Don’t Be a Spectator (Part one)


In the last number of weeks we have studied the life of Daniel and his three friends; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Throughout each chapter they showed resilient character coupled with a sincere devotion to God. In each chapter Nebuchadnezzar the king is exposed to their faith and the courage they displayed, and each time he makes bold statements in recognition of the way God helped them in wisdom or preserved them from fatal consequences. The curious thing is that although throughout these chapters King Nebuchadnezzar’s admiration and appreciation for their faith is sincere, he always looked upon their belief system as something that was for the Hebrew people and not applicable to himself. The way Nebuchadnezzar approached true faith in the living God is truly a picture of how many see God today. They prefer to be spectators rather than truly become engaged in a living relationship that would cause a change in heart, perspective, and lifestyle. In chapter 2:46-449, it shows how he honored Daniel with incense, honor, gifts and a promotion but never applied the God of Daniel to his own life. In chapter 3:29 he passed a decree that would encourage all peoples in his kingdom to respect the Hebrew God but once again he dismissed that it was not for him.

Some of the main sin issues in the existence of mankind through the ages is the sin of idolatry and the sin of pride. In chapter 3 we see a combination of the two with Nebuchadnezzar building a 90 foot statue to honor himself and his kingdom. The Babylonian kingdom under his rule truly was successful in military might, technology and cultural advancements. In chapter 4 the writing is expressed in a testimonial tone from King Nebuchadnezzar himself.

The beginning three verses he declares God’s goodness in his life and then he begins to tell us his story. He tells us how he saw a dream (beginning in verse 4) which describes his life, contented and prosperous yet the visions and images of the dream disturbed him to the point of being terrified. He once again returns to the well of wisdom that he is comfortable with; his own wise men in Babylon. The enchanters, astrologers, magicians and diviners and once again they were unsuccessful. He is quicker to bring Daniel in but only after these had their opportunity (as seen in verse 7) but interestingly he still calls Daniel by his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, which was named after Nebuchadnezzar’s god. The dream is described from verses 9-18. The synopsis for us describes a large tree that was fruitful in the middle of the earth. It is described in verse 15 “But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field”. The individual described would become like an animal and live as one up to seven times, meaning seven years would pass by. The outcome would be that the Most High God in the end would have to be acknowledged.

In verse 19, Daniel begins to answer with fear in his own heart and tells the king he is the tree described! The ensuing explanation showed how the king himself would be that individual that would live and be like a wild animal, his nails and hair would grow and he would live like a wild beast in the field and seven years would pass by in that state. In verse 27 of chapter 4, Daniel gives him the only way he could avoid this happening to him. “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”. Nebuchadnezzar did not listen and one year later as he walked on the roof of his palace in his pride he completely lost his mind in a condition known as Boanthropy. Nebuchadnezzar states that his hair grew long like eagles feathers and his nails like the claws of a bird. There is an illness called Boanthropy in which a man's mind sinks into insanity and he thinks that he is an animal and begins to live like one. Medically, the disease of Boanthropy is a condition where the sufferer believes that they are an ox. The disease displays itself first by a tendency toward green vegetables and is therefore indistinguishable from vegetarianism. However, the next stage (which occurs about five months after symptoms first appear) is unique to this particular mental condition where the sufferer will develop a liking for grass and some species of wild flowers. At this stage the condition is irreversible. The third stage, characterized by mooing and snorting and the deep urge to plow fields, occurs only two months after symptoms first appear. This stage can last up to five years but always results in coma and death, therefore it is not an affliction to be taken lightly.

As we have run out of space we will continue next week and apply how Nebuchadnezzar’s behaviour and our own refusal to accept God’s voice speaking to us, can truly take our lives in the wrong direction.


By: Pastor David Jones