The Confession of a Once-Pagan King

Rockwall, TX (June 23, 2023) – My wooded neighborhood features a mix of mature hardwood and pine trees—up to 100 feet tall. We welcome the rains that keep them green but worry about high winds that make them sway. Rain and wind are a dangerous combination since the added weight of wet leaves can bring down  a tree rooted in saturated soil.

Tree experts warn us to remove trees that show signs of dying—broken branches, wounds, rot, fungus, or an obvious lean. But professional tree removal is quite expensive. My husband cut down a young tree that leaned toward our house, yet it seemed huge as it fell with a thunderous crash.

There’s an ancient story of an enormous tree that was cut down. Only this tree represented Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon (circa 600 B.C.), who survived his fall and wrote an account addressed to all people and nations of the earth. It’s found in the Old Testament book of Daniel.

The king was at ease until having this dream: A beautiful tree was chopped down and turned into a man with the mind of a beast. When his host of soothsayers could not interpret the dream’s meaning, Nebuchadnezzar’s “chief administrator over all the wise men,” Daniel, entered the room (Daniel 2:48; 4:18 – 19*).

As a God-fearing exiled Israelite, Daniel grew troubled about the king’s dream. “My lord…,” he responded, “The tree that you saw … it is you, O king, … your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth. … this is the decree of the Most High, … your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, … till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he chooses” (Dan. 4:19 – 25).

Twelve months later, Nebuchadnezzar walked in his royal palace to admire, in his words, “this great Babylon, that I have built … for the honor of my majesty.” Before his lips closed, a voice from heaven said, “The kingdom has departed from you….” The king was immediately driven from civilization. He lived like an ox in the field until his hair grew long and his nails became like birds’ claws (Dan. 4:29 – 33).

Notice, however, that Nebuchadnezzar had been granted that one-year grace period before God’s ax struck the tree. After interpreting the dream, Daniel urged the king to break off his sins and practice righteousness, adding, “Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity” (Dan. 4:27).

Could our seemingly strong nation be in a grace period that is ticking away by the day? Our system of government, while superior to many others, is strained. Though still powerful to the end of the earth, it sways ominously from opposing winds. Laws once set in the stone of foundational truths have taken a pounding at the hands of so many judges and the combined weight of their gavels. Our country is no longer known for a “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”2 that our founding fathers acknowledged.

The chastised king later testified, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High … His kingdom is from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:34).

In the fullness of time, all nations will acknowledge God Most High—as the kingdoms of this world “become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

Meanwhile, tree experts say that even a large tree might be saved with some intervention.

1NKJV Bible; 2Declaration of Independence

Patti Richter write and edits Christian faith articles and has co-authored Signs of His Presence: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. Read more of her essays at Blue Ribbon