“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels…” (Proverbs 1:5 KJV).
In his message to nations under his dominion (Daniel 4), and to all people of the earth, King Nebuchadnezzar gave a testimony about the dealings of the Almighty God with him. He shared a firsthand account of his experiences, and the lessons he learnt from the hand of the Almighty the hard way.
We can find ten great wisdom lessons from his message:
1] It is good to talk, and to testify, about the works of God. In Daniel 4:2-3, the King said: “I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! And how mighty are his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.”
It is a good thing to testify about the works of the LORD, and to speak about the wonderful things He does in our lives. Our testimonies about His greatness and might on our behalf put the Devil to shame, and break off his power over our lives. We must always keep in remembrance that the Dragon, the Devil, was overcome in heaven by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11). Sharing testimonies increases our confidence in the LORD, and builds faith in the hearers—“Faith cometh by hearing…” (Romans 10:17 KJV).
2] One must always seek understanding and give attention to his or her dreams. The King continued: “I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream. Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.” (Daniel 4:4-9 KJV).
Dreams are not to be taken lightly. They are the language of the spirit realm. When God tries to speak to us, and we perceive not, because of our preoccupation with the cares of this world, He switches to communication via dreams of the night, a time at which our body is at rest and our spirit is more sensitive to His leadings. Elihu spoke about this in Job 33:14-17. He said, “For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man…” (NKJV).
We must be keen on seeking understanding of the dreams and visions we get, and must know that it is the Spirit of God who can bring us perfect understanding to the messages encoded in our dreams, as Elihu acknowledged in Job 32:8: “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” The greatest King knew the importance of dreams, and continually sought their interpretation.
3] There are Watchers and Holy Ones observing our ways on Earth. The King further continued his message with these: “I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Daniel 4:13-17 KJV).
Yes! There is a cloud of witnesses observing our ways. The writer of Hebrews wrote: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV). He admonished the readers of his letter to be mindful about a cloud of witnesses watching their dealings, and their ways here on earth.
As we go about our business in this world, we should have in mind that there are a lot of unseen eyes looking at us. Being mindful of this truth would make us live right at all times—to be in private what we are in public.
4] Our heart is all that matters. The state of the heart is all that makes the difference among people. Nebuchadnezzar said concerning his dream that the decree of the watchers and holy ones was that: “Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast…” (Daniel 4:16 KJV). Thus the change of heart was all that was needed to execute God’s judgment upon him. Why? Out of the heart proceeds everything that appear on the outside. Our life outside is a demonstration of our life within.
Jesus said: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23 KJV). Therefore, Solomon advised in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
We must bear in mind that the condition of our heart is all that matters, and when we choose to feed our heart with the right stuff, our lives would certainly reflect the right stuff. The greatest teacher once said: “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt…” (Matthew 12:33 KJV).
5] The Most High rules in the kingdom of men. The King said about his dream in verse 17, “…to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (KJV). Many times, people think God is an absentee God, but He isn’t, and He demonstrated it to Nebuchadnezzar. His eyes keenly follow the happenings on Earth. He has never left Earth to run on autopilot. In fact, He upholds everything by the power of his word (Hebrews 1:3).
The Devil stole power from Adam to be the god of this world (1 Corinthians 4:4), ruling over, and reigning in the lives of children of disobedience—sinners (Ephesians 2:1-2). But we must know that God’s kindgom rules over all kingdoms of the earth. The Psalmist wrote, “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all” (Psalm 103:19 KJV). God is not an absentee Creator. Therefore, Jesus, when he was teaching his disciples to pray, told them to ask for the will and kingdom of God to reign in their affairs of life on the earth—“ Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 KJV).
6] The execution of an evil judgment upon man can be prevented, or suspended by repentance and acts of righteousness. In Daniel 4:27, He spoke about the counsel of Daniel concerning the evil judgment that was upon his head: “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity” (KJV). Daniel was an excellent man in whom God’s spirit inhabited, per his writing, therefore his advice was perfect. And that was exactly what was needed to put to rest the dreadful verdict of the Holy Ones upon the great king.
God is not pleased to see a sinner perish. He desires their repentance and salvation, as Apostle Peter wrote: “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance… And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation..” (2 Peter 3:9,15 KJV). When King Ahab, the most wicked of all the kings of Israel, repented, God had mercy and suspended his divine sentence—“And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.” (1 Kings 21:28-29 KJV).
Truly, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). All He wants is true repentance, so he could forgive and take us back—“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7 KJV).
7] Judgment upon man for evil could take long in coming to pass. The king acknowledged that the unfolding of his dream took a year in its fulfilment. It was long in coming, but it came to pass. He said, “All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months…” (Daniel 4:28-29 KJV).
The Preacher spoke in Ecclesiastes 8:11 that, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (KJV). We must keep to heart that, though the sentence for an evil work may not be executed readily, it would ultimately come if we fail to repent and amend our ways—if we fail to “sow to ourselves in righteousness, to reap God’s mercy” (Hosea 10:12 KJV).
8] There are two cardinal sins of pride: the failure to recognize the might of God in our prosperity, and the failure to seek His glory—instead of ours. These were the king’s sins of pride as he wrote in Daniel 4:30 about his prideful speech that brought the execution of the sentence upon him: “The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (KJV).
The king never recognized the hand of the Almighty in all his victories and the glory that had come his way. He attributed his success to his own might and power, and to his own wisdom. This is one sin we can so easily stray into. We get success in our endeavours, and we forget to realize that it was the unseen hands of the Almighty that helped us to get those success.
God warned the people of Israel as He took them through the wilderness: “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day; Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein… And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8:11-12,17-18 KJV). We must always remind ourselves that our successes come from God’s help, and not of our own power and might.
The King also did all for his glory and not the Almighty. Thus the motive for his accomplishments was wrong. Success is good, but we must pursue it with the right motive—that our heavenly Father would be glorified. Not all about us, but about Him! Christ taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 KJV).
9] The consequence of an evil verdict can be mitigated, and restoration achieved, when one lifts up his or her eyes unto God whilst in his or her afflictions. The king, in his testimony, spoke about the turn around of his punishment for his pride and arrogance he had suffered in seven years. He said: “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven…” (Daniel 4:34 KJV).
God is merciful, even in His dealings with the sinner. His punishments are designed to turn the heart of the ungodly to Him in repentance. Therefore, when the sinner truly repents and looks to the Almighty for mercy, He offers mercy, and suspends the works of His judgment.
When the king lifted up his eyes unto heaven, unto God to acknowledge Him, there was a turn around in his life; his heart was changed into the heart of man, and his understanding returned unto him. It was at that same time his kindgom was restored unto him.
10] Men would seek you when glory and honour from God descend upon you. It is God who promotes, and demotes—“… he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Psalm 75:7 KJV). “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings…” (Daniel 2:21 KJV).
It is God’s glory and honour upon man that make his ways pleasant and beautiful. King Nebuchadnezzar said, after lifting up his eyes unto heaven, “…mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.” (Daniel 4:26 KJV). And he ended his testimony with these words: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” (Daniel 4:37 KJV).
He knew it was the Almighty, the King of Heaven, whose glory and honour had bestowed unto him his lost kingdom and majesty. He who kneels before God would always stand before men! Let’s seek God’s favour, as this would make us attractive to men invariably.
These are lessons the king learnt the hard way. He was honest enough to publish these to his people, and to others of the whole earth in his days. The key to avoid being a victim of history is to learn and be keen on its lessons. Let us receive with meekness, and learn from God’s dealings with this great king who once ruled the world.
God bless you!