BOOK OF DANIEL – Final Submission

Posted by on Sep 25, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Final Submission

Final Submission.

When one reads Daniel 4:34 there is a startling point of reference where Nebuchadnezzar tells us what caused his sanity to return. He tells us that he raised his eyes toward heaven and his sanity returned to him. This point may be overlooked by many. Man is the only creature made in God’s image. Animals are not. As I reflected on this verse I found myself wondering if I have ever seen an animal raise their eyes to heaven. We must recognize the difference here. Nebuchadnezzar’s ailment was that he thought he was a beast of the field and, as such, began acting like one during the period of his illness. But despite the fact that he went on all fours during this time, his ability to look up to heaven was still possible. Until now he had not chosen to do so either by reason or intent.

The remarkable fact is that God had decreed that Nebuchadnezzar would remain in his mental state as like that of an animal for seven times. That period was not determined to last any shorter or longer than God intended but it would last until he acknowledged God’s rule over heaven and earth. God already knew that Nebuchadnezzar would acknowledge God as the Almighty. All mankind will face that reality one day. Nebuchadnezzar’s experience was unique to him at a time and place in history but the lesson applies to everyone ever born or who has died. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NASB) This is the reality for all of us. Whatever our life course, we will stand before God one day and WE WILL bow before Christ who is God the Son.

Daniel 4:34 does not specifically detail how quickly Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity returned. Whether it was instantaneous or gradual we are not told. I do not favor one thought over the other. My only point is that his loss of sanity was immediate upon hearing the voice from heaven declaring the decree. Therefore, it is certainly reasonable to conclude his return to a stable mind could have been immediate also. However it happened is not the most important point. What is important is what Nebuchadnezzar said upon regaining his mental stability. He blessed God and declared praise and honor to Him who lives forever. He acknowledged that God’s kingdom was an everlasting eternal kingdom. In all likelihood, these statements by Nebuchadnezzar occurred when he was restored to the throne so that all of his subjects would hear his declaration. Daniel 4:35 implies that point by Nebuchadnezzar when he declared that all the inhabitants of the earth were accounted as nothing but that God does according to His will both in heaven and on earth. He finally admitted no one, including him, could ward off God’s hand or question Him.

I wonder how Nebuchadnezzar felt when after his submission to God his majesty and splendor were restored. He speaks in Daniel 4:36 of his counselors and nobles seeking him out. He must have been amazed that his kingdom was still awaiting him despite being away so long. Not only that but we are told that surpassing greatness was added to him.

Daniel 4:37 confirms that Nebuchadnezzar finally submitted himself to God. His words are the ones best to describe this. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (NASB) Can you imagine the talks he had with Daniel after his new found belief? Daniel’s influence upon the king of Babylon extended to those who would rule after him as we shall see.

We have come to the end of meeting King Nebuchadnezzar. No other mention is made of him after this chapter. However long Nebuchadnezzar’s reign continued after these events we are not told. Despite the king’s humbling before God and acknowledging Him as the Almighty we should be in no doubt these events happened as recorded despite the fact that Babylonian history has not or may not have recorded it.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Mixed Messages

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Mixed Messages

Mixed Messages.

Daniel 4:34-37 tells us, “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (NASB)

Before we discuss these three verses it is important to note here before anyone makes the comment that liberal critics of Daniel who support a second century BC timeline for the book argue that the descriptions that befell Nebuchadnezzar actually happened to Nabonidus. What arguments do they use to support this? One argument that may, on the face of it, sound like a good argument, is that of a document found in Qumran (better known as area where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found) containing a document named “The Prayer of Nabonidus”. This prayer is said to describe Nabonidus being afflicted with a deadly disease by a decree from God. Also, an unnamed seer is said to have advised Nabonidus to repent and give glory to God rather than the idols he worshipped. But what actually does this prayer say? To begin with, it is very fragmentary. So much of what is suggested is supposed to be the text is certainly allegorical in content. To understand how fragmentary this scroll was/is, only four pieces of parchment of 4Q242 exist which is copied from an older original believed to be from the second half of the first century BC. This prayer claims to say that Nabonidus prayed a prayer because he was afflicted with an ulcer by God in Tayma for his unrepentance. It claims he was afflicted for seven years until he prayed to God and an exorcist pardoned his sins. This exorcist was said to be a Jew. The contents contradict themselves by saying Nabonidus prayed to the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron. Some have said Nabonidus (if he ever did pray this prayer) was praying to his false god Sin. Without wasting too much time in our studies, suffice it to say, there is very little proof, if any, that Nebuchadnezzar was substituted for Nabonidus. Quite the contrary, in fact. Neither does God ever use an exorcist, although critics would argue this is pagan language to identify Daniel because of his powers that God had given him. Nor is there any mention that Nabonidus lost his reign due to any illness. Rather, he spent several years away from Babylon in Tayma entrusting his kingship in Babylon to his son Belshazzar who ruled there as regent. There is no mention of any madness of the same nature as that of Nebuchadnezzar nor of him eating grass or dwelling with the beasts of the field. In short, I agree with others that this allegorical interpretation was likely written by a Jewish scribe who was attempting to formulate the historical data of Daniel chapter 2, 3 and 4 into a story.

We will discuss the contents of the verses in our next blog. Be assured, the contents of these verses relate to King Nebuchadnezzar and not Nabonidus.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – A Roaming Madman

Posted by on Sep 21, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – A Roaming Madman

A Roaming Madman.

We see the immediate effect on Nebuchadnezzar’s failure to repent in Daniel 4:31, “While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.” (NASB) While reading this verse it struck me that to describe the immediacy of the voice from heaven one can reflect, perhaps, when we are speaking and then suddenly someone else speaks in the middle of our sentence. It is that quick. It stops the conversation or comment you are making in its tracks. The voice addressed the king directly by his name so there would be no doubt it was speaking to the king.

Verse thirty-two again is a summary of what is about to happen to the king which, of course, is a repeat of the contents of the dream. The fact that nothing had changed in the decree is another proof of the unrepentant king. It also contains the opportunity Nebuchadnezzar has to recognize the rulership of God over mankind. You will recall that the stump meant that if Nebuchadnezzar were to repent and recognize God as the Almighty, he would be restored to his throne.

Verse thirty-three shows the fulfillment of God’s decree upon Nebuchadnezzar. Scripture is silent as to the details of how he was removed from the roof. Perhaps his immediate insanity was a factor and his officials removed him for his own protection. Some have suggested that he may have been kept within the palace grounds for his own protection from the rest of society. Another suggestion is that Daniel may have played a role in seeing that the king was protected in such a way that he was being kept within certain parameters, yet free to roam and fend for himself. If that was the case then Daniel would certainly have shared the decree with the king’s counselors which would also have meant God providentially was inclining their hearts to cooperate. While not proven in any way, this has some merit for our consideration in that history has shown weakness in rulers such as Nebuchadnezzar displayed. They often resulted in their demise or their kingdom overthrown. Maybe Daniel told them of the promise that the king would rule again and either by their respect or fear of the king they agreed to support Daniel. However, when we read the verse accurately we recognize that even these conjectured thoughts are unlikely to be true. The verse is explicit in that Nebuchadnezzar was “driven away from mankind”. The Aramaic word tarad means to chase away. As Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Daniel puts it, “On a sudden he fell stark mad, distracted in the highest degree that ever a man was. His understanding and memory were gone, and all the faculties of a rational soul broken, so that he became a perfect brute in the shape of a man. He went naked, and on all four, like a brute, did himself shun the society of reasonable creatures and run wild into the fields and woods, and was driven out by his own servants, who, after some time of trial, despairing of his return to his right mind, abandoned him, and looked after him no more”.

We have mentioned before that Nebuchadnezzar’s condition may have been what has been described as suffering from lycanthropy which is defined as a form of madness involving the delusion of being an animal, usually a wolf, with correspondingly altered behavior. However, possibly a more accurate description would be the condition known as boanthropy. This is a psychological disorder in which the sufferer believes he or she is a cow or ox. Verse thirty-three mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s condition as eating grass like cattle which would seem to fit this latter description. His constant exposure with no attempt or ability to change his demeanor or grooming meant his hair grew long. Without the grooming and the oils he would have been accustomed to as king, his hair would eventually become matted. That, together with the length, would have given the appearance of bird’s feathers as described in the Scripture. Likewise, with no attention to his nails, these would continue to grow and eventually curl upon themselves giving the appearance of the claws of a bird.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Ignoring God Leads to Disaster

Posted by on Sep 20, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Ignoring God Leads to Disaster

Ignoring God Leads to Disaster.

Nebuchadnezzar evidently ignored God’s decree and his chance to repent. Daniel 4:28-33 reads, “All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’ While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’ Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled, and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” (NASB)

It appears that God allowed twelve months to lapse to see if Nebuchadnezzar repented of his ways. In view of the fact that everything befell him that the dream had predicted, we are left in no doubt that he did not. In verse twenty-nine we find the king taking a casual stroll on the roof of the royal palace. Some have suggested this may have been the roof where the hanging gardens were situated. However, we are not told.

Verse thirty really brings out the arrogance of Nebuchadnezzar. He had clearly forgotten, or simply ignored, the interpretation of the dream. Perhaps he falsely believed that nothing had happened during the preceding twelve months or worse that God would not act upon His decree. This type of attitude can be seen in both believers and unbelievers alike. Unbelievers totally ignore and reject the Bible and any prophecies contained despite the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, have already been fulfilled. Some believers, sadly, now question if Jesus Christ will ever return simply because they have decided He has taken too long in returning. Such folly by man always results in them being proven wrong and worse, will place them on the wrong side of God when His Son does return. Nebuchadnezzar obviously thought way too much of himself. One can see this by noting the multitude of inscriptions he had placed on a large number of buildings all giving him praise and honor. He had quickly forgotten or chose to ignore that none of his palaces or temples or fine building projects could have occurred without the will of God.

Nebuchadnezzar’s condemnation was now upon him. Time had run out. No longer did God wait to humble him. The result of Nebuchadnezzar’s foolish outburst on that roof that day was immediate, as we will see in our next blog.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s Plea to Nebuchadnezzar

Posted by on Sep 19, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s Plea to Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel’s Plea to Nebuchadnezzar

How did Nebuchadnezzar respond to all that Daniel had told him? We will learn the answer to that in a little while. First, Daniel has some advice for the king.

In Daniel 4:27 Daniel says, “Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” (NASB)

Don’t be caught in assuming that Daniel is telling the king he could avoid all that has been pronounced upon him by God. Remember, it was a decree by God Himself. Some argue that Daniel was presenting a salvation based on works.  But he was not. He was calling for Nebuchadnezzar to repent of his sins. It was clearly Daniel’s hope that the king would respond in the affirmative. Daniel told the king two things he should do immediately. They were acts of righteousness and mercy. These would show evidence of the king’s repentance. Nor was it conditional. Nebuchadnezzar could not simply pay lip service or do the odd righteous or merciful act. Daniel was saying he must make it a practice. Scripture is replete with God responding to those who repented of their sins. The repentance of the Ninevites that is recorded for us in the book of Jonah is one example of many that we can recall. Please understand, I am not in any way saying God changes His mind. He does not. He cannot. God is immutable. He knows the end from the beginning. So why would that require Him to change His mind? It is simply impossible.

In the case of the Ninevites, God ordered Jonah to declare He would destroy the city of Nineveh in forty days. What happened? The Ninevites repented and God did not destroy them forty days later. Who changed? The Ninevites did by their repentance. God did not change. He extended His mercy upon them. To fully understand this point would take us off our main topic of discussion. Suffice it to say we have to understand that God is entirely consistent. God’s Holiness was always going to judge Nineveh. But that same Holiness extended mercy of God’s part by sparing them of the forty day pronouncement of their destruction by their act of repentance. Approximately one hundred years later, God’s prophet Nahum prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed because they refused to repent of their sins. Again, God knows the end from the beginning.  Therefore, He never changes for He knows the results of man’s actions before they commit them. To help understand this point further it is important that we make a distinction between what is a conditional declaration by God and what is an unconditional determination by God. In the case of the Ninevites, His command through the prophet Jonah was conditional upon their response of repentance. His message. Therefore. was a warning to provoke the Ninevites into repenting of their sins. That warning was successful.

An example of an unconditional declaration of God is the Lord’s promise to David and His promise that David’s house and kingdom would endure forever and his throne established forever. In this example, there is no qualification stated. Whatever David did, God’s will would see it come to pass.

With regard to Nebuchadnezzar, we may never know how things may have changed had he repented there and then in humbling himself to God’s authority. Perhaps he might not have suffered the humility of going insane for seven years. Had his response been affirmative to Daniel’s plea he may have enjoyed those seven years in peace and comfort and made a difference to the people he ruled.

It is indeed a lesson for us all in how we conduct our lives and in what we believe in. Do we recognize God as the Supreme Ruler of the Universe? Or do we ridicule Him and scoff at the notion of what the Bible tells us? Only you can answer those questions. And only you are responsible for the result of your choices.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Sentence Pronounced

Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Sentence Pronounced

Sentence Pronounced.

In the latter part of Daniel 4:22, Daniel explains that just like the tree had grown big and strong, Nebuchadnezzar had grown great in his conquering of the nations. The tree reaching up to the heavens refers to the king’s dominion being far-reaching In this case, it is his covering the entire known world at that time.

Daniel 4:23 is again a synopsis of the contents of the dream as to the angelic watcher who is a holy one declaring that the tree be cut down and destroyed but not the stump or its roots in the ground. The stump was to be bound with a band of iron and bronze and the person was to be drenched with the dew of heaven and to share with the beasts of the field for seven times.

Now in Daniel 4:24 Daniel gives the interpretation. The first thing to notice is that Daniel tells the king that the decree has come from the Most High God. What was the significance of this? You may recall when we discussed the watcher that the Babylonian custom was that they believed in several deities who they claimed watched over the affairs of man. In this verse, Daniel is making it clear that the decree has come from none other than Almighty God Himself.

Daniel 4:25 informs Nebuchadnezzar that he will be driven away from mankind. In other words, he was to be removed from office and all the trappings of his imperial rule would become off limits to him. Whether Nebuchadnezzar reacted at all to this news we are not told either by Daniel or the king himself. Perhaps even at that point, Nebuchadnezzar thought he was untouchable. But here is the point which none of us should miss. Nebuchadnezzar could either accept that the ultimate power did not rest on him or he could reject it. Nevertheless, he was going to learn that nothing rested with him and his decision was going to be either painless or painful. By the wording of the interpretation, it is clear it was going to be painful. The verse tells us how painful by declaring that he was going to become insane for a period of seven times which, as we have explained, represented seven years based on the cross reference of several Scriptures. All of the forgoing was to cause Nebuchadnezzar to be humbled by the experience in showing that he only had power by the will of God who had allowed him to have it. Daniel tells him that all of the things he was going to experience would happen unless he recognized that the Most High was ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows power on whomever He wishes. That lesson has a wider meaning in that it applies to everyone ever born. All mankind must humble themselves to the fact that God is the one who decides and decrees what comes to pass.

Daniel 4:26 tells us that despite Nebuchadnezzar’s fall he is given the assurance that his kingdom will be restored to him after he recognizes that it is Heaven that rules. The language used in this verse is very interesting. Did you know the phrase “Heaven rules” is the only time in Scripture that the word “Heaven” is substituted in reference to God? It is a clear statement that God is telling Nebuchadnezzar that none of his pagan beliefs hold weight as to who rules. It is a firm statement that the only rule is from Heaven. It is the capstone on the statement made in Daniel 4:25 that the Most High is ruler over all.

It is also a message of God’s mercy. After all, Nebuchadnezzar was an evil despot – a pagan conqueror who built his vast empire with the finest of riches all under the weight of oppression to those whom he subjugated. God could have took everything away from him and left him in his deranged state of insanity until the day he died. That is also a lesson for every one of us. None of us deserve God’s mercy. But he has chosen to extend such mercy on those whom He chooses to give glory unto Himself.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – The Identity of the Person in the Dream

Posted by on Sep 17, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – The Identity of the Person in the Dream

The Identity of the Person in the Dream

Let us read the entire interpretation Daniel gives to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and then we will discuss each portion over the next few days. Daniel 4:20-27 reads, “The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged—it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth. In that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; 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 of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,” this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules. Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” (NASB)

Before we discuss each verse it is worth noting a familiar scene in how God deals with men and how he uses men to deliver His messages. The scene before us is of Daniel confronting Nebuchadnezzar with the interpretation of the dream. This theme threads through Scripture on a number of occasions. We see Moses confronting Pharaoh demanding he let God’s people go. Elijah obeyed God in confronting Ahab and the prophets of Baal. John the Baptist confronted Herod that his marriage to Herodias was contrary to Jewish law. And, of course, we are all familiar with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His confrontation with Pontius Pilate as well as Paul’s confrontation with Agrippa. In all of these circumstances, those who represented God showed they were not people of the world but of God. In contrast, those who opposed God’s representatives faded into obscurity losing their perceived unending rule that they thought was of their own making.

Verses 20-21 is a repeat of the contents of the dream. Daniel is here merely summarizing the contents to lead up to the interpretation of who it relates to and what will befall that person.

Verse twenty-two identifies the person as the king himself. As I have studied the book of Daniel I wonder if Nebuchadnezzar knew the dream referred to him. We are left in no doubt in Daniel 4:5 that this dream frightened him and the visions he saw in the dream alarmed him. Did he have an inkling that perhaps the dream referred to him? Did he hold secret thoughts of knowing that Daniel would be able to interpret this dream as he had the one before and so sought answers from his pagan officials in a vain attempt to avoid the truth? These are merely conjectural questions of my own. When one has a nightmare they try and attempt to make sense of it, often without any success. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was far more than what we term a nightmare. It was divinely provided via a dream with real-life consequences contained in the “visions of his head” as the king described them.

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