Acknowledging the King

A few days ago I decided to start on the book of Daniel and read it through, a chapter or so every day.  His story is so awesome, that perhaps a movie based on the book would and could be as high quality as the Lord of the Rings trilogy–so, yes, Peter Jackson, I’m talking to you.

This morning I read Daniel 4 about the second record of King Nebuchadnezzar‘s vision, the one about the “Great Tree”.  Let me summarize the vision a little:

So, King Nebby (why not?) is laying in his bed and he sees this extraordinarily massive tree that is said to have grown…

“…large and became strong 
And its height reached to the sky, 
And it was visible to the end of the whole earth. 
Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, 
And in it was food for all. 
The beasts of the field found shade under it, 
And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, 
And all living creatures fed themselves from it.”

Daniel 4:11-12

The tree, according to Daniel’s interpretation, actually represented Nebby and his kingdom.

“it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth.”

Daniel 4:22

In the next part of his dream, he saw an “angelic watcher” (4:13) coming down from heaven shouting…

“Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, 
Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit; 
Let the beasts flee from under it 
And the birds from its branches. 
Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, 
But with a band of iron and bronze around it 
In the new grass of the field; 
And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, 
And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth. 
Let his mind be changed from that of a man 
And let a beast’s mind be given to him, 
And let seven periods of time pass over him. 
This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers 
And the decision is a command of the holy ones, 
In order that the living may know 
That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, 
And bestows it on whom He wishes 
And sets over it the lowliest of men.”

Daniel 14-17

To which, Daniel interpreted to the king…

“…that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field,
and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven;
and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High
is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.
And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree,
your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.”

Daniel 4:25-26

God is a jealous God–He’s jealous for your heart and mine.  I’m convinced that God, in giving Nebuchadnezzar this vision, was seeking to save him.  I don’t think God ever wants to destroy people, but to bring them to Himself.  God wasn’t impressed with the king’s triumphs and accomplishments, but thought it sad that he would seek glory and praise for himself.  In chapter 3 King Nebuchadnezzar had built this massive and majestic gold statue.  He was so impressed with himself that he ordered all the people to worship it–in a way that would also bring glory to himself for having it created.  I’m sure King Nebuchadnezzar was intelligent, courageous, and cunning; however, he failed to give glory and honor to God in all of that.  That God gave him credit for his accomplishments is obvious in comparing him to this great tree, and in this warning God is really giving him a chance to turn to Him.  I think we tend to hear Nebuchadnezzar’s name and think of an evil man–and, perhaps this story can stop us in our tracks when we judge other people who offend us or rub us the wrong way.  God is jealous for their hearts just as He is for our own.  God’s mercy in the king’s story continues, even for a whole year.  Daniel, after giving him the initial interpretation, gives him some advice.

“Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: 
break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities
by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.”

Daniel 4:27

“All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king.
Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon.
The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built
as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’
While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying,
‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you,
and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the
beasts of the field.  You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time
will pass over you until yourecognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of
mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’  Immediately the word concerning
Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind
and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the
dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

Daniel 4:28-33

I bolded (made up word, I know) that phrase on purpose–“While the word was in the king’s mouth”–because it shows how much grace God shows.  He had a whole year to transform, and he didn’t–Nebuchadnezzar in his conclusion to the entire consideration was that he ought to praise himself, and no one else.  He solidified that conclusion by speaking it, and only then was that prophecy fulfilled

It astounds me what sort of arrogance we have against God.  It amazes me more that God gives us way more slack than we ever could have deserved.  And, I definitely see myself in this story.  While I would love to tell you how God has used me to prophesy over people whose hearts have been hardened, I’m afraid it’s mine whose heart God has been seeking.  Not that I have established any great kingdom or anything, but everything I do since the conviction for ministry has been motivated by self-glorification.  Do I want to become a famous author, teacher, theologian, missionary, preacher, etc.?  Well…yeah!  We often think of fame to be for God’s glory.  Christians will pursue their dreams of singing, dancing, acting (me–at one point), and other various aspects of talents.  They think these pursuits of gaining status in the world’s eyes would allow them to glorify God, or maybe even produce opportunities for ministry.  But, the truth is that when the world raises us up, we actually leave God behind.  When the source of glory if from the world, we become fooled into thinking that whatever benefits we acquire are actually God’s blessings–they’re not!  We want to lead the Kingdom, but we can’t even follow the King!

However, if and when we put God where He should be, where He belongs, when we glorify Him and lower ourselves, then we find that He lifts us up and places us on His shoulders.  We won’t find nearly enough pleasure or satisfaction in anything we could acquire on our own because in the end it’s all dirt anyways.  Acknowledging God, praising Him, and serving to be mere reflections of Him–not to seem as deity, but actually becoming mirrors to His awesome holiness–that’s when the image of God stamped upon each and every one of us becomes fulfilled in its purpose.

Thankfully, that isn’t the end of good old Nebby’s life.

“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, 
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, 
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven 
And among the inhabitants of earth; 
And no one can ward off His hand 
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me.  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

Daniel 4:34ff

Just as God restored the king to life after he submitted himself in his rock-bottom, so can we as well.  God doesn’t just want to restore you to the places in life you once were, but to redeem you to a new height–a new level of life–the life you were meant to live in His presence and blessing.

I’ve also attached, what I think to be appropriate to the article, Matisyahu’s “King Without a Crown”.

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