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Daniel 4: 8 But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: 9 “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation. 10 “These were the visions of my head while on my bed: “I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great.11     The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.12     Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it.13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches.15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, Bound with a band of iron and bronze, In the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, And let him graze with the beasts On the grass of the earth.16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times pass over him.17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

 

4:8

But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying:

Nebuchadnezzar described Daniel by both his Hebrew and Babylonian names – Daniel and Belteshazzar (1:7).  “Holy” can mean divine as over against morally pure.  “Spirit” does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to Daniel’s human spirit that made possible divine revelation. 

4:9

Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.

Nebuchadnezzar viewed Daniel as the “chief of the magicians” because of his ability to reveal and interpret dreams.  Daniel could interpret any secret. 

4:10

These were the visions of my head while on my bed: I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great.

Now Nebuchadnezzar begins to recount his dream in poetic style.  The “tree” was the centerpiece of his dream.  The tree represents Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom that grew to great glory. 

4:11

The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.

Ancients often described nations as trees (Is 2:12-13; 10:34; Ezek 31:3-17).  The Babylonian kingdom expanded to an enormous size. 

4:12

Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it.

This poetic tree represents Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom.  Many different kinds of people were under the umbrella of his reign. 

4:13

I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven.

A “watcher” descended from heaven.  This angel administered the affairs of nations and was diligent in doing so.  Nebuchadnezzar could see his tangible appearance.   

4:14

He cried aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches.

The angel cried with a loud voice.  The angel ordered the cutting down of the tree.  This aspect of the king’s dream frightened him the most. 

4:15

Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, Bound with a band of iron and bronze, In the tender grass of the field.

This stump bound with a “band of iron and bronze” indicates restoration of the tree after it was cut down.  Nebuchadnezzar was not completely destroyed in his insanity but dramatically cut down from his former glory. 

Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, And let him graze with the beasts On the grass of the earth.

Nebuchadnezzar roamed like an animal eating grass in the field in his insanity.

4:16

Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times pass over him.

Nebuchadnezzar was cut down as a tree. He would be insane for a period of “seven times.”  The grammar does not indicate the length of this period.  It could be days, months or years.  Days or months would probably be too short so this refers to years.  Nebuchadnezzar reasoned like an animal.  He ate with animals for seven years. 

4:17

This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’

The purpose of the judgment of this tree is to teach that the Most High God is sovereign over the affairs of man.  God sets up nations as He wills.  He can do this to even the lowliest of men, so why should any king assume pride to himself? 

1 Sa 2:7 “The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.8  He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. ‘For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them.’”

4:18

This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

Nebuchadnezzar appeals to Daniel to interpret the dream for him.  Again, the “Spirit” here is not the Holy Spirit but the spirit of Daniel

PRINCIPLE: 

God is sovereign over all the Gentile kingdoms of the world. 

APPLICATION: 

God has not abdicated his sovereignty.  He is not a god that creates and then moves off to do his own thing, forgetting about His creation.  God is both transcendent and immanent.  He is both above and in His creation.  Note three things that God does with the kingdoms of this world:

1) Nations rise and fall to show that God is still in control.  He overrules the kingdoms of this world.  God “rules in the kingdom of men” (v.17). 

2) God also gives kingdoms to “whosoever He will” (v.17).  God puts people in power.  Every political leader is there by the will of God. 

3) God “sets over it the lowest of men” (v.17).  That should humble some of our proud leaders!

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