SERMON PAGE ONE
Text: Daniel 4:1-37
Title: The Mad King
I. Fear of a dream long past, and ignoring the warnings of Daniel, I can see Nebuchadnezzar
standing on his palace roof scanning over the city that is Babylon.
A. He looks at the ziggurats, buildings that look like our Washington Monument; the sky
scrapers of the ancient world.1. He looks at the Hanging Gardens, which scholars call one of the Seven Wonders of
the ancient world.
2. He looks at the Ishtar Gate, a place where reliefs and statues of the gods were located.
3. There are dragons and bulls. The god Bel was often represented in the form of a bull.
a. Nebuchadnezzar does not realize that he will soon be acting like a bull.
b. Ironically acting like one of his gods.
B. As he looks over Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar thinks about how grand life has been.
1. He has reigned over Babylon about four decades. His father was Nebo-polassar.
2. Nebo-polassar was a warrior king and he seized opportunities.
3. When the Assyrian Empire wobbled, took advantage and made Babylon the lone super-
C. Nebuchadnezzar was no princely wimp. He took to the battlefield himself.
1. At the battle of Charchemish Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian army so decisively
that the Egyptian empire never again was a contender for super-power status in the
a. However, it still retained enough power to bother him.
D. As Nebuchadnezzar contemplates these things, in the last moments of his sanity, words
roll off of his lips: “Is this not Babylon which I have made for the house of my kingdom,
by the might of my power, for the glory of my majesty?”
1. Nebuchadnezzar has been using the first person pronouns like “I” and “My”.
2. But soon he will hear the second person pronoun: “You”.
3. They say that madmen believe themselves to be kings, but here a king becomes a mad-
a. D.S. Russell wrote in his commentary that when Nebuchadnezzar renounced the
sovereignty of God, he also renounced his own humanity.
E. This is something that our culture must understand, that when a culture renounces the
sovereignty of God it will lose its humanity.
II. What was Nebuchadnezzar's problem?
A. Joyce Baldwin writes that it is rooted in two things: God's judgment and Neb's own
repression of guilt; a guilt that Daniel pleads with Nebuchadnezzar to deal with earlier in
B. Baldwin claims the problems are expressed in the dream itself.
C. Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a peaceful scene: a large tree.
D. In the branches are all the winged creatures of the world at rest.
1. In the shade are all the non-flying animals gathered together.
2. All is peaceful and serene when suddenly a nightmare begins.
3. Two other-worldly human forms descend, huge and muscular.
a. They declare that the tree shall be taken down and we can hear the clamor of the ax
hitting the bark and wood.
b. Perhaps these titans are working a primitive saw in rhythm, taking down a tree
that looks like it should never be able to fall.
3. The timber begins to crack and the flying creatures panic, taking off into the sky with
a thunderous sound of flapping wings.
4. As the tree is falling and its shadow lengthens the animals panic, beginning a
stampede that defies description. The hoof beats make the ground tremble and cast
into the air dust clouds that rival those in the sky.
G. The tree crashes to the ground, this image like our nuclear mushroom cloud, only it tips
over, the branches snapping and crackling with explosive sound.
H. The titan-type beings put an iron band around the stump.
1. Then one of the angelic beings stretches an arm with muscles that ripple, pointing
at the dreamer and saying, “Let him have an animalistic mentality until he
acknowledges the sovereignty of God and heaven.”
I. With that Nebuchadnezzar awakens disturbed. I can see him bolt up in bed from the
noise and traumatic dream to the intense quiet of his room.
1. Perhaps a moon beam is entering through a window at two or three in the morning.
a. He lays back down and tries to go back to sleep. However, the vividness of the
dream keeps him awake. Sleep has fled his eyes. Since he is up, no one else will
sleep. No doubt his court wise men have their sleep rudely interrupted.
(1.) We arrive at a question. Why is Daniel the last one questioned when he had
interpreted dreams earlier in the book? We go back to Joyce Baldwin's idea
that the dream is battling Nebuchadnezzar's attempt to repress his guilt.