19For a while, Daniel was terribly confused and worried by what he was thinking. But I said, “Don't be bothered either by the dream or by what it means.”
Your Majesty, I wish the dream had been against your enemies. 20You saw a tree that grew so big and strong that it reached up to heaven and could be seen from anywhere on earth. 21Its leaves were beautiful, and it produced enough fruit for all living creatures; animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. 22Your Majesty, that tree is you. Your glorious reputation has reached heaven, and your kingdom covers the earth.
23Then you saw a holy angel come down from heaven and say, “Chop down the tree and destroy it! But leave its stump and roots in the ground, fastened there by a chain of iron and bronze. Let it stay for seven years out in the field with the wild animals, unprotected from the dew.”
24Your Majesty, God Most High has sent you this message, and it means 25that you will be forced to live with the wild animals, far away from humans. You will eat grass like a wild animal and live outdoors for seven years, until you learn that God Most High controls all earthly kingdoms and chooses their rulers. 26But he gave orders not to disturb the stump and roots. This is to show that you will be king once again, after you learn that the God who rules from heaven is in control. 27 Your Majesty, please be willing to do what I say. Turn from your sins and start living right; have mercy on those who are mistreated. Then all will go well with you for a long time.
The Rest of Nebuchadnezzar's Letter
28-30About twelve months later, I was walking on the flat roof of my royal palace and admiring the beautiful city of Babylon, when these things started happening to me. I was saying to myself, “Just look at this wonderful capital city that I have built by my own power and for my own glory!”
31But before I could finish speaking, a voice from heaven interrupted:
King Nebuchadnezzar, this kingdom is no longer yours. 32You will be forced to live with the wild animals, away from people. For seven years you will eat grass, as though you were an ox, until you learn that God Most High is in control of all earthly kingdoms and that he is the one who chooses their rulers.
33This was no sooner said than done—I was forced to live like a wild animal; I ate grass and was unprotected from the dew. As time went by, my hair grew longer than eagle feathers, and my fingernails looked like the claws of a bird.
34 Finally, I prayed to God in heaven, and my mind was healed. Then I said:
“I praise and honor
God Most High.
God lives forever,
and his kingdom
will never end.
35To him the nations
are far less than nothing;
God controls the stars in the sky
and everyone on this earth.
When God does something,
we cannot change it
or even ask why.”
36At that time my mind was healed, and once again I became the ruler of my glorious kingdom. My advisors and officials returned to me, and I had greater power than ever before. 37That's why I say:
“Praise and honor the King
who rules from heaven!
Everything he does
is honest and fair,
and he can shatter the power
of those who are proud.”
How do you speak the truth when it will clearly hurt? God’s prophets have no option, but that doesn’t mean they are unfeeling. Only those who love dare to speak words of judgment, for judgment is the shadow side of love. Daniel explains the dream, holding nothing back. Fearful of the dream becoming reality he urges Nebuchadnezzar to pursue a different path, He encourages good and generous leadership, but his words fall on deaf ears. Once the dream is explained, Nebuchadnezzar is no longer afraid and life returns to normal. “I hear you” is the response.
What a parody of the Lord’s Prayer comes from the king’s lips (v 30). In effect, he says, “Mine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,” whereupon God pointedly says, “No, it is not!” As high as
has been his glory, so low will be his fall. He loses his wits and all the dignity of humanity is taken from him. His days pass isolated, deranged and abandoned. Could this possibly be the greatest king there ever was? What a mockery of power and its pretensions.
The turning point comes when he looks up to heaven, not down on others or on the earth. He regains his perspective, recovers his memory and finds his identity. He bears no grudges, attributes no blame and takes no revenge. Instead, he is moved to worship and, in so doing, finds he is restored to his throne. Incidentally, the kingdom seems to have got on quite well in his absence! He was not quite as indispensable as he thought. His final years are blessed, but the greatest change is in him. He has at last seen through his own self-publicity and put himself in a right relationship with the God who made him and who wants him to walk in righteousness.
Lord Jesus, you warned us that if we think highly of ourselves we will be humbled (Luke 14:11). Help me as I follow you to have your humility, and to prefer your presence to the applause of other people. For your sake, Amen.