Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Psalm 67:4
Why bother telling Nebuchadnezzar’s story at all? I believe God is painting two pictures in these first four chapters, detailing a complex relationship between a king and four faithful Hebrew men. The first is of God’s providence in all of human history; there is no earthly kingdom or king greater than Daniel’s God. The second is of God guiding every nation, tribe and tongue into eternal gladness.
That’s what we begin to see in Nebuchadnezzar’s story, a glimmer of hope for every nation. His story will be their story.
In Babylon God used four Hebrew men, today He uses His church. What they did for Nebuchadnezzar, we now do for the whole world.
“All authority, in heaven and earth, has been given to me. Now go make disciples of every nation…” -Jesus
“Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him.”
We have seen (in previous chapters) Daniel’s devotion to God bear the fruit of courage, trust, discipline, and perseverance. In chapter 4 we see another evidence of a vibrant relationship with God- love. It is Daniel’s love for Nebuchadnezzar that caused the emotions of being perplexed and terrified. I don’t think he was terrified of the king. I think he was terrified for the king. It was love for the king that motivated Daniel to tell him the truth about his dream- hoping the king would repent and avoid consequences. It was Daniel’s love for God that fostered a genuine love and concern for the king (the king even recognizes it).
We would do well to have that same kind of love and regard for those who don’t have a relationship with God through Christ, even if they mistreat us or others. This goes for our leaders (no matter how good or bad we think they are). We should pray for them. We should care about their souls and their circumstances.
Loving God empowers us to love others.
In Daniel’s day, there was a cultural possessiveness of gods. Nebuchadnezzar spoke of Daniel being renamed after his Babylonian god. The Jewish people considered the one true God, Jehovah, as their personal God. He was not the God for all peoples, only the Jews. Nebuchadnezzar was forging new ground when he had interaction with Daniel’s God. God spoke to him, God was working in his country, and God was directing his steps. Even the New Testament Jews did not accept that God would possibly use someone other than a Jew to carry out His work. When Jesus interacted with gentiles, the Jews reacted violently in opposition. Later, as the gospel began to spread to the gentiles, even the Jewish believers had to adjust their thinking.
Are there areas of your life that need to be ‘adjusted’ to God’s way of doing things? Has tradition or false teaching blurred or even corrupted the truth for you? Truth is always truth, even if we don’t always understand it. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
“The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes.”
God had been at work for some time revealing reality to Nebuchadnezzar. In the course of that instruction, the king had reached a sticking point at which he did not wish to comply with reality. God then let Nebuchadnezzar know that his behavior had endangered his mental and emotional health, and suffering would result. God further told the king that this time of suffering, though, would not be in vain. God did not intend to put the king in a headlock until he cried uncle, but instead to form him into the kind of person who understands that he will endanger his life and the lives of many when he attempts to live as an authority unto himself. Reality originates with God.
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 4:1-37(day two) All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king.Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. vs. 28-29
Nebuchadnezzar is like most of us, if we are honest. We are mostly consumed with our own want and desires. There will be times of crisis where we come to a place of recognizing our need for God, and may, for a time, trust in his ability to help us. It’s that “for a time” part that is the problem. Our moments of clarity in crisis do not equate to a surrendered heart and life. Nebuchadnezzar had more than one opportunity to recognize God as the ultimate authority over him, and he gave some lip service before everything was taken from him. His last word was to praise the Lord, but we must ask the question – do we have to have everything forcibly taken away before we will submit to his will? How appropriate a question for us today, as many of us are struggling with so much loss. It’s not too late.
Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Daniel 4:1-37 in our Spring Sermon Series: “Faith Under Fire” A Study in Daniel.
“[…] nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.” vs 27
If you have ever sat around a camp fire, you know that it is impossible to avoid the smell of smoke. It saturates your clothes, your hair, and even your skin. It requires a full on cleaning to get that smell out. Yet, this was no camp fire nor a bon fire for that matter. This was a fire that killed those who even got near, and still, they didn’t even smell like smoke. It was as if they were never there to begin with.
This shows the comprehensiveness of God’s protection on these young men in a direct answer to the question of the king, “what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” To a man who considered himself a god, God showed off His true power by not only delivering these young men safely but protecting them from every aspect of the fire.
God saves us in the same way. He removes our sin and cleanses even the stench of what was once there. It is as if it was never there to begin with. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12.
29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30
Is there a god worthy of dying for? Or worthy of giving up so much? Not in the Babylonian pantheon. Marduk, or any other god, was only as worthy as the gifts he gives. Nebuchadnezzar, nor any other local in Babylon, couldn’t fathom risking so much for seemingly so little.
Just bow down. Keep your beliefs and convictions quietly to yourself. Just for a moment, then stand up and go about your business. It’s not worth possibly losing so much-reputation, the next rung up the ladder, acceptance.
Make no mistake God is an [extraordinary] rewarder of those who seek him! Not because of the gifts he gives (there are many), but because he gives himself. Fellowship is our reward. Knowing him is our eternal treasure. God was Shadrach’s anchor; Meshach’s assurance; Abednego’s confidence.
They loved the giver, more than the gifts he can give.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
This bold and courageous declaration is a culmination of years of faithfulness and discipline by the three young Hebrews. God had been equipping and preparing them for this moment.God had used Daniel as an influence and example. God had given them other experiences that demonstrated His power and faithfulness. So, when the crucial moment comes, they continue to serve and honor God just like they have been doing all along. A regular rhythm of loyalty to God and a regular conviction of glorifying Him above all others.Think about David and Goliath.Same pattern… God had been preparing David for that moment as far back as in the fields where he protected sheep with his sling. David remained faithful and humble.The three young Jews remained faithful and humble. As we serve and follow Christ with faithfulness and humility, part of God’s work in our lives is preparing and equipping us for what lies ahead. Do you trust Him to do that?