An Ancient King's Dream

Introduction

Many people consider belief in God to be an escape into fantasy, for those who need a "crutch", the down-and-out, or the naive. Professed Christians are often unable to explain their belief to those seeking real proof of God's existence. "God does not condescend to be proven," they may say. Or, "He must be accepted by faith." But the word "faith" in the Bible does not mean BLIND FAITH in something for which there is no evidence. There is CONCRETE EVIDENCE in the Bible that God really does exist!

Ancient prophecies of future world events, accurately fulfilled, are among the best evidences available to modern man for the existence of God. But very few really understand the great prophecies that God has given. In these pages you can explore a remarkable prophecy. None of the "supermarket psychics" have ever come close to this one. Most of it has been fulfilled, and we can look back to see if it was accurate. A small portion has yet to take place. Could it happen in your lifetime and mine? Does this prophecy hold the key to our future? History says it does!

The setting of the prophecy is Babylon, magnificent city of the ancient world. Its "Hanging Gardens" have been included in the "7 wonders of the world." Although it lay in ruins for many centuries, archaeologists have now uncovered much of the city. King Nebuchadnezzar's name is clearly stamped on many of the bricks that built the massive walls and huge buildings. Among other discoveries has been the palace hall where the king most likely heard the interpretation of his dream. Babylon was a real city and Nebuchadnezzar was a real king. The prophecy, as we shall see, is just as sure!

The Story

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem in 605 BC. Among the captives taken to Babylon was a young man (probably in his teens) named Daniel. Sometime later, Nebuchadnessar experienced a strange dream, a dream that troubled him deeply. But most disconcerting of all, he could not recall the details of the dream. It was not by accident. God had chosen a time and place to reveal the course of world empire down to the very end of the world.

Though unaware of God's activity, it is not surprising that Nebuchadnezzar could be so upset by a dream that he would be awakened from his sleep. Dreams were considered an important source of knowledge about the future and the king was very interested in the future. Nebuchadnezzar was very young king in very new kingdom. It was less than ten years since his father had defeated the Assyrians and ended their 300 year rule. In the year of his father's death, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, making Babylon the most powerful empire on earth. But Egypt was still a strong nation, and there was always the internal threat of someone attempting to seize the throne. Tablets dug from the ruins of Babylon reveal that Nebuchadnezzar intended to forge an empire that would stand FOREVER. No wonder he became preoccupied with a dream that could hold the secret to his future dreams and aspirations!

To Unlock the Meaning of the Dream

Answer the questions using Chapter 2 of the Book of Daniel. Texts containing the answers are contained in parentheses. The "Helps and hints" will give you ideas, but they are not the last word. Be satisfied yourself of what the bible says, and means. The history of Babylon as recorded by modern historians can be found in most any public library.

1.

Who did the king call to interpret his dream? Daniel 2:2.

Helps and hints: Most royal courts of the day supported people claiming supernatural powers and the ability to foretell the future. A modern example would be Ho Chi Mihn, who is known to have kept a personal staff of astrologers. Developed in Babylon, astrology exists in very much the same form as it originated.

2.

What two things did the king demand of the "wise men?"

Helps and hints: The "wise men" twice requested to be told the dream so they could give the interpretation. They were doubtless accustomed to fabricating vague and ambiguous interpretations, much like modern-day astrologers. Nebuchadnezzar's request would test their real supernatural abilities.

3.

Why did the "wise men" think the king was unreasonable?

Helps and hints: By claiming that the king's request was too difficult for them, the "wise men" were openly admitting the weakness of their own "supernatural powers." Nebuchadnezzar himself may have had little confidence in them anyway, viewing them as normal court "furnishings." But challenged by the supernatural, they were all he had to turn to. He demanded that they prove themselves.

4.

What decree did Nebuchadnezzar make concerning the "wise men?"

Helps and hints: Why would Daniel and his friends be included in this decree? Nebuchadnezzar had taken these boys captive when he conquered Jerusalem in 605 B.C. The first chapter of Daniel tells how Nebuchadnezzar selected them out for service in the royal court. They were made apprentices to the "wise men." Only the experienced men were called to presence of the king, but all were subject to the decree.

5.

What did Daniel request of the king?

Helps and hints: Though accusing the "wise men" of stalling, the king granted Daniel's request for time, possibly impressed with his confidence and sincerity.

6.

How did Daniel discover the secret of the dream?

Helps and hints: Through Daniel, God wanted to reveal Himself to Nebuchadnezzar. he would have all earthly rulers acknowledge him, and rule their kingdoms wisely. Many do not, but that will not defeat God's purposes, as we shall see.

7.

How did Daniel describe the statue?

  • Head of _____________
  • Breast and arms of ____________________
  • Thighs of _______________________
  • Legs of ________________________
  • Feet partly _________________ and partly _______________

  • 8.

    How do we know the statue was intended to be a prophecy of the future?

    9.

    What did Daniel say was represented by the head of gold?

    Helps and hints: Gold was a fitting symbol for the Babylonian empire. Most Babylonians were superstitious and devoted to idol worship. The city's ruins contain no less than 53 temples, 955 sanctuaries, and 384 street altars. All were at one time lavishly adorned with gold, possibly the greatest accumulation of that precious metal in the ancient world.

    10.

    What kingdom followed Babylon to become the arms and chest of silver?

  • Turkey
  • Egypt
  • Medo-Persia
  • Arabia

  • Helps and hints: Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon lasted only 70 years before Cyrus led his army of Medes and Persians west to overthrow the city and empire. The mighty Medo-Persian empire dominated the world for the next 200 years.

    11.

    Who followed Medo-Persia to become the belly and thighs of brass?

  • Egypt
  • Greece
  • Ethiopia
  • Rome

  • Helps and hints: When Alexander the Great united Greece and marched east, he conquered Medo-Persia and then the entire civilized world in ten years. The metal sometimes translated "brass" was really bronze. The alloy brass was unknown in Alexander's day. The Greeks wore bronze armor and helmets, and their spear tips and other weapons were made of bronze. The Egyptians nicknamed them the "bronze men." Alexander's empire was divided among his generals when he died, lasting until each piece was finally absorbed by the next world empire.

    12.

    What kingdom followed Greece to become the legs of iron?

  • Crete
  • Turkey
  • India
  • Rome
  • The Saracens

  • Helps and hints: the power that overcame Greece was Rome, lasting until nearly 500 years after the birth of Christ. The Romans popularized the use of iron.

    13.

    What kingdom followed Rome, symbolized by the iron and clay?

  • Ottoman Turks
  • China
  • European Nations
  • Vikings

  • Helps and hints: Rome was not conquered by another empire as such. Barbarian tribes from Asia and Eastern Europe overran the internally weakened empire and deposed the last emperor in 476 A.D. Territories occupied by these tribes roughly correspond to the present European nations. The ten major tribes (ten toes) are identified by many historians as: Alemanni, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Suevi, Burgundians, Heruli, Anglo-Saxons, Lombards, Franks, and Vandals.

    14.

    How were these pieces to unite once again?

    Helps and hints: According to Daniel, they would not. He said, "they shall not cleave one to another." For 1400 years, no one has united Europe under one rule. Charlemagne, Charles V, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolf Hitler: all these tried and failed. It is said that during World Way I, Kaiser Wilhelm was confronted with Daniel's prophecy and warned that he would fail in his objective to conquer Europe. His reported answer was, "I cannot accept it. It does not fit in with my plans." It didn't fit Hitler's plans either, but he was doomed to failure before he began. The European nations exist today. The prophecy holds true.

    15. What was predicted as the next world empire among men?

    Helps and hints: Divided Europe is the last condition mentioned in the prophecy before God sets up His kingdom. No other kingdom among men is named: not Russia, the United States, or even Red China.

    16. What brought an end to the image?

    Helps and hints: Notice that God's kingdom is not represented on the image. Only the kingdoms of MAN are represented on the statue (the statue of a MAN). The kingdom of God is represented as a stone cut out "without hands". In other words, this kingdom is not built by the hands of men.

    17.

    How long will God's kingdom last?

    18.

    How does the prophecy describe the coming of God's kingdom?

  • Suddenly, with power
  • Silently and gradually
  • It is already here on this earth

  • Helps and hints: Men and women can belong spiritually to God's kingdom now, but the physical establishment of this kingdom will come after the kingdoms of men have demonstrated their character. Some have said that mankind will improve both morally and physically till the 2nd Coming of Christ. Notice in the dream how the relative value of the metals decreased rather than increased. Notice also that the stone landed only on the feet of the image. The statue represents the time line of human history. The rock falls at the end of the time line. When it does, all the kingdoms of men will disappear forever. God will rule the universe in peace for all eternity.

    19.

    Does the Bible give us any more information about the stone?

    Helps and hints: The image of a stone or a rock is used often in the Bible to represent God in general or Jesus Christ in specific. Speaking of those who left Egypt under Moses, Paul said, ""for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4. One important passage concerning the "stone" is the statement of Jesus himself in Matthew 21:44: "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." Jesus is speaking to the Jewish leaders, warning them that all who do not allow their hearts to be broken in repentance, will be ground to powder with the kingdoms of men at the end of this earth's history. When the stone landed on the feet of the image, the statue became "like the chaff" (crushed wheat husks) and they were blown away by the wind. Jesus told the high priest that he would return in the clouds with power. In this way, he clearly taught the prophecy of Daniel chapter 2 as a prophecy of His 2nd Coming!

    What Does It All Mean?

    600 years before Jesus was born, God foretold the course of human empire up to the 2nd Coming. It has all happened as predicted, except for the climax. If no more were said of these things in the Bible, it is enough for us to know that God DOES exist and that He IS in control. But this outline appears again, in more detail, with even more astounding information about the future for anyone who wants to know.

    Nebuchadnezzar Challenges God's Interpretation:

    (Daniel, Chapter 3)

    Nebuchadnezzar was deeply impressed by the interpretation of his dream. But some time later, he forgot the power of the experience he'd had. He set up an enormous golden statue on the Plain of Dura. Unlike the statue in his dream, this one was ALL of GOLD, indicating that he was still determined to forge a kingdom that would last forever. Not only was this a direct challenge to God's interpretation of human history, but Nebuchadnezzar forced everyone to bow down and worship his image on pain of death. He made himself of greater authority than the God of heaven!

    All bowed down to Nebuchadnezzar's image except for three Hebrew boys. Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a "burning, fiery, furnace." This was undoubtedly one of the large brick kilns that burned day and night outside the walls of Babylon. These kilns fired the bricks that built the massive city, whose walls were 90 feet high and more than 50 feet thick! To be cast into one of these furnaces would be an unhappy fate for any who dared to disobey the king.

    But Nebuchadnezzar was in for a surprise. When he looked into the furnace, he saw the boys walking unharmed, escorted by one who appeared to be the Son of God. Nebuchadnezzar gave them a place of honor in his kingdom and forbid anyone to speak against their God on pain of death. He demonstrated that while he was now convinced of the EXISTENCE of God, he still knew little of God's CHARACTER. God does not force anyone to worship. He has given mankind the freedom of choice to acknowledge His existence and enter into a relationship with Him, or to reject Him.

    What Happened To Nebuchadnezzar ?

    (Daniel, Chapter 4)

    Chapter 4 of Daniel tells how Nebuchadnezzar even once more chose to reject God and lift himself up in pride. His experience is given to teach us the important difference between believing ABOUT God (even that He really exists), and believing IN God. Believing ABOUT God is not enough. The apostle James says: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." James 2:19. Believing ABOUT God is necessary, but it cannot grant us a place in His kingdom. The apostle Paul says, "the just shall live by faith." Romans 1:17. "Faith" is not only believing ABOUT God. It is believing IN Him. God gives us sufficient evidence to believe ABOUT Him. He also tells us that we will not benefitted unless we believe IN Him. But as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, the choice is left with us. The end of chapter 4 indicates that the once proud king finally came to that realization and made his choice to believe IN God. The lesson is for all of us. It is no easier for any of us to humble our proud hearts than it was for this powerful pagan monarch. But the reward is the same; an eternal life of peace and happiness in God's kingdom! As the apostle Paul tells us:

    "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9



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