DARING TO MAKE A STAND – A BIBLE STUDY OF DANIEL CHAPTERS 1-6 – PART 14

Affliction of the Comfortable – Part I

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“4 [j]King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers[k] and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger,[l] coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times[m] pass by for him.

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”  Daniel 4:1-18 NIV

In Daniel 3, we’ve seen what happens when God comforts the afflicted.  We’ve been able to join the three young Hebrew boys and learned some great lessons in the heat of persecution.

In chapter 4, we see what happens when God afflicts the comfortable.  The chapter tells the testimony of King Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion.  When we look at the Scripture, this is easy to take this conversion too lightly.  We should know that Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion was big.  Nebuchadnezzar was the king who conquered much of the known world.  He was the ruler who brought God’s people into captivity.  He was the most powerful ruler in the world and was flourishing in his position.  Of course we cannot forget that he was the one who threw the three Hebrew boys into the fire because they chose not to bow down to his golden image.  Despite all of his worldly success, Nebuchadnezzar was troubled as he lay in bed at night.

Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion can be likened to if Kim-Jong Un came to faith in Christ.  Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion would be like the ruler of North Korea repenting of his sin and making a public commitment to Jesus Christ before all of the people of North Korea. It was a big statement.  This passage shows us two important things that we need to know as believers.        

1.  You never really know who is seeking God.

Although everything looked great on the outside for Nebuchadnezzar, he was struggling with question about eternity, mortality, and purpose of life.   Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that scared him and he didn’t know what to make of it.

The king had a dream of a tree that was so bit that all the animals of the earth could go under it.  It had many leaves, grew so high no one could see it from any point on earth, and it bore much fruit.  As this great tree grew and extended an angel descended and cut it down leaving only a stump behind.  It was an odd dream that greatly troubled the king.

A good takeaway here is that you never know who is seeking God.  You never really know who is open to God’s leading.  Who would have guessed the king that threw the Hebrew boys into the fire, was wresting with a decision to surrender to God?  Who would have guessed that the king over the entire known world was open to what God wanted to reveal?   

Who is it in your life that you would never expect to be wrestling with God?  Who is it that you think would never be saved?  Who is it that seems so adamant against God, yet might be wrestling with the ideas of eternity, mortality, and purpose?  Who knows?  If God could change Nebuchadnezzar, who is to say that He cannot reach your friend, or spouse, or co-worker, or child?  You never really know who is seeking God.  You never really know what comfortable person, He is afflicting.  This leads us to our second lesson about times when God afflicts the comfortable…

2.  Always be a ready and consistent witness for God. 

Nebuchadnezzar turned to the same solution that he tried in Daniel 2, calling the magicians, enchanters, and astrologers to interpret the dream.  When the magicians, enchanters, and astrologers were unable to interpret the dream, Nebuchadnezzar called on Daniel.

This is important to recognize.  When he was under duress, he called on Daniel.  Why?  Daniel was faithful to God before.  Daniel had developed a proven track record.  He was living as a consistent witness for God… and Nebuchadnezzar knew it.  He may not have agreed with Daniel, but he knew where Daniel stood.  He may not have been on board with Daniel’s God, but he knew that Daniel stood with his God.  When he was afflicted, King Nebuchadnezzar knew that Daniel was a man committed to his God.    

Do people know you are committed to your God?  Are you an undercover Christian, or is your faith a part of your identity?  When people face affliction, can they turn to you because they at least know of the God you serve?  Do they know you serve God?  Can they recognize the hope within you?  Do you look differently from the world around you?  Are you a ready and consistent witness for God?

In the next devotion, we will discover Daniel’s interpretation of the dream.

I am reminded today dear Jesus, that I don’t know the hearts of those around me.  I am reminded to be a ready and consistent witness unto You.  Empower me with courage to be a bold and consistent witness to You in any opportunity I have.  In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry  He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.    

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