God's Man and the Wolf Man

Bible Book: Daniel  4
Subject: Pride; Humility; Longsuffering of God
Series: Living Right When Life Seems Wrong
Introduction

Today we come to look at one of the most amazing occurrences found in the Old Testament. I have titled this sermon, "God’s Man and the Wolf Man", for we are going to observe a man who became like a wolf, like a wild animal living in the field and we are going to see once again, God’s man, Daniel.

Now, before we look at the Scripture, so we can get an understanding of the setting. King Nebuchadnezzar was ruling in Babylon and he was the most powerful man on earth in his day. Daniel was in Babylon because he had been taken captive by the king and had been trained to serve among the wise men of Babylon. Daniel had already interpreted one very difficult dream for the king and now he was about to interpret another.

The point of the story before us is to show that pride leads to a downfall but that faith leads to victory. “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” Nebuchadnezzar was a very proud man who set up a golden image to himself and required everyone in his realm to bow down before it. He was filled with ego, self-centeredness and human pride. He was about to experience a rude awakening regarding the fact that, “Pride goes before a fall.”

I am recall the story of a man who thought he knew more than everyone else. He walked by a blacksmith shop one day and saw the blacksmith making horseshoes. He walked over to one of the horseshoes and said, "Ah, let me see how well you did on this shoe." He picked up the horse shoe without realizing that it had just come out of the fire. "Oh," he exclaimed, and quickly dropped the horseshoe. The blacksmith said, "Burned you didn't it?" The proud man blew on his fingers and replied, "Naw, it just doesn't take me long to look at a horse shoe."

Most people who are proud are hesitant to admit it; however, God has a way of bringing arrogance into the daylight. That is exactly what God does in the incident we are considering today. If we do not humble ourselves, God may well decide to humble us, and He often does so publicly.

The Bible clearly states that the Lord knows the proud from a distance. That is, God doesn’t even get near the proud of heart. So let’s read about a man who was filled with pride, but a man who learned the hard way that “a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.” To understand this principle, let’s look at four things today.

I. The Dream - The Message of God

This entire passage is actually a testimony of the faith that came to Nebuchadnezzar. The king relates the events in this passage from his own viewpoint, and what a powerful testimony he delivers. It all begins with a dream, a dream that is a message from God.

A. A Word from God

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” God has chosen to send his message of grace to the world through His Word. People are not saved because they see miracles or because of flaming angels who visit them, they are saved (if they are saved at all) by hearing and heeding a Word from the Lord and turning by faith to trust His sacrifice for human sin.

The Word of God came to Nebuchadnezzar in two ways. It came in a dream and then was clarified in the interpretation of the dream delivered through God’s man, Daniel. God often uses things in human life to cause a person to seek out an answer from one of His servants. That is what happened to the kind; he received a dream that troubled him and caused him to call upon Daniel - God's man on the scene. You can build all the walls you want around your heart and mind, but you cannot keep God out. He can come in through your mind and bring terrors to your heart in the middle of the night in order to get your attention.

God may send a word to you through the preached message, through a song, through the witness of a friend and in others ways. It is important for you to be open to a word from God. Understand this: No word from God will contradict the written Word of God. That is your safeguard against being led astray by some cult or false impression.

B. A Warning from God

In verse 16 you see the pronoun change in the dream. The pronoun changed from “it” to “him”. This shook the king. He wanted an answer to what this meant.

Daniel told the King what the dream meant as God revealed it to him. But, before Daniel told him the dream, Daniel stood silent for one hour. Daniel was shaken by this dream and its interpretation. Look at verse 19 and following. Daniel thought about the message to be delivered and his heart was heavy. Every preacher should tell the truth about sin and hell, but should never do it with carelessness. Every message God gives us is not one of joy or gladness. His Word is filled with terrors and sadness. Sadly, many people do not want to hear the truth. Just as sadly, many preachers are too hesitant to tell the message as God has given it. Daniel knew this dream and its interpretation was not one that the king wanted to hear, but in verse 22 we see that Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he, the king, was the tree in the dream.

What did the dream mean? We see the answer in verse 24 and following. He told the king that he would become like an animal, living in the field, covered with dew for seven years. The condition is described as “wolf” (Lycos) + “man” (Anthrop) = lycanthropy. This is a true medical condition that exists among humans. It is symptomatic in humans who begin to think and act like animals.

God sent this dream to Nebuchadnezzar to show him his sin. Nebuchadnezzar thought of himself in terms of an image of gold, but God wanted him to see his animal nature within. When we see what we are as God sees us, we cry with Isaiah, “God be merciful to me, for I am a man of unclean lips.”

II. The Delay - The Mercy of God

In verse 29 we see that Nebuchadnezzar had a year to repent after the prophecy had been given through the dream and through the interpretation of it. This was given to him as a time to repent and forsake his arrogance. God is good and He takes no pleasure in the suffering we face because of our rebellion. He is long suffering and gives us time to come to Him in repentance. Perhaps God is giving you time right now to get things right with Him. You know you are out of His will, but you are too proud to admit it. Don't throw away God's loving grace. Turn to Him before it is too late and a great price must be paid.

In Noah’s day, the people were given 120 years to repent but they still did not do so. How much time will God give us before judgment comes? We do not know the answer to that question. We do know this, there is time to repent right now! Think of the time God has given America to get right with Him. Yet, we go on in sin with abandon. God help us! In this room today, there are those who have had time but you will not repent. What does the delay of God’s judgment reveal?

A. The Delay Reveals the Goodness of God

God is good. God is love. God is merciful. God cares about you. He does not want to bring disaster upon us. Look at Revelation 2:21-22, “I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.” It is sad when God gives time to repent but those who have been shown the goodness of God decide to spurn the opportunity of grace.

See again in 2 Peter 3:9-10, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Note that it is not God’s will that anyone perish. God is patient and long suffering. He gives us time to get right with Him. Why will anyone perish when such a loving and kind Savior waits patiently for repentance to be shown? Yet, we see that judgment is coming and that it is coming very swiftly!

B. The Delay Reveals the Tenderness of God

God is tenderly calling us. We sing the great hymn,

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,

Calling, O sinner, come home!”

Indeed, He does call tenderly, until it becomes necessary to call forcefully. While God is calling you tenderly, why don’t yield to Him today? Nebuchadnezzar was given time to get his heart right with God because of the goodness and tenderness of the Lord.

III. The Downfall - The Ministry of God

This mighty king refused to change and was turned into a wild animal for seven years by the Word of the Lord! This man before whom multitudes trembled in fear was reduced to a pathetic, wretched, ugly beast. He went into this condition with the last words he heard being those of the judgment of God found in verses 31-32.

Look now at how sudden the judgment comes. He is going around talking about how wonderful his kingdom is when suddenly the judgment comes! In verse 33 we read that “immediately” he was stricken with Lycanthrophy. Pride had filled his heart, but he was about to go through a time of unprecedented brokenness.

Look at the greatness of Babylon that he saw as he walked around his kingdom prior to this horrible judgment. The great walls of Babylon were 387 feet high and 87 feet thick. Each side of this great wall was 15 miles in length. They enclosed an area of 225 square miles. The walls were so wide that 4 chariots could be driven abreast on top of the wall and were on great race days. The mighty Euphrates River flowed through the middle of the city. One bank held terraces covered in rich greenery that led to a central altar. In the middle of the city was the massive temple of Bel with all its buildings and smaller temples and shrines. As Nebuchadnezzar looked on this great city, he could see the spacious gardens and orchards that fed the entire population of 2 million people. As he walked, he talked (as we see in verse 30) and he took credit for the whole thing. Completely forgetting the God of heaven who had said it would be so - 2:37-38. Nebuchadnezzar had also forgotten that the same God who promised to bless him also promised to break him! This man was walking in the sin of pride!

These events took a full year to come to pass - 4:29. Never mistake the patience and longsuffering of God for His forgetfulness! He will always remember your sin, until it is taken care of at Calvary. You may feel that you are getting away with something today! You may think that nobody but God knows about your sin. If God knows, that it is enough! Your sin will catch up with you - Numbers 32:23, "...and be sure your sin will find you out." Note Galatians 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

I cannot express in terms strongly enough how important is the Bible truth that God only uses broken things. God will not use the proud. It may appear that He does, but that which is full of pride is aching for a breaking!!! Throughout the Bible, God used those things and people which were broken.

What do I mean by broken? Brokenness is a condition of the heart of a person. In a Christian, this means the state of being humble and living under the Lordship of Jesus. Brokenness is not a state of being beaten down, but rather it is a state of walking in fellowship with Jesus and yielding your will to His will. In a lost person, brokenness is a state of admitting that Jesus is Lord, a state of believing in Him and repenting of your sins, placing full and absolute trust in Him for your salvation.

God has a ministry of bringing about brokenness in people’s lives. Like a physician, He will hurt you to heal you; He will send pain to bring about gain; He will bring you down in order that He might lift you up.

The most useful things and people in God’s Kingdom are the broken ones.

God brought brokenness to Jacob at Peniel and Jacob came to the place where God could clothe him with spiritual power.

When Moses struck the Rock at Horeb and broke it, cool water flowed out to the thirsty people!

Gideon’s soldiers broke their pitchers (a type of breaking themselves) so that the hidden light shone through and brought victory over their adversaries.

Jesus broke the five loaves of bread and fed 5,000 hungry souls – only when broken did they multiply!

It was when Mary broke her beautiful alabaster box of perfumed ointment that the sweet smell filled the house.

Jesus allowed His body to be broken by thorns, nails and a spear, and from that brokenness salvation flowed forth to all who come to Him in simply, repentant, believing faith!

Yes, the Lord blesses broken things!"

Are you filled with pride today? Let us humble ourselves before Him. And, if for some reason we are currently undergoing a time of testing and brokenness, let us turn afresh to Him and let Him use us as He desires to use us.

A. A Temporary Hurt from God is better than an Eternal Hell apart from God

People don’t like to hear about hell in this modern age. Jesus talked about it more than he mentioned heaven. Why? He did that because He knows the truth and was not going to spare our feelings by not sharing that truth with us. He loves us too much to keep the truth from us.

B. A Temporary Humiliation before God is better than an Eternal Habitation apart from God

Some people never come to Christ because they are ashamed to admit their sin and accept His graced. Humiliation leads to exaltation – Ephesians 2:5-10!

IV. The Deliverance - The Miracle of God

A. There Is A Recognition - 34a

Nebuchadnezzar finally realized that what he needed was a personal relationship with the God of the Hebrews. He realized that God had been right there all along. He became fully aware that he was a sinner and he turned to the Lord in repentance.

This is the place that many, whether saved or lost, need to come to today! When we reach that place of brokenness, whether it comes by means of a tragedy, or by our being intelligent enough to humble ourselves as God simply speaks to us, it is the right thing to do. It is at that point that we realize that God, and His will, are all that we need for our lives!

B. There Is A Reception

There is an obvious change in the attitude of Nebuchadnezzar. Before his illness, he either ignored God or just gave Him mere lip service. Now, he begins to praise the Lord and to glorify God's works. I can’t say whether Nebuchadnezzar was saved, or whether you will see him in heaven, but it sure seems that he had believing faith. If he is there, he will tell you that those seven years of affliction were the single greatest blessing he ever received on this earth. It was those years that broke him and caused him to bow before the God of Heaven.

Conclusion

Ronald Bayles was a misguided youth. By the time he was nineteen, he had spent time in two reformatories and had one stay in prison. Restless to travel, he befriended Ray Hoekstra and together they left Berrien Springs, Michigan to go to California. They arrived in Sacramento, but after finding no work, decided to split up. Ray went north and Ronald went to Long Beach.

While in Long Beach, Ronald found himself reflecting on his life. He had no prospects, was out of work and had a prison record. He sat on a piece of driftwood, watching the waves, smoking a cigarette. A Christian lady saw him and asked him to dinner. That night she took him to church and he asked Christ to come into his life and save him. Ronald then remembered his friend. He hitchhiked the three hundred miles to the ranch where Ray was working. Excited about his new life in Christ, Ronald led his friend to the Lord. Soon both men decided to enter ministry. Ray, better known as Chaplain Ray, founded the International Prison Ministry and touched thousands for Christ. Ronald went on to be a pastor in several churches and his daughter became a missionary to Africa. Jesus Christ can take a lives that are broken, people that are adrift, and make them whole. He finds ways to restore estranged men and women to Himself.

Lay down your pride today and come to Christ. He died to save you and rose from the dead to justify you before God. His sacrifice was made in agony before a howling mob, striped of his clothing and carrying our sins. If you come to the Lord today, heaven will rejoice. If you humbly accept Him as your Savior and Lord, everyone here will rejoice with you. He took the shame and the blame that we deserve so that we might claim the gift or eternal life.

Many of us who are already saved need to humble ourselves before Him today. There is a need for us to get on our knees before the Lord and renew our devotion, commitment and faith.

Extra Illustrations
Too Pround

Perhaps you have heard about the preacher that had a great day in the pulpit one Sunday. Several people joined and some were saved. As he and his wife drove away from the church, he asked, “Honey, how many great preachers do you suppose there are in the world?"

Her wise reply was, "One less than you think, dear."

Political Pride

In 1883 in Allentown, New Jersey, a wooden Indian, the kind that was see in front of cigar stores, was placed on the ballot for Justice of the Peace. The candidate was registered under the fictitious name of Abner Robbins. When the ballots were counted, Abner won over the incumbent Sam Davis by seven votes.

Crumbling Pride

In his book Life Sentence, Charles Colson tells of strolling among the ruins where the Roman senate once met. Recalling his feelings, he wrote: "As I stood snapping photographs, my mind flashed back to the Roosevelt Room in the White House, a few steps across a narrow hallway from the President's oval office. At 8 o'clock each morning a dozen of us, the President's senior aides, had gathered around the antique mahogany table; its polished surface reflected the serious, intense expressions of men who believed the destiny of mankind was in their hands."

Colson continues, "'The decisions we must make today,' Henry Kissinger would often say, 'will affect the whole future course of human history.' We believed it. Just as the Roman senators dressed in their flowing togas believed it nearly 2,000 years ago. Yet here sat their once majestic forum in dusty piles of stone and rubble. Would even this much be left of the Roosevelt Room, I wondered, in two centuries, let alone two millennia from now?"