Sabbath, February 12, 2011

“… There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known … what shall be in the latter days.” Daniel 2:28.

Relating the dream

1. What was the king thinking about when the Lord gave him the dream? For what purpose did Daniel receive the same dream?
Daniel 2:29 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.

“Consider the experience of Daniel. When called to stand before King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel did not hesitate to acknowledge the source of his wisdom. Did that faithful recognition of God detract from Daniel’s influence in the king’s court? By no means; it was the secret of his power; it secured for him favor in the eyes of the ruler of Babylon. In God’s name Daniel made known to the king the heaven-sent messages of instruction, warning, and rebuke, and he was not repulsed. Let God’s workers of today read the firm, bold testimony of Daniel and follow his example.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 151.

2. What did the king see in his very special dream? Of what was the image made?
Daniel 2:31-33 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 clay.

“The dream of the great image, opening before Nebuchadnezzar events reaching to the close of time, had been given that he might understand the part he was to act in the world’s history, and the relation that his kingdom should sustain to the kingdom of heaven.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 503.

“Nebuchadnezzar, a worshiper of the gods of the Chaldean religion, was an idolater. An image was an object which would at once command his attention and respect. Moreover, earthly kingdoms, which, as we shall hereafter see, were represented by this image, were objects of esteem and value in his eyes.

“But how admirably adapted was this representation to convey a great and needful truth to the mind of Nebuchadnezzar. Besides delineating the progress of events through the whole course of time for the benefit of His people, God would show Nebuchadnezzar the utter emptiness and worthlessness of earthly pomp and glory. How could this be more impressively done than by an image whose head was of gold?” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p. 38.

3. Even though the image in the dream was very impressive, what was to happen to it and to the kingdoms which it represented?
Daniel 2:34, 35 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 threshingfloors; 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.

“Below this head was a body composed of inferior metals descending in value until they reached their basest form in the feet and toes of iron mingled with miry clay. The whole was then dashed to pieces, and made like the empty chaff. It was finally blown away where no place could be found for it, after which something durable and of heavenly worth occupied its place. So would God show to the children of men that earthly kingdoms are to pass away, and earthly greatness and glory, like a gaudy bubble, will break and vanish. In the place so long usurped by these, the kingdom of God shall be set up and have no end, while all who have an interest in that kingdom shall rest under the shadow of its peaceful wings forever and ever.” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 38, 39.

The head of gold

4. What did the head of gold represent?
Daniel 2:36-38 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: 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 the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.

“God exalted Babylon that it might fulfill this purpose. Prosperity attended the nation until it reached a height of wealth and power that has never since been equalled–fitly represented in the Scriptures by the inspired symbol, a ‘head of gold.’ Daniel 2:38.” –Education, p. 175.

“God has presented to me the case of Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord worked with power to bring the mightiest king on the earth to acknowledge Him as King over all kings. He moved upon the mind of the proud king until Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged Him as ‘the most high God,’ ‘whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.’ ” –(Letter 132, 1901) Evangelism, p. 88.

5. When did this mighty empire begin? Who built it up to its height of power?
Genesis 10:8-12 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 10:12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
Daniel 4:26, 27 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

“God exalted Babylon that it might fulfill this purpose. Prosperity attended the nation until it reached a height of wealth and power that has never since been equalled–fitly represented in the Scriptures by the inspired symbol, a ‘head of gold.’ Daniel 2:38.” –Education, p. 175.

“The Babylonian Empire rose to power under the general who also became king, Nabopolassar. When he died in 604 B.C. his son Nebuchadnezzar became king….

“The character of the Babylonian Empire is indicated by the head of gold. It was the golden kingdom of a golden age. Babylon, its metropolis, towered to a height never reached by any of its successors. Situated in the garden of the East; laid out in a perfect square said to be sixty miles in circumference, fifteen miles on each side; surrounded by a wall estimated to have been two hundred to three hundred feet high and eighty-seven feet thick, with a moat, or ditch, around this, of equal cubic capacity with the wall itself; divided into squares by its many streets, each one hundred and fifty feet in width, crossing at right angles, every one of them straight and level; its two hundred and twenty-five square miles of enclosed surface laid out in luxuriant pleasure grounds and gardens, interspersed with magnificent dwellings–this city, with its sixty miles of moat, its sixty miles of outer wall, its thirty miles of river wall through its center, its gates of solid brass, its hanging gardens rising terrace above terrace till they equaled in height the walls themselves, its temple of Belus three miles in circumference, its two royal palaces, one three and a half and the other eight miles in circumference, with its subterranean tunnel under the River Euphrates connecting these two palaces, its perfect arrangement for convenience, ornament, and defense, and its unlimited resources–this city, containing in itself many things which were themselves wonders of the world, was itself another and still mightier wonder.” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 41-43.

Babylon’s glory, decline, and fall

6. What expressions did the prophet Isaiah employ to describe Babylon’s glory?
Isaiah 13:19, first part And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency….

“There, with the whole earth prostate at her feet, a queen in peerless grandeur, drawing from the pen of inspiration itself this glowing title, ‘The glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency,’ stood this city, fit capital of that kingdom which was represented by the golden head of this great historic image.

“Such was Babylon, with Nebuchadnezzar in the prime of life, bold, vigorous, and accomplished, seated upon its throne, when Daniel entered within its walls to serve as a captive in its gorgeous palaces for seventy years. There the children of the Lord, oppressed more than cheered by the glory and prosperity of the land of their captivity, hung their harps on the willows by the Euphrates, and wept when they remembered Zion.” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p. 43.

7. With what words did he outline the future of this glorious city? How long did the Babylonian Empire last?
Isaiah 13:19-22 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

“In the first year of Neriglissar, only two years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, broke out that fatal war between the Babylonians and the Medes, which resulted in the overthrow of the Babylonian kingdom…. According to all human calculation, they had good ground for their feelings of security. Never, weighed in the balance of earthly probability, could that city be taken with the means of warfare then known. Hence they breathed as freely and slept as soundly as though no foe were waiting and watching around their beleaguered walls. But God had decreed that the proud and wicked city should come down from her throne of glory. And when He speaks, what mortal arm can defeat His word?

“… In the drunken revelry of that fatal night, these river gates were left open,… The entrance of the Persian soldiers was not perceived…. Thus the first empire, symbolized by the head of gold of the great image, came to an ignoble end.” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 44, 45, 47, 48.

“In the unexpected entry of the army of the Persian conqueror into the heart of the Babylonian capital by way of the channel of the river whose waters had been turned aside, and through the inner gates that in careless security had been left open and unprotected, the Jews had abundant evidence of the literal fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the sudden overthrow of their oppressors.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 552. After dominating the world for only a short time, from 606 to 538 B.C., the Babylonian Empire came to its end.

For personal study

• Isaiah chapters 13, 14, 47.

• Jeremiah chapters 50, 51.

• Daniel 5:1-31.

Prophets and Kings, pp. 514, 535.