A king’s speech
God, thank You that You never give up on me. You persist out of Your great love.
Read DANIEL 4:1–18
 King Nebuchadnezzar, To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth: May you prosper greatly!  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.  I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.  I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.  So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me.  When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me.  Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)  I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me.  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.  The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.  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.  “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.  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.  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.  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 all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’  “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhen does Nebuchadnezzar praise God?
Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion is a process, not a point. In the early days of the Exile, he was greatly impressed with Daniel and his friends (1:19,20), but he showed no overt interest in their God. After Daniel successfully interpreted his disturbing dreams, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God as “Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries” (2:47). Subsequently, he sang God’s praises, even decreeing punishment for anyone speaking against God (3:28,29a). Yet, while acknowledging many amazing facts, Nebuchadnezzar made no confession of faith. He remained a polytheist (4:8), speaking of “your God” (2:47) or “the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” (3:28), but never “my God.” The contrast between knowing facts about God and placing faith in God is as stark as the difference between darkness and light. Nebuchadnezzar was not only God’s instrument of judgment upon Israel (Jer. 25:9) but also the object of God’s love. The dreams, signs and ultimate judgment (4:14–16) were not to save Israel but to bring Nebuchadnezzar to saving faith. This king’s speech, testifying to what “the Most High God” had done for him (2), gives unstinting praise to God (3). Both then and now, God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
Write a testimony about what God has done in your life. Share it with someone in the days ahead.
Merciful God, You are reaching out in love and I want to move with You.
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