[Nebuchadnezzar continues telling Daniel his dream] “I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven 14 He proclaimed aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him.17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’18 This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. And you, O Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”
It is quite dangerous these days to accuse someone of sin because of a physical or emotional/psychological ailment from which he or she suffers. We don’t want to make the mistake of the Apostles as recorded in John 9, when they asked of the man born blind: “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus told them that neither sinned; he was born blind that the glory of God might be revealed in him. Then Jesus went on to show the glory of God by healing the man.
Sometimes, however, sickness of various kinds are caused by sin. Abuse your body with alcohol too long and the result may be Cirrhosis of the liver. Take illegal mind-altering drugs and the result may be schizophrenia or some other mental psychosis. Rob a bank at gunpoint and you may get shot.
In the case of Nebuchadnezzar the mental breakdown he was to suffer was sent by God as a judgment – to abase him and bring him ultimately to his senses. The key is the last part of that equation: “to bring him to his senses.” Paul speaks of this same judgment of God in 1 Corinthians 11 when he says,
“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11:28-32
God’s desire is for us to repent and believe the Good News of his love, redemption, salvation, and gift of eternal life. He deeply desires that we live under Christ’s rule and reign – a reign of grace, mercy, love, and faith. Whatever valley of the shadow of death he may lead us through, his desire is to bring us to the other side. Sometimes we – like Nebuchadnezzar – must learn this the hard way. But the desire, love, mercy, grace, and kindness of God is never far – even in our darkest hour.