Remembering Our Place and Who’s the Boss
We have a chapter that begins and ends with praise to the Most High God, and in between is a dream, its interpretation and its fulfillment. There’s a pretty clear message that comes through. 4 scenes
Address and Ascription to the Greatness of the Most High God (1-3)
This is a letter to the nations, kingdom, world, from the king of the empire
Praise: eternal dominion, a kingdom that endures from generation to generation (34)
This chapter is
proclaiming something about the supremacy of the
The Disturbing Dream (4-18)
There is a little storyline:
By this time, it seems
Here’s the dream:
There was this enormous tree in the middle of the land. It grew and grew until it reached the sky and could be seen from everywhere. It had beautiful leaves, lots of fruit, and so birds and animals found food and shelter in it.
But then a messenger from heaven called out, “Cut down the tree! Let the birds and animals flee. Leave the stump and roots, bind the stump with iron and bronze and leave it.
[v. 15b, the it becomes a he, the metaphor changes from a tree to a man] Let him be covered with dew and become like an animal. Take away his sanity and let him live in the fields, until 7 seasons have passed.
Key verse (17): “The decision is announced by messengers, the holy one declares the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets them over the lowliest of men.”
Dan greater than the magicians of
In chapter 2, Daniel could interpret the
dream when the other wisemen of
The Interpretation and Fulfillment (19-33)
The story line continues. Dan doesn’t like the dream.
(He starts with the positive) This grand and glorious tree, whose leaves and fruit provided food and shelter to the birds and animals—you are that tree. You have become a great king of a great kingdom.
But the Most High has sent the message to cut down this tree and leave the stump. Then he shall live like an animal in the fields and be covered with dew for 7 seasons.
O king, you will be driven away from people and live with the wild animals. You’ll eat grass and be covered with dew. Seven seasons will pass until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. But you will be restored when you acknowledge that heaven rules (25-26)
Then Dan urges
One of the 7 wonders of the ancient world
wall around the city was 9 miles long, 80 feet thick, 320 feet high, with 250 watchtowers and 100 bronze gates
His wife was Median, and used to lush mountain vegetation. To please his homesick wife, he build a garden mountain, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
“The plants hung over terraces that were supported by stone columns. These were arched vaults, which were located on cubed fountains [which] created humidity that helped keep the area cool. . . The gardens were supported by an intricate structure of stone pillars, brick walls, and palm tree trunk beams.”
The garden had an complex irrigation system with an elaborate tunnel and pulley system to water this massive garden in the middle of an arid land. (www.angelfire.com/ny/anghockey/hanginggardens.html)
“The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven. . . You royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and live with the animals. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” (v. 31-32)
Praise for Recovery (34-37)
At the end of those
God has an eternal dominion, a kingdom that endures from generation to generation (v. 3)
People are not in charge, people are not the center.
God does as he pleases—no one can stop him or question him.
God not only
Again, (37) “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.”
I think the story conveys a clear message:
Neb is only king because God made him king, and when Neb starts boasting of himself, God shows him that he himself is nothing. The king of a world empire can be reduced to lunatic in the fields living like an animal, if God wants.
Man is not so great in himself,
even kings are not so great. The only
difference between the king of
God rules, God is enthroned above us all.
So do not boast in yourself, but humbly acknowledge the King of kings.
Friday I took the boys to play in the snow a little bit. A lot of the snow I shoveled from our steps and sidewalk, but then with some of the snow I made Elijah a small snowman.
Suppose the snow in the snowman starts boasting about how great he is, how tall and strong, and he feels he is superior to the snow pile beside the sidewalk. I can cut down the snowman and say, there’s no difference between you and the snow pile beside the sidewalk. I can make you a snowman, or a snow pile. You have nothing to boast of. I do as I please, and you cannot stop me or question me.
When we think about the Jews in captivity,
the message is one of reassurance. God
is greater than
As with the previous chapters, God is again encouraging the Jews to not
dismay, not fear or doubt. YHWH is
Let me highlight some details of this message we can glean from our story:
Recognize the Danger of Success
It is when we’re successful that we’re tempted to boast in ourselves, to fail to acknowledge the God who has given us what we have.
When you graduate with accolades, accepted to the grad school of your choice, you land the big job, you get the promotion; when your small group is growing and thriving, everyone is telling you how much you’re a blessing to the them/church (ECF Sketches: we have some wonderfully talented people), when you’re elected as an elder of a church, when it seems your church is growing and people want to invite you to be a speaker!
For years, I remember my Dad saying to me, “Paul, 3 things you need to know in ministry: humility, humility, humility.”
A little too much success can be a very dangerous thing.
Few people handle failures well; even fewer handle success well.
“I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean by humility, doubt of his own power, or hesitation in speaking his opinion. But really great men have a ... feeling that the greatness is not in them but through them; that they could not do or be anything else than God made them.” (John Riskin)
We’re tempted to forget our weaknesses and focus on our accomplishments or abilities.
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Cor 4:7)
The Gospel warns us from claiming any boast for ourselves. The Gospel warns us that any good in us has come from God. It is a story of receiving, not accomplishing.
Humility is not a virtue in itself. It is the effect of seeing a God who is so exalted, supreme and gloriously gracious.
See the Blessing of Trials
Trials/suffering/failures have a merciful role in showing us our frailty, of keeping us humble.
I think something is going around because I keep hearing how different people are sick. I think there’s a great spiritual lesson to learn while you have body aches and chills, when you’re coughing, congested, and bed-ridden.
You feel weak. You don’t feel boastful, strong, powerful.
I was talking with someone about how some guys, who might otherwise seem strong and manly, when they get sick, seem to revert to little kids who want their mommy.
There is a painful but precious lesson to be learned—we’re not as strong as we sometimes think.
God’s vision and judgment are to be seen as a
Judgment is not just for destruction. There is an offer/purpose of hope. God is not trying to destroy but to lead to revelation and repentance.
When God humbles us, breaks us, that is not his wrath, that is part of his covenant love.
So when you’re bedridden with the flu, when you get rejected from the grad program or job interview, when you’re at the end of your rope with the kids or when ministry seems to be failing miserably or (as with Neb) you become psychotic and live like an animal—praise God for His mercies to break our pride and show us His greatness.
feeling weak, helpless—that’s a great place to be
Sometimes we have to be made weak before we can be made strong.
In my early Christian live, “brokenness” was a high value. We knew that our spirits had to be tamed, submitted, broken before God.
Different saints will say that their greatest spiritual lessons were learned, not in times of prosperity, but in times of trials, failures, hardships.
Acknowledging God’s rule over us means exercising justice not oppression.
Dan then gives a plea (v. 27)
Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.
Dan is asking the king to stop injustice and oppression, to live righteously and show kindness.
The application of acknowledging God’s
kingship over us is to follow God’s values.
This is how
God addresses injustices within the king’s
power to put to right, but
We must not turn a blind eye to injustices under our authority or within our power. We are under God’s authority and so must be stewards of His righteousness and justice. He is our true boss, our true King.
So many of you are accomplished professionals, white collar guys who will have some measure of leadership and authority.
If you’re the doctor on the staff, teacher of the classroom, supervisor of your staff, then remember, you’re dominion/authority is also under God’s authority.
When some kid gets picked on for being little chubby or clumsy or poor, we speak on behalf of the weak.
When as the boss, its easy to take advantage of someone because of their compliant personality or naiveté, we show equity and respect.
When someone isn’t performing as he should and it would be easy to give an immediate reprimand, we take time to listen and show concern for the person
As servants under the rule of King Jesus, we exercise justice and kindness as it is within our power. We reflect the values of His kingdom, as it is extended through our human realms of influence. We do not tolerate injustice or oppression, but show kindness and justice.
Let me take it one step further. This is not just limited to our realms of professional authority, but we also go out of our way to promote mercy and justice as it is within our power.
I want to briefly highlight QV, our community tutoring program [picture?]. We feel it is right for us as a church to serve the kids of this community, to somehow show kindness and compassion. Here are a bunch of bright, college educated, white collar, upward mobile young people in the middle of a community of brokenness, darkness, even poverty. As servants of King Jesus, we acknowledge His rule by living not for our own convenience and gain, but to show mercy and compassion to others.
Sometimes our lives betray a truer understanding of the greatness of God.
We forget who we are, we forget who the real King is.
Beware of the successes that make us boast in ourselves.
Be thankful for the trials the remind us of our weaknesses and the greatness of God.
Live as servants of King Jesus as you show kindness and mercy as you have opportunity.