t’s quite interesting to see how many people try to get away from God. To get personal, at the age of thirteen I knew what I would be one day. The pastor of the Church we attended as a family told me what I would be. I used to weed his flower beds, mow the lawns and participated in the adult prayer meetings, led a small youth group, attended Church twice a Sunday and Sunday School. I thought I was a Christian but was not. After my confirmation I fell away from Church completely, started doing things that would lead me further and further away from the Lord Jesus and became plainly, a naughty boy. Leaving out all the sordid details of wasted years … (Though meeting my wife a few days after I turned sixteen was not wasted. That was just over fifty-six years ago. I admit she became a healthy calming force in my life.) … I lived for pleasure and entertainment and only once our eldest son needed to go to Sunday School (according to Jenny), did my conscience niggle me about my spiritual life which was non-existent. You see, that pastor told me he would see me with a dog’s collar around my neck, meaning a clerical collar. Although that was in the back of my subconscious all the years, I would suppress the thought and feeling until the day I was converted. On that day I knew what God wanted for me and together with Jenny, started putting the processes into place so that in obedience I would study for the ministry and become a pastor. One could say I wasted many years, but at the same time, the outside of Jesus experience stood me in good stead to be able to deal with people like I was. Many people try to run from God like I did. This was not a Jonah Escape, for he knew God. I am talking about fleeing God to avoid admitting God is Lord and King and demands repentance and faith followed by service. I am sure you spotted this was king Nebuchadnezzar. He hid from God under the canopy of “supreme ruler of all the inhabited and known world.” Couple this to his pagan gods, he thought he was religious and powerful. God started to work in his heart with the first dream. All he did was credit this god with being the leader god of the pantheon of gods that were worshipped in those days. Just stop and think for a moment … “the god or gods you follow, although man made and designed, dictate or permit your ethics and morality.” The king experienced a second dream that caused fear and concern. He tried the wise men of Babylon for interpretation, but they would not venture an attempt. Then he turned to Daniel knowing that Daniel’s God was greater (higher) than his gods.
1) A servant of the true God is cautious and reluctant to enter where “wise men” fear to tread.
Da 4:19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. As the king revealed his dream to Daniel, he immediately understood the dream. He was instructed to provide the interpretation.
Knowing how his friends were cast into the furnace, he was terrified because the dream did not carry blessings of prosperity and happiness. The dream brought a message of God’s judgment! Who in their right mind would want to tell a maniac king that the true God pronounced devastating judgment on him in the dream? But he was God’s servant. God raised him up for this season to be His man in Babylon and more, to confront the king with reference to true religion … Daniel’s religion and Daniel’s God. The king calms Daniel through the words
Da 4:19 So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
We as Christians are called to be loving, caring, gentle and sensitive, we need to tell people what God expects us to tell them. So often we might be afraid or even terrified of telling people of their greatest need … their need of responding to the gospel. We see people living lives so far from God … running from God … avoiding God because God “would put a damper” on their life and reduce their existence to “boredom” … so they think. Such people might be a spouse, parent, child, sibling, aunt or uncle, cousin or friend, colleague or neighbor. We are so afraid of ruining a relationship that we remain quiet and rather allow the person to go to hell because we just don’t trust God sufficiently to be sovereign in our engaging people with the Gospel. We fear the man (or woman) in place of fearing God. Look at what God put into the king’s mind … “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” Often those we think will react the worst are the ones waiting for us to share Jesus with them.
2) You, O king, are that tree. Daniel did not want to see the demise of the king. Daniel’s people were important and with his key position in the palace (House of Parliament), Daniel could speak for them because the king was sympathetic towards him. Verse 19 ends with Daniel desiring the dream targeting the king’s enemies … but it did not!
Da 4:19 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 beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air— 22 you, O king, 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.
Although God used Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian kingdom to discipline Judah (the people of God), the king had become filled with pride and arrogance as supreme leader of the known world. Sadly this happens. When Superpowers start flexing their muscle and arrogantly ride rough shot over nations dependent upon them or restricting or refusing supporting nations or ethnicities because of conflicting political ideologies, prayer for caution is needed. We see this leadership style in our own country, in the political, religious or business world. Permit me to address three aspects of arrogant, unbiblical leadership that leans towards pride, power, arrogance and abuse:
(a) A husband could be a tyrant in the marriage and should the wife challenge him, he responds with aggression.
(b) A father could rule with such an iron fist that his meanness affects the child / children for life.
(c) A pastor (or Church leader) could abuse his authority and be a taker in place of a giver. God is watching. He knows and He sees and in His time He will respond like He did with the king.
O Lord, help men and leaders to be servant leaders. Amen.