Daniel 4:1-18 (Part 1) – Nebuchadnezzar, One of the Original New Agers!

Posted: May 31, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 4:1-18 (Part 1)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream About a Tree

It is ironic that over the past 5 weeks that the Holy Spirit led me to have discussions about other religions with my small group. During these lessons, we have learned about the basic beliefs of the world’s other major religions other than our own Christian faith. This past Sunday, we wrapped up the series with a discussion of the new age movement and atheism. The aspect of this discussion that strikes me this morning as I read about Nebuchadnezzar’s next dream for Daniel to interpret. In Nebuchadnezzar’s monologue before Daniel about this dream, Nebby opens with a great praise for the God of Daniel but yet at the same time he gives credits to his own false gods for their spirit being in Daniel. I don’t know but that just struck me as the nature of the new age movement. The fashion together a belief system that takes bits and pieces of this religion and that religion and fashion it into a belief system that works for them. It is the religion of feeling good about ourselves, a religion of tolerance of all things, and a religion of moral relativism. This “religion” is a combination of Hinduism, Buddhism, and some aspects of Christianity. This is the religion of all roads lead to heaven. This is the religion that is OK with abortion but is angry over an ape being killed. This is the religion that cancels concerts in North Carolina but plays concerts in nations where gays are systematically discriminated against. This is the religion of the cause celebrity of the moment. This is the religion that supports how we feel as reality rather than accepting unchangeable truths of the universe. The age of new age religion stands for everything and believes in nothing. We are our own gods in the new age “religion”. Therefore, we determine that which is right for us so truth becomes a matter of perception. When we determine what is right for us, there can be no moral absolutes determined by someone or something outside ourselves. We are our own gods. We pick and choose and determine that which is right. Truth is perception. Truth can no longer be independent of the one who thinks of it in his mind. Truth is a construct that I develop in my mind while you develop it in yours. There is no truth independent of how each of us perceive it. Truth, that which is right and moral, cannot exist outside us. There cannot be truth without us defining it as truth. Truth is not universal. Truth is not independent and truth is certainly not determined by some higher power than ourselves. Therefore, that which is true can change. This is the world in which we live today. This is the world that Paul described in Romans 1.

 

Nebuchadnezzar would have been right at home in the religious landscape of the 21st century. He worshiped the gods of his culture’s own creation while adding the one true God among those he worshipped. New age thought today thinks that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, the gods of Hinduism are all part of the pantheon of gods to believe. All roads lead to heaven. Everything is OK to believe in as long as it helps you get by in life and makes you happy. Nebby would have been fine with that. He would have been a new ager if he was alive today. Let us read today’s passage in Daniel 4:1-18 with particular attention to the first eight verses and the last verse:

 

4 King Nebuchadnezzar,

 

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

 

May you prosper greatly!

 

2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

 

3

How great are his signs,

    how mighty his wonders!

His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;

    his dominion endures from generation to generation.

 

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5 I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

 

9 I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

 

13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger,[c] coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

 

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times[d] pass by for him.

 

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

 

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

 

Now, does Nebuchadnezzar’s thoughts in the verses sound familiar to the popular sentiments of our day. All roads lead to heaven. Your perception of God works for you so let me have my perception of God. Let me pick and choose from the menu of religions and see what of each one’s belief systems works for me and helps me self-actualize. In so doing, we become our own gods. We throw away the parts that we do not agree with personally for, as you remember, I determine truth. Truth to me is that as long as I do more good than bad, it does not matter what religion I espouse, I am going to heaven. There is no judgment in new age thought. We all get to go! We all get to go no matter what avenue of belief that you follow. Nebuchadnezzar would have loved that! He worshipped all his gods and God too. It all didn’t matter as long as it worked for him. He just wanted favor. He just wanted to be happy. Man, yeah, he would have loved the new age movement.

 

All other religions outside of Christianity are based on doing more good than bad so that you can go to heaven. It’s all about works. It is still the same with new agers. They believe that we can make ourselves divine by doing good deeds. Christianity is the only faith that is realistic about man and about God. Have you ever tried to make it through a day without and evil thought (for we will be judged for our thoughts just as much as our actions)? Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything and I mean anything? Have you ever had lustful thoughts about what you would do with that woman that just walked by in the skin tight jeans and low-cut top? Have you ever tried to keep bad thoughts about your friends and neighbors out of your head for a day? We are sin filled people. We have a sin nature. We cannot be good 100% of the time even when we try real hard. We commit sins sometimes without even realizing it. So, if we cannot make it through a day without at least a sinful thought (much less our sinful actions), then how can we expect to go to heaven and exist in the presence of that which is perfect and holy – God. We cannot. From our first sin, we are no longer fit to be in his presence much the taints of imperfection and decay that each and every sin we commit over a lifetime lay upon us. One sin. One and done. We are finished. We are excluded. We need a Savior. That’s where the one and only way to the Father comes in. Jesus came to earth to live the perfect sinless life and He was able then to sacrifice Himself willingly on the cross for all sins of all mankind for all time, past, present and future. All you have to do is admit that you are powerless and sinful before a perfect God and that you cannot self-actualize yourself into heaven. All you need to do is admit that you need help from a perfect Savior. He is the one and only way. He is God in the flesh. He came to sacrifice Himself for your imperfections and sins. You need help. You cannot do it alone. We cannot make ourselves perfect. Only Jesus can do that through his covering of us in his perfection. There is no pantheon of gods to worship. Every way is not OK. Truth is independent of us and it is found in God and it is He who decides truth and justice. It is He who judges us for our sins. It is He that desires for us to have eternal life with Him though through His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Amen and Amen.

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