This first Gentile monarch was the one who captured Jerusalem and destroyed both city and temple. The inhabitants were carried into Babylon as slaves. Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image in Dura, and the three Hebrew youths who refused to bow down to the image were thrown into the fiery furnace but divinely preserved. Drunk with pride, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams Daniel interpreted. Driven out for a time from men, and living among oxen, he became a new man and turned from his humiliation to honor God.
The encyclical letter written by the first head of Gentiles, for Nebuchadnezzar was "a king of kings," reaches far and wide in the lesson it teaches to all Gentile powers, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled (Dan. 4:34-37;Rev. 11:15-17). In this letter we have:
I. The dream of a tree reaching in its height to heaven, and seen by all the world. This related to the king himself, who swayed the scepter of a universal empire, and whose power led to pride (Prov. 16:5-18).
II. The wise advice received from Spirit-anointed Daniel made clear how the king's error could be healed. God has been speaking to the Gentile nations ever since he gave them dominion, but a deaf ear has been turned to divine entreaties. In the face of appalling perils Gentile monarchy is crumbling today.
III. The patience of God is manifest in that twelve months have elapsed before the threatened judgment overtook the proud monarch. How long-suffering God is!
IV. Sore punishment led to deep humiliation and to a noble confusion in the presence of the world. God abased Nebuchadnezzar, and the day is coming when He will likewise abase the Gentile nations of earth. When the mightiest of all monarchs returns, He will lay hold of Gentile government and introduce His own world-kingdom and reign as the King of all Gentile kings. The scepter of universal dominion will rest in His pierced hands.