Nebuchadnezzar's Salvation
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Daniel, chapter 4. We have been looking together at the book of Daniel, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, remembering that the first six chapters of the book are what we might refer to as historical, the last six are prophetic. We have been keeping in mind, however, what the Lord Jesus Christ said—that the entire book of Daniel is a prophecy. If we look at the chapters from a historical, devotional standpoint alone, we will miss the message that God has for us.

Chapter 4 of the book of Daniel is one of the longest chapters in the entire book, but to me it is one of the most thrilling chapters because it represents a personal testimony. It represents, if you please, a personal testimony that was issued in the form of a state proclamation.

It is a marvelous thing when an individual is born again, and one rebirth should not be of any more importance that another. Yet there is something about a well-known person's, a famous person's, receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, being born again. That thrills us more than any ordinary person's being born again.

I repeat, I do not know that that ought to be true, but I believe it is. And so when we read the personal testimony of King Nebuchadnezzar, we cannot help but be thrilled.

Nebuchadnezzar's Proclamation For God

This chapter begins with a state proclamation, and then Nebuchadnezzar goes on to explain how he came to this state of mind—how, in New Testament terms, he was born again.

Daniel 4:

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Job, chapter 33. I never read this testimony that Nebuchadnezzar gave in Daniel, chapter 4, without being reminded of what is recorded for us in the book of Job.

God's Method Of Dealing With Men

The words of Elihu as he was attempting to comfort Job in relation to his situation are found here, beginning with verse 14:

Job 33:

14 For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
18 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
19 He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
20 So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.
21 His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out.
22 Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.
23 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to hew unto man his uprightness:
24 Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
25 His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:
26 He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.

Turn back to Daniel, chapter 4, as I review what we have read in the book of Job. Elihu said it had been his observation that God speaks once to a man; God speaks twice to a man, in dreams and in visions and in ordinary ways. Then, if that man does not listen to the voice that God sent to him, God brings something more drastic upon him. He brings upon him that which will result in his body's being afflicted, his flesh withering away, and his bones sticking out. He will do to him from a physical standpoint that which will result in his being brought down to the grave, brought completely to the end of himself, and then that man will pray to God. If there is someone there who can interpret God's dealings with him, that individual will find deliverance and salvation.

God Speaks Twice To Nebuchadnezzar

You will remember that as we have studied the book of Daniel, God spoke once to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream, in chapter 2. Nebuchadnezzar was moved with what he had seen in that dream. If you will glance at the last part of chapter 2, you will hear what Nebuchadnezzar had to say about God:

Daniel 3:

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Once again, he was highly complimentary of the God of the Hebrew children, but he had no personal relationship to Him.

Bringing Nebuchadnezzar To Submission

Elihu said, “I have seen God speak once; I have seen God bring the individual down to nothing.” That is exactly the testimony of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4 of the book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar paid no attention to the dream of chapter 2. He paid no attention to the vision of chapter 3. God brought him by another dream which he ignored, and finally, by physical affliction, to a place where he could give the testimony which we have read in these first few verses.

Now let us examine this chapter and see how it came about that he could give such a testimony as this. In verse 4, he said:

Daniel 4:

4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:

This is an historical statement. As a matter of history, Nebuchadnezzar had just returned victoriously from the land of Egypt, and there was no other nation left for him to conquer. He was at peace with all the nations surrounding him. He was, for all practical purposes, the controller of the world. He was at rest and at peace.

God's Final Warning

In verse 5, he said that during this period:

Daniel 4:

5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.

“I had another dream. This dream troubled me exceedingly—so much so that I could not sleep last night.”

Daniel 4:

6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.

He ordered all of the wise men of Babylon to come before him that they might make known the interpretation of the dream.

In verse 7, they failed, just as they had failed before. I've often wondered why Nebuchadnezzar turned back to these failing individuals. He knew they had nothing to offer him.

God's Man To Interpret The Warning

In verse 8, at last Daniel came in. Here is the interpreter about whom Elihu had spoken. You remember in the book of Job, after he had described the manner in which God deals with an individual. Elihu said, “If there is an interpreter who can tell the individual concerned what the meaning of the dreams and the visions and the afflictions is, then that individual can turn to God and God will save him.” Thank God for the interpreter; thank God that Daniel was there at the right time.

The thing that burdens my heart is that there are so many people in the same state as was Nebuchadnezzar and there is no interpreter—nobody to point them in the right way. Look at Verse 8:

Daniel 4:

8 But at the last Daniel came in before me…

Nebuchadnezzar's Testimony

Keep in mind that Nebuchadnezzar is speaking and giving his testimony:

Daniel 4:

8…whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god…

You remember that when Daniel, in chapter 1, was brought into the land of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar changed his name from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Belteshazzar was the name of Nebuchadnezzar's god.

Daniel 4:

8…in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,

Nebuchadnezzar was aware of the fact that there was something about the astrologers and wise men of Babylon that was different from Daniel. The astrologers and wise men could read the stars. They could read the sands. They could cut open an animal and look at the way its heart was placed in relation to its entrails and be able to make a prophecy concerning the future. But Daniel depended upon nothing like that. Daniel depended upon the Holy Spirit Who dwelt within him.

You will remember that, in chapter 2, when Daniel had to give an interpretation, he asked his three friends to spend some time in prayer that the Holy Spirit would make known to them what needed to be known. They did, and Daniel was able so to give the revelation that in verse 9, Nebuchadnezzar says:

Daniel 4:

9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians (which simply means, ”better than all the wise men of Babylon”), because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee,…

I love that phrase. There is no mystery for the children of God! The children of God won't have to go about wondering concerning this and wondering concerning that. They don't have to stay in the dark. They are not troubled by secrets. They have the revelation which God has so plainly given in the Word. Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel, “No secret troubleth thee.” Look at verse 9:

Daniel 4:

9 …tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.

Then Nebuchadnezzar told Daniel the dream. You remember that, in chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream and forgot it, and Daniel had to tell him what he dreamed and then tell him the meaning of it. Nebuchadnezzar didn't forget this dream, as it was so much more personal than the other. He remembered it, and he described the dream to Daniel:

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

Daniel 4:

10 …I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth…

There was something unusual about that tree. It was a tree that grew as Nebuchadnezzar watched it, for that is the meaning of the first phrase of verse 11. The tree was growing and it was strong.

Daniel 4:

11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:

Now get that fixed in your mind. A great tree that, while Nebuchadnezzar was watching it, continued to grow until the top of it reached to very Heaven, and the entire earth could view the tree.

Daniel 4:

12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
14 He cried aloud, and said thus [Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by what he heard the angel say]: Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field;…

The angel said, “This great tree shall be cut down and just a stump left.” He was not through. He said something that astounded Nebuchadnezzar, for the angel ceased to talk about such an impersonal thing as a tree and began to talk about a person.

Second Part of Dream

If you will notice in the last part of verse 15, he said, “Let it be wet with a dew of heaven.” The correct rendering is, “Let him be wet with the dew of Heaven.” He is not talking about the stump of the tree; he is talking about a person. From this point on, all of the pronouns are personal. They are masculine instead of neuter.

Daniel 4:

15 …and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
16 Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.

The Effect of the Dream Upon Daniel

Now notice the effect this dream had upon Daniel as the Holy Spirit revealed its meaning to him. In verse 19:

Daniel 4:

19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him…

Literally, he was struck dumb with astonishment for one hour, and he was troubled. So troubled was he that the king realized that he was; and in a day when a king had absolute power over life, the king realized that unless he encouraged Daniel to speak, he might never hear the interpretation of the dream. Ordinarily, if the thing which Daniel said displeased the king, he could demand his life. And so he spoke:

Daniel 4:

19 …The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee…

Meaning of the Dream Told

“You tell me what it is, no matter how bad it may be.” And then Daniel began his interpretation by saying:

Daniel 4:

19 … My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.

He said, “I wish this did not have to happen to you.” He said, “I wish I could tell you that this dream is related to one of your enemies, but I cannot tell you that.”

Daniel 4:

20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:

Notice:

Daniel 4:

22 It is thou, O king,…

“The tree represents you and your kingdom—just as that tree grew and became strong and provided habitation for all the peoples of the earth.” So in verse 22, Daniel says:

Daniel 4:

22 …for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;
24 This is the interpretation, O king [just as the angel was talking in that fashion]. and this is the decree of the most High, [notice] which is come upon my lord the king:

Seven Years To Learn God's Lesson

I'm sure that Daniel hesitated before he finished, for he realized the terribleness of what he was saying:

Daniel 4:

26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.

“You will be deposed from your throne for seven years. You will be restored to your throne after you have learned your lesson, not before,” said Daniel.

So real was this message to Daniel, and so concerned was he, and so sincere was he, that he could not forego an appeal to the king. Notice what he said, in verse 27:

Daniel 4:

27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

What was he saying? He was saying that things change. “Don't go on as you are. Acknowledge God. Forsake your sins. Do righteousness. I don't know because God didn't tell me to say this—I'm simply saying this because of my concern for you—but it may be that God will hold off His judgment if you repent. It may be that there will be a lengthening of tranquility.”

This should be the message that we deliver to the sinner. It should be the message that we deliver to every disobedient child of God: “Repent. Get right. Do what you need to do, and it may be that judgment will not fall.” We have no right to go around telling people that if they do what they ought to do, God won't deal with them. All we can say to them is that God may have mercy on them. He may.

Notice verse 28:

Daniel 4:

28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.

Withholding the Judgment for Twelve Months

Notice that phrase. That was twelve months of grace. Judgment is a strange work with God. He had rather do anything than let judgment fall, but He must be true to Himself. He gave Nebuchadnezzar this vision, this dream; another dream He gave him. And He gave him twelve months to listen to the appeal of Daniel, twelve months to listen to the interpreter, twelve months to heed the message. But he didn't heed it, and judgment had to fall. The straw that broke the camel's back, the spark that started the fire, is suggested in verse 30, where we read:

The Act Which Finally Brought Judgment

Daniel 4:

30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?

Get the picture. He was standing in the window of his palace one day viewing Babylon in all of its glory. It was an unusual city, as those of you who are familiar with history know. As he looked out over that beautiful city, he said, “Look at what I have done! This is the house that I have built. This is the kingdom that portrays my majesty.”

Look at verse 31, if you don't believe in the quick judgment of God. Look at verse 31 if you think God doesn't mean what He says:

God's Quick Judgment

Daniel 4:

31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

He went on and emphasized what was going to happen. Nebuchadnezzar was to wander seven years as a wild beast, eating upon grass, living in the manner described in verse 33:

Daniel 4:

33 [For that very] same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.

Get the picture. Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with a special kind of insanity called lycopia , which causes a human being to think he is a four-footed animal. In his palace, he began to hop around like a four-footed animal, and according to the custom of the day, they drove him out from the palace into the open fields.

There were no places, no institutions, no hospitals for insane people in that day. The only thing they ever did was to drive them away from the villages and the towns and the homes and let them roam, feeling as if the gods had touched them in some special way. So he was driven out into the fields with the oxen, and he ate grass.

Incidentally, the grass was alfalfa, as far as the word itself is concerned, which authorities say is sufficient to keep a human being alive. He ate alfalfa and lived with the oxen, with hair so long that it looked like eagles' feathers, and nails so long on hands and feet that they looked like eagles' claws. This was a physical affliction.

That is exactly what Job said. God speaks once and He speaks twice. If there is no response to His appeal, then He brings affliction in order to keep a man's soul out of Hell. He brings a man down to the very brink of the grave to keep his soul out of Hell. For seven long years Nebuchadnezzar lived in this manner.

In verse 34 we read:

Daniel 4:

34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven…

Daniel's Pleas Remembered By Nebuchadnezzar

My, that phrase is pregnant with meaning. He had one great moment of lucidity. He had one great moment when he knew what was going on, and in that one brief moment, he remembered what the interpreter had said. Daniel had said, “Remember God. Admit that God rules in the earth. Give God the glory.”

I've always been encouraged by this story. How many times have I given a message and felt that it did absolutely no good at all. How many times have I said a word, and it wasn't even well received, and I left with a feeling that time and effort were wasted. But remember this: no word spoken at the direction of the Holy Spirit and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is ever wasted. Daniel may have left the palace that day and during that entire year been burdened because Nebuchadnezzar didn't listen to what he had to say. When he saw the fulfillment of the judgment of God, and perhaps many times as he walked out to the fields and saw Nebuchadnezzar going about on all fours like an animal, Daniel must have thought, “My message didn't do any good.” But in that one moment of sanity, Nebuchadnezzar remembered. He had even forgotten how to talk. All he could do was to lift his eyes toward Heaven, and God saw the look and immediately restored his sanity, for the next thing you read is:

Daniel 4:

34…and mine understanding returned unto me…

I don't want to lead anybody astray, and I don't want, as you surely know, to make light of the plain teaching of the Word of God and the plan of salvation; but I have always believed—and I believe the Word of God bears me out in this—that if a soul wants to get to God, God will leave no stone unturned to get him to Him. I believe that!

Nebuchadnezzar's Praise Of God

I believe that when Nebuchadnezzar was so weak that he couldn't do anything but lift his eyes toward Heaven, God saw that look. He didn't demand a speech. He didn't demand that he walk down the aisle and shake Daniel's hand. All He wanted was what was in Nebuchadnezzar's heart that went out through his eyes. As soon as He saw that look, He restored his sanity. And notice what Nebuchadnezzar said, for this is his testimony:

Daniel 4:

34… and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

My, isn't this a tremendous testimony? When he threw those three Hebrew children into the fiery furnace, you will remember, he laughed and said to them, “Who is the God that can deliver you out of my hands?” He had changed, hadn't he?

Man Powerless Against God

Did you notice what he said about God in verse 35? “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.” This was the man who stood in his palace and looked out his window and said, “Look what I have done. I have done this.” Notice what he said in verse 35:

Daniel 4:

35 …and none can stay his hand…

Nobody can stop God. It took him seven years of insanity to learn that. You see, there are some things worse than some of the physical trials that come into our lives. A worse thing is for those physical trials to come and accomplish absolutely nothing. That is the sad thing! They made a believer out of Nebuchadnezzar, and he said:

Daniel 4:

36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

Nebuchadnezzar said, “God restored me to my kingdom as He said He would when He said to leave the stump in the ground.”

God Makes No Mistakes

Now in verse 37 he says:

Daniel 4:

37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

“I praise Him. He is right in everything He does, and I have learned by bitter experience that those that walk in pride He is able to abase.”

God Will Have His Way

Remember this: God will have His way. You can be clay in His hands and make it easy for yourself and for Him, or you can harden your will and make it difficult for both of you. But God is going to have His way.

I'm concerned that everybody who sits under my ministry be treated kindly by God. I want God's best for you.

Nebuchadnezzar is telling us here that the way to have God's best is to yield to His will. I want to say to you that I've learned that. The best way to have God's best is to yield to His will. Don't harden your heart against Him.


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