“The Tragedy of a Tree”
A Sermon Outline from Daniel Four
1. In this chapter is recorded a confession that King Nebuchadnezzar made after he had been insane for about seven years (Dan. 4:1-3).
2. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream which made him troubled and fearful.(Dan. 4:4-5).
3. He called for his wise men to make known the interpretation of the dream, but they could not do it. They had probably learned their lesson from the events recorded in chapter two, and therefore they knew better than to make up a lie to tell the king. (Dan. 4:6-7).
4. At last, Daniel came in and the king told him the dream. The dream concerned a tree that was cut down — leaving only a stump. The title of this chapter could very well be “The Tragedy of a Tree” (Dan. 4:8-9).
I. THE TREE (Dan. 4:10-17).
A. In the dream the king saw a tree. From the king’s description we learn that:
1. The tree was in the middle of the earth (4:10).
2. The king saw the tree growing (4:11).
3. The tree was strong and so high that it reached to heaven (4:11).
4. The tree was visible to all the earth (4:11).
5. The leaves were fair, the fruit much, and it served as a source of food for all (4:12).
6. The animals camped under it, the fowls lodged in its branches, and all were fed from it (4:12).
7. An angel came down from heaven and commanded that the tree be cut down. The tree was to be destroyed leaving only the stump and roots. (4:13-15).
8. The angel further commanded that some man would be given a beast’s heart for seven years, in order that he might be taught that the God of heaven rules in the kingdom of men (4:16-17).
B. This was the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had concerning the tree. Daniel was then to interpret the dream.
II. THE TRAGEDY (Dan. 4:18-27).
A. After being stunned (so to speak) for one hour, because he evidently thought well of the king, Daniel told the king that the dream would please his enemies, because it was exactly what they would want to happen (4:18-19).
B. After repeating part of the dream, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the one represented by the tree. The size and position of the tree represented the world-ruling dominion of the King of Babylon (4:20-22).
C. Daniel further explains that the cutting down of the tree meant tragedy for the king. He would loose his sanity, he would dwell with the beasts, eat grass like an ox, not have sense enough to come in at night or get out of the rain, and he would remain insane for seven years. It seems to me that the seven times means seven years, because in order for his fingernails and toenails to grow as long as they did, it would take a considerable amount of time (Dan. 4:33). This was to occur in order to show the king that the God of heaven rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He pleases. Bear in mind that the Babylonians thought that when they defeated Judah and brought them captive to Babylon, that that proved their gods were stronger than Israel’s God. (Dan. 4:23-25).
D. Daniel further explained that the leaving of the stump indicated that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would not be taken over by another and after seven years it would be returned to him (4:26).
E. The dream that Nebuchadnezzar had concerning the tree meant tragedy for him.
III. THE TREATMENT (Dan. 4:28-37).
A. All that Daniel predicted came upon Nebuchadnezzar about twelve months later. As the king was walking in the palace telling himself how great, honorable, and powerful he was, he heard a voice from heaven repeating the thing that Daniel had said about a year earlier concerning his insanity (Dan. 4:28-32).
B. The same hour the king lost his mind. He went completely insane—he was driven from humans, he ate grass like an ox, did not have sense enough to come in out of the rain or in at night, his hair grew long as also did his fingernails and toenails. He was evidently a horrible looking creature who was completely mad (Dan. 4:33). One minute he is gazing…and the next minute he is grazing.
C. At the end of seven years, Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity returned to him and he exalted the God of heaven. God’s treatment had worked, and Nebuchadnezzar admitted that God does rule in the kingdoms of men (4:34-36).
D. Nebuchadnezzar praised and honored the God of heaven because he had learned that God is the “King of heaven, all whose works are truth and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (4:37).
E. The treatment that God gave Nebuchadnezzar evidently cured him of his pride and he wanted all people to know the “signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me” (Dan. 4:2).
NOTE: SOME THINGS TO SEE FROM THE DREAM ABOUT THE TREE.
As we observe the tree, the tragedy, and then the treatment that Nebuchadnezzar received we should learn some very valuable lessons that should help us today (Rom. 15:4). For example, we should see the Lord’s
1. The theme of the dream is that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever He will” (Dan. 4:17, 25, 26, 32).
2. He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and no one can restrain His hand, or say unto Him, what have You done? (4:35). See also Dan. 2:21; 5:26; Rev. 1:5; Rev. 4).
1. The Lord gave the king twelve months to change and do better with the assurance that there “Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity” (4:27-28).
2. The Lord gave Jezebel “time to repent” but she repented not (Rev. 2:20-21).
3. He is also patient with us (2 Peter 3:9).
1. The Lord had pity on the king. The kingdom was not taken from the king permanently (Dan. 4:26).
2. One lesson Jonah learned was that God has pity on all (Jonah 4).
3. Again and again we read how Jesus was “moved with compassion” (Matt. 9:36; 14:14, etc.).
1. The thing that the Lord said was fulfilled and the king was driven from among men (Dan. 4:33).
2. Our God is a consuming fire to the wicked (Heb. 12:29).
3. We need to behold the goodness and severity of God (Rom. 11:22).
1. The Lord was willing to pardon the king if he would change (4:27). He did re-establish the king in his kingdom (Dan. 4:36).
2. He pardoned the entire city of Nineveh (Jonah 3).
3. He is a “God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness” (Neh. 9:17).
NOTE: WE SHOULD ALSO LEARN SOME THINGS ABOUT:
1. One of the main lessons in chapter four is that “those that walk in pride He is able to put down” (4:37).
2. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18).
3. God will not only “resist” the proud, sometimes he will “dismiss” the proud (James 4:6; Dan. 4).
1. It is not always easy to preach the truth. Daniel was troubled because of what he had to tell the king (Dan. 4:19).
2. It is not easy to “reprove and rebuke” but sometimes it is necessary (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
3. We must always preach to please God, not men (Gal. 1:10).
1. The king praised God for what God had done for him and so should we (Dan. 4:37).
2. Actually the king went from gazing to grazing to praising.
3. The church began by “praising God” and we need to make sure we keep it up (Acts 2:47; Eph. 3:21).
These lessons from THE TRAGEDY OF A TREE…can be helpful to you and helpful to me. Let’s make sure that we take them to heart. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).