"How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.Daniel 4:3(NASB)
In the three earlier chapters we read how king Nebuchadnezzar was brought into an awareness of the Most High God. In chapter 1 we hear how the king realised that the people of God were filled with wisdom and understanding. Not only did he consult Daniel and his three companions on important state matters, but found them to be ten times better than all the wise magicians and astrologers who lived in all his realm.
In chapter 2 he is told that there is a God in heaven who reveals dreams and mysteries. When God used Daniel to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream, the king discovered the meaning of his strange dream.. of a statue with a head of gold and feet of iron mixed with clay, and he was able to confess, "Surely your God is a God of gods; a Lord of kings and a Revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery".
Nebuchadnezzar was flattered that the God of gods had elevated him above all the kingdoms of the earth, but his amazement quickly turned to pride. His elevated position went to his head, and he was encouraged by his wicked courtiers to set up an image that represented himself, and decreed that only he must be worshipped. These scheming men sought to entrap Daniel and his friends who worshipped God alone.
The proud king was angry that Daniel's three friends refused to obey his royal command to worship his image, and ordered their execution. His astonishment that they were saved from his great fiery furnace, by a fourth, god-like person.. who appeared in the fire with them, caused him to once again declare, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him... and would not serve or worship any god except their own God". Once again Nebuchadnezzar confessed, "there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way".
Nebuchadnezzar's fluctuating feelings and hasty decisions rendered him like a wave that was tossed to and fro with every change of circumstance, and once again, he decreed that if anyone speaks anything offensive against the God of Israel, they shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap."
The following chapter begins with yet another declaration from Nebuchadnezzar, who sent a letter to all the peoples, nations and languages of the world that were under his jurisdiction, declaring "It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me... how great are His signs and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation".
It is as we continue to read chapter 4 that we discover an interval of time had passed since Daniel's three friends had been delivered from the fiery furnace. As before, the king had become proud and glorified himself instead of worshipping God, and for seven years, this greatest king of Babylon was humbled by the Lord. He was driven away from mankind; lived among the beasts of the field and began eating grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had become like eagles' feathers and his nails like the claws of a bird".
For a whole chapter we find this pagan king declaring to his entire kingdom, how his pride had been brought low, before he was finally able to recognise his foolishness and confess, "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honour the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways are just - and He is able to humble those who walk in pride".
The thrilling story of this greatest Gentile king brings with it many important truths that God is in control and that earthly position, immense power, educational diplomas and worldly prosperity is no criteria of true greatness or lasting success. It is not sufficient to know about God, and Jesus Christ Whom He sent to be the propitiation for our sin. We are to know Him personally; honour Him in every way and trust Him in all things.
Nebuchadnezzar's fluctuating emotions demonstrate the folly of a double-minded man and the importance of knowing the truth; standing firm in the faith and honouring the Lord in all we are. His abundance of worldly wisdom is a stark contrast with his lack of Godly wisdom and the spiritual understanding seen in Daniel and his three companions. And perhaps more than any other Bible character, Nebuchadnezzar is the man that brings great poignancy to Christ's words - "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Heavenly Father, thank You for the amazing book of Daniel; the lessons we learn of the dangers of human pride; the folly of a double-minded man and that wisdom and understanding comes from You alone. Thank You for the reassuring knowledge that You are in control of every area of our lives. We can truly confess with our whole heart, through the words that Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed, 'how great are Your signs and how mighty are Your wonders! Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and You dominion is from generation to generation". Thank You that You are my God and my Saviour, for in You I have placed my trust. Praise Your holy name, AMEN.