What condition did Nebuchadnezzar have for seven years?
“Today psychiatrists have diagnosed Nebuchadnezzar’s behavior as a variant of paranoia and schizophrenia. . . . The patient imagines that he had been transformed into a wolf (lycanthropy, an ox (boanthropy), or another animal (dog, leopard, snake, crocodile), and behaves as such down to the most intimate details. A 49-year old woman was convinced her head was that of a wolf complete with snout and fangs. And when she opened her mouth to speak, she would hear herself growl and howl like a beast” (Jacques Doukhan, Secrets of Daniel, 70).
“The proud king’s hair grew long and matted like the ruffled feathers of a buzzard, and his nails resembled the tailings of a bird of prey. Wide-eyed and gibbering, he plucked grass, and stuffing it into his mouth, munched it like an ox” (Hardinge, Jesus Is My Judge, 58).
How do we reconcile God’s loving nature with making Nebuchadnezzar a beast for seven years?
Seven years as a beast seems hard. Some have falsely circulated the idea that God does not discipline and that God does not kill. It is a false view that reduces love to mere sentimentalism and enabling. If we define love from Scripture rather than from popular culture, we see a picture of God’s love that is the perfect blend of justice and mercy from the vantage point of eternity.
The story of Nebuchadnezzar reveals God’s eternal perspective of saving the king for eternity and weighing the temporary discomfort of being an animal for seven years. From the eternal perspective, seven years of being a beast was the most loving thing that God could do. As C. S. Lewis stated, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 91). This is not to say that every uncomfortable circumstance, trial, or calamity is God trying to get our attention; the enemy of souls must be factored in. However, we cannot miss the point of Daniel 3 that God’s first and primary goal for our life is saving us for eternity; everything else is secondary. God is willing to allow temporary discomfort if that will bring us to decide eternal salvation with Him.
“If we allow our minds to be absorbed by worldly interests, the Lord may give us time by removing from us our idols of gold, of houses, or of fertile lands” (Ellen White, My Life Today, 18).