6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of armies. Zechariah 4:6 (NASB)
Speaking to one who would lead the people of Israel back home from Babylon near the end of Daniel’s life, the prophet Zechariah pointed to the true source of power and triumph for all people, then, now, and always – the Lord.
In Daniel’s day, the person holding the most power on earth was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. His achievements and building projects were unparalleled, and his vast empire stretched across most of the known world of that time. His word was law and authority unquestioned. Despite a kind warning from God in the form of a second dream, King Nebuchadnezzar would forget that God, not he, was the ultimate source of his success. The king’s pride would go before his fall.
The Lord was putting a lot of effort into King Nebuchadnezzar. He provided two divine dreams for the king’s benefit and placed the prophet Daniel on the scene to correctly interpret each of them. Even God’s eventual chastisement had a holy and loving purpose – to turn the king away from prideful living and get him back on track to doing what was right and taking proper care of the poor of the land.
Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream was similar to his first. Rather than a giant human statue, its centerpiece was an enormous tree. Touching the heavens and visible to the entire earth, this tree provided protection, nourishment, and blessings to all people and nature living around it. But something about the tree displeased the watchers in heaven, who called for it to be cut down until it was clear to all the earth that true power resided with God in heaven.
When Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors were unable to explain the meaning of the dream, the king called in Daniel to come interpret for him once again.
8 But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar according to the name of my god, and in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and I related the dream to him, saying, 9 ‘Belteshazzar, chief of the soothsayer priests, since I know that a spirit of the holy gods is in you and no secret baffles you, tell me the visions of my dream which I have seen, along with its interpretation. Daniel 4:8-9 (NASB)
Unlike the first dream, the king shared this one with everyone while seeking its interpretation. When Daniel heard the dream and understood its meaning in his spirit, he was overcome, for he cared for the king.
19 “Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries! 20 The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth, 21 and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the animals of the field lived and in whose branches the birds of the sky settled— 22 it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky, and your dominion to the end of the earth. 23 And in that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the animals of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,” 24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25 that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the animals of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. 26 And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will remain as yours after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules. 27 Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: wipe away your sin by doing righteousness, and your wrongdoings by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’ Daniel 4:19-27 (NASB)
Assured by Nebuchadnezzar that he would heed God’s warning and change, all returned to normal for about a year. But then the king once again fell victim to pride, and like many of us, gave in to his weaknesses and turned away from the holy God.
After this, God’s warning was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was forced to leave the palace to live among the wild animals. He lived this way for seven years before returning to his senses and being restored by God to his throne. Through this hard lesson, the king finally realized once and for all the true source of his strength, power, and prosperity – the Lord.
It is very easy for us to forget where our blessings have come from, and to take full credit for them ourselves. While we often work hard for our achievements, God has placed much favor and opportunity in our path to allow us to fulfill those dreams and visions. We can often be like the ten lepers who were miraculously healed by Jesus, with only one of them returning to thank Him and worship Him.
Now is a good time to reflect – have we thanked God recently for all the wonderful blessings He has placed in our lives?
Lord, it is all too easy for us to forget You are the source of all of our provision, protection, and health. All good blessings have come from You. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we worship the Father and Jesus Christ, the source of our eternal salvation and healing. Forgive us for all of our sins, including our negligence towards You, our loved ones, and those around us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.