Daniel 4 emphasizes the flip side of the coin of God’s character that is strikingly different. He is with you in the fires of life and the other side of the coin: God is High and Lifted Up. He is above all. He is all powerful. These two back to back chapters of Dan. 3 and 4 express the twin truths of God that describe God as the most amazing God of all. He is personal/He is All powerful. He serves us/He is to be worshipped.
Consider a parent and child. Should a parent be their children’s friend?
Yes, but what kind of a parent would you be if you were only a friend?...
What about a guide and authority? Yes, but what if you were only disciplinarian authority?...
God is your friend that knows you and loves you personally, but he is also your ultimate authority. Are you willing to give Him that place on the throne of your life? Far beyond a parent, God is supreme, all knowing, all powerful. This is what Daniel 4 is about. As we look at the unfolding story of Dan. 4, we discover God can do whatever God wants. If he wants to make you crazy in the head, he can do that, just like he does with the King of Babylon. He can shake your tree whenever he wants. When I was growing up in Sumas my friend Keith Peterson and I had a favorite dead tree by what is now the fire hall. We often climbed 30 feet up to perch on top, and we’d start shaking that old tree at least six inches each way. God can shake your life up anytime he wants because he is God! READ Dan. 4:23. He can shake your tree… He is supreme. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty! The Whole earth is full of His Glory! The last verse of Daniel is like a caption over the whole chapter. It is both maddening and amazing: Dan. 4:37 READ.
YES! We shout ~ everything he does is right and all his ways are just! But hold on. I am a good American. I want MY will to be done. I want control. I want a loving God according to my image, a God that doesn’t allow bad things! Isn’t this what we hear all the time: how can a loving God allow war, rape, evil, poverty, bad behavior. We desperately want to put God into our box, our definition of what a loving God should look like. Bow down to us!
Whatever He does is RIGHT. We don’t get to argue. The standards layed out in the Bible of who God is, what he values, the way he goes about interacting with us, are non-negotiable. You cannot pick and choose the parts you like and the parts you don’t. Whatever God does is right. All his ways are just. If makes no difference if I understand or agree. He is in control, not me. We ask why sickness? Why Alzheimers? Why the death of children? Why pain? I may not come up with a logical answer to all the world’s questions, but in time, when facing tragedy, a person of faith will find satisfaction with the absolute final bottom line answer: God is God and I am not, whatever he does is right, all his ways are just.
Once I work through the shock of accepting that I am not God, this is tremendously good news because it means we can leave ALL at the throne of grace and mercy. We can leave everything at the foot of the cross, giving to God that which we do not understand. Everything he does is right. All his ways are Just. Thank you Lord for being my savior in the fire of life. Thank you Lord for being HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.
Here’s a summary of the verses not read in Dan. 4. The story illustrates the truth that God can do anything he wants. However, God’s decisions have purpose. The last phrase of the chapter: those who walk in pride he is able to humble. God’s great desire is to find a way to bring people to Himself because he wants a relationship with us; one of the ways he does that is to Humble the proud. I’ve heard it said that hardships build character (Bill Kamphouse has often said that in Sunday School.) YES, and difficulties build character by getting rid of pride and replacing with humility.) Dan. 4 is a story of a man Who Learned The Truth of God’s might the Hard Way. His pride is humbled.
The King of Babylon is the most powerful man in the world. One night while sleeping, he had a strange dream of a vast tree that stretched to the sky. Its branches were large and strong so that all kinds of birds nested and all sorts of animals found shade. Suddenly the tree was cut down, its branches stripped, its fruit scattered. Nothing was left but a stump bound in iron and bronze. He also dreamed of a man who lost his mind and began to live among the animals (Dan. 4:4-18).
None of the king’s advisors knew the meaning. Daniel is asked. “You, O king, are the tree” ( Dan. 4:22). the King had become so great people from all the earth came to him. The bad news is the king will lose his mind and eat grass like a cow for seven years, “until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men” (Dan. 4:25). Daniel begged the king to repent and show kindness to the oppressed.
The king ignored Daniel’s advice. A year later as the king boasted from the roof of his palace, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). Instantly the voice of God spoke, the mightiest man on earth went crazy, and ran through the streets bellowing like a cow (Dan. 4:33).
Seven years passed as the King lived with the beasts of the field. Dan. 4:34 tells what happened next READ. He looked up. Woke up. Spoke up. That’s a recipe for renewal to overcome yourself and in humility testify of Jesus Christ: Look UP, Wake UP, Speak UP. The horizon always offers a far better view than your belly button. Then comes the moral of the story READ Dan. 4:35. What a tremendous statement of God’s supremacy!
Back to that tremendously powerful verse Dan. 4:37. Whatever God does is right, all his way are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” God is in the humbling business. He will put us in situations to humble us. That’s exactly what we resist, but it is precisely what we need. How often I get a little bit of pride going of what is happening among us at SACC, and boom, I am reminded by somebody how human I really am. Right now, it seems to me, the Christian Church is being humbled by our shifting culture. May we take this time to root out any arrogance, get rid of our anger towards God, and learn to see him as right and just. Look Up. Wake Up. Speak Up.
God is sovereign! Eph 1:11 (NLT): “For he chose us from the beginning, and all things happen just as he decided long ago.” Isaiah 40:22-24 “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers….He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
God’s supremacy puts life in perspective: “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.” Woo hoo, we can finally give up control. Like when my mother gave up driving, she was so happy because she never really liked it in the first place. Give up control of your life, quit trying to figure out what God is up to like he is accountable to you! That’s freedom. So what if you don’t understand your boss, it’s his business, not yours! I find freedom to trust people around me who are better at doing things than me. Quit living your life like the only purpose of God is to do your bidding and rescue you from your stupid decisions!
God’s holiness is empowering. If you believe God is sovereign, no mere human can intimidate you. God is above all earthly Kings ~ at any moment he can make them go mad and run naked in the streets bellowing like a cow. This is how Daniel and his friends lived with such confidence while in a foreign land. I’ve heard the advice that if you are afraid of public speaking, just imagine everyone in their underwear. For Daniel he did not have to imagine, he saw the King go crazy like a cow. When I look at the tyrants of this earth, I see the crazy King of Babylon and I know God can do it again. To know God has all power means I respect earthly authority but I don’t tremble. What gave David the courage to face the giant Goliath? He said, “I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Armies of Israel, whom you have defied!” (1 Sam. 17:45) David had a God so big Goliath was like a gnat.
The sovereignty of God is also a humbling truth. The purpose of the story of the crazy king, the reason God cut down the tree, is to humble the king.
The greatness of God humbles us, which means it also prepares us for salvation. Only the humble can be saved. Proud people can’t be saved because they won’t admit their desperate need. /// Push yourself off the throne and let God be God. The end of Dan. 4 is the last we hear of King Nebuchadnezzar. The King is at the height of his power, and he knows it…. (READ 4:30). Suddenly the King is struck with madness. There is something about hitting the bottom to put life in perspective… I don’t know if the King is a full believer in God because there no repentance, but it is amazing to see a pagan King praise God…
One of the Holy places in Israel is the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The church is built over the spot where some think Mary gave birth to Jesus. To enter the church, you walk across a broad plaza and then come to a small entrance. It’s so small you have to duck down to get inside. The entrance is deliberately made low because several centuries ago the local bigwigs liked to ride their horses right into the sanctuary. The priests felt that was inappropriate so they lowered the entrance to force the great men to dismount before entering the church. The same is true of salvation. If you want life forever with God, you’ve got to get off your high horse. Until you do, you’ll never be saved.
The song, “Just as I am” speaks so well of our approach to the Lord Almighty.
Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Come—just as you are—and he will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve. God is God, and you are not. He is high and mighty. He has the power to make a King bellow like a cow. His purpose is to humble the proud. How many more reminders do you need before you remove yourself from the throne, and give God his rightful place in your life? In humility may you give your life to Jesus Christ.