Social Network Links
Powered by Squarespace
Search the Riddleblog
"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website) | Main | This Week at Christ Reformed Church (May 15-21) »

"The Most High Rules the Kingdom of Men" -- Daniel 4:1-18

The Eighth in A Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

In Daniel chapter 4, we are given remarkable insight into a man who has played a key role in Daniel’s prophecy–the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar.  In each of the three chapters of Daniel we have covered so far, Nebuchadnezzar has exerted his royal power and authority, demonstrated his hot temper and tyrannical nature, while championing the “gods of Babylon.”  We have also seen that both his “gods” and his Chaldeans (the wise men and court magicians) repeatedly failed to give the king what he needed.  The great king was even forced to seek help from one of his young Hebrew servants to interpret a troubling dream–which he will do yet again in chapter 4.  YHWH has clearly won the battle with the idols of Babylon.  Through all of this, it has become clear that YHWH is sovereign over all things, a fact which Nebuchadnezzar has been forced to admit repeatedly when neither his idols nor his Chaldeans could help him, and then again in chapter 3 when Nebuchadnezzar personally witnessed three Hebrew officials (who were friends of Daniel) survive being thrown into a super-heated fiery furnace with the aid of a mysterious fourth man (the pre-incarnate Christ, or an angel of the Lord).  

In Daniel chapter 4 everything has changed.  Much time has passed and Nebuchadnezzar is a different man.  But Nebuchadnezzar has yet another dream which Daniel must interpret for him–only this dream comes much later in the king’s career, toward the end his life.  In this chapter–filled with remarkable contrasts and ironies–we read of a king whose days as a cruel tyrant seem to be past.  We find a man who greatly enjoys the creature comforts accrued after a long career as ruler of a great empire.  Daniel’s report almost makes us feel sorry for Nebuchadnezzar as the pagan king is forced to wrestle with the fact that YHWH is the sovereign Lord, who rules the affairs of men and nations, and of whom Nebuchadnezar will affirm, “how great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.”  

We also learn in this chapter that Nebuchadnezzar has yet another dream which must be interpreted by Daniel after we read again of the inability of the king’s court magicians to do so.  We also learn (in vv. 28-33), that at some point during this period of his life, the great king experiences what used to be described as a “nervous breakdown.”  This complete mental and emotional unraveling causes the king to flee his palace and his capital city to live among wild animals, while eating grass and becoming almost unrecognizable in appearance.  Chapter four ends with Nebuchadnezzar regaining his sanity and affirming YHWH’s greatness, but not making a credible profession of faith.  

On the one hand, this is a fascinating story as we witness such a mighty and cruel man come to the brink of faith, then instead fall into madness, only to be restored unto sanity.  On the other hand, Nebuchadnezzar’s inner-struggles are revealed by Daniel to serve as a powerful reminder to the Jewish exiles then living under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule in Babylon (those who are the initial recipients of Daniel’s prophecy), that no human king is truly sovereign over the dealings of men and nations–only YHWH is.  Kings rule only as YHWH allows them.  YHWH can and will protect his people, even as they suffer under a tyrant’s rule, Daniel and his three friends being the proof.  

Daniel’s message to the exiles is that YHWH chose to give this particular kingdom to this man at this time and place–YHWH even forces Nebuchadnezzar to realize that fact.  But YHWH can just as easily give Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom to another–as we will see with the fall of Babylon to the Persians, shortly before the end of Daniel’s life.  YHWH is Nebuchadnezzar’s Lord.  YHWH is the one who ultimately determines the fate of the Jewish exiles.  Through his prophets YHWH has revealed to the exiles in Babylon that one day their exile will come to an end, and YHWH’s people will return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and its temple.  Nebuchadnezzar cannot stop this, and in this chapter we are given a glimpse into why this is the case.  The great king is a mere man, with a great many problems, fears, and weaknesses of his own.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.