Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. 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. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:19-27 ESV
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:11-18 ESV
In Australia there is a place called the Warriewood Blowhole. There are some spectacular cliffs that overlook the ocean, and for many years people have found it thrilling to jump off the rocky cliffs into the water. This is an extremely dangerous thing to do, and people have been killed or severely injured by doing it. There are signs at the beach warning people to stay off the dangerous cliffs, and there are many warnings about what can happen if people jump. They might injure themselves when they jump, or be unable to climb out of the water onto the rocky cliffs, or they might get trapped in a cave or drowned by swelling waves. Even though there are many warnings, people still go there to try their luck at jumping off the cliff, and many times there are injuries and death, or at least a need for rescuers to save people’s lives. It is dangerous for people not to listen to the warnings.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was a warning from God. Daniel explained to him that the king himself was the tree that was going to be chopped down, because he was proud and thought that he didn’t need God. He would be driven away from other people and live like a beast of the field. He would get wet from the morning dew, and eat grass like a cow. But when he was willing to recognize that there was a God in heaven who was in control, he would be brought back to his kingdom. Daniel begged the king to turn away from his sins and to show mercy to the people in his kingdom who were oppressed. If the king would turn away and not continue on the way he was going, God might spare him this terrible catastrophe. But if the king didn’t listen to Daniel’s warning, he would put himself in extreme danger.
We were also in extreme danger because of our sins. We risked God’s anger and punishment forever, but God loves us and wanted to rescue us from evil and death. He sent his Son Jesus, who gave his life on the cross so that we could be rescued from the power of sin. God calls us to turn away from our sins and to turn to him every day for forgiveness. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us follow his ways and stay away from the sins that would hurt us an put us in danger. He forgives our sins every day and gives us the power to live new lives.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to rescue us. Help us to turn away from our sins and follow your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.