Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

The role of trees in the Bible – Day 19

The Nebuchadnezzar tree — the perishable and the permanent

Bible text(s)

10“While I was asleep, I had a vision of a huge tree in the middle of the earth. 11It grew bigger and bigger until it reached the sky and could be seen by everyone in the world. 12Its leaves were beautiful, and it was loaded down with fruit — enough for the whole world to eat. Wild animals rested in its shade, birds built nests in its branches, and every kind of living being ate its fruit.

Daniel 4:10-12GNBOpen in Bible reader

In the fourth chapter of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream of a great tree cut down to size (Daniel 4:13-17). Daniel interprets the dream, explaining that Nebuchadnezzar himself is the tree. The king will lose his mind and be driven from the kingdom unless he repents (Daniel 4:19-27).

King Nebuchadnezzar was one of the most powerful monarchs the world has ever seen. He reigned for more than forty years and when he died in 561 BC, the city of Babylon was the symbol of glory and world domination. But like so many people, he was deceived by perishable things of this world. He had turned from God and become exceedingly proud. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream told of a massive tree. The order was given: “Cut down the tree and trim off its branches!” (Daniel 4:13-14). The message was clear — in a moment the vast wealth and success of the king would be gone. Everything that Nebuchadnezzar possessed would instantly perish! All in which he placed trust and value would vanish! In 538 BC, less than a quarter of a century after Nebuchadnezzar died, the great city of Babylon fell to Cyrus, king of Persia.

Jesus reaffirms the danger of trusting in wealth when he tells the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21). He warns the crowd that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Often, we are so engrossed in the affairs of this world that we forget how temporary it really is. We invest our time and talents so heavily in the perishable things and neglect Jesus, the source of permanent joy and everlasting life.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.14.1
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