In Jeremiah 27:6, Nebuchadnezzar is referred to as a servant of Jehovah. There is a sense that every world leader is a servant of the God who allows that leader to rise to power. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” There was nothing that Nebuchadnezzar could do to thwart God’s plan for history.
There is another sense in which Nebuchadnezzar became the servant of Jehovah. In Daniel 4:28-37 we see the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s fall and restoration.
Nebuchadnezzar had been an eyewitness to several miracles, yet he remained proud and self-reliant. In this section of Daniel 4 we see that God reduced him from his throne to eating grass in the field like a wild animal. Nebuchadnezzar was taken from being arguably the most powerful man in the world to a homeless madman. This transition is like going from the White House to living in a cardboard box under a bridge. He went from top to bottom in an instant.
In God’s sovereignty and grace, this was not the end of the story for Nebuchadnezzar. When the former king blessed “the Most High” his reason returned to him and he was restored to the throne, but with a new heart and a new attitude. Nebuchadnezzar proclaims this about the God who lives forever in Daniel 4:34-35:
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
We are not told much more about Nebuchadnezzar’s reign from that point on, but my guess is that it was very different than before his humiliation.
Willingly or Unwillingly All Will Bow
We are told in Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10 – Every knee shall eventually bow before the throne of God. The only choice in the matter is if we will do it willingly or unwillingly.
In his sovereignty, God allows circumstances into our lives which overwhelm us. Life does not always treat us fairly; things do not always turn out the way we would like. This often is perceived as bad news, but when we respond properly, it can be transformed into good news.
The circumstances become good news when God uses them in our lives to remind us that we are not in control and that we do not have all the answers. God give us the opportunity to turn to him, bow our knees and submit.
God, in his grace, humbled Nebuchadnezzar in his lifetime so that he would choose to bend the knee before it was too late. Nebuchadnezzar chose well at the end. May we do the same when faced with difficulties.