Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream – Daniel 4
We know we aren’t really supposed to do this, but most of us rank sins in our minds. There are tiny sins, “kind of” bad sins, and REALLY BAD SINS. (This kind of thinking has almost no theological merit because James 2:10 reminds us that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”) In our sin-ranking (which we shouldn’t do), most of us are very lenient concerning the sin of pride, which also has no theological merit because numerous verses remind us how MUCH God HATES pride. See Prov. 8:13 – “… I hate pride and arrogance….”
Why would God hate pride so much? Especially in comparison to other sins, like murder and stealing, which so obviously hurt others so much? Perhaps it’s because pride prevents us from knowing and loving God Himself. Pride steals glory from God. Pride is lying to ourselves and others because we try to make ourselves look better than we really are. If we can let go of our pride enough to see ourselves as we really are and to see God as He is, we would be repentant and fall helpless at Jesus’ feet; that’s when our hearts become like putty in God’s hands. Pride, however, masks our deepest need and keeps God at arm’s length. Why, then, are we so tolerant of pride? Why don’t we call it out in ourselves and in others? Why don’t we realize how dangerous pride is?
In our story today, we see that God loved Nebuchadnezzar too much to leave him in his prideful condition. I love this story because it shows us the lengths to which God will go to bring us to Himself! Can you imagine what it was like to live in a country where you watched your king go crazy? Where your king lived like a wild animal? Then, how amazing would it be when that crazy king came back to sanity, praising the Most High God!?! Not all theologians agree with this, but I believe that Nebuchadnezzar came to faith in God as a result of “his crazy season.” When he was brought low, Nebuchadnezzar looked up, and there was God, waiting to receive him. No one is beyond the reach of our God!
Game – Clapping Patterns – clap patterns for kids to copy (ie: short, short, long OR long, short, short, long, short, etc.).
Did you know that God has a pattern for how He deals with people?
- • WARNING
- • INSTRUCTION/ADVICE
- • CONTINUED SIN
- • JUDGEMENT
- • REPENTANCE
- • RESTORATION
Match parts of the story with God’s pattern. (See cards at end).
- • WARNING – dream vv. 20-25
- • INSTRUCTION – Daniel’s advice v. 27
- • CONTINUED SIN - Nebuchadnezzar’s pride vv. 29-30
- • JUDGEMENT – Neb’s punishment v. 33
- • REPENTANCE – Neb responds to God vv.34-35, 37
- • RESTORATION – Neb becomes king again v 36
Application to our lives – match modern-day scenarios to each of the stages. (For this game, consider WARNING and INSTRUCTION as one stage. Also, see scenario cards at end or make up your own).
- • Lying
- • Pride / bragging
- • Selfishness
- • Mean words
God wants us to repent so that we can be right with Him and with others. God wants us to be reconciled to Him and for our broken relationships to be restored.
1 Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is he
whose sin the Lord does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.
23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.
Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.
Modern Day Scenario – Lying
One day, my mom asked if I had eaten her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I told her, “No.”
She said, “Then what is that chocolate on your chin?”
I told her I thought it was dirt.
She told me that I was lying to her. She explained that God is truth and Satan is the Father of lies, so I need to always tell the truth.
She said the next time I told a lie, I would lose a special privilege.
I really meant to start telling the truth. I wanted to tell the truth, but a couple of days later, my mom asked if I had finished my homework.
I told her, “Yes,” because I wanted to go outside and play even though I still had lots of math problems to do.
I had been playing for just a few minutes when I heard my mom calling my name.
When I came around the side of the house, I could see my mom holding my math homework in her hand.
My mom told me that because I had lied to her again, I was going to be punished. Our family was supposed to go to Carowinds that Saturday, but my mom told me that because of me, the trip was canceled. No Carowinds! I cried and cried!
That night I talked to God and told Him that I was sick of lying. I asked Him to help me start telling the truth. I asked Him to change my heart.
Two days later, my mom asked me if I had cleaned my room. I started to say, “Yes,” even though I hadn’t, but I stopped myself and slowly said, “No.”
My mom hugged me and told me she was so proud of me for telling the truth even when it was hard. She even helped me clean my room.
It’s been about a year since all this happened. Sometimes I still lie, but when I do, I feel so guilty. I think that is God’s Holy Spirit reminding me that God is truth and that Satan is the Father of lies. Several times I have had to go to people to confess my lying and to ask them to forgive me.
Last week my mom told me that our family is going to Carowinds next week. She told me it will be a celebration of the changes God is working in me.
Modern Day Scenario – Pride
A couple of weeks ago my baseball team played in the season championship game. The game was tied until I got up to bat and hit a home run. I was so excited! I couldn’t believe how excited my whole team was! My mom put my picture on her Facebook story. It felt so good. I felt like a hero. I started thinking a lot about what a good player I had become.
Later, when my friends and I got together, we decided to play baseball in my backyard. I was just messing around, but I started talking smack to some of my friends about what I good batter I am.
One of my friends told me I had better be quiet because they didn’t want to hear it. I should have listened but I just couldn’t stop.
A new kid in the neighborhood walked over to join our game. He didn’t know me yet and I wanted him to know what a good baseball player I am, so I started telling him about my game-winning homerun hit.
Before long, all my friends left. They didn’t even want to finish our game. One of my friends told me I was full of myself.
My friends have been strangely distant this week. No one wants to come to my house to play.
My mom told me that pride is a sin. She reminded me that all my abilities come from God.
Pride is lying because it makes me forget all the times I struck out and focuses only on my successes. In reality, I sometimes hit well and sometimes I don’t. Pride makes me think I am a better person when I perform well but in God’s eyes, I am always the same. He loves me all the time no matter how I hit the ball.
I told God I was so sorry for stealing credit for my success from Him. I told Him that I want to bring glory to Him, not to myself. I asked Him to forgive me and to change me.
I also called some of my friends and told them I had been a jerk and asked them to forgive me.
In a few minutes I am going outside to play a game of baseball with my friends. It will be good to see them again. I plan to encourage my friends when they make good plays. I won’t say much about my plays. I know God sees the truth about what I do. I am memorizing this verse to help me remember to be humble, not prideful.
Prov. 27:2 - Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.
Modern Day Scenario – Meanness
I sometimes try to think about other people and their feelings, but it’s really hard for me. Mostly, I think about myself. Yesterday as we drove home from school, all I could think about was playing my new X-box game. But, while I was getting a snack from the kitchen, my brother got on the X-box first and chose his favorite game. I just lost it. I called him some terrible names and told him that I couldn’t stand him.
My mom sent me to my room and told me that in our family, we can’t talk to each other that way. I do love my brother, but I hate it when he gets to do what he wants and I have to wait my turn.
Today at school, I really wanted to sit beside my best friend Tabitha at lunch, but when I got up to get a fork, someone moved my lunchbox to a different spot. Angela Reed got to sit next to Tabitha, and I had to sit next to the meanest boy in our class. I was so mad that I yelled at Angela in front of our whole class.
Mrs. Green, our teacher, told me that I would have to stay inside during recess and write, “I will think before I speak” 50 times! My hand hurts so much!!
Tonight while my mom was tucking me in, I told her about what a rotten day it had been. My mom told me that recently my feelings have been telling me what to do, but she said if I give my heart to Jesus, He will give me the Holy Spirit to live in me. The Holy Spirit is much stronger than my feelings. He can help me to be self-controlled and not so out-of-control.
I prayed and told Jesus how much I hate the way I have been talking to people. I told Jesus that I wanted Him to control my heart. I want Him to use my mouth to encourage people, not tear them down.
My heart is filled with so much peace. I can’t wait to talk to Angela tomorrow so I can tell her I’m so sorry for how I talked today and ask if she will forgive me.