God Reveals: Man Does NOT Have “Free Will”
Humiliation is the Greatest Blessing
Daniel, Chapter 4KJV and Concordant versions used in this study
Lorraine Day, M.D.
1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
2 I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God has wrought toward me.
3 How great are His signs! And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an eonian kingdom, and His dominion is with generation after generation.
“God had highly exalted Nebuchadnezzar above every man. Now He humbles him beneath them all. Despite the tokens God had given the king of His wisdom and power, both in the political and religious spheres, he was not humbled, nor did he acknowledge God in his acts or in his heart. He took the credit for his vast achievements to himself. He saw himself a superman! . . .
“To correct this fearful condition God takes him from the highest place among men and gives him the lowest for a time. We need not hesitate to say that this was a far greater kindness to him personally than his exaltation had been. That tended to set him over God; this gave him his true place far below Him, where he could be a recipient of God’s favor.” Concordant Studies in the Book of Daniel, pg 104.
It is highly unusual for any king, much less one who ruled the entire known world of the time, to make a public confession. Most monarchs would have concealed their shame, attempting to keep it secret from the world. God had brought him down from his most prideful stance, and now he admits it to the whole world. Obviously, his confession is sincere.
“He did not call the experience he had gone through a disease, or insanity, or any kind of evil, but a powerful and amazing sign. He read into it a meaning beyond his personal experience.” Ibid, pg 105,106 Through it God speaks to all peoples and rulers during the eras of the Unbelievers. The message is that God is in authority in the kingdom of mortals. He gives the earthly kingdoms to whom He wills.
Though no human force could have taken Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom from him, in an instant, the haughtiest of all monarchs was reduced by God to the existence of a lowly beast.
4 Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and prospering in my palace:
5 I saw a dream that made me terrified, and thoughts upon my bed and visions of my head troubled me.
6 Therefore I made a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
7 Then came in the sacred scribes, the magi, the Chaldeans and the hieromancers (soothsayers); and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
God did not intervene in Nebuchadnezzar’s life until he had completed the building of his empire and had smugly taken the credit all to himself. It was at this time of his seeming great success that God humbles him.
At the end, just before Jesus comes, the same thing will happen. The Beast power of Revelation 13 will be worshipped by the whole world. While the leaders of the evil empire are basking in their “glory,” utter destruction will come upon them. (Revelation 18)
Unlike the dream of the golden image, Nebuchadnezzar does remember this dream, but he cannot understand its sinister implications. So he calls in his wise men.
But they either cannot or will not interpret it for the king. If they flatter the king by making HIM the great tree, they must also predict his decline and degradation. They avoided the trap by making no interpretation at all.
8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the Holy God; and before him I told the dreams, saying,
9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
Daniel, who apparently was not initially present with the first group of wise men, is finally called in. He stands for truth and is not afraid to interpret all aspects of the dream, both good and bad, for the king. One wonders why Daniel was not the first of the wise men to be consulted by the king. After all, it was Daniel who was previously successful in interpreting dreams for the king when all the other wise men had failed.
“Instead of being first, Daniel is the last to come before him, seemingly alone. So it is in human affairs. All else must be tried first, before God and His Man are called upon. This debases man and glorifies God. This exposes the impotence of mortals and the omnipotence of the Supreme God. Until man has failed, there is no proper background for the display of His glory. Daniel might have been called first, but then the failure of the wise men would not have set off his success.” Ibid. p 108
The Vision of the Tree
10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the visibility extended to the end of all the earth:
12 The leaves thereof were lovely, and the fruit thereof was abundant and in it was food for all; the beasts of the field found shade under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was appalled for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spoke and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble you. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, if only the dream concerned them that hate you, and the interpretation thereof concerned your enemies.
20 The tree you saw, that grew and was strong, whose height reached unto the heavens, and the visibility extended to all the earth;
21 Whose leaves were lovely, and the fruit thereof abundant, and in it was food for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation,
22 It is you O king, seeing that you are increased and mighty, for your greatness is grown, and reaches unto the heavens, and your authority to the extremity of the earth.
We usually think of the King of Babylon as a ruthless dictator, but this picture given in the dream strongly implies that Nebuchadnezzar was a great administrator who provided for his people.
“The quality of his rule, and the plenty of his economic administration seem to have been most satisfactory. The leaves probably suggest shelter and ease, while the abundant fruit speaks of plentiful sustenance sufficient and suitable for all. A government that can provide food and shelter for all its subjects, with peace, is a rarity in this earth in this evil eon.
“Probably no world empire succeeds as well as the first. Nebuchadnezzar is not taken from his throne because of his lack of ability. He was efficient and successful. That is what man is striving for, but it is not the goal of God.” Ibid p 110
God wants man’s heart and the way He gets it is usually through trouble. That’s why trouble, persecution and humiliation are much greater blessings than prosperity. When things are going well, we don’t change and we certainly don’t need God.
13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold a holy rouser is alighting from the heavens.
14 He cried aloud and said thus, Chop down the tree, and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves, and scatter its fruit. The animals shall wander from under it, and the birds from its boughs.
15 Nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, clamped with a band of iron and copper. In the tender grass of the field with the night mist of the heavens shall he be wet with dew, and his portion shall be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
16 Let his heart be changed from man’s and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven seasons pass over him.
23 And seeing that the king perceived a holy rouser alighting from the heavens and saying, ‘Slash down the oak and harm it, but the stump with its roots leave in the earth clamped with a band of iron and copper; in the tender grass of the field, and let it be wet with dew; with the beasts of the field shall be his portion until seven seasons pass over him.’
The tree was not destroyed by men, signifying a take-over by another nation. The judgment on the king was from the God of heaven a divine judgment. This must have been a terrifying interpretation for the king. Yet, the tree was not completely obliterated, the stump of the tree remained. The encircling band of iron and copper may have kept it from bringing forth shoots to sprout again, symbolizing that there would be no gradual return to sanity, no recovery through his own natural vitality, but a sudden return to normalcy that could only be attributed to the divine God who took Nebuchadnezzar down in the first place.
17 Thus seven seasons shall pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the rousers, and the statement of the saints is the request, unto the intent that the living shall know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will, and sets up over it the lowest of men.
18 This dream, I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now you, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able, for the spirit of the Holy God is in you.
24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
25 That they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven seasons shall pass over you, until you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever He will.
26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be assured unto you, after that you shall come to know that jurisdiction is of heaven.
Every Christian child knows the story of Daniel in the lions’ den and the story of the three young men in the fiery furnace, but the story of the degradation of the king Nebuchadnezzar is not so popular. It reveals that God is operating everything “according to the counsel of His OWN will” (Ephesians 1:11) and we do NOT have free will. This lesson is rejected by the Organized Church. “The will of man is proclaimed a thousand times as against one declaration of the truth that God does as He wills in the affairs of mortals.
“Nebuchadnezzar considered himself superior, not only to his subjects, but to other kings, whose accomplishments could not be compared with his. The real reason for Nebuchadnezzar’s great success lay in the fact that he rode on the high tide of God’s plans. Had he lived at another time, or in another state, he might never have become the mighty monarch that he was. He showed his depravity by being hard on the humble. (Dan 4:27) Apart from God’s gifts he might have been lower than all men. When God changes his heart to an animal’s, he sinks as low as he had been high.” Ibid. p 116
We should not be concerned by the failure of monarchs or other rulers of earth’s governments. That is the way it must be. It must be demonstrated that man is unable to rule over men because of their selfishness and pride, and that only God has the capacity to govern the world and the universe.
27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto you, and break off your sins by being just and your depravities by being gracious to the humble, in case your days of ease should be lengthened.
Daniel, as a man of God, criticizes the conduct of the king and calls him to repentance, a dangerous course indeed and one that could only be followed by someone who has the confidence that God is with him.
Daniel charges king Nebuchadnezzar with sin and depravity. The first can be rectified by being just, the second by being gracious to the humble. One arises from the common weakness of man injustice. The other comes from pride, to which rulers and leaders are clearly prone.
The world loves the rich and famous. But in God’s eyes this is reversed, for Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor, the mourners, and the meek (Matthew 5:3-5).
The Vision Fulfilled
28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar
29 At the end of twelve months he walked about in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
30 The king spoke, and said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built to be the house of the kingdom within the might of my power, for the honor of my majesty!”
31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven saying, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken; the kingdom has been taken from you.
32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; they shall make you eat grass as oxen, and seven seasons shall pass over you, until you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever he will.
33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair was grown like vultures’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
God gave Nebuchadnezzar a grace period of one year twelve full months but his pride continued as commonly happens.
The City of Babylon
“Babylon is said to have been the most marvelous city of antiquity. It covered a vast area and was safeguarded by tremendous walls and contained magnificent buildings. Ancient historians disagree as to its size. One makes the circumference over fifty miles, enclosing about two hundred square miles, nearly five times the size of London. Others make it only about half this area, with a wall of forty-two miles about it. The ancient accounts agree that this wall was three hundred or more feet in height, incredible as this seems. There were two hundred fifty towers, one hundred gates, besides the wall along the Euphrates, with twenty-five gates. The wall between the towers was broad enough for a four-horse chariot to turn about.” Ibid p 119
Nebuchadnezzar built this tremendous city for “the esteem of his honor.” But Jesus said that “everyone exalting himself shall be humbled: (Luke 14:11). The moment of Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogant boasting is immediately followed by his most abject degradation.
34 And at the end of the seasons I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes unto heaven, and my understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored Him that lives for the eon, whose dominion is an eonian dominion and His kingdom is with generation after generation.
35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are considered as nothing; and He does according to HIS WILL in the army of the heavens, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can restrain His hand or say unto Him, “What doest Thou?”
36 And at the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor, and splendor returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was restored in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways justice; and those that walk in pride He is able to humble.
Nebuchadnezzar fell from the dizzying height of power to the lowest of the beasts. Yet, when he was restored, he did not resent God’s way with him. Instead he thanked God for the great blessing. That is the way it will be in the last eon, after the judgment, when those who have not yet accepted Christ will reap what they have sown. God is able to diagnose the disease and prescribe the right remedy. Severe trouble is the cure for pride. “It alone will teach men to be humble and not only submit to His will, but to praise and honor Him for it.” Ibid p 126
“Man’s free will is considered essential in theology in order to preserve his dignity and self-respect. I suppose no one ever succeeded in enforcing his own desires more than the great king. If anyone ever had a free will, he had. And, no doubt, he would have insisted upon this himself before he was trained in the college of insanity. Now, however, he is down to actuality. In reality there is only one uninfluenced, unhindered, sovereign will. The Supreme God alone can do according to His will both in the heavens and upon the earth. And no one is able to interfere with Him or call Him to account. His doings are beyond question.” Ibid p 128
For the millions of Christians who believe in the false doctrine of “Free Will,” diligent study of this experience of Nebuchadnezzar, the king who ruled the world, will reveal that God is “operating ALL according to the counsel of HIS OWN WILL” (Eph 1:11) “He is the Potter and we are the clay. Can the clay say to the Potter, “Why do you make me thus?” (Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20,21)
The Christian Church, by teaching the false doctrine of “Free Will” is far worse than pagan religions. Pagans worship many gods, but the “Christian” Church by this false doctrine, has made every “Christian” into his own “god” by claiming that God is unable to save us unless we let Him. If that is the case, then “man’s” will is greater than God’s will! But THAT cannot be!
When we speak of Universal Restoration to Christians, the Biblical fact that God CAN and IS going to save ALL (after they have reaped what they have sown), the response often is, “But a lot of people don’t want to be saved.”
Nebuchadnezzar didn’t want to be saved either. He was bragging about how great he was. He didn’t care about, or even think about, God.
But God had a way of humbling Nebuchadnezzar so the king would recognize his need for God. And, subsequently, Nebuchadnezzar was even thankful for the experience and blessed his Creator.
If God can do that for Nebuchadnezzar, there is no one beyond God’s grasp.
God speaks of Himself as the Potter, and us as “clay.” (Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20,21)
Just how much “Free Will” does clay have?
© Lorraine Day, M.D. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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