Be Brave: When I Must Speak

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 10/6/2019

There is this remarkable moment, in Daniel 4:1-3, when King Nebuchadnezzar makes a proclamation, “. . . To those of every people, nation, and language, who live on the whole earth: May your prosperity increase. 2 I am pleased to tell you about the miracles and wonders the Most High God has done for me. 3 How great are his miracles, and how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.”

This the same King. . . (Ch 1) who laid siege to Jerusalem, plundered its gold, destroyed God’s Holy Temple, took a bunch of teenagers hostage from among the royal family and nobility in Jerusalem, conscripted them into his service, emasculated them, tried to erase their identity! (Ch 2) Who was having a mental health crisis, who’d grown angry and violent and anxious and unstable and execution-happy, and threatened to tear everyone limb from limb, and turn their homes into trash heaps, if they didn’t properly reveal and interpret his dream! (Ch 3) Who erected a 90 foot high, 9 foot wide, gold statue and threw Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down and worship it!

We have in Daniel 4 one of most incredible conversion stories in all Scripture. How does one of the biggest villains in all Scripture become a God-fearing King? And what role might we play facing down such villains? Amazingly, in Daniel 4, we have the King, telling his own story in his own words about what happened.

First, God shakes the King out of complacency.

Look at Daniel 4:4: “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace.” Nebuchadnezzar was one of the most successful Kings in history. After Alexander the Great conquered the Babylonian empire, he went to great lengths, (to no avail), to restore Babylon to the glory it had during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Isn’t it true, that people are the least receptive to God when their “at ease” and “flourishing.” When their fit and trim, when their portfolio is moving up and to the right, when there is a warm apple pie on the table every night. When we’re most at ease were often the most dead to the things of God, we become so proud and arrogant. This is Nebuchadnezzar!

In Daniel 4:5 the King says, “I had a dream, and it frightened me; while in my bed, the images and visions in my mind alarmed me.” This certainly isn’t the first time God used a dream to get the King’s attention. Back in chapter 2 the king had a dream that troubled him so deeply, and caused him to lose so much sleep, he became filled with anxiety, and become violently angry, and vicious. Remember? He threatened to tear people limb from limb and make their houses garbage dumps. He sought to kill everyone in his path who couldn’t explain his dream! There in chapter two. Here in chapter four. God is using dreams to shake Nebuchadnezzar from his spiritual complacency. Outwardly everything was great, but inwardly the King is imploding.

The King needed answers, he needed inner peace. In Daniel 4:6-7 the King does what most people do when they’ve lost peace. He calls in the secular authorities and experts to get answers. He says, “I issued a decree to bring all the wise men of Babylon to me in order that they might make the dream’s interpretation known to me. When the magicians, mediums, Chaldeans, and diviners came in, I told them the dream, but they could not make its interpretation known to me.”

Have you ever been puzzled, and couldn’t find the missing pieces? When I was younger, I enjoyed solving puzzles. Does anyone remember life before Facebook and Netflix? You’d setup a card table in the living room and dump out that 1000-piece puzzle? You’d spend days studying the box, fitting pieces together? Few things are more satisfying then completing a puzzle! But nothing is more infuriating then when you get down to the end, you realize there are missing pieces? When I was younger I’d go King Nebuchadnezzar on my brothers and sister. I’d threaten them, “If you don’t find those missing pieces, I’ll tear you limb from limb. If they don’t show up, I’ll turn your bedroom, this house, into a garbage dump!”

Just because you (or another person) is missing peace, doesn’t mean God isn’t working. No, God might be shaking you. God might be bringing you to the end of yourself and to the beginning of a relationship with Himself. King Nebuchadnezzar certainly understood this to be the case. God was getting his attention in a huge way.

Second, God raises up Daniel to speak truth. In Daniel 4:8-9 the King explains: “Finally Daniel, named Belteshazzar after the name of my god—and a spirit of the holy gods is in him—came before me. I told him the dream: “Belteshazzar, head of the magicians, because I know that you have the spirit of the holy gods and that no mystery puzzles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I saw, and its interpretation.” Later in Daniel 4:18, the king echoes same sentiment: “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because none of the wise men of my kingdom can make the interpretation known to me. But you can, because you have a spirit of the holy gods.”

There is something important to notice. God puts his Holy Spirit in His people to speak spiritual truth. The King is aware how God repeatedly and strategically placed Daniel in his presence for this very purpose. In chapter one, When Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah began serving in the King’s court, he noticed that “in every matter of wisdom and understanding he consulted them about, he found them to be 10x better than all the diviner-priests and mediums in his entire kingdom.”

In chapter two, when all the wiseman of Babylon complained to the King that “no one on earth could make known the king’s dream/interpretation”… and that the king’s request was so difficult “no one could make it known except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mere mortals” . . . Daniel stepped forward to reveal the mystery. And he says, “This mystery wasn’t revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living… but because the Living God… the Revealer of Mysteries… has chosen to make it known.”

In the King’s own words, he notices there is something substantially different about Daniel’s spirit than his own—Daniel has the spirit of the holy gods! Think of how cruel it would be if you had the missing pieces to a puzzle that was driving someone out of their mind, but you didn’t share it with them. {God have mercy on my brothers and sister.} But seriously, God gives us his Holy Spirit, he gives spiritual understanding and insight, why? So, we can help people find peace! It’s our duty, it’s imperative, that we bravely speak whatever truth God gives us to one another.

What if Daniel would have withheld from the King what the Spirit of God intended the King to hear? In Daniel 4:19, the King recounts how, “Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was stunned for a moment, and his thoughts alarmed him. But the king said, “Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, may the dream apply to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your enemies!” … And Daniel interpreted the King’s dream (even though the dream had catastrophic implications for the King)!

Speaking spiritual truth to people isn’t always pleasant, but it is always beneficial. To the King’s credit he insists that Daniel be brutally honest! Daniel’s faithfulness was a pivotal moment in the King’s conversion. What are some of difficult things God would have you say? And who’s destiny might be at stake if you never do?

Third, God gives the King a Clear Invitation. While the King lay in bed, God showed Nebuchadnezzar a series of images. The first is a FLOURISHING TREE: Daniel 4:11-12, “There was a tree in the middle of the earth, and it was very tall. The tree grew large and strong; its top reached to the sky, and it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit was abundant, and on it was food for all. Wild animals found shelter under it, the birds of the sky lived in its branches, and every creature was fed from it.”

In the Bible righteous are regularly referred to as a tree that is watered by God, that flourishes, that bears much fruit for God’s glory, that never withers or dies. I believe God gives everyone a mouth-watering vision of righteousness, of godliness, of their potential, of human flourishing. This is what kind of King you can be… spouse you can be… parent, family, citizen, boss, worker, teacher, leader, servant, Christian… here is what a blessing you could be to the ends of the earth if you’d serve God!

In Daniel 4:20-23 Daniel tells the King, “The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, whose top reached to the sky and was visible to the whole earth, and whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant—and on it was food for all, under it the wild animals lived, and in its branches the birds of the sky lived— that tree is you, Your Majesty. For you have become great and strong: your greatness has grown and even reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to the ends of the earth.”

Second while he lay in bed, God shows Nebuchadnezzar a LIFELESS STUMP. We do indeed possess this near limitless capacity to live godly, upright lives, and to flourish. But we also possess this near limitless capacity to sin, and do evil, and die.

In Daniel 4:13-15 the King says, “As I was lying in my bed, I also saw in the visions of my mind a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He called out loudly: Cut down the tree and chop 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 leave the stump with its roots in the ground and with a band of iron and bronze around it in the tender grass of the field. Let him be drenched with dew from the sky and share the plants of the earth with the animals.”

Now you might understand why the king was so depressed! In his dream he was seeing this flourishing tree suddenly reduced to a lifeless stump, and it was a metaphor for his life. Isn’t it true that like King Nebuchadnezzar people have this aspiration for greatness coupled with perplexing awareness that sin is reducing them to a stump, a shell, a shadow of everything God created them to be?

Third, as he lay in bed, God shows Nebuchadnezzar a WILD BEAST. Negatively, sin reduces our potential to a lifeless stump, sin reduces our human nature to animal-like nature. But positively, if we return to God, He can restore us.

Daniel 4:24-25, “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree of the Most High that has been issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals. You will feed on grass like cattle and be drenched with dew from the sky for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms, and he gives them to anyone he wants.”

Finally ,as he lay in bed, God shows Nebuchadnezzar a RESTORED SHOOT

But then positively Daniel tells the King, Daniel 4:26-27, “As for the command to leave the tree’s stump with its roots, your kingdom will be restored to you as soon as you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, may my advice seem good to you my king. Separate yourself from your sins by doing what is right, and from your injustices by showing mercy to the needy. Perhaps there will be an extension of your prosperity.”

Allow me to summarize what God has shown the King. Nebuchadnezzar, you were created to flourish like a tree and bear much fruit for God’s glory and be a blessing! But instead, you chose to live in beast mode, you chose to live in sin. Because of your sin, you were reduced to a lifeless stump. Yet if you acknowledge the God of Heaven, and separate yourself from your sin, and show mercy to the poor/needy… God will cause a new shoot to grow and flourish from your stump. Think of the hardship/ pain Nebuchadnezzar could have avoided if only he humbled himself before God!

Last and not least. . .Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hardest way possible…

Daniel 4:28-37, “28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, 30 the king exclaimed, “Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built to be a royal residence by my vast power and for my majestic glory?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you. 32 You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms, and he gives them to anyone he wants.” 33 At that moment the message against Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people. He ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with dew from the sky, until his hair grew like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

34 But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified him who lives forever: For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing, and he does what he wants with the army of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can block his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

36 At that time my sanity returned to me, and my majesty and splendor returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and my nobles sought me out, I was reestablished over my kingdom, and even more greatness came to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of the heavens, because all his works are true and his ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

It is true, Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hardest way possible… but at least he learned before it was too late! Life brought him to that place of humility and repentance. But what about you? You’ve heard Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony, what can you learn from him? You’ve seen how God used Daniel in the King’s life, what can we learn from Daniel about being brave?

Scripture Verses

Daniel 4

Worship Set

Worship Playlist

Follow You Anywhere
by Brett Younker, Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram, and Phil Wickham
as recorded by Passion

Bigger than I Thought
by Brett Younker, Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram, and Phil Wickham
as recorded by Passion

The Church
by Mack Brock and Chris Brown
as recorded by Elevation

Great Are You Lord
by Leslie Jordan and David Leonard
as recorded by All Sons & Daughters

Study Questions


Read Daniel 4


1. What is one of the most extremely difficult conversations you've ever had to have? How did it turn out?


2. Read Daniel 4:9 and Proverbs 29:5. What is the danger of flattery, or seeking praise from others? How might this sabotage what's needed later in a relationship?


3. Read Ephesians 4:11-16. Why does God provide gifted teachers to his body?? What obligation does every member of Christ's body have to one another? What happens if this is done well?


4. Read Daniel 4:19. Truth can come to us in unexpected ways and inconvenient times. Why does our stomach often churn at the thought of sharing hard truths? What is our fear?


5. Consider Daniel 4:19. Why does the king welcome tough conversation?


6. Compare the prophetic revelation of Daniel 4:23 with the prophetic preaching of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-12. How can hard truth be good for a person? What should our greatest concern for a person be?


7. Consider Daniel 4:31-33. What is the danger of procrastination? Read Acts 22:1-16. What is the urgency of taking steps such as faith, confession, repentance, and baptism? What paralyzes you from doing what you know God has called you to do?


8. Consider Daniel 4:34-37. What happens when the king properly responds to God's word? What if Daniel had remained silent? How might this story encourage you to speak hard truths to others?



KIDS:


1. If the truth will be hard for someone to hear, should you lie?


2. The king had another dream! And, once again, Daniel was asked to tell him what it meant. Read Daniel 4:25. Would the king be happy with this meaning? Did Daniel obey God and tell the king?


3. How would you feel if you had to tell the king something bad like this?


4. Was God's meaning about the dream correct? What happened after seven years? Read Daniel 4:34


CHALLENGE: Talk to your parents about when it is good to tell the truth and when is it best to not say anything at all. (i.e. I broke the lamp vs. That haircut is really ugly)




Apply It!

Resources

Lakeside Bookshelf

Below are some books to complement our Be Brave sermon series through the book of Daniel. Stop by the bookshelf in the lobby to browse or purchase.

The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm & Love Well in a Culture of Compromise by Chris Hodges

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle


Downloads & Resources