Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

OT Tuesday: The Vision of the Tree

As I read chapter Daniel 4 it appears to me that the chapter is structured with a decree from Nebuchadnezzar at the beginning, then a parenthetical synopsis of the events in the middle, and then the chapter ends with the completion of the decree. So that's how I'm going to go through this chapter. To me at least this is the most logical way of of looking at this chapter, it  just doesn't make sense to me any other way. So if someone out there has another, more accurate or logical, way of interpreting this chapter PLEASE clue me in!

So here we go: At the beginning of Chapter 4 of the Book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar sends out a decree to his entire kingdom, he greets his people then says
It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:2-3)
At first I noticed that Nebuchadnezzar's attitude toward God had changed, in previous chapters  Nebuchadnezzar considered God just another god in a huge collection of gods, it was like he was humoring Daniel when he was talking about God. Even after the furnace incident Nebuchadnezzar considered God just another god. But now he's seeing God as the most high God and marveling at His great and mighty wonders. What happened to change Nebuchadnezzar's mind about God? That's what Chapter 4 is all about. 

In his decree Nebuchadnezzar starts out the narrative stating that he was sitting around the palace, happy and prosperous, and then he had a dream that scared him. As before he called in his wisemen, his magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners to interpret the dream and just like before they were unable to do so. And just like last time Nebuchadnezzar called in Daniel last even though Daniel now had the title "Chief of Magicians" 
10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. 13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump 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. 16 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. (Daniel 4:10-16)
Daniel (actually in this chapter he's called by his Babylonian name Belteshazzar) thought on the dream for a while and when the meaning of the dream came to him it terrified him. Nebuchadnezzar actually had to reassure Daniel not to let the dream worry him and make with the interpretation. Daniel, who appeared to really like Nebuchadnezzar said "I just with this was about your enemies"

Daniel went on to say 'The tree in your dream is you, you're great and strong and shelter your subjects. You saw a messenger (angel?) come from the sky and order the tree cut down, that's a decree that God has issued against you, you're going to be driven away from people and live with wild animals, you'll eat grass like an ox and be drenched by dew from the heaves. Seven times (years) will pass for you until you acknowledge that God is sovereign over all kingdoms. Your kingdom will be returned to you when you acknowledge that God rules all.' Daniel went on to ask that Nebuchadnezzar repent, to renounce his sins and do what is right, be kind to the oppressed and maybe that Messenger won't appear.

Of course if Nebuchadnezzar did that there probably wouldn't be a chapter four. However he didn't repent, and a year after having Daniel interpret his dream he was strolling on the roof of the palace when he said to himself
“Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30)
Wrong choice of words! He had just uttered those words when a voice from heaven said 
“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 the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” (Daniel 4:31-32)
And the prophesy came true, Nebuchadnezzar went insane, he was driven from his people and lived in the wilderness eating grass. He lived outdoors where the dew (they don't have rain there) fell on him and his hair grew long and plaited until it looked like eagle feathers, his nails grew long like the claws of a bird. For seven years he lived like this.

Over the years there's a lot of speculation over what really happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Of course mankind cannot accept "God delivered on his promise" and has came up with numerous possibilities. One was Clinical lycanthropy (which is a way of saying werewolf without saying werewolf) or possibly Acute porphyria. Others claim it was paralytic dementia from a bout of syphilis. The problem is that these things just don't go away, but Nebuchadnezzar's madness did. 
At the end of that 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 4:34)
Nebuchadnezzar continues on with this discourse praising God Almighty. No longer does Nebuchadnezzar ever mention the pagan gods of his past. God has shown Nebuchadnezzar not only the error of his ways, not only what a taste of divine power is all about, but what the one sin God really hates is all about.
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:37)
 God really hates pride.

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