Hundreds of years before certain nations came upon the stage of action,
the Omniscient One looked down the ages and predicted the rise and fall
of the universal kingdoms. God declared to Nebuchadnezzar that the kingdom
of Babylon should fall, and a second kingdom would arise, which also would
have its period of trial. Failing to exalt the true God, its glory would
fade, and a third kingdom would occupy its place. This also would pass away;
and a fourth, strong as iron, would subdue the nations of the world.
Had the rulers of Babylon--that richest of all earthly kingdoms--kept always
before them the fear of Jehovah, they would have been given wisdom and power
which would have bound them to Him and kept them strong. But they made God
their refuge only when harassed and perplexed. At such times, failing to find
help in their great men, they sought it from men like Daniel--men who they
knew honored the living God and were honored by Him. To these men they appealed
to unravel the mysteries of Providence; for though the rulers of proud Babylon
were men of the highest intellect, they had separated themselves so far from
God by transgression that they could not understand the revelations and the
warnings given them concerning the future.
In the paragraphs that follow you will learn about God's
interaction with an ancient pagan monarch,
about 600 years before the birth of Christ, which reveal the power and faithfulness
of the God of Israel. The knowledge of the fulfillment of this prophecy
has increased the faith of millions in God's ability to predict future events.
we, with humble hearts, compare the Holy Scriptures with history we, like
the apostle Peter, will also be able to say, "We have also a more sure word
of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that
shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your
hearts:" 2 Peter 1:19
An Ancient Kings Dream
"And in the
second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed
dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from
him." Daniel 2:1
One night king Nebuchadnezzar had a remarkable dream, by which "his
spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him." But although the
king's mind was deeply impressed, he found it impossible, when he awoke,
to recall the particulars.
In his perplexity, Nebuchadnezzar assembled his wise men--"the magicians,
and the astrologers, and the sorcerers"--and besought their help. "I
have dreamed a dream," he said, "and my spirit was troubled to know
the dream." With this statement of his perplexity he requested them to
reveal to him that which would bring relief to his mind.
To this the wise men responded, "O king, live forever:
tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation."
Dissatisfied with their evasive answer, and suspicious because,
despite their pretentious claims to reveal the secrets of
men, they nevertheless seemed unwilling to grant him help,
the king commanded his wise men, with promises of wealth
and honor on the one hand, and threats of death on the other,
to tell him not only the interpretation of the dream, but
the dream itself. "The thing is gone
from me," he said; "if ye will not make known unto me the dream,
with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses
shall be made a dunghill. But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation
thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor."
Still the wise men returned the answer, "Let the king tell his servants
the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it."
Nebuchadnezzar, now thoroughly aroused and angered by the apparent perfidy of
those in whom he had trusted, declared: "I know of certainty that ye would
gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. But if ye will not make
known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared
lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore
tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof."
king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is
gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream,
with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces,
and your houses shall be made a dunghill." Daniel
Filled with fear for the consequences of their failure, the magicians endeavored
to show the king that his request was unreasonable and his test beyond that which
had ever been required of any man. "There is not a man upon the earth," they
remonstrated, "that can show the king's matter: therefore there is no king,
lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that
can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh."
Then "the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all
the wise men of Babylon."
Among those sought for by the officers who were preparing to fulfill the provisions
of the royal decree, were Daniel and his friends. When told that according to
the decree they also must die, "with counsel and wisdom" Daniel inquired
of Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, "Why is the decree so hasty
from the king?" Arioch told him the story of the king's perplexity over
his remarkable dream, and of his failure to secure help from those in whom he
had hitherto placed fullest confidence. Upon hearing this, Daniel, taking his
life in his hands, ventured into the king's presence and begged that time be
granted, that he might petition his God to reveal to him the dream and its interpretation.
To this request the monarch acceded. "Then Daniel went
to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael,
and Azariah, his companions." Together they sought for
wisdom from the Source of light and knowledge. Their faith
was strong in the consciousness that God had placed them
where they were, that they were doing His work and meeting
the demands of duty. In times of perplexity and danger they
had always turned to Him for guidance and protection, and
He had proved an ever-present help. Now with contrition of
heart they submitted themselves anew to the Judge of the
earth, pleading that He would grant them deliverance in this
their time of special need. And they did not plead in vain.
The God whom they had honored, now honored them. The Spirit
of the Lord rested upon them, and to Daniel, "in a night
vision," was revealed the king's dream and its meaning.
was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.
Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven." Daniel
Daniel's first act was to thank God for the revelation given him. "Blessed
be the name of God forever and ever," he exclaimed; "for wisdom and
might are His: and He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings,
and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that
know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what
is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him. I thank Thee, and praise
Thee, O Thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast
made known unto me now what we desired of Thee: for Thou hast now made known
unto us the king's matter."
Going immediately to Arioch, whom the king had commanded to destroy the wise
men, Daniel said, "Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before
the king, and I will show unto the king the interpretation." Quickly the
officer ushered Daniel in before the king, with the words, "I have found
a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation."
Behold the Jewish captive, calm and self-possessed, in the presence of the monarch
of the world's most powerful empire. In his first words he disclaimed honor for
himself and exalted God as the source of all wisdom. To the anxious inquiry of
the king, "Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen,
and the interpretation
thereof?" he replied: "The secret which the king hath demanded cannot
the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show 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.
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." Daniel 2:30
"Thy dream," Daniel declared, "and the visions of thy head upon
thy bed, are these; As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon
thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and He that revealeth secrets maketh
known to thee what shall come to pass. 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.
"Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose
brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly
and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of
"Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the
image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then
was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces
together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind
carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote
the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
"This is the dream," confidently declared Daniel; and the king, listening
with closest attention to every particular, knew it was the very dream over which
he had been so troubled. Thus his mind was prepared to receive with favor the
interpretation. The King of kings was about to communicate great truth to the
Babylonian monarch. God would reveal that He has power over the kingdoms of the
world, power to enthrone and to dethrone kings. Nebuchadnezzar's mind was to
be awakened, if possible, to a sense of his responsibility to Heaven. The events
of the future, reaching down to the end of time, were to be opened before him.
"Thou, O king, art
a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee
a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory." Daniel
"Thou, O king, art a king of kings," Daniel continued, "for the
God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And
wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and fowls of the
heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all.
Thou art this head of gold.
"And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another
third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
"And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh
in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall
it break in pieces and bruise.
"And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part
of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength
of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the
toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be
partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry
clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave
one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay."
"For all the gods of the nations are idols:
but the LORD made the heavens." Psalms 96:5
"Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show
the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter
end of them; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come
hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that
we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are of nothing, and your
work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you." Isaiah
"In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which
shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people,
but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand
forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain
without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the
silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come
to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure."
The king was convinced of the truth of the interpretation, and
in humility and awe he "fell upon his face, and worshiped," saying, "Of
a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of
kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal
Nebuchadnezzar revoked the decree for the destruction of the wise men. Their
lives were spared because of Daniel's connection with the Revealer of secrets.
And "the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and
made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors
over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon:
but Daniel sat in the gate of the king."
In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires,
appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events
seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice.
But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind,
and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions,
the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels
of His own will.
In words of matchless beauty and tenderness, the apostle Paul set before the
sages of Athens the divine purpose in the creation and distribution of races
and nations. "God that made the world and all things therein," declared
the apostle, "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on
all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and
the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they
might feel after Him, and find Him." Acts 17:24-27.
"...all the inhabitants
of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according
to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants
of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto
him, What doest thou...Now
I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King
of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways
judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to
God has made plain that whosoever will, may come "into the bond of the covenant." Ezekiel
20:37. In the creation it was His purpose that the earth should be inhabited
by beings whose existence would be a blessing to themselves and to one another,
and an honor to their Creator. All who will may identify themselves with this
purpose. Of them it is spoken, "This people have I formed for Myself; they
shall show forth My praise." Isaiah 43:21.
In His law God has made known the principles that underlie
all true prosperity, both of nations and of individuals.
To the Israelites Moses declared of this law: "This
is your wisdom and your understanding." "It is
not a vain thing for you; because it is your life." Deuteronomy
4:6; 32:47. The blessings thus assured to Israel are, on
the same conditions and in the same degree, assured to every
nation and to every individual under the broad heavens.
In the history of nations the student of God's word may behold
the literal fulfillment of divine prophecy. Babylon, shattered
and broken at last, passed away because in prosperity its
rulers had regarded themselves as independent of God, and
had ascribed the glory of their kingdom to human achievement.
The Medo-Persian realm was visited by the wrath of Heaven
because in it God's law had been trampled underfoot. The
fear of the Lord had found no place in the hearts of the
vast majority of the people. Wickedness, blasphemy, and corruption
prevailed. The kingdoms that followed were even more base
and corrupt; and these sank lower and still lower in the
scale of moral worth.
The power exercised by every ruler on the earth is Heaven-imparted; and upon
his use of the power thus bestowed, his success depends. To each the word of
the divine Watcher is, "I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me." Isaiah
45:5. And to each the words spoken to Nebuchadnezzar of old are the lesson of
life: "Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing
mercy to the poor: if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity." Daniel
still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among
the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalms
To understand these things,--to understand that "righteousness exalteth
a nation;" that "the throne is established by righteousness," and "upholden
by mercy;" to recognize the outworking of these principles in the manifestation
of His power who "removeth kings, and setteth up kings,"-- this is
to understand the philosophy of history. Proverbs 14:34; 16:12; 20:28; Daniel
In the word of God only is this clearly set forth. Here it is shown that the
strength of nations, as of individuals, is not found in the opportunities or
facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted
greatness. It is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God's purpose.