28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?
31 “The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Daniel 4:28-37 (NIV)
All nations of the world exist under the absolute control of God. At His command they rise or fall; prosper or decay; flourish or perish. At no time can they rid themselves of His presence, power, or rule. Not one ruler of any nation—no matter how successful he might appear—can accomplish anything unless permitted by God. God determines what nation will rise against another and which will triumph in victory. This extends to all peoples—everywhere. None is exempt.
King Nebuchadnezzar was moved from a palace to a pasture in a matter of minutes. He was made to “acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (v. 32b). Babylon was used as an instrument of judgment by God for the sins of other nations (cf. Jer. 25). Babylon’s prosperity came at the demise of others—all according to God’s power and decrees. The king’s sanity returned only when he obeyed the word of God and acknowledged God’s powerful rule in the affairs of the entire world. He began to praise the only true God whose dominion is eternal and enduring (v. 34).
Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and arrogance so clouded his judgment that he actually believed his power and wisdom made Babylon prosper. Refusing to acknowledge the sovereign work of God, he was extracted from his kingdom by the roots. Made to become like an animal, he was brought low to see that he possessed as much power to determine the position of his life and kingdom as the cattle and birds did for their daily food. He was trained by experience to realize his very life was dependent on the goodness of a sovereign’s authority that superceded his own.
National prosperity is no accident. It comes by the will of God and is sustained by His continued mercy. As happened with Nebuchadnezzar, pride can quickly make beasts of those who boast. The key to abiding security rests in the awareness that all national blessings have their source in the goodness and kindness of a God who does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. Repentance is the prerequisite for the blessing of God on any nation.