Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 4

Outline and Background

The King's Praise - Daniel 4:1-3

The King's Perplexity and Positiveness - Daniel 4:4-9

The King's Problem - Daniel 4:10-18

The King's Punishment - Daniel 4:19-26

The King's Procrastination - Daniel 4:27-29

The King's Pride and Perversion - Daniel 4:30-33

The King's Preservation - Daniel 4:34-37

Application and Typical Prophecies

The King's Problem - Daniel 4:10-18

The dream and visions have four sections.

1. The exceedingly great tree, 10-12
2. The cutting down of this tree, 13-15a
3. The seven-year drenching and animalistic behavior, 15b-16
4. The messenger’s decree, 17

The king saw a (`uwr, “watcher,” “messenger,” or “angel”) and a (qaddiysh, Aramaic for “holy one”). Did the king see two beings or one? The Aramaic construction can be translated either “behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from heaven” or “there before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven.” Watchers and holy ones are of different orders in the Chaldean oracles. Verses 17 and 23 infer that watchers judge human actions, with the power to determine the lot of men, and holy ones executed their judgment. Hence, the king’s case was tried in the Judicial Court of Watchers and the sentence was executed by the holy ones. The decree of the messengers (watchers) terrified the king.

Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 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.

The change of pronouns from “it” and “its” (10-15a) to “his” and “him” (15b-16) is significant—the tree signifies “a man.” A person of Nebuchadnezzar’s intelligence might have suspected that he was the tree. Great men and princes are often represented, in the language of the prophets, under the similitude of trees; see Psalm 1:3; 37:35; Ezekiel 17:56; 31:3; Jeremiah 22:15. The tree symbolizes his pride and imperial self-exaltation as well as God’s sovereignty in raising him up and bringing him down (cf. Ezekiel 17:22-24; 31:3-9).

Interestingly, Jesus employs a tree in one of His kingdom parables to represent the Kingdom of Heaven in its present mystery form.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32).

In Jesus’ parable, the great mixture of good and evil commonly called “Christendom” is symbolized by the perversion of an herb becoming a tree. Earlier in Matthew 13, the birds of the air are seen typifying the evil one, who snatches away the seed from men’s hearts before it takes root. Now that the birds have fled in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, God’s Word will take root!

This man is to live with animals and to eat like them. He will have the mind of (cheyva' Aramaic for “animal” or “beast”) till seven times pass by him. In other words, “Let him conceive of himself as a beast, and act as such, herding among the beasts of the field till seven years pass by for him.” The Aramaic phrase Nynde (`iddan, “times”) hebv (shib`ah, “seven”) appears in this chapter only and denotes seven literal years.

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.

Here we gain insight into the invisible realm. Messengers (watchers, angels) oversee the affairs of men, enabling them to bring about the will of God on earth (Daniel 4:17; 10:10-21; 11:1; 12:1; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14). Angels will be the harvesters at the end of this present age (Matthew 13:39).

In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, God’s decision to cut down the king is announced by heavenly messengers. Angels are the bearers of both good and bad news in the book of Revelation. The angel Gabriel announced the births of John the Baptist and Jesus; angels announced Christ’s birth to shepherds; an angel told Joseph, in a dream, to take Mary as his wife; an angel warned the Magi, in a dream, to return home another way; two angels announced the resurrection and ascension of Jesus; etc.

This dream revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that the Most High is sovereign in the affairs of man and that He does as He wishes, even setting the lowliest of men over them. The throne enhances the status of man, but to be properly filled, the man must be noble. Some of the greatest men and some of the meanest men have sat on a throne or headed nations. Kings and leaders seldom differ in wisdom from their subjects. Ultimately, each ruler derives his power and authority from God.

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Book of James

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

Other studies at Spreading Light Bible Studies

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