Nebuchadnezzar (“May Nebo Protect the Crown”) was king of the Babylonian Empire from 605-582BC. He is best known for the grandeur of his capital city, Babylon (the largest city in the world at that time), his many military conquests, and his part in Bible history and prophecy.
– Jehoiakim… 2Chron. 36:2-7; 2Ki. 24:1. Jehoiakim became king of Judah when Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt (608BC).
– Battle of Carchemish… Jer. 46:1-12;47.
Assyria joined with Egypt to attack Nebuchadnezzar & the Babylonian army (605BC). The battle was a rout; Nebuchadnezzar won easily. Egypt escaped, because Nebuchadnezzar received word that his father back home had died. Nebuchadnezzar feared someone might fill the power vacuum back home; as the oldest son, he went back to Babylon and became king.
He then married the princess of Mede, combining the 2 dynasties; he was very shrewd politically.
– Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st Attack on Jerusalem (605BC)
As a show of force, Nebuchadnezzar took some of the best & brightest young men & women back to Babylon with him. Among these were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego.
Jeremiah advised King Jehoiakim to accept Babylon’s supremacy and to reject alliances with Egypt; this was part of God’s plan for Judah. Jehoiakim didn’t listen…
– Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream… Dan. 2 (603BC)
Nebuchadnezzar had vivid dreams that none of his interpreters could interpret; he was sure they meant something. God, through Daniel, revealed what the dream meant. Each successive kingdom, starting with Nebuchadnezzar, would be lesser… until Christ’s kingdom!
– Demand for Tribute… Jer. 25:1-14 (605-601BC)
Nebuchadnezzar continued to make his rounds… demanding tribute of his vassal states, including Judah. Judah paid for 3-4yrs, until the Babylonians seemed preoccupied with the rebellion of Egypt. So, Jehoiakim rebelled… and Nebuchadnezzar let it slide. For now…
– Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd Attack on Jerusalem… 2Ki. 24:1-4,10-17 (597BC)
Babylonian forces besieged – and took – Jerusalem in a 2nd attack. Jehoiakim died during – or as the result of – the siege. Jehoiachin became king, but didn’t have much time to enjoy his throne. Nebuchadnezzar came in and took whatever he wanted. He took Jehoiachin, and imprisoned him for 37yrs (until he died). He took more of the best & brightest back to Babylon with him, putting “his man”, Zedekiah, on the throne of Judah.
– Daniel… Dan. 1-3 (597BC)
Because Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and gave glory to God for it, Nebuchadnezzar promoted him. Daniel asked for his 3 friends to also be promoted as heads over the administration. As a result, they were to undergo a 3yr training/indoctrination program: teaching them Babylonian literature & language, feeding them the best Babylonian food, and changing their names that had honored God to names that honored Babylonian gods.
Daniel and his friends proved their loyalty to God through the “diet regimen”… elevating themselves even more in Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes.
– Nebuchadnezzar’s Golden Statue… Dan. 3 (596BC)
Maybe Nebuchadnezzar’s previous dream gave him an idea. He built a 41′ statue to himself, then ordered all to bow to it. Daniel’s 3 friends, Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego, refused to bow down. So, they were thrown into a fiery furnace… heated 7x more than normal… so hot it burned alive those who carried them to the opening of the furnace.
You know what happened. There were supposed to be 3, but 4 were seen… an extra one who looked “like the Son of God”. The 3 were taken out, unharmed; they didn’t even smell like smoke!
As a result, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that no one could even speak ill of their God, and promoted them in the kingdom.
– Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd Dream… Dan. 4 (596BC)
Another dream. Daniel again interprets. Pride would be Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall.
– Zedekiah’s Revolt… 2Ki. 24:20; Jer. 27:1-11; 48,49; 2 Ki. 25:15-38; 27:12–28:17 (594BC)
Setting in motion the 3rd – and final – stage of Babylonian invasion. During Nebuchadnezzar’s “downtime”, King Zedekiah, back in Jerusalem, called a “Jerusalem Conference”… building an alliance against Nebuchadnezzar & Babylon.
– Nebuchadnezzar Comes to His Senses… Dan. 4:14-18,34,35 (589BC)
He lived like a wild beast… a lunatic… slobbering and eating grass in the fields…for 7yrs! Was his statement in these verses a statement of salvation?
– Nebuchadnezzar Lays Siege to Jerusalem… Jer. 37; 46:13-28; 2Ki. 25:4-7; Jer. 52:7-11; 39:1-7; 2Ki. 25:8-21; Jer. 52:12-27; 38:8-10; 2Chron. 36:15-20; Ezek. 21:1-28; 33:21-33 (588-586BC)
King Zedekiah finally made his move against Nebuchadnezzar… and Nebuchadnezzar came loaded for bear. he surrounded the city, and said, “Surrender or rot.”
The siege was briefly interrupted by Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar left part of his army at Jerusalem, quickly dealt with Egypt, then got back to Jerusalem.
When he got back to Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar stormed through the gates… no longer waiting for time to win the war for him. He captured Zedekiah, forced him to watch as his sons were brutally killed in front of him, then blinded him so their deaths would be the last thing he would see. He burned the temple to the ground, and took the rest of the captives he wanted back to Babylon with him.
But, Nebuchadnezzar & Babylon would get theirs… Jer. 51:34-37.
A young priest named Ezekiel was among those taken in that final captivity. He would visit Jerusalem in visions, but would spend the rest of his days in Babylon.
By this time, all that was considered the ancient Near-East belonged to Nebuchadnezzar.
– Tyre (585BC) Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre for 13yrs… and finally got that great city.
– Egypt (568BC)
He finally focused his attention on Egypt… and took it.
During this time, he expanded his territory in every direction… he built a new palace (including the “Hanging Gardens”, considered 1 of the 7 wonders of the world)… and introduced running water through reservoirs, canals, and aqueducts. Nothing before had even come close to what Nebuchadnezzar was able to do.
– Nebuchadnezzar’s Death (562BC)
Not recorded in Scripture, but he was dead by 2Ki. 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34. He was 68yrs old.
Daniel offered a brief commentary on Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. 1-4; you can read it as Nebuchadnezzar’s obituary.
What can we learn from Nebuchadnezzar?
– God is sovereign.
Nebuchadnezzar may not have known it – or admitted it, but this was the overriding theme of his life story.
He was a chosen servant of God who was given enough rein to carry out specific functions among – and to – God’s people. He was the chosen instrument through whom God revealed His plan for the nations.
– We can accomplish NOTHING good in our own strength; it is all by God’s grace.
– When our attention shifts to ourselves, we can easily become proud… forgetting that God gets the credit for the good and the glory for the holy.
Don’t let your accomplishments cause you to forget God.
– God loves us.
Even after Nebuchadnezzar’s many sins, God humbled him for his own good… and, in the end, Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledged God.
You can read Nebuchadnezzar’s story – as it related to the Biblical narrative – in 2Kings 24;25; 2Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 25;27;28;37;39;46;47;48;49;51;52; Ezekiel 21;33; Daniel 1-4.