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"All His Works Are Right and His Ways Are Just" -- Daniel 4:19-37

The Ninth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

King Nebuchadnezzar has had a second terrifying dream.  Once again his court magicians and wise men cannot interpret his dream.  Greatly troubled, the Babylonian king summons his Hebrew servant Daniel to interpret this dream which has disrupted the king’s life of relative ease and comfort.  Daniel will reveal that the unsettling circumstances foretold in Nebuchadnezzar’s previous dream are soon to come to pass.  In the prior dream (as recounted in Daniel 2), the king saw a frightening metallic stature with a head of gold, which represented the king and his empire.  But that kingdom will fall before a series of empires yet to follow.  Nebuchadnezzar and his vast kingdom will come to an end–replaced by the Persian empire then just beginning to rise to power.  Although Nebuchadnezzar remains convinced that his kingdom is mighty and that it stands as a testimony to his own accomplishments and greatness, as a consequence of these two dreams, the king is beginning to realize that his kingdom is no match for YHWH’s.  YHWH rules all the kingdoms of the earth from heaven.  His kingdom is not of this world.  His kingdom is eternal.  None of this can be said of any earthly kingdom, including Nebuchadnezzar’s.

As we continue our series on the Book of Daniel we pick-up where we left off last time (v. 19 of Daniel 4) when the king had another troubling dream and then summoned the Hebrew prophet (Daniel) to interpret the dream for him.  Ironically, it was Daniel (a believing Jew), who, in gaining favor with the king after interpreting his first dream successfully was appointed prefect over Nebuchadnezzar’s pagan court magicians.  The king’s magicians fail again and so it falls to Daniel to explain to the king what his second dream foretold–events which Nebuchadnezzar probably suspected (based upon his previous terrifying dream years before), yet which now brought him to a breaking point.  

As we saw last time, ideally this passage (Daniel 4–Nebuchadnezzar’s last appearance in the Book of Daniel) is best treated in one sermon, but the tyranny of time does not allow us to cover the passage in enough detail in one sermon to fully unpack its contents.  Since this is a “part two” sermon in a sense, I’ll briefly recap the ground we covered last time, before we turn to our text–the balance of Daniel 4.  

The scene described in Daniel 4 comes late in Nebuchadnezzar’s life and forty-plus year career, likely at some point after his prolonged military campaigns in Judah and Tyre, yet before his final campaign in Egypt and his death in 562 BC.  Chapter 4 contains a first-person account from the king (in the form of a letter) about his dream, his subsequent break with reality, followed by his equally dramatic restoration.  The king has witnessed YHWH’s power and sovereign hand often enough to willingly confess that YHWH is the Most High God (v. 1), who is all powerful (v. 35), and whose kingdom will never end (vv. 3, 34).  Yet Nebuchadnezzar never confesses his sins nor repents of them (or even acknowledges that he is a sinner).  He never rejects the pagan gods of Babylon, even though he is forced to acknowledge that Daniel’s God (YHWH) is much more powerful than Bel (Marduk), the king’s preferred god from among the legion of Babylonian deities.  We see in this chapter that Nebuchadnezzar has reached the pinnacle of his career, has another frightening dream, suffers a mental collapse (as foretold in the dream), and then has his sanity restored.  All of this is YHWH’s doing.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

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