Reduced To A Stump!
(Daniel chapter 4)
By Joan Emery (Hamilton, New Zealand)
Many years ago a famous king had a dream. He, King Nebuchadnezzar, had no idea what the dream meant so he summoned for Daniel to interpret it. And, even though the interpretation was not a “pretty” one, yet Daniel, a man filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke the Word of the Lord as He received it from God.
“The tree you saw in your dream that grew so large and sturdy with its branches reaching high into the sky, visible from the four corners of the world, you, O king, are that tree. You have grown great and strong, and your sovereign rule stretches to the four corners of the world. But the Messenger proclaimed, ‘Chop down the tree, leaving its stump and roots in the ground. Tie it with a strap of iron and bronze and let him be soaked with heaven’s dew. He will graze and eat with the animals for seven seasons . . . that judgment, O king, will fall on you” (Daniel 4:20-25 condensed).
The days and months passed by and the king continued to live carelessly. But twelve months later, as he was walking on the balcony of the royal palace in Babylon, he foolishly boasted, “Look at this, Babylon the great! I built it all by myself, a royal palace adequate to display my honour and glory!” The words were no sooner out of his mouth than a voice out of heaven spoke, “This is the verdict on you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your kingdom is taken from you. You will be driven out of human company and live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like an ox. The sentence is for seven seasons, enough time to learn that the High God rules human kingdoms and puts whomever He wishes in charge” (Daniel 4:30-32 , The Message Bible).
It happened immediately. Can you imagine, one minute thinking and acting like an arrogant leader in total command, and the next minute thinking and acting like an untamed animal. His palace staff must have been utterly dismayed at what was taking place right before their very eyes. His behaviour was so outrageous that he was declared a “madman” and driven from the palace. Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of human company to eat grass like an ox and be soaked in heaven’s dew. His hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails protruded like the claws of a hawk.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s life was reduced to a stump! Everything and everyone he had ruled over were taken away in a moment of time. That magnificent tree that had influenced the world had been cut down instantly, like a tree that crashes to the ground when struck by lightning.
Could this ever happen again? Could the Nebuchadnezzar’s of this world be brought to nothing because of their sin and rebellion against God? Yes. Could this happen even to the Church because of its rebellion and arrogance towards the Holy Spirit, God’s vehicle through which He moves mightily throughout the earth? Could this happen because we have put our own interpretation on scripture, or our own interpretation on how the Church should function, or our own interpretation on how the Holy Spirit goes about His work? Could it possibly be that God will reduce the structure of the Church, as we know it, to a stump, leaving only its roots in the ground with a trunk barely tall enough to be visible to the world? Could it be that the Church systems that tend to hinder the work of the Holy Spirit will be “put out to grass and grow feathers and claws” until she sees sense and humbles herself? I think the answer is YES. We cannot continue to pretend we know how the Holy Spirit moves and works yet continue to leave Him in the back pew, or even worse still, He not even be invited to turn up for the service! Nebuchadnezzar had to be humbled in order to see things God’s way. Why should it be any different for the Church? The Book of Acts clearly shows us how the Early Church functioned; it functioned around the promptings of the Holy Spirit. They heard things in the Spirit. They saw things in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit motivated them.
Can the Body of Christ rise up to be the mighty instrument God made her to be in the Church as we know it now? I think not. Even now I believe God has begun the work of reducing the Church to a stump! Even now we see Christians throughout the western world deserting the Church in droves because what she is doing is so programme-orientated, so controlling, so unable to release its people to function, and so lacking the evidence of serving a mighty, powerful God Who moves by His Spirit.
“At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever. His sovereign rule lasts and lasts, His kingdom never declines and falls. Life on this earth doesn’t add up to much, but God’s heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt His work; no one can call His rule into question. At the same time that I was given back my mind, I was also given back my majesty and splendour, making my kingdom shine. All the leaders and important people came looking for me. I was re-established as king in my kingdom and became greater than ever. And that’s why I’m singing--I, Nebuchadnezzar--singing and praising the King of Heaven. Everything He does is right, and He does it the right way. He knows how to turn a proud person into a humble man or woman” (Daniel 4:34-37 , The Message Bible).
What will God do with the Church that has been reduced to a stump? He will build it again by the power of His Holy Spirit - “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18 , KJV). He will cause it to “Arise and shine, for its Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon it” (Isaiah 60:1 ). Only if we are reduced to a stump can God remove the traits of hell that are so obvious in many of our modern day, immoral church systems that have allowed anti-Christ teachings in through the back door (the gates of hell) in order to please and appease man instead of obeying the Word of the Lord. To an unbeliever it must look as if we have “put the cart before the horse” because so much of that which we practice has all the hallmarks of appearing as if “the Lord is following us and our methods”instead of “we, the believers, following the Lord and His ways!” How confusing that must seem to the lost!
God has more important business on His mind than our buildings (our magnificent trees), or the name above the door (our precious reputations), neither is He motivated by titles and levels of hierarchy (more magnificent trees) that man places so much emphasis on. God has a passion to see the Church hearing and seeing things in the Spirit so she can get the job done supernaturally, effectively, and according to His plan. He is the Spirit of Truth and nothing but the pure truth qualifies to receive the true blessing of God. Nebuchadnezzar was re-instated once his pride had been dealt with, once he recognised and acknowledged that it was God Who is the Supreme Ruler, and it is God Who sets the agenda for the work of His precious Holy Spirit.
When we take our hands off and allow the Holy Spirit to place His hands on, then the Church will arise with healing in her wings. She will arise to a much better place than she has ever been before; “the bride (the Church) will have made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7 , ISV). The tree will grow again to become that for which she was always ordained to be – a mighty people of power, moving in the unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit; moving in signs, wonders and miracles because she is tuned in to the voice of the Spirit. The streets will become the pulpits. The market places will become the mission field. The Church will be motivated to “take the Gospel” instead of “sitting and waiting for the gospel to come to us.” The Church will become the doers because we first became the hearers, having “ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation chapters 2 & 3).