Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that made him afraid. No one was able to give him an interpretation of what he had seen, so he called upon Daniel to enlighten him. When everything eventually came to pass just as the Hebrew prophet had said it would, the great emperor of Babylon had been brought down a notch in his own assessment and had come to understand that God was worthy of worship. He insisted on giving his own testimony publicly for all to consider.
Nebuchadnezzar was a great “tree.” The “beasts of the field” and the “birds of the heavens” lived under his protection. Yet at just the right moment when he was most impressed with the glory of his own majesty, God brought him low. For an ordained period of time, “he was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox.”
According to the Lord’s appointment, this season of discipline came to an abrupt conclusion. “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever.” The king himself concluded that God’s reign is “an everlasting dominion.” The Almighty does everything “according to His will among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.”
Though Nebuchadnezzar may not have given up on his polytheism, he had certainly gained a better understanding of his own condition as one who was very much subordinate to Daniel’s God. He acknowledged that the Hebrew deity was the King of heaven. “All His works are right and His ways are just; and those who walk in pride He is able to humble.”
It is not only majestic rulers who need to learn the difference between the Creator and the creature. While it is indeed very difficult for a rich and powerful man to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24), even a poor man can be overcome by pride. God instructs us all to stop thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. We should remember that we exist for His pleasure and that at the proper time He will exalt the lowly. (Romans 12:3 and 1 Peter 5:6)
The story of the Lord’s discipline of Nebuchadnezzar and his subsequent restoration to his former high estate is all quite interesting. Even more captivating, however, is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He willingly lowered Himself for our salvation, even to the point of His death on the cross for our sins. Even the most wretched sinner who truly repents and believes can live with a confident expectation that he will eventually be raised up to live and reign with Jesus forever. This good news fills us not only with amazement but also with eternal gratitude and love.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O Father, You speak the truth to people according to Your great plan. You have created the heavens and the earth. Even a sparrow does not fall to the ground except according to Your decree. There is a King who is far above all the rulers of this world, and we have heard His voice and have eagerly received Him. Your revelation is a great help to us in our lives. We are so thankful for Your servants who have brought us the Word of truth. Through this blessing we have been kept from great foolishness and unnecessary self-preoccupation. You have rescued us from all kinds of dangerous thinking and behavior. May we use all that we are and all that we have for Your purposes. We will extol You forever, for You are able to bring low all those who walk in arrogance, and to lift up all those who glorify You.