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Nebuchadnezzar's Pride

You remember Nebuchadnezzar saw how the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego protected them from the intense heat of his fiery furnace. However, he still would not honor the Lord as the only true God. This week we will talk about something that changed his mind. In spite of Nebuchadnezzar’s change of heart, the Babylonians served idols until their bitter end. Many years later a king named Belshazzar reviled the Lord so despitefully that He brought an enemy army against him and his people. Belshazzar was killed and the great Babylon was captured by Darius the Mede overnight.

Nebuchadnezzar’s change of heart began with a second alarming dream. Again his wise men were helpless, so he told Daniel, “…I know the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you…explain to me the visions of my dream…”

The dream showed a tree so tall it reached to heaven and could be seen over all the earth. Among its beautiful leaves, there was food enough for all. Its branches offered shade for animals and shelter for birds. Then the king saw a holy one came down from heaven and cry aloud. “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit!” The animals and birds were to be chased away, while the tree’s stump and roots were to be bound with a metal band and left to the weather.

Daniel was shocked when he realized the dream meant terrible suffering for the king. He told Nebuchadnezzar that the huge tree showed his glory as a great ruler. His fame had spread all over the world, but there was a problem - - he refused to give God honor as Ruler of all the earth. Now God would humble him by letting him live with animals and eat grass like oxen. When he came to recognize the Lord as the true God, however, the kingdom would be given back to him.

Daniel begged the king to change pleading, “Therefore, O king, break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” But Nebuchadnezzar would not change. He went on as before, even boasting one day about building Babylon by his own mighty power. Then a voice came from heaven declaring, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!”

That very hour Nebuchadnezzar was driven out and ate grass like oxen. His body was wet with dew till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like bird claws. For a time His mind was like an animal’s. When he came to realize God was the true God, however, his kingdom was given back. Now Nebuchadnezzar blessed the Lord as One who humbled those filled with pride.

The nation was still evil, however, as shown many years later by Babylon’s last king Belshazzar. During a wild feast one night, Belshazzar brought down God’s just wrath. During the merrymaking, he had the golden vessels from Solomon’s temple brought out for his guests. Imagine a thousand carousing pagans drinking wine from the sacred dishes of the Lord’s house - - and yelling coarse praises to their idol gods!

Suddenly everything changed - - the fingers of a man’s hand appeared on the white wall behind the lampstand and began to write out a message. The terrified king’s bones became like water and his knees began to shake. When no one could explain the writing, the queen came into the great hall and reminded him how Daniel had interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams.

Daniel was old now, but he faced the hushed crowd without flinching. The handwriting on the wall meant the end of his kingdom, he told the frantic Belshazzar. He knew what happened to Nebuchadnezzar and should have honored the true God - - instead he had shown Him despite by dishonoring His holy vessels. “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting,” Daniel solemnly interpreted the writing.

That very night Darius the Mede and his army entered Babylon, killed Belshazzar and took over the powerful kingdom.

Talking it Over:

1. How do the lives of these kings show God punishes wicked people and nations?
2. Use a Bible encyclopedia to read about how Darius the Mede captured Babylon. Most people think the Euphrates River was drained into canals and his soldiers went under the walls on the river bed. Talk about the fact no walls are thick or high enough to keep God’s purpose from being accomplished.
3. Talk about the honors given Daniel in the Babylonian kingdom. How is this an example for us?

Memory Verse:

“…Wine is a mocker, Intoxicating drink arouses brawling and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Prov 20:1

What can we learn about drinking alcohol from this?

Credits
Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.