All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses.” (Daniel 4:28-32)
Despots Always Fail
From the division of the world in the plain of Shinar, the history of men has been shaped by a burning desire for global conquest. Despots have risen who conquered great stretches of land to rule over and dominate to their will. Egypt was a world power at one time, followed by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Genghis Khan ruled a vast Mongol empire in the east. The Tsars of Russia created a nation stretching from the tip of North America to the eastern border of Europe. Britain ruled a world for nearly two centuries, spanning 33 million square miles. In the Americas, the Maya, Aztec, and Inca empires dominated. In modern history, Adolf Hitler wanted to create a thousand-year empire at the expense of millions of souls and he committed suicide in less than six years. The empire of Japan spread its hatred throughout the Pacific and suffered catastrophic loss before surrendering. Joseph Stalin terrorized the world, killing millions. He wanted to make Russia one of the most powerful nations in the world. In 1953, he met the Lord God face to face.
Nebuchadnezzar was a brilliant leader who created one of the world’s most incredible city and nation. His story is recorded in part to reveal God’s will to men. Through the will of God, Babylon had taken the remaining people of Israel into captivity. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of God. Nebuchadnezzar entered the Holy Place and took away the treasures of God’s house because the Lord God allowed him. Among the captives taken from Jerusalem was a young man named Daniel. When the king had a frightful dream, he asked Daniel to tell him the meaning. God sent the dream to warn Nebuchadnezzar of becoming too proud and boasting of his accomplishments. Daniel warned the king to know that only God rules in the affairs of men.
Twelve months later, Nebuchadnezzar is walking about the royal palace of Babylon when he thinks within himself of what a great man he is. As he looks upon the splendor of Babylon, he fills his heart with pride and arrogance for his glory. Immediately, the prophecy of his dream comes true and he is driven from men as a mad man. The dream came from God and the punishment came from God. Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson of despots who try to rule the world that only God will rule. When God separated men at the tower of Babel, it was determined through national identities that no man and no nation would rule the world. There will never be a nation or people that will dominate the world.
The failure of despots is they want to rule the world. They invade nations for a purpose that is failed before it begins. All despots die and their power is lost. What they gain in life is sand flowing between the fingers of a trembling hand. The world suffers from rulers who want to be the most powerful ruler of the time and while they terrorize and punish millions during their reign, it all comes to nothing. They bring their armies against defenseless nations, killing the innocents and gaining temporary glory at best. And then a remarkable thing happens: they die and meet the One who rules in the affairs of men. Heaven rules – men do not. God decides – men do not. Despots are self-centered and arrogant images of Nebuchadnezzar, who have not learned the eternal lesson of time. There is one God and He rules.