AGCC Sun. a.m. 8/11/96
(see also: 5/31/87)
TEXT: Daniel 4:1-37
INTRO: Life without faith is a life with
fear! If one has no faith in God he is left to live by his own power and
strength. While this might carry someone for a while, in the end it is not
Faith like fear has two sides to it, like a good coin. Faith placed in the
right thing is healthy, and faith placed in the wrong thing is unhealthy. Fear
too has two sides, fear of the right things is healthy, fear of the wrong things
is unhealthy. Many things are this way, passion has two sides too, lust and
love, one positive, one negative.
Nebuchadnezzar had no fear of God, and faith in only himself...a very bad
combination that cost him his sanity! On the other hand, a young Jewish boy
named Daniel had a no fear of man and faith in God and enjoyed great sanity and
wisdom! The contrasts of their lives show us the importance of living by faith
in God vs. living in fear of man.
Nebuchadnezzar knew about the God of Daniel, but he needed some kind of catalyst to bring that faith into life...this is true with many people today too.
Knowledge about God and faith in God are not the same thing, often something
happens in our life to act as a catalyst to make us bridge this gap.
ILLUS: If you
mix pure hydrogen and pure oxygen, the two components of water you will get
reaction! However, if you add a small amount of platinum to the mixture things
happen very rapidly! The mixture will come together and produce H2O. Platinum is
used as a catalyst in order to bring the elements together. This is often true
in the spiritual plane too...God has many catalysts He uses to bring together
"FAITH" and "KNOWLEDGE".
Nebuchadnezzar knew about God, but he did not have faith in God like Daniel
did. God used a painful experience to act as a catalyst to take what was only
knowledge and make it more like faith.
The tragedy of this all is that it was quite preventable! God had sent His
Word to warn Nebuchadnezzar but he had failed to obey it. This is still true
today, God has given us His Word and warned us how to be saved, but many still
avoid making that decision until something painful happens...why wait!?
PROP. SENT: The bible teaches us that we
must have faith in God in order to be truly saved, knowledge about God is not
enough. Faith gives us strength and peace, fear will only take our stability
I. PRIDES' PROBLEM! 4:1-18
A. Position 4:1-4
1. Nebuchadnezzar starts his story with the conclusion first!
a. He is writing after the fact, and his upbeat introduction is that of a man
who learned a very valuable lesson!
b. Though very painful, he chose to not be bitter, but better!
c. there are many people today who could learn this too!
2. Nebuchadnezzar was on the top of the world!
a. nobody was more powerful than he!
b. he had all the wealth you could hope for!
c. he had all the things this world has to offer!
3. He had the 4 things everyone in this world desires!
b. peace.... he was content
d. power.... he was the leader of the world empire!
4. All this led to a pride that put himself above God and others!
a. Pain is a better teacher than pleasure!
b. Without a faith in God, he made himself his own god... for all those today who refuse to put faith in God they too have made themselves their own God...doing as they please.
5. You would think Nebuchadnezzar had it all... yet the next verse tells us he is miserable!
a. In the absence of real faith, fear finds good ground!
b. Where faith in God is absent in someone's life, it doesn't take much for
fear to find a home!
B. Perplexed! 4:5-18
1. Ironically, though he has everything in the world going his way, he is fearful and can't sleep well!
2. Even when he convinces himself he has it all, he still finds himself troubled!
3. It is a mistake to think that the things of this world can really make a
person truly contented and secure!
ILLUS: A wealthy
employer once overheard one of his workers exclaim, "Oh, if I only had a $100 I
would be perfectly content!" Knowing that his own money had not given him inner
peace, he told her, "Since I would like to see someone who is perfectly
contented, I'm going to grant your desire and give you $100." He gave her the
money and left, but before he was out of earshot, he heard her remark almost
bitterly, "Why on earth didn't I say $200!?" The boss smiled, for he had made
his point that money doesn't make a person "perfectly content"!
4. Nebuchadnezzar found no answers by those of the world...even the experts of his day could not solve his problem or give him an answer though they were highly educated men!
a. this is still true today...education does not offer the peace man is look-
b. More jobs with better pay won't solve the human heart's evil nature!
c. Peace does not come with power
d. Nebuchadnezzar needed a better answer, someone who could really help
him!!...he needed a man of God who knew the Lord, not just someone
who knew about the Lord!
5. Nebuchadnezzar knew there was a very real difference between Daniel and
the other "wise men" of his kingdom!
a. the only difference was his faith in the living God and their faith in
idols and false gods.
b. Can the world see a difference between us and the psychics and the
psychologists of this world that have no faith in God?
6. The news of this vision was not good, if the wise men did sense what the
message was, they evidently were too afraid to give the king bad news...
after all, they had been previously scheduled to be killed by the king for
their other bad attempts to give advice!!
7. The king trusted only one wise man...it was Daniel!
II. PANIC & POSSIBILITIES! 4:19-27
A. Personal! 4:19-26
1. For a moment, even Daniel is struck with fear!
a. this dream was not good news for the king!
b. the hesitation by Daniel was not personal fear for his own life as much
as it probably was a real caring for the king and knowing that judgment was about to fall on the king!
c. he was hesitant to give the king news that God's judgment was about
to strike him!
2. There is an implied warmth in the relationship hinted at here...for Daniel
expresses his anguish on this bad news for the king and said he wished it
had been for the king's enemies instead!
a. Daniel seems to genuinely care about the king's welfare!
b. Daniel takes no delight in this unsaved man's coming judgment!
(1. shouldn't we learn something here also!?
(2. We cannot take smug joy in God's judgment on any sinner, even if
they desire their punishment...we are sinners too, simply saved by
3. Daniel softens the blow a little by at first praising the king...he uses tact in
telling him what is coming!
4. There is some good news in the bad....
a. the loss of power won't be permanent...only temporary!
b. When Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledges God he will be restored, fully!
5. The whole point of all this was to humble the proud king...to bring him to a
place where he recognizes his humility and God's greatness!
6. One day the whole world will bend their knee and confess that Jesus Christ
is lord...but only those who do it now will avoid judgment then!
B. Preventable! 4:27
1. There is perhaps one other good note to this...Daniel states that the com-
ing judgment can be avoided altogether if Nebuchadnezzar will respond
a. All Nebuchadnezzar had to do was confess his sins and accept God and change his life to reflect God's ways instead of man's!
b. This is still true today!
2. Judgment is only inevitable to those who refuse to repent of their sins!
3. Interesting enough, the next verse tells us that God in His graciousness
gives Nebuchadnezzar a whole year to repent before implementing the
judgment on him...God is long suffering and gracious in His mercy!!!
4. Though God pronounced coming judgment, there was a way to escape, but
the choice was Nebuchadnezzar's to make....just like today!
a. Jesus has made a way of escape from coming judgment too...but it is
our choice to make whether we repent and accept it or not!
b. God is being gracious by giving time now...but one day He will come
again and the time opportunity will be over!
III. PUNISHMENT & PERSPECTIVE! 4:28-37
A. Punished! 4:28-33
1. The day finally came when time ran out!
a. this will happen again with humanity!
b. Today is the day of salvation!
2. Nebuchadnezzar could not complain later that he didn't have adequate
warning...God waited 12 months to see if he would change!
a. all the warnings signs had been given him, but he still ignored them!
b. The Bible gives us the many warnings signs of the last day too...and
they have all been coming to pass, yet people still avoid making a decision to put faith in God and continue to live their own lives doing
as they please rather than to please God!
c. The human heart is still the same...even though the warnings are there
to read, man goes his own way without God still!
ILLUS: According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Death. He told the
grim reaper that he would willingly accompany him when it came time to die, but only on one
condition...that Death would send a messenger well
in advance to warn him. The agreement was made. Weeks winged by into months,
months into years, then one bitter winter evening as the man sat alone thinking
about all his material wealth, Death suddenly appeared and tapped him on the
shoulder and told him it was time to go. The man was startled and protested,
"You're here so soon and without warning! I thought we had an agreement that
you had to send me messengers to warn me first before you came for
me?!" Death replied, "I've kept my part, I've sent you many
messengers to warn you, come look at yourself in the mirror, notice your
hair! Once it was full and dark, now it is thin and white! Look at how you bend
to hear my words as your hearing is failing you. Observe how you must
hold objects at different distances in order to see O.K., yes, I have
sent you many messengers to warn you in advance, "I've kept my part, too
bad you didn't keep yours...I'm sorry you're not ready for me, but the
time has come to leave and you now have no choice!" And so the man
died unprepared for eternity!
3. Tragically, Nebuchadnezzar who had once had a great palace, peace, prosperity, and power now loses it along with his mind!
4. Everything he had taken pride in was now gone...and so was his mind!
a. What a great tumble for such a great man!
b. The dream had said that the tree trunk would be covered with bronze
so as to protect it so that it would grow back eventually...this meant
that some man made elements would stand guard over the king during
(1. There is a good possibility that Nebuchadnezzar was placed in one
of the royal parks and watched over and protected by the court
officials....which of course included Daniel and his 3 buddies!!!
(2. Daniel spends 7 years still trying to protect and reach the king
no doubt, this is how long the king suffered as is indicated by the
statement of how long his hair became and how long his nails grew
during the sickness.
(3. the mental disease has a name now, it is called "Boanthropy"...and
there are modern cases of this on file...it can be the result of great
depression in some cases.
5. Daniel's ministry continues while he waits for the king to come to his
senses and acknowledge God.
a. so should we serve in this world those who refuse to accept God...we
should continue to serve well all the while hoping and working for them
to come to Christ too!
b. When sinners go through trials, we should minister to them by God's
love and grace that we ourselves have found!
6. Daniel is still faithful to both God and the king during this time!
B. Praise! 4:34-37
1. The day finally came when Nebuchadnezzar looked up to heaven and finally
acknowledged that God alone is mighty!
a. once he humbled himself and praised God...he was healed and restored
to his right mind!
b. There was an immediate change...and is still the case when people get
2. Notice that Nebuchadnezzar does not become bitter about the painful experience...if he had, no doubt he would have turned away from God!
3. The experience did not make his life worse, but better...notice his statement that his rule became even greater than it was before!
a. this is also a choice on our part on how we deal with painful experiences
in our lives!
b. If we realize that God works all things for our good we will learn to
accept even the painful experiences as God's ways of steering us correctly and correcting us.
4. Here in the end, Nebuchadnezzar instead of standing on his rooftop praising himself is now standing before his kingdom and praising God!
Too bad he had to lose his mind and 7 years to learn this! How much time
have you lost so far!?
5. Greatness does not come from this world, it comes from faith in God!
ILLUS: Prior to his death in 1984, Paul Dirac was called the "world's greatest living physicist".
His pioneering discoveries led to the Nobel Prize in physics in 1933 and led to the study of
quantum mechanics. Called by some the equal of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, at age 30
he became the youngest person ever to hold a
professorship at Cambridge University. when Dirac was asked once why
gravitational forces were getting weaker, he responded, "Why? Because
God made it so!" Dirac insisted that science and religion were not at odds;
rather, "they are both seekers of truth." Dirac believed that God used
"beautiful mathematics" to create the world and hen added, "beautiful,
but not simple. My theories are based on faith that there is reason for
all the numbers nature provides us with!"
CONCLUSION: Those who feel no need of God will face loss! The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom according to Proverbs 9:10. This kind of healthy fear destroys the unhealthy types of fear in our lives and leads to faith. King Nebuchadnezzar learned an important lesson, God is greater than self! Only when he publicly acknowledged God did the king find peace and stability of mind. Faith destroys unhealthy fears, and healthy fear produces faith...have you acknowledged god's proper place publicly in your life?