Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 14 March 2013


By Jim Jordal

This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:  That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.  And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.  Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

Daniel 4:24-27, KJV, (emphasis mine)

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was having a bad day. He had a very troubling dream which none of his many wise men could interpret. Daniel (one of the Hebrews held captive in Babylon) had already interpreted one dream in which the king was revealed as a great head of gold with God-given power to reign over the then-known world. In the dream this kingdom was followed by others, culminating in the final everlasting kingdom of God on earth. Because of Daniel’s interpretation of this and other dreams he was promoted into considerable political power in Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar’s trouble began when his pride and lust for power seduced him into commissioning and building a giant 90-foot tall image of gold outside the city. He then commanded that all people of any consequence should gather at the dedication of the great image. After that time any persons hearing certain music were to fall in worship before the great golden idol. When Daniel’s three Hebrew friends refused to participate in this form of idolatry they were sentenced to death in the fiery furnace. But they were delivered by an angel, resulting in the king’s evident conversion to belief in this new God of the Hebrew children.

Nebuchadnezzar now gives public testimony to the powers of this great God, but evidently with some hypocrisy because now God gives him another dream much more frightening in meaning. Again, Daniel is called for interpretation and again he delivers. This time the interpretation is that Nebuchadnezzar will be humbled as he loses his mind, is driven from civilization, and condemned to live on grass with the wild animals outside the city. This humiliation was to continue until he learned that "the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he chooses."

The symbolism of this image of gold and the power---political and economic---is still with us today. Right now several global gold mining companies are negotiating with the American government to create vast open pit gold mine in the wilderness of Alaska. That this mine will undoubtedly pollute a vast salmon fishery and the livelihoods of thousands of indigenous people is of little concern for the companies who seek gold wherever it may be found whatever the cost to people or nature.

There’s a lesson here for modern Christians also. It’s for us to realize that no matter how hard we work, and no matter how much we wish and pray for our views to be translated into political power, we need to be well aware that God is still in control. He remains sovereign and, as Daniel writes and Nebuchadnezzar learned, God turns human rule over to whomever he chooses.

And how was this great king to regain his power and majesty? It was to cease his many sins and begin doing righteousness by showing mercy to the poor. Potentates then and now seem to have trouble promoting justice for the people when their wealthy and powerful managers and supporters demand otherwise.

It’s no different today. Most candidates for political office promise to do whatever they do in the best interests of common people. But their real interests often lie elsewhere. The past failings of both political parties are evident in every facet of American life. What is needed if for someone to do what God advised Nebuchadnezzar to do: break off your sins buy righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.