8. Nebuchadnezzar’s First Dream

By John Thiel, Lessons from the Life of Nebuchadnezzar Conference, Study 8, mp3

God touched Nebuchadnezzar by displaying before him the faithfulness and intelligence and power of God in the lives of the four young princes. Nebuchadnezzar had a sensitivity by which he could recognise that these young men were special. Unconscious to him, he was actually recognising the image of God in them. He had trained them for those three years thinking that they were eating of the king’s meat, thinking that by giving them the names of his gods, they would be strategically influenced to lose their faith. But these young men were used of God to outwit this strategic man. God had conditioned Nebuchadnezzar’s mind and paved the way for the next step to impact his heart by using Daniel in a very meaningful manner.

Daniel and his three friends were at this stage in a very lofty position among all the wise men of Babylon, among the wisest of the empire. God had set the stage by His direct intervention so that He could now come with the next step. What was this next step? We are watching God at work. This is the next step by which God is working in the life of Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 2:1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.

Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream. He was troubled with regards to this dream, so he thought, I have to get this clear.

Daniel 2:2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. 3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. 4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. 5 The 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.

Then they remonstrated with him, “Oh king, this is not fair, we can interpret a dream but we can’t tell you the dream that you had.”

Daniel 2:11 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. 12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise [men] of Babylon. 13 And the decree went forth that the wise [men] should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

We see here a very interesting scenario of events which is orchestrated once again by the God whom we worship. We see God at work in a world of sin and idolatry, where only threats of destruction and bewildering perplexities are exposed through the circumstances of life. Here God’s intervention and His faithful people would be exposed. In these complications of human activity, there is a hand that leads the complicated movements.

Ezekiel 10:8 And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man’s hand under their wings. 9 And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels [was] as the colour of a beryl stone. 10 And [as for] their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel. 11 When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.

There were these wheels within wheels, and the hand of a man was coming from underneath the wings of the angels and conducted those wheels.

As the wheellike complications were under the guidance of the hand beneath the wings of the cherubim, so the complicated play of human events is under divine control. Amidst the strife and tumult of nations, He that sitteth above the cherubim still guides the affairs of the earth. {Ed 178.1}

We have this unpleasant circumstance in which Daniel and his friends find themselves at this time. They have just been taken through captivity under the control of Nebuchadnezzar, in a strange land, away from home, who knows whether or not their parents were slain. Horrible scenes. Now, after they had been honoured so much by God and by Nebuchadnezzar, there is a death threat. It just doesn’t stop. Things get worse to all appearances. But God is conducting these complications. Remember this when these sorts of things happen to you. Remember how the Lord has been leading us in the past, and as we come to these perplexing circumstances, remember the lives of these captives. It was just like, Everything is fine now; and next comes this terrible experience: a threat of being killed.

God gave a dream to Nebuchadnezzar and then He takes it back from him so that he doesn’t remember. A very beautiful activity. God gives him a dream and takes it away from him. It was something to pave the way for God to operate.

Daniel 2:5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me:

“Because the thing is gone from me, you better tell me what the dream was. And they were right, weren’t they? You are asking an impossibility here.

Daniel 2:8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.

The king is waking up to something. He is discovering that these wise men of his were not really as capable as what he had thought they were. He says, “If you are really these people who can be magicians and astrologers, you should be able to tell me my dream as well as the interpretation thereof.” He says, “You are just trying to bide your time, aren’t you? You are just trying to argue with me, and say how stupid I am for suggesting that you can tell me this. Well, I am not stupid; you are the ones that are the magicians. Come on, tell me.” Can you see that this man is a very shrewd operator?

The historic events related in the king’s dream were of consequence to him; but the dream was taken from him, {FE 412.1}

What did God do here? He gave him a dream and then took it away. What for?

…that the wise men by their claimed understanding of mysteries, should not place upon it a false interpretation. {FE 412.1}

Here comes an interesting thought. You know what it’s like today; people are interpreting the Scriptures all the time, putting a false interpretation on things. Here God is showing something very interesting. The false interpretations must be made obvious. In Nebuchadnezzar’s situation God orchestrated it in such a way that Nebuchadnezzar could discover, there is something here.

Isn’t it true that there are people out there who are honest-hearted, and they can begin to see, these religious leaders are actually hoodwinking us. This is what Nebuchadnezzar is recognising.

The lessons taught in it were given by God for those who live in our day. {FE 412.1}

What we are looking at is a lesson for our day.

The inability of the wise men to tell the dream, is a representation of the wise men of the present day, who have not discernment and learning and knowledge from the Most High, and therefore are unable to understand the prophecies. The most learned in the world’s lore, who are not watching to hear what God says in His word, and opening their hearts to receive that word and give it to others, are not representatives of His. It is not the great and learned men of the earth, kings and nobles, who will receive the truth unto eternal life, though it will be brought to them. {FE 412.1}

Although the truth is given in the word of God and is brought to them, they are not able to comprehend it. Here is the description of that in these Chaldeans. This is the lesson from Nebuchadnezzar’s experience for us today. As they are saying, “Just a moment Nebuchadnezzar, you are asking an impossibility from us; please, tell us the dream, then we can interpret it for you;” God is at work to show them up. In the same way He is at work to show up the people who claim to be wise teachers today.

Daniel 2:5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: 6 But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. 7 They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it.

Look at his sharp mind:

Daniel 2:8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. 9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, [there is but] one decree for you:

This is what he concludes:

Daniel 2:9 …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.

Can you see his smart mind? He said if you can tell me the dream, then I can trust your interpretation; but you are biding time here. I’ve trusted you to tell me these things, but you have been preparing lies for me.” Is this not exactly what the teachers of today’s denominations are doing? They are preparing lies; and the genuine person, although they are not Christians, they can see, There is something wrong here. This is Nebuchadnezzar, he says, You’ve been lying to me, I have a decree for you. Because he was king he said, I am going to kill you all.

Nebuchadnezzar began to see that the men whom he trusted to reveal mysteries through their boasted wisdom, failed him in his great perplexity, and he said, “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. The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king’s matter. . . . It is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there in none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” {FE 410.2}

Daniel 2:12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise [men] of Babylon.

Observe this other side of Nebuchadnezzar again. Can you see the interplay of his smartness, his wisdom, and at the same time of his passion of the natural heart? Nebuchadnezzar was a passionate, hasty individual, and his kingly response is, I shall make this decree and kill you. He was furious, he was passionate. As much as he was furious with the fallen house of Judah, he was now wild with his wise men.

Our God is, and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Daniel sought the Lord when the decree went forth to slay all the wise men of the kingdom of Babylon because they could not relate or interpret a dream which had gone from the king’s mind. Nebuchadnezzar demanded not only the interpretation of the dream, but the relation of the dream itself. If the wise men would supply this, he would accept it as a proof of their claim as magicians and astrologers. The magicians were full of fear and trembling. They declared that the request of the king was something unreasonable, and the test beyond that which had ever been required of any man. The king became furious, and acted like all men who have great power and uncontrollable passions. {YI, November 22, 1894 par. 1}

This is the heathen king: uncontrollable passions. Cross his path, go contrary to what he believers, and look out. This is the natural heart. We are examining what we would do in the object lesson. Do we get uncontrollably passionate sometimes? This is the natural heart.

He decided that every one of them should be put to death, and as Daniel and his fellows were numbered with the wise men, they also were to share this fate. This manner of action is what we may expect from men who are in high authority, and are controlled by unholy passion. {YI, November 22, 1894 par. 1}

That is what we can expect even today. Can we see the lessons coming forth here? In this intense moment, through the revelation of the dream and the taking of it away from the king and the revealing of the lying powers of these magicians, God is laying the foundation for a most profound and powerful exposure of Himself to King Nebuchadnezzar. God uses this occasion by placing Daniel and his three friends into jeopardy, causing them to go to God, Help! I love the picture that is developing. You actually see that the children of God are pleading with Him for help, but God is right behind the scene. The hand is behind the complications.

Daniel 2:13 And the decree went forth that the wise [men] should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. 14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise [men] of Babylon: 15 He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why [is] the decree [so] hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.

Daniel didn’t even know what was going on, Why are we supposed to die? What is going on? Do you notice this personality of Daniel? He answered “with counsel and wisdom to Arioch.” Because he came across in this beautiful meek and humble way, the captain of the king’s guard was prepared to talk with him. It is very important to handle with care the people in authority.

Daniel 2:16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king the interpretation.

Now the church comes together – the church: twos and threes, wherever Jesus is:

Daniel 2:17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: 18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise [men] of Babylon.

There was a threat. Here was the church of God, a group of faithful people, in danger, and they come together and plead with God. God is right behind the whole thing. We are given an insight here, that certain things that happen and threaten us are many times orchestrated by God so that we would come earnestly before Him and seek Him for help, as these young men were doing. As they were praying and pleading with God for help,

Daniel 2:19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

What am I supposed to do Lord? And lo and behold, through the night the whole picture comes up before me. This is what the Lord does for people who cry for Him to help.

Daniel 2:20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 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: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things:

Does that ring a bell? It is a mystery. He reveals mysteries.

Daniel 2:22 …he knoweth what [is] in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. 23 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.

Put yourself in the situation. Threat of death; Lord, please help; trusting in the Lord, having prayed together in the church, and now what a relief, the Lord has given the answer. It is very important that we take this testimony to our hearts. The explanation is then given. He comes to the king and relates the dream:

Daniel 2:31 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. 32 This image’s head [was] of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 34 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. 35 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. 36 This [is] the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.

I have often been caught out where I was speaking about what I wanted to say, but I said “we”. And people sometimes looked at me and said, “We”? It’s you, isn’t it? No, it’s we: the Lord and I; and the Lord and the church. It’s we, it’s not ourselves.

Daniel 2:37 Thou, O king, [art] a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.

Daniel then goes on to explain the whole vision of the image as the king saw it, and what it represented; the four empires that would follow one after the other. We are not ignorant of this. Then, when he came to the whole conclusion of that, he said,

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings [at the bottom of the image, the feet, the mixture of clay and iron] 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 for ever. 45 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.

God had shown the king. Consider this. God would reveal this prophecy to a heathen king. Prophets are God’s servants, aren’t they? But here God is giving Nebuchadnezzar, the heathen king, a prophetic dream. Wow. God must have seen something in him so that He could do this. It was all for one grand purpose, especially for us today.

Through the Hebrew captives the Lord was made known to the heathen in Babylon. This idolatrous nation was given a knowledge of the kingdom the Lord was to establish, and through His power maintain against all the power and craft of Satan. Daniel and his fellow-companions, Ezra and Nehemiah, and many others were witnesses for God in their captivity. The Lord scattered them among the kingdoms of the earth that their light might shine brightly amid the black darkness of heathenism and idolatry. To Daniel God revealed the light of His purposes, which had been hidden for many generations. He chose that Daniel should see in vision the light of His truth, and reflect this light on the proud kingdom of Babylon. On the despot king was permitted to flash light from the throne of God. {4BC 1169.3}

To the despot king light was given from the throne of God.

Nebuchadnezzar was shown that the God of heaven was ruler over all the monarchs and kings of earth. His name was to go forth as the God over all gods. God desired Nebuchadnezzar to understand that the rulers of earthly kingdoms had a ruler in the heavens. {4BC 1169.3}

Nebuchadnezzar, this despot king, was favoured by God to be shown these amazing, prophetic pictures. We know today that when we go and share with the people of the world these prophetic descriptions of the events of the world history, what we are showing to them is actually what was shown to a despot king. It was God showing it to this king Nebuchadnezzar.

The Lord was working in the Babylonian kingdom, communicating light to the four Hebrew captives, that He might represent His work before the people. He would reveal that He had power over the kingdoms of the world, to set up kings and to throw down kings. The King over all kings was communicating great truth to the king of Babylon, awakening in his mind a sense of his responsibility to God. He saw the contrast between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the most learned men in his kingdom. {FE 411.2}

He saw the contrast. Our mind is being carefully illuminated here to consider that God had Nebuchadnezzar in favour to use him as an agent through which all the nations of the world could be illuminated. It was not a representation from a religious source. It was a representation from a heathen source; but it was God who gave the vision to this heathen person. We see this beautiful way by which God was making inroads. What God had given to the king was affecting his mind, so that he, King Nebuchadnezzar, would realise the responsibility that he, as a king, had to his King who was over him. How did Nebuchadnezzar respond when this became clear to him that Daniel’s God knew the dream and the interpretation thereof; when he saw that the God of the Hebrews was greater than all the gods that he was worshipping?

Daniel 2:46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.

Here was the king of a world empire falling from his throne on his face, and worshipping.

Daniel 2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, 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. 48 Then 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. 49 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.

The heart of Nebuchadnezzar did not now behave like an unbeliever. Now God had touched the secret chambers of his heart, and touched him to give God glory. He fell down and worshipped. “Your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings.” He was touched to the core. Mark this.Nebuchadnezzar was struck deep so that he fell on his face. He was deeply convinced, deeply convicted.

Nebuchadnezzar felt that he could accept this interpretation as a divine revelation; for to Daniel had been revealed every detail of the dream. The solemn truths conveyed by the interpretation of this vision of the night made a deep impression on the sovereign’s mind, and in humility and awe he “fell upon his face, and worshipped.” . . . {4BC 1169.1}

Nebuchadnezzar saw clearly the difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the most learned men of his kingdom (YI Sept. 8, 1903). {4BC 1169.2}

He saw clearly. It is very important. He saw clearly what the wise men of today don’t see, because he opened his heart and humbled himself. That was a humiliating thing to do. He is sitting on his throne and he goes flat on his face, because he is convicted, and overwhelmed. The genuine integrity of this man says, “Here is a truly wise man. I have already been convinced beforehand that these young men were extra-bright, but this is more than natural.” So he promotes them into those high positions.

Daniel’s exposition of the dream given by God to the king, resulted in his receiving honor and dignity. “… Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king,”–a place where judgment was dispensed, and his three companions were made counselors, judges, and rulers in the midst of the land. These men were not puffed up with vanity, but they saw and rejoiced that God was recognized above all earthly potentates, and that His kingdom was extolled above all earthly kingdoms. {FE 412.2}

There is nothing wrong with God’s church being very happy and very proud of their God. There is nothing wrong with that. They are not proud of themselves, but they rejoice of what God can do, and they are uplifted into high esteem, but not in their own eyes. This is another important lesson that when God’s people relate correctly to the authorities and the authorities promote them, they will remain humble because they know that it has been God, not them.

These events made a large impression upon Nebuchadnezzar’s mind. Nebuchadnezzar was deeply convinced; he fell upon his face. I want you to think for a moment. When was it in your experience that you were deeply convinced about something, that your soul thrilled within you, that you thought, “This is wonderful”? You gave your heart to the Lord maybe in the same sort of expression as Nebuchadnezzar did. Powerful convictions, sincere commitment, making changes to what we were used to doing because of the commitment and the conviction that strikes us. Then think back when you had those convictions and made those changes, and then, after a period of time, did you still feel the same powerful convictions? Or had it diminished a little? What are the words to the church in Ephesus? “I have something against you.” What? “That you have lost your first love.” That is what happens to church people as much as it did to Nebuchadnezzar. So deeply convicted, so full of the love of what the Lord had shown him, and what happens after a period of time? What do we learn of ourselves by looking at Nebuchadnezzar?

The king had acknowledged the power of God, saying to Daniel, “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, . . . and a revealer of secrets.” Verse 47. For a time afterward, Nebuchadnezzar was influenced by the fear of God; but his heart was not yet cleansed from worldly ambition and a desire for self-exaltation. The prosperity attending his reign filled him with pride. In time he ceased to honor God, and resumed his idol worship with increased zeal and bigotry. {PK 503.2}

How can that be? He has been deeply impressed and he drifted away from that impression overtime. “For a time afterward, Nebuchadnezzar was influenced by the fear of God;” but there was still a condition within that wasn’t completely changed. Here we have this amazing appreciation, that a natural heart can be deeply impressed by God, but a deep impression and a deep conviction is not lasting; it has to be reignited again, and again. What Nebuchadnezzar started to do is that “he ceased to honor God, and resumed his idol worship with increased zeal and bigotry.” That is what happened. We will go into the detail of how he went back into idolatry after such a powerful revelation and conviction.

Here we have the lessons to learn about ourselves. We are as prone as Nebuchadnezzar to have a deep conviction and then to have the natural heart come in and drift us away from that. We will continue to let the word of God unfold to us how God has to work with us as He did with Nebuchadnezzar, to finally make us come through as gold. May the Lord help us to keep our mind on track as step by step we go through this revelation of the lessons from Nebuchadnezzar.


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Posted on 21/02/2015, in Nebuchadnezzar - Lessons from the Life of (2014 Conference) and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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