Study 9 Another Dream! Daniel 4

Chapter 4 of Daniel tells how the King of Babylon had a second dream. The first dream in Chapter 2 established Daniel’s credibility and stature in his job. The king dreamt Babylon pictured as the golden head of a great statue whose various sections are made up of various metals of declining value. One interpretation would be that the Babylonian empire was greater than all the empires that followed and King Nebuchadnezzar was its head. WOW. We noted

  • God is working out of the box, outside Judaism, concerned about other empires and involved in their development also.
  • The King did not connect the dream with God’s sovereignty globally
  • A great statue resulted with instructions to worship the statue and not the God who sent the dream.
  • The Three Men in the Firey Furnace encounter follows and God rescues them.

In Chapter 4 the King has another dream. It might be significant that we now hear the narration from the King’s point of view.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream

 King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages that live throughout the earth: May you have abundant prosperity! The signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me I am pleased to recount.

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his sovereignty is from generation to generation.

 4  I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living at ease in my home and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that frightened me; my fantasies in bed and the visions of my head terrified me. So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, in order that they might tell me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not tell me its interpretation. At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods—and I told him the dream: 

  1. How does King Nebuchadnezzar describe God?__________
  2. How is the King’s response to the second dream similar to his response to his first dream? __________________________
  3. How is the King’s response different this time? ____________

“O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that you are endowed with a spirit of the holy gods and that no mystery is too difficult for you. Hear the dream that I saw; tell me its interpretation.

10  Upon my bed this is what I saw;
there was a tree at the center of the earth, and its height was great.
11 The tree grew great and strong,  its top reached to heaven,
and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth.
12 Its foliage was beautiful, its fruit abundant, and it provided food for all.
The animals of the field found shade under it, the birds of the air nested              in its branches, and from it all living beings were fed.

  1. The King dreamt of a great tree in the center of the earth. The use of a tree to represent a king was common in that day. It might be interesting to draw on a piece of paper a wonderful, productive tree offering shelter. Now name what things in your picture represent in your life. _______________

13 “I continued looking, in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and there was a holy watcher, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said:

5 The King visualizes “a holy watcher” that comes down from heaven. How would you represent the holy in your picture?_________________

6 “A holy watcher” probably refers to an angel.

‘Cut down the tree and chop off its branches, strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from beneath it and the birds from its branches. 15 But leave its stump and roots in the ground, with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let him be bathed with the dew of heaven, and let his lot be with the animals of the field  in the grass of the earth.16 Let his mind be changed from that of a human, and let the mind of an animal be given to him.  And let seven times pass over him. 17 The sentence is rendered by decree of the watchers, the decision is given by order of the holy ones, in order that all who live may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of mortals; he gives it to whom he will
and sets over it the lowliest of human beings.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are unable to tell me the interpretation. You are able, however, for you are endowed with a spirit of the holy gods.”

7 The rare condition of a human assuming the actions, mentality of an animal is called boanthropy (bo because the King became like an ox. The condition suddenly comes and suddenly goes.) We all fear the unknown humiliation of some condition overtaking us. The likelihood of developing boanthropy is very minimal but alzheimer’s disease is common today. Perhaps poverty is the shadow in our mind. For many, I suspect the violence of today’s riots is pretty terrifying. What is your Achilles heal? What are you afraid of? _______________________

8 But note, the plight that is to overtake the King is not random but has a purpose, v. 17. What is the purpose?____________________ Please note also that the condition is for a time, not for eternity, to teach a lesson not to support reincarnation.

19 Then Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was severely distressed for a while. His thoughts terrified him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or the interpretation terrify you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you, and its interpretation for your enemies! 

  1. How would you describe Daniel’s feelings now for this King who carried Daniel away from is home country and threatened to kill him in chapter 2. Do you remember a time when someone you thought of as an enemy grew into being someone you valued? _________________________________
  2. “Speaking truth to power” is an idiom we use that might describe what is happening here. So what do you think is going on with Daniel? ______

20 The tree that you saw, which grew great and strong, so that its top reached to heaven and was visible to the end of the whole earth, 21 whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and which provided food for all, under which animals of the field lived, and in whose branches the birds of the air had nests— 22 it is you, O king! You have grown great and strong. Your greatness has increased and reaches to heaven, and your sovereignty to the ends of the earth. 23 And whereas the king saw a holy watcher coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the ground, with a band of iron and bronze, in the grass of the field; and let him be bathed with the dew of heaven, and let his lot be with the animals of the field, until seven times pass over him’— 24 this is the interpretation, O king, and it is a decree of the Most High that has come upon my lord the king: 25 You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the wild animals. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, you shall be bathed with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and gives it to whom he will. 26 As it was commanded to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be re-established for you from the time that you learn that Heaven is sovereign. 27 Therefore, O king, may my counsel be acceptable to you: atone for your sins with righteousness, and your iniquities with mercy to the oppressed, so that your prosperity may be prolonged.”

  1. Daniel gives the King the interpretation followed by sage advice: atone for your sins. Atonement is a big theological word that we usually think of in terms of Jesus atoning for our sins. Atone means to make amends for past wrongs or offenses. Put “at” “one”, atone, return to a previous state. Jesus’ atonement puts us at – one with God, restored to our pre-fall state with God. What might Nebuchadnezzar have to “atone”? ________________
  2. Daniel follows with advise to repay your “iniquities with mercy to the oppressed.” Ouch. That one hits closer to home as we hear cries for justice from our streets. No specific actions are defined. But I do draw from this study that God is concerned about the King’s acceptance of God’s sovereignty, about the plight of the downtrodden, and uses ordinary people (foreigners) to work out His purposes. Is there someone or something this brings to your mind that you need to work on restoring at-oneness with? ___________


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