Royalty and Ruin


Nebuchadnezzar’s Seven Years of Madness

This chapter is based on Daniel 4.

After Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image, the thought that the Babylonian Empire was finally to fall had profoundly influenced his mind. In the end, God would set up a kingdom that would replace all earthly kingdoms. RR 183.1

Nebuchadnezzar later lost sight of his noble understanding of God’s plan concerning the nations. Yet when his proud spirit was humbled on the plain of Dura, he once more acknowledged that God’s kingdom is “an everlasting kingdom.” Daniel 7:27. He had an inborn sense of justice and right, and God was able to use him as an instrument for punishing the rebellious and fulfilling the divine purpose. As he added nation after nation to the Babylonian realm, he added more and more to his fame as the greatest ruler of the age. RR 183.2

It was not surprising that the successful, proud-spirited monarch was tempted to turn aside from the path of humility, which alone leads to true greatness. Between his wars of conquest he gave much thought to beautifying his capital, until the city of Babylon became “the golden city,” “the praise of the whole earth.” Isaiah 14:4; Jeremiah 51:41. His success in making Babylon one of the wonders of the world fueled his pride, until he was in grave danger of spoiling his record as a ruler whom God could use. RR 183.3

In mercy God gave the king another dream to warn him of his danger. In vision Nebuchadnezzar saw a great tree, its top towering to the heavens and its branches stretching to the ends of the earth. Flocks and herds enjoyed shelter beneath its shadow, and birds built their nests in its branches. “And all flesh was fed from it.” RR 183.4

As the king gazed on the tree, he saw “a Watcher,” even “a Holy One,” who approached the tree and in a loud voice cried: “Cut down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. ... Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth... . Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him. This decision is by the decree of the watchers ... in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, [and] gives it to whomever He will.” RR 183.5