Daniel and his companions entered the service of the king of Babylon,
events occurred that revealed to an idolatrous nation the power and
faithfulness of the God of Israel. 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.
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."
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."
wise men returned the answer, "Let the king tell his servants the
dream, and we will show the interpretation of it."
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."
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
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."
"the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all
the wise men of Babylon."
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.
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
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.
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 reasons: 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."
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third
kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
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.
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
themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another,
even as iron is not mixed with clay."
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 this secret."
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
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."
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
and in the same degree, assured to every nation and to every individual
under the broad heavens.
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.
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
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
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.
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 4:27.
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 2:21.
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