You would think that after Daniel basically reads Nebuchadnezzars mind to reveal his first dream, interpret it, and what happened in the fiery furnace that there would be little doubt in the king’s mind who the true “Most High God” is.  I mean how much more proof would you need than watching 4 guys running around in a blazing furnace unharmed without a mark on them, unsinged? Add to the fact that you only threw 3 guys in there and a fourth, looking like the “Son of God”, jumps in unexpectedly. Of course, the king is very impressed in the moment. Daniel 3:24 says that he “leaped to his feet in amazement”. I can hear him saying, “This is awesome! Daniel’s God is #1!!!”.  They’re probably all jumping around like they just won the Super bowl, but has this experience led to his conversion? Does he become a true believer?

Jumping forward to chapter 4 Nebuchadnezzar sounds like he has joined the bandwagon when he says, “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.” (Daniel 4:2-4 NIV). All seems right with the world, but has the king found that “peace that passes all understanding” that comes from a relationship with the Lord, the peace that Paul talks about in Philippians 4? Not necessarily. Nebuchadnezzar is still on the fence, and in verse five things begin to unravel again.

5I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. Daniel 4:5 NIV

Ok, we can cut ole Neb some slack. I’m a Christian and there are times when I am afraid, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped believing. Like Peter trying to walk on water, I’ve taken my eyes off Jesus and allowed myself to succumb to fear and doubt sinking below the waves, but God can still work with that. Jesus didn’t kick Peter out of the club because he was afraid or had doubts. Plus, when we’re afraid God is just a prayer away. God is always there but saying he’s a “prayer away” sounds more spiritual, more holy huddle.

When we’re afraid, in trouble, or feeling guilty we can always turn to God. As the hymn says, we can “tell Him all about our troubles” (Just A Little Walk with Jesus).  Does the king do that? Is God the first person that he turns to in his time of trouble? Unfortunately, no. The first place the king goes is back to the same old well as in chapter 2 with his first dream about the huge statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay.

6So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Daniel 4:6 NIV

“Hello! King! What about the miraculous signs and wonders from the “MOST HIGH GOD” that you just told everyone about just a few verses ago? You said it gave you great pleasure to share the news!”

After reading verse 2 again, I really think Nebuchadnezzar just thought all the miraculous signs were cool like going to a magic show.  It was entertaining. He was like, “Hey, you guys should have been there last night at the barbeque. You know when we tried to roast those three guys for not bowing down to me. Daniel’s God wouldn’t let the fire consume them, and then that other dude jumped into the furnace looking like the Son of God. The special effects were amazing! I don’t know how Daniel’s God does it, but he really has a gift for showmanship. He should think about going on tour with that stuff. He would make a killing.”

While Daniel’s God may have been entertaining and a nice distraction from the stress of ruling Babylon, the king was still not convinced or willing to take God seriously. Verse 4 tells us that the king was prosperous and content. Things were going well in the kingdom, so why does he need to trade gods? I mean if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? I’m being sarcastic, but it could be true. True or not, the king is getting ready to get a HUGE wakeup call from the “Most High God”. God gives him a little preview of coming attractions in a dream. Read Daniel 4:10-17.

Since the “wise men of Babylon” couldn’t interpret the dream, the king has to go to plan B, so he asks Daniel to interpret again. Daniel then tells the king that God’s not playing around anymore. God is going take everything away from him even his mind until he acknowledges that “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” God is taking His discipline to another level. But before God lowers the boom, he gives Nebuchadnezzar one more chance.

“27Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” Daniel 4:27 NIV

Daniel tries to reason with the king, but apparently, the king doesn’t go for it. He didn’t renounce or repent of anything.  We know because this is what happened IMMEDIATELY after Daniel’s advice was given.

“33Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” Daniel 4:33 NIV

The king’s “time out” from reality and from ruling Babylon lasts for about 7 years, 7 years! When he finally comes to his senses, literally, he has a completely different attitude about the “Most High” or so it seems. Read verses 34-37 for everything that the king says but here is the end.

“37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Daniel 4:37 NIV

In fact, this is the end of king Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel as well.  He kind of rides off unceremoniously into the sunset. There is a new sheriff coming to town in chapter 5, so get ready. It’s going to get weird, like Twilight Zone weird.

Many have speculated whether the king’s final words were proof that he was finally a member of the God squad. I like to think he is. He does make and “acknowledgement” of God’s greatness, declares that those who “walk in pride God is able to humble”, but there is no mention of repentance, so we’re left wondering like a movie that doesn’t answer everything completely in the end. Don’t you hate that? However, those last few verses in this chapter just have a different tone than previous ones. Only God knows for sure, but I hope so for his sake.

Some may find it strange that the Lord takes such an interest in an oppressive tyrant, but Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is “patient with you (us), not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” If God disciplines those that he loves, then apparently, He loved Nebuchadnezzar.

We made it through a whole chapter in one devotional! It’s a miracle! But we’re not quite finished with chapter 4. There are still a few things to unpack, especially a deeper look at some applications that can help us in the present.

Have an amazing 4th of July!

Love y’all!

Robby Morris
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC