A Closer Walk
Ancient Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had besieged and conquered Jerusalem and the entire Israelite southern kingdom of Juduh. The northern Israelite kingdom of Israel had previously been conquered by the Assyrians. The great king took many of the Judeans into Babylon as slaves, including the prophet Daniel and three of his friends. One day King Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of his palace, and he “. . . reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power for the glory of my majesty?'” Daniel 4:30 NASB. Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man of his day. There was no king, no nation, more powerful than he and his nation of Babylon. His kingdom was even home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. At the same moment he was saying these things God spoke.
“While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, 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',” Daniel 4:31-32 NASB.
So Nebuchadnezzar the king was driven away from mankind and began living with the beasts of the field. He ate grass just like the cattle. His hair grew until it was like eagles' feathers and his nails like bird's claws. “But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever. . . ,” Daniel 4:34 NASB. At the end of the seven periods of time that the Lord had decreed, Nebuchadnezzar's reason was restored to him. And he began to praise and honor the Lord God Almighty.
“At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me,” Daniel 4:36 NASB. Nebuchadnezzar had his sovereignty returned to him for the glory of his kingdom. In addition, surpassing greatness was added to the already great king; so he ended up being even greater than he was before.
Why didn't the Lord God Almighty just end Nebuchadnezzar's life? The Lord could have simply stretched out His hand and stopped his heart; end of Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king was not walking with the Lord nor seeking His face. He had even thrown three of the Judean young men who served in his court (Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) into a fiery furnace, because they would not bow down to the pagan idol he had established for his nation to worship (Daniel chapter 3). So why didn't God just strike him dead and start over with the next Babylonian king? Perhaps it was because our Lord knew He could change Nebuchadnezzar's heart. For whatever reason, our Lord did not give up on King Nebuchadnezzar.
It is the same with us. Our God works on us and with us, to shape and mold us into the children and servants He desires us to be. So that we might better serve Him. And His Kingdom. It seems it was Nebuchadnezzar's humbling which pointed him in the right direction. As long as we are alive, we may count on the fact that our God and Father in Heaven is not done with us. We are not yet a finished product. He might discipline us. He may humble us. But He will continue to mold and shape us, to refine and afflict us, to grow and change us, so that we may become more like Christ. Praise the Lord!
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus,” Philippians 1:6 NASB.