The King’s Tree Vision (Part 1)
In this chapter, the king was warned in a dream of divine discipline. Choosing to disregard the warning, Nebuchadnezzar became insane for seven years, and his position and power were removed while he lived like an animal. Our text describes the way God dealt personally and individually with Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord is not just teaching King Nebuchadnezzar, He was also teaching His people, Israel. Beyond this, as we explore our text, we should see that these lessons are of vital importance to every Christian and every non-Christian.
I. His greetings (Dan. 4:1-3)
A. This is a personal testimony, directed to all peoples, of every language, not just one nation or race. The focus is not on man, but on the one true God, the God of Israel.
B. It was willing (v. 2). ”I thought it was good”, he need not to be forced into saying what had happened to his life (Ps. 107:2).
C. It was experiential (v.2) – no theoretical statement. It was personal experience (Mt. 12:34b, Jn. 9:25, Acts 4:20).
D. It was exuberant (v. 3) – The king excited for the Lord. (Ps. 23:5c). Christians should be walking exclamation points for the Lord, not question marks.
E. It was Universal – (v.1) Nebuchadnezzar wanted the whole world to know he was saved. (Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15).
F. It was Salutatory – (v.2) “Peace be multiplied unto you”. It was meant to be a blessing to those who heard it. (Prov. 16:24).
II. His Dream (Dan. 4:4-18)
A. A. The comfortable king (v. 4)
1. There is a real danger with luxury at ease (Mk. 8:36, 1 Tim. 6:9, 10, 17, Prov. 30:8,9).
B. The Troubled King (v. 5)
2. His “at rest” in v. 4 was a “false peace” (1 Thess. 5:3, Isa. 48:22). False security.
3. Guilty men are easily frightened
4. God is the troubling business. Note Job 33:14-17
This mighty world conqueror sitting behind his fortifications is afraid. Although Nebuchadnezzar was the wealthiest man of his day, he was unhappy and full of fear. The man who has everything has nothing .
It is possible to be successful in every way and still be a failure. A man by modern status symbols can have the appearance of success. He may have all the riches, fame, influence, and material things the world has to offer, but can still be full of fear.
True prosperity of soul is not possible without Jesus Christ. We can have everything and yet have nothing. Christ’s word is always true: Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
C. The desperate king (vs. 6, 7). Like troubled people, the king seeks counsel. How often do people with a sin problem seek help from the counsellors and philosophers of the world (Ps. 33:16, 118:8, Job 13:4).
1. Though the wise men of Babylon had been discredited previously, Nebuchadnezzar retained them
2. For the second time, he called them again. He also revealed to them the dream. However, they cannot tell him the interpretation as usual.
D. The rescued king (vs. 8,9)-
1. What a tragedy that so often, the man of God and the true God is often the “last resort”.
2. Where Daniel was, and why he had not been called earlier, we are not told. Perhaps the king wanted to avoid hearing the truth from Daniel.
3. The king called Daniel as master of the magicians, not because he was in authority over the wise men but because he was wiser than all of them, capable of understanding and interpreting dreams.
III. The Dream in Detail (Dan. 4:10-17)
A. The Great Tree
a. Its location – in the midst of the earth.
b. Its Height – great, its height reaching unto heaven
c. Its development – It grew strong and very high.
d. Its usefulness – beneficial for food and shelter.
e. Ancients often described nations as trees (Is. 2:12-13; 10:34; Ezek. 31:3-17).
B. The Great Watcher (v. 13)
1. This was angelic being sent from heaven. Ps. 103:20.
C. The Great Destruction – (vs. 14,15)
2. The tree is felled – the king would lose control of his kingdom.
3. The removal of blessings – note in Ezek. 31 a similar prophecy, directed at the pharaoh of Egypt but speaking of the “Assyrian” (Antichrist), also uses the symbol of the tree.
D. Punishment: (vs. 15, 16)
1. Let his portion be with the beasts of the field.
2. A beast’s heart be given unto him. He will cease to act like a man but act like a beast.
3. Length of punishment: till seven times pass over him; signifies a period of seven years
4. The tree is banded – this suggests a hope of restoration. Placing a band around a stump will preserve it from total decay.
E. The Great Decree (vs. 15b, 16)
1. Note the change in the pronouns from “it” in v. 12 to “his” in v. 16. This shows that the tree is symbolic of a man. The “decree of the watchers” here is interpreted as the “decree of the most High” (v. 24).
F. The Great Desire (v. 17b)-
1. The purpose of the decree is for the living to know:
a. The Most High rules in the kingdom of men
b. He giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
Illustration/Application: A New Heart
A certain prisoner, most cunning and brutal, was singularly repulsive even in comparison with other prisoners. He had been known for his daring and for the utter absence of all feeling when committing acts of violence. The chaplain had spoken to him several times but had not succeeded even in getting an answer. The man was sullenly set against all instruction. At last he expressed a desire for a certain book, but as it was not in the library the chaplain pointed to the Bible which was placed in his cell, saying, “Did you ever read that Book?” He gave no answer but looked at the good man as if he would kill him. The question was kindly repeated, with the assurance that he would find it well worth reading. “Mister,” said the convict, “you would not ask me such a question if you knew who I am. What have I to do with a book of that sort?” The chaplain answered, “I know all about you and that’s why I think the Bible is the book for you.” “It would do me no good,” he cried. “I am past all feeling.” Doubling up his fist, he struck the iron door of the cell and said, “My heart is as hard as that iron; there is nothing in any book that will ever touch me.”
“Well,” said the chaplain, “you want a new heart. Did you ever read the covenant of grace?” To which the man answered sullenly by inquiring what he meant by such talk. His friend replied, “Listen to these words: ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you’ ” (Ezek. 36:26). The words struck the man with amazement. He asked to have the passage found for him in the Bible. He read the words again and again; and when the chaplain came back to him the next day, the wild beast was tamed. “Oh, sir,” he said, “I never dreamed of such a promise! I never believed it possible that God would speak in such a way to men. If He gives me a new heart, it will be a miracle of mercy; and yet I think He is going to work that miracle upon me, for the very hope of a new nature is beginning to touch me as I never was touched before.”
Illustrations of Bible Truths.
The first four verses tell us that King Nebuchadnezzar, the proud, violent, cruel, etc., was now a changed man. He learned the hard way. This part of our message today is just the dream and its details. Next week if the Lord wills, we will the warning and the dream’s fulfilment.