On a Friday morning, January 29, 2016, as I pondered the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1, which came to me suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar’s story (after glimpsing his name in my Bible) came to mind. Through that story, I was reminded that it is God who ordains our seasons and the length of them for His purposes.
If you’re not familiar with Nebuchadnezzar (pronounced Neh-byoo-kuhd-nehz-er), he was the king of Babylon (the king God used as an instrument in Israel’s judgment). Due to pride, he was driven from his throne, by God, but would be restored to it once he acknowledged that Heaven rules. However, he would not be able to acknowledge that Heaven rules until seven times (seven years) had passed by—the length of time ordained for his punishment (his humbling experience).
Let’s dig a little deeper into this story for full clarity.
In Daniel 4, we find Nebuchadnezzar recounting the story of his fall. We see that before it occurred, he’d had a warning of his fall through a dream (verses 1-17). Upon having the dream, however, he didn’t quite understand it, so he summoned the “wise men” of Babylon—the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners—to interpret it for him. They couldn’t. But he knew someone who could—Daniel, a man of God (verse 18b).
Nebuchadnezzar was right in his acknowledgment that Daniel could, by the power of God, interpret the dream (as he had done a previous dream for him); however, from viewing verse 19, I’d say that Daniel seemed hesitant to do so. It says, “Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him.”
But the king told him, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
“My lord,” Daniel replied, “if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!”
If only… But the dream was directly concerning Nebuchadnezzar.
Nebuchadnezzar, during his reign, had become “great and strong” (verse 22). His “greatness had reached the sky, and his dominion extended to distant parts of the earth.” Because of these things, Nebuchadnezzar became prideful, cocky, and felt that he was responsible for his own success, rather than God.
“Renounce your sins by doing what is right,” Daniel advised him, “and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue” (verse 27).
God had given Nebuchadnezzar a full twelve months (after the dream) to get his act together, as we see by verse 29; however, he remained steadfast in his sin. Consequently, his sanity was removed from him for seven years. For seven whole years, Nebuchadnezzar had the mind of an animal; he ate grass with the ox (verse 33). But at “the end of time,” he tells us, in verse 34, he raised his eyes toward Heaven, and his sanity was restored.
So we see, through Nebuchadnezzar’s story, that it is God who changes times and seasons for His own reasons.
“He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Daniel 2:21
He has a time set (a season) for everything.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to uproot.
A time to tear down and a time to build.
A time to weep and a time to laugh.
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time for war and a time for peace.
(See more in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.)
And through it all, no matter how difficult, we can take solace in the fact that our seasons, all of them (like Nebuchadnezzar’s), are allowed for a purpose.
As children of God, “predestined to be conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (Romans 8:29), things won’t—they can’t—always be easy for us (they weren’t for Jesus Himself!). But we know, through Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, and various other verses of the Bible, that everything God allows is significant to our progress, and will pay off mightily in the end.
Let us stand firm, then, sisters, and endure until the end (Matthew 24:13).
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18