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Lesson # Dan. 4:13-16
Study Material - Dan. 4:13-16
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13 'I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven. 14 'He shouted out and spoke as follows: '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. 15 '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. 16 '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.
So Nebuchadnezzar has inherited the throne of an empire in which he would participate in building up to even greater heights than his father. There was great commerce, great prosperity, hoes and security for the entire empire.
But something happened. Does God take a successful and benevolent person and arbitrarily judge them? Of course not. Nebuchadnezzar had failed in his own mind, which we have already seen bits and pieces of his policy, or rather the abuse of his power. All that he had been given was from the source of and by the grace of God. God has His own plan for the human race, including the development and removal of nations and empires as history progresses. We are not on this earth to rise up to some arbitrary status on the same level with God as Satan thought was his right. Arrogance is the source of that type of thinking and it is the ruin of many a person who think more highly of themselves than they have a right to think.
Nebuchadnezzar was in his bed, still in his bed. He should have been up and about doing the responsible things of his position, yet he was lazy and bed ridden. Mentally incapacitated sort of. But here he is, in bed, and a slave to this series of visions. The dream changed from the tree to the person, the angel, but that was not the thing that scared Nebuchadnezzar. The cutting down of the tree was his fear. Nebuchadnezzar is just like any person, including you and I. We learn from our experiences and in his past he has already been given interpretations of his prior dream where he was portrayed as the golden head. No doubt he remembers that dream and its interpretation.
But now here is a dream with a grand tree. A tree more grand than any ever seen before. Perhaps he had heard of the tree from Eze. 31, where the Assyrian empire was described as having lots of shade, and yet in his dream there was even more abundance in the form of fruit and meat for all. Perhaps he had heard of the tree in the Garden of Eden from which Adam could eat, or of the tree from which they were not to eat from. He was not ignorant with respect to Gods Word. He had just not accepted it quite yet. As a result he was about to suffer some terrible discipline, and at his own hand.
What probably perplexed him was the decree from the angelic watchers rather than God himself, to have the tree cut down. Most likely he suspected that he himself was that tree, or maybe his empire was, but the stump. What of it? And why band it?
This is where he needed the aid of Daniel in order to gain an accurate interpretation of the dream.
The watchers are an order of angelic beings who do just that. They watch and observe. They collect facts and send those facts of observations back to heaven to the rest of the angelic corps where decisions are rendered. God is fair and in heaven there is an extensive hierarchy wherein information if accumulated, filtered, sorted out, analyzed, and then decisions can be arrived at. We see some of this activity in the book of Revelation.
Is God not capable of reaching decisions by himself. Well of course He is, but God is fair and patient, and he does not force any decision down anyone's throat. All decisions come down from heaven with accurate and credible and overwhelming evidence. The angelic watchers arrived at their decision and God ordered the execution of the judgment.
Nebuchadnezzar had abused his authority and was now on trial, as it were. He had been given ample opportunity to recognize God, but had refused. God in his omniscience and knowing that Nebuchadnezzar would come around but only after some extensive punishment, provided the dream detailing out just what would happen. The watcher angels observed and after the fact, concurred with the decision foretold. This all adds to the credibility of God and to His glory and character.
The band of iron and bronze is what was customarily done to stumps to prevent them from cracking and to allow them to sprout back into another tree, out from the tree that was cut down. The stump is in effect preserved so that new life could come out of the old.
Note that it is not the empire in this case that will be cut down at the knees, but Nebuchadnezzar. He will suffer a form of mental insanity, and will be lowered to the level of behavior of animals. He will be eating grass, letting his finger nails grow out to an extremely long length. His hair will grow out. He will be slobbering, living outdoors, paying little heed to weather and such, and in general he will not be to pleasant of a person to be around or even associated with. Those close to him will put him away so as to shelter him from the view of the public. People will generally leave him alone, even his enemies will leave him alone. It considered bad luck to try to kill an insane person, even if it is the king. The empire has enough stability to survive even without his rulership, and that is part of the lesson.
God can preserve anything for any length of time if He so chooses. No one and nothing can change it. God had previously ordained the future of the history of man, which Nebuchadnezzar had rejected. He wanted to live forever and be the last empire as well, thus his image of gold. But God over ruled his policy of injustice in the furnace incident.
The point is now made clear - God controls history. Regardless of mans perception of himself, man really has no control over anything except his own volition. And in the application of our daily decisions we can either sail along on calm seas with Gods plan in tremendous prosperity, or we can butt heads with Gods plan and suffer the consequences.
Nebuchadnezzar did not start the empire. Nebuchadnezzar did not select the moment of his own birth. Nor did Nebuchadnezzar have any control over his own death, but he did have control over his mental health by virtue of making good decisions from Bible doctrine. But of course we know that he failed in this. It will not be until the last three years of his life, that he really turns his life around (after seven years of insanity). What a waste. Why wait until the end of your life to get your act together. Missing out on an entire life of blessing.
We, each of us, have these same responsibilities in our life. There is an angel out there observing each one of us as well. So what is the report on you? Is there judgment pending against you, or will you get a good report and receive a recommendation for blessing? Hummm! Sleep on that one tonight.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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