The Tree and the Wild Animal
JULY 13 - Nº 194 Daniel 4
King Nebuchadnezzar was happy and prosperous. Things seemed to be going very well for him. Then one night he had a frightening dream. He couldn’t get it out of his mind. He called his counselors together and explained it to them, but not one of them could interpret it for him. Finally he called for Daniel. “I saw a tree in the middle of the land,” he explained. “It was large—spreading out to cover the whole earth; it was tall— reaching up to the heavens; it was strong and productive—providing enough fruit for everyone to eat. Wild animals found shelter under it, and birds lived in its branches. As I admired it, a messenger came down from heaven. He called in a loud voice, ‘Cut down the tree and trim off the branches. Strip the leaves and scatter the fruit. Chase away the animals and the birds. But leave the stump with its roots in the ground. Tie it down with iron and bronze straps.’ Then the messenger began to talk about the tree as if it was a man,” the king explained. “The messenger said, ‘Now leave him alone for seven years. He will have the mind of an animal and eat grass in the field. Each morning he will be covered with dew. He will stay this way until he realizes that it is God Who is sovereign over all the kingdoms on earth—it is God Who determines who will reign.’”
When Nebuchadnezzar had finished describing his dream, he waited for Daniel’s response. But Daniel was too afraid to speak. He just stared at the king. “Don’t be afraid. Just tell me what it means!” Nebuchadnezzar insisted.
“Oh, my lord. I wish the dream was about your enemies,” Daniel replied. “But it isn’t! You are the tree—tall and strong. Your kingdom spreads over the whole earth, and what you do affects the lives of people everywhere. But you will be driven away from the people. You will live like a wild animal and eat grass and sleep in the fields. This will last for seven years until you realize that God is the supreme ruler—and that you are not! When you admit this, God will restore your kingdom. Please accept my advice,” Daniel begged. “Acknowledge your sins and obey God’s commands. Show mercy to the people you oppress and maybe God will show mercy to you.”
Nothing happened until one year later when King Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the rooftop of his palace in Babylon. As he surveyed the beauty of the city, he said, “Look how great this is! I built all this myself! Surely it reveals my great power and my true majesty!” Immediately a voice spoke from heaven, “You are no longer the ruler of Babylon. I am taking it away from you. You will live like a wild animal until you learn that God is in control over all kingdoms!” Instantly the king went insane and started acting like a beast. The people forced him to leave the palace. He lived in the fields and ate grass. His hair grew long, and his fingernails became like claws.
At the end of seven years he finally looked up at the heavens toward God. Promptly his sanity returned. He praised God and acknowledged God’s sovereignty. God returned Nebuchadnezzar’s honor and made him the king of Babylon again. His empire became even greater than before. But from that day on, the king of Babylon gave all the credit to the King of heaven!
When you think through the things you have accomplished, do you recognize God’s sovereignty in your life? Or do you sometimes claim credit for yourself? God has unique (sometimes humiliating) ways of revealing Who is really in control!