WEEK TWO, DAY FIVE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK TWO THEME: PRAYER
DAY FIVE THEME: WHEN WE DON’T PRAY
SCRIPTURE: DANIEL 4:19-37 – FROM THE COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE
“Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was shocked for a bit. What he thought about frightened him. The king declared, “Don’t let the dream and its meaning scare you, Belteshazzar.”
Then Belteshazzar answered, “Sir, I wish the dream to be for those who hate you and its meaning to be for your enemies! The tree you saw that grew in size and strength, that was as high as the sky, that could be seen from every corner of the earth, with its beautiful leaves and its abundant fruit, and that had enough food for everyone, with wild animals living under it and birds nesting in its branches — Your Majesty, that tree is you! You have grown large and become powerful. Your greatness is as high as the sky; your rule extends to the edge of the earth!
Your Majesty, the holy watcher you saw coming down from heaven, who said, “Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave its deepest root in the earth, bound with iron and bronze in the field grass, dew from heaven is to wash it, and it must live with the wild animals until seven periods of time pass over it” — Your Majesty, this is the dream’s meaning: It is the sentence of the Most High, delivered to my master the king. You will be driven away from other humans and will live like cattle and will be washed by dew fom heaven. Seven periods of time will pass over you, until you acknowledge that the Most High dominates human kingship, giving it to anyone he wants.
And when he said to leave the deepest root of the tree — that means your kingship will again be yours, once you acknowledge that heaven rules all. Therefore, Majesty, please accept my advice: remove your sins by doing what is right; remove your wrongdoing by showing mercy to the poor. Then you safety will be long lasting.'”
All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon. The king declared, ‘Isn’t this Babylon, the magnificent city that I built as the royal house by my own mighty strength and for my own majestic glory?’ These words hadn’t even left the king’s mouth whan a voice came from heaven ‘You, King Nebuchadnezzar, are now informed: Kingship is taken away from you. You will be driven away from other humans and will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you acknowledge that the Most High dominates human kingship, giving it to anyone he wants.’
Nebuchadnezzar’s sentence was immediately carried out. He was driven away from other humans and ate grass like cattle. Dew from heaven washed his body until he grew hair like eagles’ feathers and claws like a bird.
‘At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes to heaven. My reason returned to me, and I praised the Most High. I worshipped and glorified the one who lives forever because his rule is everlasting; his kingdom is for all time. All of earth’s inhabitants are nothing in comparison. The Most High does whatever he wants with the heaven’s forces and with earth’s inhabitants. No one can contain his power or say to him, “What do you think you are doing?”
So at that moment my reason returned to me. My honor and splendor came back to me for the glory of my kingdom. My associates and my princes wanted to be with me again. Not only was I reinstated over my kingdom, I received more power than ever before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, worship, magnify, and glorify the king of heaven. All his works are truth, all his paths are justice, and he is able to humble all who walk in pride.'”
THE WORD OF THE GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD…THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT UP: As the saying goes, “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” Nebachadnezzar was indeed a powerful man and had dealt severly with Israel, burning down its temple and exiling the strongest to Babylon to be put into his own service. He demanded loyalty and expected everyone to “worship” him. His cruelty was harsh – throwing Daniel into the lions den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abedinego into the fiery furnace. He had it all – his kingdom was mighty and extensive. His people were many and secured within his walls. But Nebachadnezzar lacked one very important thing. He did not understand where his power came from. He thought of himself as a god who would go on forever and who solely was responsible for all that he had and all that he was. He was a self made god in and of himself and that became very dangerous!
Nebachadnezzar began having dreams that he could not understand and that caused uneasiness within him. He sought answers to his dreams in order to understand them and be at peace. Daniel became one who could interpret his dreams and give him understanding. In this dream, Daniel (also know as Belteshazzar – his Babylonian name) is disturbed by what he sees – the words used are “shocked”.
Nebachadnezzar can sense his alarm and encourages him not to be afraid to speak what he has seen. Diplomatically, Daniels begins by wishing the dream for Nebachadnezzar’s enemies and then proceeds. The dream indicates that Nebachadnezzar will fall from his lofty self-made powerfulness and become as a wild animal eating grass, and only being washed by the dew. This will go on for seven periods until Nebachadnezzar acknowledges that the Most High dominates human kingship, and gives it as he desires. There are no self-made powerful gods – only the true God, who is above all other leaders anywhere, everywhere.
It is interesting to note that though Nebachadnezzar is not a man of faith in God he is now at a crossroads to understand from where his powers and abilities have come. This dream gives him a warning and thus the opportunity to accept and acknowledge. As is so true throughout all of history, it is very difficult for a powerful person to see anything or anyone larger than his or herself. There is simply no such thing as a “self-made” person. Thus a year later, Nebachadnezzar is still fluffing his own pillow and pounding his own chest at his own greatness and all that he has done. Not once does he acknowledge any other source than himself for all that he has and all that he is….again, “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.”
The warning has proved unsuccessful and the consequences are immediate and exact. Nebachadnezzar is separated from all humankind and all luxuries and feeds off the grass with the cattle and is bathed only by the dew for seven peiods. His hair becomes like feathers and his claws like a bird. He is no longer recognizable. After the seven periods (after the appointed time) Nebachadnezzar comes to his senses and understands that God is God and that his powers are unlimited and that there is a difference between God and human rulers with power. Nebachadnezzar has a drastic attitude shift of humility and full awareness of who God is and that there is nothing that God cannot do.
At that moment, all of Babylon is restored to Nebachadnezzar and more. His lesson has been learned and he openly worships and magnifies and glorifies the King of Heaven and Earth. The lessons of Nebachadnezzar are huge for all to benefit from. No one has full control of not even one portion of their own life – except for their free will.
Free will is a gift and a curse at the same time. Once we encounter enlightenment, our decisions from that moment forward can make or break us. God will allow us to continue in our own pride and self-adoration as if we did it all ourselves, which will eventually lead us into a very lonely and brutal existence. This is the consequence of our own power to stubbornly go our own way – totally allowed by our God-given freewill.
God’s choice for us and the best use of our God-given freewill is to acknowledge, praise and glorify our God in heaven for his mighty ways and all the gifts and graces that He so freely gives us to use for good in mighty and wonderful and fulfilling ways! God’s intent is that we all sit around His table and are actively involved as His family. Just like in the Garden of Eden – everything is ours to enjoy and for our good, but we should never forget from Whom all our blessing flow. Praise God – always!