Most names have a meaning. I love it when people explain the meaning of their names to me. Have you noticed though that the meanings seldom go with the person’s character and personality? Let me use an example. My name, Donald, in Scottish means “world leader or chief”. I am neither, will never be either and don’t aspire to be either. We are working our way devotionally through the Book of Daniel in the Bible. Daniel means “God is my judge” in Hebrew. It comes from the Hebrew words “din” (to judge) and “el” (God). The king’s chief official changed the name of Daniel, who was forcibly taken into exile and made a slave. It seems that even once made a high ranking official in the palace, he remained a slave. The king’s god went by the name of Belteshazzar. It is difficult to understand why this official changed their (plus the friends) names. It might have had to do with the fact that they were Hebrews from Judah, often despised by other nations. Belteshazzar means prince. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
1) The king attributed Daniel with the status of chief magician (prince?), yet his first option was the wise men of Babylon.
Da 4:9 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.
In his paganism he has not yet learnt that Daniel’s God was set apart from all the idols he followed. I can never say it sufficiently … the God of the Bible is set apart from all other so called gods. People might called their god “lord, almighty, supreme being, etc.”, but God Himself labels them as idols and so called gods. The enormous blessing of being a true Christian, birthed into God’s family through the Spirit must never be underrated or thought little of. To belong to the true God is the greatest experience you will ever have. Enjoy it because it lasts forever!
2) The king explains his dream to Daniel.
Da 4:10 These are the visions I saw while lying in my 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 beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. 13 “In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one, 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 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 the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.’
The dream is vivid and detailed.
(1) In his dream the king sees visions of a tree occupying the most central position on the earth. This tree was not in a forest. It was a standalone tree that could not be missed or overlooked. It was prominent and attracted attention. Because the Kingdom of Babylon was seen by the king as the supreme leader as the center of the kingdom the vision portrays the tree in the center of the earth. Maybe the king, after Daniel revealed the first dream saw the tree as himself. He was the supreme ruler over all the known and inhabited world … so the tree must be him. It is true that dreams were plentiful in the Ancient Orient and it is true trees were used of royalty … this dream and its content was placed into the king’s mind. Hence the reason for him being distraught. This was revelation from God. Within this dream (revelation) he saw visions, images and fantasies that were well known to him. This is the way God worked. He used common everyday things to teach deep spiritual matters, much like the parables Jesus told. So here we seem to have the hero (the king) compared to the largest tree of the forest, although there was no forest.
(2) The picture of verse 11 is of something that is growing, not fixed. The king sees this tree expanding so that the ends of the earth sees it as it grows in height, power and wonder … reaching into the skies. This is the way the kings of the day evaluated and spoke of their reign. In the dream this is what Nebuchadnezzar sees … himself becoming extremely great and powerful with the people of the earth acknowledging it. The God of Scripture is using Biblical thought to illustrate that thinking of personal greatness is dangerous.
Pr 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Too many leaders, be they political, secular or religious fall into this category. We see it almost daily. A political leader becomes “invincible”, the business leader believes he is so powerful and clever that no one can stop him marching to become the biggest conglomerate in the country; whilst the spiritual leader might reach the point thinking he is above failure and although admired and loved, lives the Jekyll and Hyde existence, where the more powerful he becomes, the more the private world, unseen by his people, becomes morally questionable … yet God sees the “delinquency”. We have only considered two verses of the dream so far, but the thoughts that ought to come to mind are …
Eph 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle
then God will provide much needed guidance for every aspect of life for you and this is even more true for the spiritual leader.
Ps 25:9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Those who fall by the way are not humble. They cannot be taught.
(b) Prayer. By our human nature we are not protected against pride. The first time we see pride in action is at the first sin in Genesis 3. Our first parents were led to believe they would be like God if they ate from the forbidden fruit. We could so easily be tempted. This is why we need to pray for ourselves and those who are our spiritual leaders. Failure in prayer opens the door to disaster. We will see what happens to the king!
Dear Loving Father in heaven, help us to be truly spiritual people who live close to You and Your Word daily. Amen.