, or your stuff will deal with you. God wants you and me healed from all the stuff in our lives. Once you do, you will have your pride crushed. You will be broken, and then set free.)

1 Cor. 10:6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

THE KING AND HIS RESTORATION

 

34 At the end of that time (after seven years), 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. (Very different than the Antichrist, Nebuchadnezzar harbored no resentment, only praise and thanksgiving.) His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. (Unlike the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks and the Romans.)

 

35 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?" 36 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. (Nebuchadnezzar is so powerful, on the other side of his 7 years of insanity, his kingdom will still be waiting for him.) 37 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.

 

1 Peter 5:5-7 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,   "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." [6] Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. [7] Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.