Nebuchadnezzar of course was still ignorant about the truth of God. Indeed after the Israelites were a part of the kingdom, he kept coming to praise God, then shortly thereafter pronounce death to any who refused to worship his idol. He was a proud man, and one we probably wouldn't want to meet or serve under.
Certainly we wouldn't expect this man to be one of the first to receive a vision from God about the last days. However, that is exactly what happened.
In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar has a strange dream. It unsettles him, so he calls his magicians and wise men instructed in the worship of his false gods. Nebuchadnezzar seems a little distrusting of his wise men though. He demands that they tell him the dream, so that he "shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof."
When the wise men admit that it is not within the power of any man to do as the king has said, the wonderful King Nebuchadnezzar demands that they all be utterly destroyed. But not just the wise men who couldn't give him the answer, but all the wise men in the land!
In another part of the land, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are going about their normal business. Although they still serve the Lord, they have been promoted to the status of wise men within Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.
So when Nebuchadnezzar sends his captain Arioch to kill the wise men, he must go to Daniel and his fellows to kill them.
But Daniel asks Arioch boldly why the king is so hastily killing his subjects. When told the story of the dream, Daniel asks that Arioch would give Daniel time to learn the dream before killing the wise men.
As you would expect, Daniel begins to pray and ultimately the Lord reveals to him the dream and the interpretation thereof. Daniel 2:27-45 reveals the details of this dream. Time would not allow me to put all of that here, so instead let's look specifically to the beginning of that dialogue in verses 27-28,
"Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days."
I shared all of that just to prove that this heathen, ill-tempered king saw a vision similar to the one John received when he wrote the book of Revelation.
There was absolutely nothing special about Nebuchadnezzar that made him the prime target to be used by God in this very special way. In fact there was quite the opposite. Yet the Lord still revealed his plans to the world through him.
In addition to the obvious lesson of sovereignty that we can see here, that the Lord can use the oddest of means for His glory, we can learn that our past mistakes don't necessarily keep us from being able to serve the Lord. Perhaps someone reading this blog needed a good reminder that their fallibility won't keep them from serving God.
However, what I needed to and did learn from this story (and thus what I focus on today) was quite the opposite. I needed no reminder that my fallibility wouldn't prevent me from serving the Lord because I was becoming convinced that since the Lord could use me in some miniscule way means that I'm a pretty stellar guy.
No, I needed to be reminded that the Lord was able to use me in spite of my character and not because of it. I needed to be reminded that the Lord might choose to use the most heathen of heathens to reveal His truth, and simply because He chose me to write this small blog, or He chose me to be a pastor one day, doesn't mean that I'm anything special at all. After all, I am only what He made me.
So this account of how Nebuchadnezzar was shown prophecies of what would happen in the end days was a not so subtle reminder that I am not special because I happen to serve the Lord (most of the time...).
As if to summarize all this up, Daniel expresses in Daniel 2:30,
"But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart."