15 – Affliction of the Comfortable – Part II
“19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.
23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, 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.” Daniel 4:19-27 NIV
In our last devotion, we began to learn about when God afflicts the comfortable. Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream. Although no one would expect it, he was seeking God. Daniel needed to be ready. He was a ready and consistent witness.
In today’s passage, we learn the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s disturbing dream.
We find some life lessons from Daniel about how we are to engage when God afflicts the comfortable.
1. Daniel pondered how to explain the dream.
When Daniel heard the dream and was given the explanation, it struck him deeply. It actually caused the prophet to be silent for an hour. This dream was a sobering one and Daniel did not take it lightly. He felt great sympathy for the king but needed to deliver God’s Word faithfully. Often times, people think that spiritual wisdom and revelation from God will always lead to joy, edification, and encouragement. We see from Daniel that sometimes God’s Word leads to sorrow, silence, and repentance.
The Gospel is no different. We like the “good news” of the Gospel, but we like to shy away from the hard work of the Gospel. We enjoy the messages of God’s love, His grace and mercy. We are thrilled to learn of God’s great plan for our lives. We don’t like to talk about things like sin, repentance, and turning away from idolatry. Daniel shows us that at times, it is ok to be silent and ponder God’s Word to ensure we are faithful to presenting God’s Word in ways that are both Biblically sound and culturally relevant.
2. Daniel showed kindness and tenderness to the afflicted.
Daniel’s explanation of the dream was not a difficult one to grasp. The tree was Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom. The other nations, like the animals and birds under the tree, looked to Babylon for protection and provision because of Babylon’s great power and influence. Daniel then pointed out that this great influence and power was not for Nebuchadnezzar to take the credit for. It was God that had given him the throne and the kingdom.
Since Nebuchadnezzar’s pride had swelled so greatly, God appointed an angel to “cut down the tree.” Nebuchadnezzar would go from being the ruler of the known world, to a person who didn’t even live like a man. He would actually live like an animal for a period of time. The judgment however, would not be permanent. After seven years, Nebuchadnezzar would return to power.
Daniel could have been straight and to the point. “King Nebuchadnezzar, you’ve been such a problem to God’s people for so long, you deserve to lose your kingdom! Good for you!” He didn’t do that (although some other guys like Jeremiah, Elijah, or John the Baptist probably would have!).
Daniel showed genuine concern for the king. Someone once said that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. I think that old adage may hold true here. The king listened intently to Daniel because he not only knew of Daniel’s faithfulness to his God, but he also knew Daniel cared about him.
3. Daniel spoke the truth
Sometimes we mistake kindness and tenderness with editing out of the truth of God’s Word. In the end of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel pled with the king to turn from his sins and to be kind to the oppressed. Daniel was kind, but he did NOT compromise or attempt to water down the truth of what God had revealed.
In the spirit of being kind and tender there are many times that God’s people water down or compromise the truth of what God has revealed. Daniel continues to teach in chapter 4, what he taught us in chapter 1. Make the bold resolve and commitment to the Word of God above all else. Daniel didn’t try to force or manipulate Nebuchadnezzar to make the right choices, but he spoke the truth.
We are going to see in the next devotion that Nebuchadnezzar didn’t really heed Daniel’s warning and how God used affliction to teach King Nebuchadnezzar humility. This teaches us that success in sharing God’s Word is NOT found in decisions made for Christ, but in making the attempt to speak His Word.
Lord soften my heart to those whom I think will never give their lives to You. You teach me today that if You could work on Nebuchadnezzar’s heart, You can work on the people around me. Give me boldness to speak for You and kindness to deal with others. I continue to pray for the courage of Daniel and his friends along with tenderness to speak forth Your Word. In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 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.