“O King, You’re Such An Animal”
It’s not every day that the Creator of the Universe puts a prophetic dream into the mind of a person, and when the dream appoints that person King of the Whole Earth it’s truly a unique event. But by building his statue entirely of gold, Nebuchadnezzar had rejected the LORD’s account of the future and replaced it with his own. It was time for the LORD to show him who was boss so sometime later He gave him another dream, and again the King called on me to interpret. I had grown quite fond of Nebuchadnezzar over the years and it troubled me greatly to tell him that the LORD was going to teach him a lesson in humility if he didn’t change his ways. I begged him to humble himself before God, confess his sins of pride and stop oppressing people (in other words to stop playing God and start acknowledging Him who is God) but he didn’t heed my advice.
In a nutshell, the dream depicted the King as an enormous tree so big it reached into the heavens. Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant enough so that every living thing fed from it, and under its branches all who came found shelter. This was to symbolize the security and well-being people found in the kingdom that Nebuchadnezzar had built, and indeed the capital city was an impressive example. It was over 14 miles square with an enormous wall 350 feet high and 87 feet thick surrounding it. There were literally hundreds of watchtowers that rose another 100 feet into the sky every so often along the wall for added security. The Great River Euphrates ran through the city supplying its water and there was enough farmland within its walls to feed the entire population in case of enemy attack. The gates and palaces and temples in the city were amazing works of art and architecture and its famous hanging gardens were later included among the seven wonders of the ancient world. In all the history of man, the wealth and splendor of Babylon has never since been equaled.
But then an angel appeared in the dream and ordered the tree cut down, its fruit and branches scattered, and only the stump left alive to live among the wild animals as one of them. This meant that the King would be stripped of his power and authority and be afflicted with a rare disease that would cause him to believe he was a wild animal and render him unfit to govern or even live among humans. This disease, which medical science would later call “insania zoanthropica” would afflict the King for seven years until he acknowledged the LORD as the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Who gives kingdoms to whomever He chooses and elevates even the lowliest of men.
Well as I said, the King didn’t heed my advice and so 12 months later the dream came true. As he was walking around his roof top patio, admiring the city and commending himself on his success, he heard the voice from the dream announcing that his time was up and he would immediately begin suffering the consequences of his pride.
Out of the fear with which people of my time viewed mental disorders, the King was stripped of his authority and driven from the city to live outdoors among the wild animals. For seven years he remained out in the elements without shelter and with no food except the grass of the fields until at last he was humbled enough to look toward the heavens and acknowledge the Lord. Immediately his sanity returned and he praised the LORD, finally giving Him the honor and glory that was His.
During the seven years of his illness I became the King’s only companion, his caretaker actually, seeing to his needs and making sure he came to no harm. I knew the term of his affliction, having learned it from the dream, and that he would eventually be restored, so it gave me no end of delight to watch as the LORD returned the King to his former power and authority.
To this day I don’t believe that the seven year term was predetermined, but that the LORD Who knows the end from the beginning saw in advance that it would take that long for Nebuchadnezzar to be completely divested of his pride. The LORD took no pleasure from afflicting the King and all during the time of his illness longed to heal him, but until the King humbled himself it wasn’t possible. Having been warned in advance and having refused the LORD’s offer of forgiveness in exchange for repentance, Nebuchadnezzar had chosen the consequences and brought the punishment upon himself. That the LORD kept His word and restored the King even after so many years of rebellion is a sign of His mercy and gives hope to you and me that it’s never too late to seek forgiveness.
Was the King changed by this experience? You bet! Under the influence of the LORD his kingdom became even greater than before and in the process he accomplished another first. In all the Bible there’s only one chapter written by a gentile king, and it’s Nebuchadnezzar’s own testimony of his conversion experience. A year after his restoration he died, so when you get to Heaven be sure and look him up. Though he’s done it a million times, he’d love the chance to tell his story yet again.
But alas, it seems the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn anything from history and so next time I’ll tell you about Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson and his encounter with the Living God.