A sign from God.

Daniel 4:28–33

All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

Notice that, in the end, it isn’t cortisol that drives Nebuchadnezzar mad. He seems to be over all his fear and stress. He might even be thinking that Daniel’s interpretation of the dream was wrong. He’s on top of the world when God lowers the boom.

That’s important. God picks the exact moment that Nebuchadnezzar’s pride is peaking to smack him down. Timing can be the key to a lesson.

And he’s smacked down about as far as it’s possible to go. Imagine all the scorn and pity he’s subject to as he wanders around with the beasts of the field and they see him eat grass like oxen.

Next to him, the town drunk looks like Socrates.

Between the severity of the smackdown and its precise timing, Nebuchadnezzar should finally get the message.

No one does attitude adjustments like God does attitude adjustments. Notice how He’s both brutal and gentle with Nebuchadnezzar. What God puts him through is reasonably painless in the physical sense, yet emotionally crushing.

This leads to one of my favorite ways to discern the Lord’s leading—look for how things are “finely tuned.” In this case, things are perfectly tuned to humble Nebuchadnezzar. He doesn’t need to limp; that’s what Jacob needed. He doesn’t need a thorn in his side; that’s what Paul needed. He needs to be humbled.

Consider this idea the next time things get irritating (or worse). Is God trying to teach you something? Or maybe just get your attention? What lesson would fit the pattern?

Not every unusual event is a sign from God, but some things are.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.