King Nebuchadnezzar Dreams of a Tree

Author: Mrs Janelle Anderson, Principal

What a wonderful start to the year with our Year 7 camp, a very uplifting Opening Service and our whole school Inter House Swimming Carnival. All of these experiences have set a wonderful tone for our 20th Anniversary year. I pray this week’s message continues to add to our deep thinking about our Foundations theme and the strong bonds our College has to the tree imagery.

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This week’s bible verse is based on King Nebuchadnezzar and is reported in the bible by Daniel who helped the king interpret his dreams. This unique chapter is the testimony of a Gentile king and how God changed his heart. In this, Nebuchadnezzar is a good example of a witness - one who relates what he has seen and experienced. We have chosen only verse 15, but the chapter which you might like to read, tells of the full dream and the impact that God had on Nebuchadnezzar as King. From a disbelieving King, proud and arrogant to regaining his role to be a caring and thoughtful leader.

Daniel 4:15 - New International Version (NIV)

But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth.

A tree in the midst of the earth: The tree in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was noted for its size, strength, prominence, beauty, fruit, and shelter. This was in his mind a reflection on the King he was.

He cried aloud and said thus: The watcher (presumably an angel) explained the fate of the tree. He noted that the tree was to be chopped down, and it would lose its size, strength, prominence, beauty, fruit, and shelter. He also said that the tree represented a man who would be changed and given the heart of a beast. This was the fate the king was to endure.

Bound with a band of iron and bronze: These were either for the tree stump’s confinement or protection. The tree would no longer be free and great. The imagery here describes the discomfort that was to befall the king.

In order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men: Nebuchadnezzar heard these words in his dream. In light of this, the dream wasn’t hard to interpret – it clearly dealt with the humbling of a great king. No wonder none of Nebuchadnezzar’s counsellors wanted to interpret the dream for him. Daniel took the brave step to interpret the dream as he had felt called by God to help Nebuchadnezzar understand the need for him to change his heart and to look to God for the best way to be a great leader.

Our understanding of verse 15 specifically is that the whole tree was not to be destroyed, but just so much was to remain as could produce a new sapling. As long as the stump remained, it might be hoped that the green branches might shoot forth again. The belt of iron and brass is represented as being put around the stump of the tree in order to prevent it cracking, and so rotting.

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As we know, the dream identifies the tree as a representation of King Nebuchadnezzar, but this is the promise we are each able to relate to. We too will veer from the responsibilities and expectations to serve God. At times that may have even happened in our College, but this verse helps us to know that no matter what happens God will still support us, allowing us to regrow in our faith and that the earthly binds can be overcome through our belief in him. The tree can withstand the hardships, challenges and our lack of faith because of its breadth of roots and the life giving waters that will provide the nutrition and sustenance to allow the tree to re-shoot from what appears to be a the barren stump.

One commentary on the verse says:

That though the mighty tree would fall, yet there would remain vitality in the root, or the portion that would remain in the earth after the tree was cut down, and that this would spring up again - a most striking image of what would occur to Nebuchadnezzar after he should be cast down from his lofty throne, and be again restored to his reason and to power.

With a band of iron and brass - This expression may be regarded as applicable either to the cut-down tree, or to the humbled monarch. If applied to the former, it would seem that the idea is, that the stump or root of a tree, deemed so valuable, would be carefully secured by an enclosure of iron or brass, either in the form of a hoop placed round the top of the stump, to preserve it from being opened or cracked by the heat of the sun, so as to admit moisture, which would rot it; or around the roots, to bind it together, with the hope that it would grow again; or it may refer to a railing or enclosure of iron or brass, to keep it from being ploughed or dug up as worthless. In either case, it would be guarded with the hope that a tree so valuable might spring up again. If applied to the monarch - an explanation not inconsistent with the proper interpretation of the passage - it would seem to refer to some method of securing the royal maniac in bonds of iron and brass, as with the hope that his reason might still be restored.

If we can take this rather complex imagery and apply the message to ourselves then we can simplify it to these four simple messages. To live in the way that we can serve God and be caring and compassionate as God would want from us. We need to -

  • Have a heart of humble adoration.

  • Show a heart of unquestioning acceptance.

  • Exercise the spirit of reverent love.

  • Let our spirit have profound delight.

Prayer

Father, we have at times sought to do things by following the wisdom of the world instead of coming to You in humility asking for Your wisdom and doing Your work in Your way. We now come to You ready to ask you to nourish us and to enable us to grow in your ways, we ask this through our actions and prayers. Father, we are grateful for this community and help us to stay firm in our belief and when we stray we know that you will always help us to find a way to rekindle our faith in you and what this community stands for. Amen.