the king answered and said, “belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” belteshazzar answered and said, “my lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! the tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived — it is you, o king, who have grown and become strong. your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. and because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,’  this is the interpretation, o king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” — [daniel 4:19b-25]


visible to the end of the earth


the first part of daniel’s interpretation sounds – great!

the king is seen as a tall, strong tree, whose greatness reaches to heaven. isn’t that what we spend so much of our time striving for?

to be successful?

to be strong?

to be wealthy?

to be important?

the dream makes clear that nebuchadnezzar has achieved all of these. his success is visible to the ends of the known world.

but this is not the end of the dream…

not even someone as successful as nebuchadnezzar is immune from the sin that entices us all away from God. romans 13:1 reminds us that no governing authority is in power by their own ability, but rather because God has allowed them to be there. therefore, any leader who does not honor God as the source of their power places themselves at risk for failure.


chop down the tree

nebuchadnezzar now hears that his greatness will be destroyed, and he will become as a lowly beast eating grass. this fact is very disturbing to daniel, who goes so far as to wish this upon someone else (19b). what is nebuchadnezzar’s horrible sin that would lead him to endure such punishment?

to be sure, his wars and conquests have left a lot of death and destruction in his wake, but at the same time he seems to have learned to show kindness and respect to daniel, his people, and the God of the hebrews.

like all of us, nebuchadnezzar is a mixed bag.

and like all of us, he is not judged by what he has or hasn’t done to earn or lose God’s favor.

God calls him to account for the sin of simply not acknowledging that God is God, and that everything nebuchadnezzar has or will ever accomplish comes only from him. daniel tells him that the result of his humiliating fall will be to acknowledge God alone, the One True God, is the source of his (and all) authority.


let us daily recognize where every good and perfect gift has it’s origin – with the God who is all-powerful yet all-loving.


~ jason soroski