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1. What tactful way have you found to break bad news to someone?
2. How would you like to receive news: Bad news first? Good news last?
3. Share a time when you delayed doing something urgent or needful only to regret it. What were the results? How did you feel?
4. How does Daniel break his bad news tactfully? What does he do and say at the outset (verse 19) and at the end (verse 27) which would increase the likelihood that Nebuchadnezzar would listen? What hope does he hold out for the king?
5. Daniel’s use of “Heaven” (verse 26) is the first and only time the word is inserted for God in the Old Testament. What does it imply: Reverence for God’s name? Deference to the king’s polytheistic beliefs? Or what?
6. The Aramaic word for righteous or “what is right” (verse 27) links human responsibility to both God and neighbor. Why does Daniel stress both? (How is “being kind to the oppressed” a witness to God?)
7. How does his interpretation of the king’s dream relate to issues of pride, arrogance and humility?
8. Has “all this happened” to the king by chance? By decree? By default? What clue does “twelve months later” provide?
9. How is the voice from heaven shown to be powerful (verses 31 – 33)? How does the immediacy and power of God’s word relate to Genesis chapter 1?
10. With his sanity restored, what does the king conclude about “the Most High”? How does his testimony strike you?
- sincerely penitent?
- coaxed or coached by Daniel?
- sanely rational?
- miraculous turn-about?
11. How do you account for the king’s restored greatness and prosperity?
- humility pays?
- Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled?
- God has a sense of humor?
- the king’s dream of a tree and stump comes true?
12. How have you shown courage in declaring God’s word to others, both the good and bad news?
13. What “stump” signals for you what God still wants to do? How might that be fully restored by “Heaven’s rule”?
14. At this time Babylon (with its hanging gardens) is a “great” nation. Why does such success make change or repentance difficult? How does this relate to Jesus’ word about the rich entering the kingdom of God (see Matthew 19:24)?
How long Nebuchadnezzar’s mental illness lasted is not clear from the phrase “seven times”. What is clear is that it was long enough to confront the king with his sinful state and his need for a redeeming God. As we saw in the preceding post, Nebuchadnezzar’s expressed reason for revealing the embarrassing incident is to bring honor to a God powerful enough to so humble a world leader, yet gracious enough to restore him to his throne. And his conversion seems to be sincere. What a happy ending to the life of one who has spent years oppressing God’s chosen nation (people) and decimating Jerusalem!