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Saturday, February 9, 2013

He Lost His Mind and Got It Back


He Lost His Mind but Got It Back



The ancient city of Babylon with its temples and palaces was the most beautiful and powerful city of its time (612-539B.C.) And the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Babylon was situated on the Euphrates River in what is now modern day Iraq.


 Led by the powerful King Nebuchadnezzar, the soldiers of the Neo-Babylonian (Assyrian) empire fought and conquered all of their neighbors -the surrounding nations and peoples. Nebuchadnezzar also had an ambitious building program. Archeologists have uncovered some of the ruins -the canals, roads, massive walls and golden monuments of this city from antiquity.


We can learn more about this Babylonian king- Nebuchadnezzar- by reading the book of Daniel in the Bible.  In the fourth chapter of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has had another one of his wild dreams and he is again asking his wise men to tell him what his dream means. Scripture tells us that indeed God had given these dreams to Nebuchadnezzar to send him a message and a warning.  And the king seemed to know that his dreams had a hidden meaning.


All of the occult soothsayers and counselors in Babylon came to the palace to try to help King Nebuchadnezzar understand what his dream meant.  But alas, try as they might, not one of these “wise men” could interpret the dream.  So the king called for Daniel to come.  And when Daniel arrived the king told Daniel that he wanted his help because “the spirit of the holy God is within you.”  (Daniel 4:8b) Even though Nebuchadnezzar worshipped many gods he could see the one true God in Daniel and in his life. And then Nebuchadnezzar sat down and told Daniel what he had dreamed.  And this is what he said he dreamed. 


In his dream or vision, Nebuchadnezzar saw an enormous tree that could be seen all around the land. Its top branches reached to the sky and its leafy limbs were covered all over with luscious fruit. The beasts found shelter and shade under the tree and the birds lived in its branches. But then Nebuchadnezzar saw a holy messenger come down from heaven and command that the tree be cut down.


 Scripture quotes Nebuchadnezzar as telling that the holy messenger in his dream said:  “But let the stump of the tree and its roots, bound with iron and bronze; remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.  Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth.  Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him. The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men. This is the vision I had” (Daniel 4:15-17) After he had finished describing his dream, Nebuchadnezzar turned to Daniel and asked him; “Daniel, I know this vision is a message from God. Ask your God what this means.”  


So Daniel prayed to God to reveal the meaning of the king’s dream and right away God answered his prayer and showed him the meaning of the dream.  Unfortunately Daniel was so scared by what the Lord showed him that he went into a state of shock!  His face turned pale and his body began to shake. Nebuchadnezzar could tell right away that something was very wrong. Scripture says: “Then Daniel was greatly perplexed for awhile, and his thoughts terrified him.”  (Daniel 4; 19a)  


“Do not let the dream or its meaning frighten you,” The king said.  (Daniel 4:19b) And Daniel answered:  “My Lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!”  (Daniel 4:19b)  Nebuchadnezzar could see that Daniel didn’t want to tell him what God had revealed.  But the king insisted that Daniel tell him the meaning of his dream even if it was very bad.


 So Daniel reluctantly began telling Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of his dream. And this is what he said:  “The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field and having nesting places in its branches for the birds – you, O king, are that tree!  You have become great and strong…your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.”  (Daniel 4:20-22) 


And Daniel continued:  “You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground.  Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.”  (Daniel 4:23) 


Daniel explained what this part of the dream meant. “You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals: you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven.  Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes.  The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that God rules.”  (Daniel 4:25-26)  Daniel told the king that God was judging him for being proud and arrogant.


Then Daniel asked the king to listen to his advice.  He begged Nebuchadnezzar to change his ways, to be kind to the poor and help the oppressed.  Daniel suggested that perhaps if the king became a kinder gentler person that God might change his mind and not allow the meaning of the dream to come true. If Nebuchadnezzar could give God the glory for giving him his kingdom and not think that he had done it all himself, then maybe God would not humble him in the future. Would Nebuchadnezzar take Daniel’s advice?


At first the king was nervous and thought about giving himself to Daniel’s God.  The dream had been so real. Would he really lose his kingdom and live with the animals?  But the days and weeks went by and nothing bad happened. Every knee bowed to him, he fought battles and won every war, and he built even more impressive monuments and lavish palaces throughout the kingdom.  It was difficult not to be proud when he had it all. A year passed by and the king was forgetting about his scary dream from Daniel’s God.


One evening a year after the dream the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar was strolling on the roof of his royal palace, looking out over the great city of Babylon and admiring its massive walls and lavish temples.  As he strutted around the roof adjusting the gold crown on his head, he talked out loud to himself.  “I must say, isn’t this Babylon the greatest city in the world? I alone have built it as my royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30)


The words were still on his lips when “a voice from heaven spoke, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.  You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals: you will eat grass like cattle.  Seven times will pass over you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes.” (Daniel 4:31-33)


Scripture says that immediately Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind and was driven away from his kingdom.  He acted like an animal and ate grass in the fields.  “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)


Bible scholars believe the length of time the king lost his sanity which the Bible calls “seven times” was probably a period of seven years. But whatever length of time elapsed, Scripture says that: “At the end of the time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored.  Then I praised the Most High: I honored and glorified Him who lives forever.”  (Daniel 4:34a)   Nebuchadnezzar finally learned to bow and humble himself before the living God.


After this Nebuchadnezzar’s honor and splendor were returned to him. His advisers and nobles sought him out and he was restored to his throne and he became even greater than before. (Daniel 4:36)  Nebuchadnezzar had learned his lesson and this is what he said:  “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all of His ways are just.  And those who walk in pride, He is able to humble.”  (Daniel 4:37)  The king knew that by experience!


Isn’t this story a lesson about the importance of humility?  I’m sure Nebuchadnezzar isn’t the only person whose pride has displeased God.  God also looks into each of our hearts hoping to find humility.  James 4:10 says: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.”  Proverbs 16:17-18 reads: “Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And 1 Peter 5:6 reads:  “All of you be submissive toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”


Many times throughout Scripture we are instructed to be humble and submissive toward one another.  If we would be submissive and compromise with one another how many wars would never take place and how many families would never break up?  


 Psalm 133:1 reads:  “Look how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity.”  How many parents and children, brothers and sisters miss out by not being able to live together in unity?  Our lives might be so much richer if all of us could learn to be humble and respectful when we interact with one another.


Jesus asks us to join Him in living a humble life.  Here are His words to us. “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest in your souls.”  (Matthew 11:29)   Jesus is asking us personally to take on His yoke of humility and follow in His footsteps.  It won’t always be easy. Pride is in and humility is not popular. But that is what Jesus is asking us to do.  Are we willing to do it? 






















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