lion, king of the jungle September 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Ezekiel 29:17–30:19; Daniel 4; 2Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

Who is King?

A lion is considered by many as the king or ruler of the jungle. Who rules this universe and planet? Who is sovereign over everything and everyone? Is mankind the determiner of his own destiny? Do we consider ourselves self-made men or women? Who is it that gives us wisdom, talent, special gifts, abilities, and opportunities?

The Egyptian empire, the Babylonian leader Nebuchadnezzar, and one of Judah’s last kings, Jehoiachin, find out who is sovereign in today's Bible reading. We will also learn who is sovereign and what our attitudes should be toward Him.

Egypt is a powerful enemy of Babylon. She does not think she can be conquered but finds out differently. Babylon attacks like a storm sweeping through, from Syria all the way to Egypt and even to nations east of the Jordan River. Ezekiel writes a series of seven laments for Egypt, for she will be destroyed (chapter 29). God is angry at this nation—first, for Judah’s reliance on her rather than the LORD—second, for failing in her promise to aid Judah; she only made a half-hearted attempt to help her when besieged by Babylon. Now, there will be payback. Because God is helping Babylon, nothing can stop this army from conquering Egypt. She will be destroyed, never to rise to world prominence again. In Ezekiel's prophecy he writes,

In the twenty-seventh year [of Israel’s exile], in the first month on the first day, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army. I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 29:17-20, NIV).

From 585-572 B.C. (thirteen years) Babylon laid siege to Tyre and got nothing for it, so God is going to reward Babylon for being His arm of judgment against Judah and the surrounding nations. The LORD can use even the ungodly to fulfill His purposes.

For ten years, Jehoiachin had shared co-regency with his father, Jehoiakim, king of Judah. When Jerusalem was invaded the first time, Jehoiakim was replaced with Jehoiachin. He and the kings before him denied Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s prophecies that Babylon would conquer Judah. Almost all of Judah’s prophets falsely foretold just the opposite. After just three months of sole regency, in 597 B.C. King Jehoiachin was captured and deported. He was exiled along with his royal family, his officials, 10,000 of his soldiers, craftsmen, artisans and citizens. In addition, all of the precious and costly articles in Solomon’s temple and the king’s treasury were taken to Babylon. Only the poorest of the land remained. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, to be a vassal king over the area. Jehoiachin was greatly humbled for thirty-seven years in exile. Perhaps, King Jehoiachin then realized God was Sovereign, for the LORD was merciful to him, allowing his latter years to be free from the shackles of bondage.

Nebuchadnezzar, is full of pride over all his military accomplishments. One night he has a frightening dream. In it a great tree has massive growth and is very fruitful. Everyone is fed from its bounty. Under it the animals find shade, and in it the birds find protection. However, one day it is cut down, leaving only a stump in the ground. None of his magicians or wise men in Babylon can interpret the dream. Finally, he calls in Belteshazzar (Daniel) to come and interpret it. He had received a favorable interpretation many years before, so perhaps Daniel will once again be able to soothe his mind. It is not to be.

Daniel interprets the dream, saying

You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times [probably meaning years] will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.

The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.

Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue (Daniel 4:25-27, NIV).

Nebuchadnezzar does not renounce his sins, however, and one year later in a single day all these things happen to him. Nebuchadnezzar is dethroned for insanity. For seven years he lives as an animal, even eating grass, until one day he comes to his senses and realizes that God is Sovereign, not Him. Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom is then restored.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble (Daniel 4:37, NIV).

Can pride lead to punishment and destruction? Yes. The Apostle Peter will later write, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (1Peter 5:5b, NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • God uses even the ungodly to accomplish His purposes.
  • When thinking about our accomplishments, we need to think with sober judgment, not giving ourselves more credit than we deserve (Romans 12:3). For what do we have that we did not in some way receive from God? (1Corinthians 4:7). He uses many people, events, and circumstances to bring us success; and He does it so that He, not we, might receive glory.
  • It is dangerous to steal glory away from God, but if we humble ourselves and repent, He is always merciful. He can give us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

Focus Verse

Proverbs 21:1 (NIV) “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

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A Look Ahead: What does the Bible say about Dreams and Visions? Learn more about them in this Next Lesson from the book of Daniel.

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