What does Daniel 4:14 mean?
ESV: He proclaimed aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches.
NIV: He called in a loud voice: 'Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches.
NASB: He shouted out and spoke as follows: 'Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Shake off its foliage and scatter its fruit; Let the animals flee from under it And the birds from its branches.
CSB: He called out loudly: Cut down the tree and chop off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it, and the birds from its branches.
NLT: The messenger shouted, 'Cut down the tree and lop off its branches! Shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit! Chase the wild animals from its shade and the birds from its branches.
KJV: He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
In King Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Daniel 4:4–5, 10–12), he sees a massive tree and then an angelic being (Daniel 4:13). The angel from heaven carried a stern message. The tree, while tall, beautiful, bountiful, and beneficial, would not be that way forever. Instead, it would be cut down. Its limbs would be removed and all its valuable fruit taken away. As a result, the animals would hurry away from its shade, and the birds would fly away from its branches. The symbolism is explained later in the chapter. The tree is Nebuchadnezzar and his vast empire. His power would be severed from him (Daniel 4:25).
History's final degenerate kingdom emerges in the tribulation period. This will be ruled by a wicked dictator called "the beast." Revelation 13 portrays the beast as emerging from the sea and commanding a vast kingdom. This figure will hold authority "over every tribe and people and language and nation" (Revelation 13:7). But the beast's kingdom, like Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, will be cut down. God will destroy the Babylon of the tribulation (Revelation 17:15—18:2), but first He will warn His people to come out of that wicked culture (Revelation 18:4).
Daniel 4:1–18 introduces another of Nebuchadnezzar's mysterious dreams (Daniel 2:2–3). As before, the king summoned his wise men to interpret the experience. They failed, but Nebuchadnezzar also spoke with Daniel (Daniel 2:46–47). This time the king told his wise men and Daniel what he had dreamed. This sets the stage for Daniel's interpretation and the fulfillment of another prophecy.
Daniel 4 opens with a proclamation in which Babylon's king, Nebuchadnezzar, declares what God has done for him. He recalls yet another frightening dream (Daniel 2:1). He sees a tree cut down to the stump, and a man made like an animal. Once again, only Daniel could interpret the dream's meaning. The news is terrible: the king will be driven insane for "seven periods of time" until he learns humility. A year later, this happens. Also as promised, Nebuchadnezzar humbles himself and regains his senses and his throne. He praises God for this miraculous work.
Daniel chapter 1 depicted Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar as powerful. Chapter 2 showed his vindictive nature. His extreme vanity was on display in chapter 3. Daniel chapter 4 records his submission, repentance, and return to prominence as the King of Babylon, all under God's humiliating judgment. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 continue to speak about Gentile rulers and related prophecies.
The book of Daniel contains famous Old Testament stories and prophecies. Daniel was taken from the Israelite people and made an advisor for a conquering empire. He demonstrates faithfulness and wisdom during many years serving in this role. Though Daniel does not deliver a public message, Jesus refers to him as a "prophet" (Matthew 24:15). The first portion of the book mostly describes Daniel's interpretations of dreams and other events. The second portion looks ahead to the end times. Daniel is classified in English Bibles as a "major" prophet, meaning the book is relatively long and the content has broad implications. The book of Revelation echoes and expands on many of the same themes.
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