Nebuchadnezzar wrote his conversion story in Daniel chapter 4, in Aramaic: “One night I had a dream that greatly frightened me. … I said to Daniel, … ‘Tell me what my dream means. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree.
“Then I saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. The messenger shouted, ‘Cut down the tree; lop off its branches! Shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit! Chase the animals from its shade and the birds from its branches. … Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live like an animal … For seven years let him have the mind of an animal instead of a human (called Boanthropy). … The purpose of this decree is that the whole world may understand that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses — even to the lowliest of humans.”
Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, one that he remembers, unlike the one in Daniel 2, and again his wise men cannot interpret its meaning, but Daniel interprets the dream: “That tree, Your Majesty, is you … and what the Most High has declared will happen to you. … But the stump and the roots were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.”
Twelve months later, Nebuchadnezzar was looking out across Babylon and boastingly said, “ ‘Just look at this great city of Babylon! I, by my own mighty power, have built this beautiful city as my royal residence and as an expression of my royal splendor.’ While he was still speaking these words, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven years will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’ ”
There is no dual application, or future fulfillment, of this prophecy for it was uniquely fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion — the Bible says so!
“That very same hour the prophecy was fulfilled. … After the seven years had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.”
It is a conversion story that tells us that God still rules!
Ian Cotton is the retired pastor of the Creston Seventh-day Adventist Church.