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Week 1: God Is in Control

Day 5: When Sanity Returns

After this time 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. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, King of Kings

Our Hope

Daniel 4:29–33 (NLT)

29 Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. 30 As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’

31 “While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. 32 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 periods of time 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.’

33 “That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.

Our Insight

I know what some of you are thinking, “What in the world does a long-haired grass eating king with fingernails and toenails as long as claws have to do with God’s sovereignty?!”

Well, as strange as the story is, here is something stranger. It is from this story that we get what many consider the definitive biblical statement in the entire Bible on the sovereignty of God. It seems that God has chosen to use the most powerful pagan king in the Bible to help us understand His sovereignty.

As noted in the reading, there came a time when pride swallowed Nebuchadnezzar whole—he thought he was the “god” of his world. God’s judgment meant he spent the next seven years grazing with the cows with the morning dew on his back. At the end of that time, he speaks the words that opened our devotion today (Daniel 4:34-35).

Think of it: a pagan king using his position to tell his kingdom that the God of the Jews is God alone, the One sovereign King over all.

Here is the point. Our deepest and abiding convictions regarding God’s sovereignty come not just from what God says (what we covered in Days 1-4), but from what God does (covered in this and the next two devotions). Even more pointed, it’s not just what He does in the world, it is what He does in your life.

Our Prayer

If you are reading this, you are alive. But does a moment come to your mind when you recognize in hindsight, “I could be—probably should be—not alive.” Or maybe you can envision for a moment the path you might be on right now had God not intervened in your life. I'm not trying to go morbid here, I'm simply trying to help us personally grasp that we are all undeserving beneficiaries of God’s grace through exercised Sovereignty—just like old Nebuchadnezzar.

Right now, join a humbled pagan king and offer to God your worship, your adoration, your declaration of His sovereignty as you are coming to understand it.

Our Gratitude

Before closing this devotion, take a moment and bring to mind one thing—at this moment—that you are thankful for. And thank God for it.