Daniel 4:19-27 (Part 1) – C’mon, Lord, Why Can’t I Hold On To This Grudge? I Like It A Lot!

Posted: June 1, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 4:19-27 (Part 1)

Daniel Explains the Dream

Have you ever had someone hurt you deeply? The pain and the anger are intense. You wish them to suffer mightily in whatever way possible. If you are lucky, you have never experienced someone “giving you the shaft” or “screwing you over”, as the colloquial sayings go. You, typically, would have had to live as a hermit away from all human contact for someone not to have hurt you deeply. Being hurt by others is simply part of living the human life in a fallen world. I can say with a great deal of confidence that we have all experienced hurt at the hands of others at least once and probably on multiple occasions. For me, one of those times was when I was going through my divorce from my first wife during 1993-1994. Between 1987-1993, the marriage had been ripped to shreds by actions and reactions of two people who did not know Jesus that had left it in tatters.  During the early part of our divorce when my first wife realized that I had no intention of returning to the remnants of our marriage, she became very vindictive. Hateful phone calls. Even more hateful voice mail messages. Harassment at work and other such tactics were common. However, when none of that worked to shame me into returning to our marital home, she pulled out the atomic weapon of divorce where there are children involved. She accused me of molesting my oldest daughter during one of my weekend visitations with my kids.

 

Immediately, life changed. The Department of Social Services (DSS) became involved in our lives and would remain so for three years. Initially, I was thought a criminal and had to submit to an investigation not only by DSS but also by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. I had to take a lie detector test at the county law enforcement center. Of course, I passed the test easily since I had done nothing wrong but the mere fact that my future hinged on a lie detector test was nerve-wracking to say the least. DSS still though treated me as if I were a pariah anyway and through those initial court hearings I was unable to see my girls (both of whom are the joys of my life) for six months. After that, it was under the supervision of my parents. It was a year later and many court hearings later that DSS determined that my ex-wife’s home environment was not good for my children and removed them from her care. Ultimately, my girls ended up living with my parents for almost 2 years. DSS did not get out of our lives until the children were awarded to my custody and care in 1996. It was a long-hard ordeal that was caused by a lie that was told by my ex-wife as a way to punish me, control me, and get me to come back home. Little did she realize though that the plan would open her home life with my girls up for examination as well as mine. As you can imagine, I was bitter beyond belief at my first wife. The pain and torment that this whole DSS thing was a hurt that could never be repaired. It was so hard not lash out at her in ways that would have tormented her life but the anger and resentment were there in my heart for several years. It took me a long time to forgive her for what she had brought upon our lives with her accusation. However, as the years after 1996 passed, I was able to let go of that bitterness and not live my life to see what my ex was going to try to do to me next. I was able to, as the years passed by, have civil conversations with her. I was able to present in the same location with her. That forgiveness before my salvation in 2001 was not so much forgiveness as it was letting go of the past and moving on. It was not until after I got saved that I truly forgave her. That does not mean that she and I reconciled and remarried. That does not mean that we even became friends. That does not mean that we talked to each other frequently. It does mean that there was not “this thing between us” every time we did see each other. There was not “this thing between us” when we did talk on the phone. There was not “this thing between us” when we had to be in the same place at the same time when there was something for the girls going on.

 

These 20 years later, and as my ex-wife passed away in the Summer 2015 at the age of 55, I no longer even think about those times and I do not hold a grudge against her. I am even hopeful that in those 20 years between then and now that she found a Savior named Jesus and finally did find some sense of peace in her life. That ability to not celebrate at her passing but rather weep that a part of my past was gone. That ability to forgive after seeing my own flaws and problems for which I need forgiveness. All of it came from the Lord not by some self-actualization awareness. It is through the Holy Spirit’s power that He reveals to me that many times people lash out at us out of their own hurts and that we often do the same ourselves. I am not perfect. I have my flaws. I have made errors with other people. Then, how can I act all self-righteous about what others have done to me through their flaws. That’s the Holy Spirit changing my soul not me reaching a higher plane of existence on my own.

 

It was that situation with my first wife that came immediately to mind, when I read about Daniel’s reaction to this next dream of Nebuchadnezzar. How could Daniel react this way was what I thought? Let’s read the passage, Daniel 4:19-27, together this morning:

 

19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

 

Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 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. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 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.”

 

When Daniel understood Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he was stunned and wondered how to break the news to the emperor. He even told the emperor that he wished that the dream would happen to his enemies and not to him. How could Daniel be so deeply grieved by the revealed future fate of Nebuchadnezzar? It was Nebuchadnezzar that had ordered and directed the invasion and conquering of Daniel’s homeland. It was the emperor that had ordered the looting and destruction of all that Daniel held dear. However, Daniel had forgiven Nebuchadnezzar and so God was able to use Daniel to speak into Neb’s life. Daniel was not so consumed by his hatred that God could not use him. Through loving God more than anything else, God was able to work the miracle of forgiveness in Daniel’s heart to the point that Daniel truly did care about this pagan pantheistic and egocentric ruler of the mighty Babylonian Empire. Think about that! He truly cared about Nebuchadnezzar and was serving him. How would you like to be in a situation where you would have to serve a person that had hurt you deeply? Now that’s forgiveness my friends.

 

Is there someone against whom you hold a grudge? Is there someone you hate? Matthew 5:23-24 is where Jesus tells us,

 

23Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

 

When we hold on to anger toward another person we are making ourselves a god. When we hold on to anger, we are thumbing our nose at the work Jesus did on the cross. He took on pain and death for us even though we hurt him daily with our sins. How can we withhold forgiveness from others? They are flawed yes but so are we. They are sinful for what they have done to us, but when we examine our lives we can find many sins of our own. How is that we can see past our sins but not the sins of those who have hurt us. I know it’s a tall order particularly soon after we have been hurt by others. Let us give our anger over the Lord and beg him to take it away from us. Ask him to help us forgive. We have an example here in Daniel who truly came to care about the emperor that ripped up his homeland and took him into captivity. We have the ultimate example in Jesus Christ. If we are to be like Jesus, we must learn to forgive those who have hurt us.

 

Amen and Amen.

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