Ladies Bible Study
The Book of Daniel
Relevance for Today
"Crazy is as Crazy Does"
This will be our fourth lesson in the book of Daniel. So far, we have only been able to take it one chapter at a time, so today; we are studying Chapter 4.
Letís begin with a quick review.
We learned who Daniel was and how he came to be in captivity in the Babylon Empire.
We discovered that Daniel was a man of resolution, revelation and reverence.
Daniel and his companions were young men without blemish, taken into captivity to serve in King Nebuchadnezzarís court. They were given Babylonian names that reflected the godís the Babylonians worshipped, in an effort to transform them into Babylonians.
Daniel and his friends stood firm in their belief, revealing him as a man of resolution, not to partake of worldly things. This faithfulness was rewarded by God. Daniel and his friends were put in places of authority in the court. Obedience always brings about favor with God. Last month we studied about the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. We learned how to handle difficult situations with the wisdom of God, and we also learned about the plan of God for the time of the Gentiles and the Gentile rule over the world. We learned that each section of the statue in the dream represented world rule of a specific kingdom ending with the future rule of the revived Roman Empire in the tribulation. God gave this dream to a Gentile for the Gentile world, but He used His man Daniel to give the interpretation, as the dream came from God and only He can give the meaning. All Glory belongs to God and God only, not to men or ourselves when God does use us.
In lesson three we met Danielís three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. We came to understand the importance of individual and unified faith in the face of any fiery trail. These three Hebrew young men were putting into practice a principle Jesus himself taught much later.
Matthew 18-19-20: "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.''
These three young men agreed aloud to the king that they would not bow down and worship the false image, speaking from their heart what they believed. That God would deliver them completely. However, even if they died, it did not matter, they would still only worship the one and true God. This unified faith ushered in the miraculous. God proved faithful and delivered them from the fiery furnace. It is important to realize that their faith was already developed to take them through the fire. Going through the fire only strengthened it! No matter what fire you are facing, ladies God will always see you through. It is up to you to strengthen your faith to face the fire, be strengthened by the presence of the Lord through the fire and then expect the miraculous at all times. Amen!
Letís look at this monthís lesson, turn with me to Daniel chapter 4.
If you remember, we ended with Nebuchadnezzer once again glorifying God for what He did. We open this chapter with the same worshipful attitude being displayed by King Nebuchadnezzer.
Daniel 4: 1-3: Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 2. I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. 3. How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.
I really should have entitled this lesson, "Prided goes before the fall", as this is one of the main thoughts we will be stressing.
Nebuchadnezzar writes to all the people of the known world. At this time, he is the ruler of the known world. He speaks of peace to the people. I believe that at this time, Nebuchadnezzar was at peace with himself and with God. Some scholars believe that this is a declaration of faith in the God of Israel, I cannot say. I do believe he was coming to the place in his life that he was able to acknowledge the sovereignty of God Almighty. That God and God alone ruled. However as we see, one of Nebuchadnezzarís main faults was pride which eventually led to a his downfall.
The next thing we see is Nebuchadnezzar having yet another dream. God uses dreams in many ways.
Joel 2:28: 28. "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions;
Here God is telling us that when He pours out His Spirit after the death and resurrection of Jesus, that He will continue to use prophesy and dreams to communicate with man.
God gives the dream and we see again that only God can give the interpretation.
Daniel 4:4-8: I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace.
5. I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6. Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.
7. Then the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. 8. But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying:
This is a repeat of what happened at an earlier time. Nebuchadnezzar had a very disturbing dream, it troubled him deeply. Yet, he did not immediately call for Daniel to interpret it, but turned to his magicians, soothsayers and the others who could not give the meaning.
Daniel finally comes before the king. It is unclear as to why his appearance was delayed.
King Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that the Spirit of the Holy God is in Daniel and tells him the dream.
Daniel 4:9-18: "Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation. 10. "These were the visions of my head while on my bed: I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great.
11. The tree grew and became strong; its height reached to the heavens, and it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. 12. Its leaves were lovely, its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, the birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. 13. "I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven.
14. He cried aloud and said thus: `Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches. 15. Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. 16. Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of an animal, and let seven times pass over him.
17. `This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.' 18. "This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.''
Before we discuss the dream, I want us to look at an important fact. If you look in verse 4 we can begin to see what King Nebuchadnezzarís main problem was, pride. He was in his
Proverbs 8:13: The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 14:3: In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Jesus stressed this point when talking to His disciples.
Mark 7:20-23: And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.
21. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22. "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23. "All these evil things come from within and defile a man.''
Now, back to the dream.
The king sees a large tree. Trees can represent many things in the Bible, a man or a nation.
The tree is large and covers all the Earth. This tree represents Nebuchadnezzar, and his kingdom. He ruled over all the known Earth and there was peace on Earth at that time.
Both he and his kingdom are prosperous, luxurious, self-made and successful. This is how Nebuchadnezzar sees himself in his heart and this is a "slippery slope". We see the tree being chopped down, but not totally destroyed. Letís look at what Daniel has to say.
Daniel 4:18-27: 18. "This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.'' 19. Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.'' Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!
20. The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, 21. whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and on whose branches the birds of the heaven had their habitation
22. it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth. 23. And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, `Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him'; 24. this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25. They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. 26. And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. 27. Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.''
Wow! As we see, even Daniel was troubled when he heard the dream. Can you imagine how Daniel felt? He was in the presence of a volatile irrational man, know to throw people into fiery furnaces and God was showing him, that this same man was about to go completely "nuts." I canít help wondering if Daniel was not also upset because He had grown fond of Nebuchadnezzer. This event takes place years later in Danielís life, he had served the King for years ruling over Babylon and sitting at the Kingís gate. The King acknowledges that Daniel is Godís man, full of the Holy Spirit. (See verse 18.) Yet, this same man is capable of taking Danielís life for what he is about to share. King Nebuchadnezzer realizes how disturbed Daniel is and reassures him in verse 19.
Letís look at verse 19: Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.'' Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!
Daniel is saying, I wish it were about your enemies and would happen to your enemies, yet he goes ahead and tells the meaning.
King Nebuchadnezzarís kingdom will be taken from him because of his pride, unrighteousness and greed. He will become insane, believing he is a wild animal and live in the fields as a wild animal for seven years. But there is hope, his kingdom will be restored to him after he comes to know God and God rules. Daniel pleads with him to turn from his evil ways and repent, show mercy to the poor and perhaps this will not occur.
We are not given Nebuchadnezzarís response but we find him a year later with no change in his behavior or pride.
Daniel4: 28-33: 28. All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29. At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. 30. The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?'' 31. While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32. And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.'' 33. That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws.
The king is walking about his palace full of pride, prideful of what he built his power and his honor! The words were barely out of his mouth when God spoke from Heaven and fulfilled the dream. Nebuchadnezzar became insane, living as a wild animal for seven years. Letís look at the remainder of the verses in this chapter and then we will close our lesson.
Daniel 4:34-37: And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. no one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?''
36. At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. 37. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase.
God kept His Word. Nebuchadnezzarís reason returned and he acknowledges that God and God alone is King of Heaven. Thus my title, "crazy is as crazy does", for to me, the king was "crazy" or not right to allow himself to become so full of pride that God had to warn him of the results if he did not change. Then when he had the opportunity to change, he did
not! Pride is one of the most insidious tools of the devil. He can and will use it to trap you into sin. We have to be very careful of our hearts for even deeply spiritual people can become prideful of their spirituality. I urge you today to examine your life, identify those areas you have become prideful in and cast them down. Submit yourself once again to the Lord and His sovereignty.
We need to acknowledge as the king did Godís absolute rule in all things.
Look again at the closing verses.
Verses 34,35 and 37: Ö For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. no one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?'' Ö Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase.
In the world today we need to realize something very important, God is in control!
Verse 35: "He does according to His will." Nations rise and fall according to Godís will, to teach us that God alone rules. Look at verse 17: in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will,
We may think man chooses his leaders, but God is in control, he places leaders in positions of leadership and we must pray for them.
1 Timothy 2:1-3: Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2. for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
Are you praying for our leadership, whether you voted for them or not?
We as believers must pray for our leaders and nation. Just as the leaders of Babylon were lifted up in pride and unrighteousness, so too, is our nation. It is the prayers of believers holding this nation together, but God will not be mocked.
Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
We sow seeds of greed, lust, sexual immorality and unrighteousness and as disciples of Christ we are to bring the light to the darkness. Are you doing your part?
We should be bringing Christ to a dying nation!
I urge you today, if you are not involved in a good church, become involved. Support financially the spreading of the Gospel, give to the poor, help the needy . Remember the "Great commission" given by our Lord, before he ascended.
Mark 16:15-18: 15. And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17. "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18. "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.''
Questions Chapter 4
10. What must we do as believers?