12 Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream

By John Thiel, Lessons from the Life of Nebuchadnezzar Conference, Audio: mp3

Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Nebuchadnezzar was blessed so richly, and yet he forgot the blessings that were poured upon him and he ascribed it all to himself. We are admonished in this reading to realise that the blessings we have experienced from the Lord, that He has forgiven us for our iniquities in the past – and we know He has – we must not forget when we come into other circumstances which make us think that, Although I have had such a wonderful experience at my earlier conversion, now I feel completely dejected and hopeless. He does not forget us and we must not forget Him.

After years of God’s manifestation to Nebuchadnezzar, one would think that he would never forget, but such is sinful, human nature that it is easily taken off its track of what it has experienced. We become side-tracked into so many other avenues, so that what we have learned we quickly unlearn again, or lose.

In the providence of God, Nebuchadnezzar was given ample opportunity to ascribe to the Lord the glory for the splendor of his reign. {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 6}

He was given plenty of opportunity to ascribe to the Lord the glory for the splendour of his reign. The principle is not just remembering the Lord; it is remembering His blessings. Nebuchadnezzar had plenty of opportunity like we have.

And for a time after the vision of the great image, he acknowledged God as supreme. Falling back into idolatrous habits, he was again, by the miraculous deliverance of the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace, led to acknowledge that God’s “kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.” But once more the king perverted the warnings God had given him, and turned aside from the path of humility to follow the imaginations of his naturally proud heart. {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 6}

We really want to pick up on the principles which here are laid out. We are not talking generally about forgetting about God; we wouldn’t forget about God would we? No. But can we forget His benefits? Can we forget what Nebuchadnezzar forgot, that the glory that God had given him was from God and not from himself? Can we pervert some of the warnings we have received in the past and fall back into some of our old ways? Once more the king had done it, even after the furnace experience. What happened? The imaginations of his naturally proud heart carried him away.

Thinking that his kingdom should be more extensive and powerful than any that would follow, {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 6}

This time he didn’t build an image. What did he do?

…he made great additions to the city of Babylon, and gave himself up to a life of pleasure and self-glorification. Of this time he himself says: “I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace.” {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 6}

He had it good. The concept that his kingdom should be weakened in any way, he worked so hard to prevent from happening by enlarging and consolidating it all the more. The natural heart is at work.

We ask the question, what is it that causes people to lose their sharp sensitivity to the overtures of God’s blessings and spiritual effect? How can it be that it can be lost? What can we learn from Nebuchadnezzar? How we can lose those impressions that have once affected us and then become a little Laodicean again? We have the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy by which we can understand how this happens to us just as it happened to him.

As he added nation after nation to the Babylonian realm, he added more and more to his fame as the greatest ruler of the age. {SS 267.2}

What was he doing? He was going forth and occupying his time, Bringing more nations under his realm, and extending the city. Spending time doing this, occupying his mind in that direction.

It was not surprising that the successful, proud-spirited monarch should be tempted to turn aside from the path of humility, which alone leads to true greatness. {SS 267.3}

What leads to true greatness? Humility.

Between his wars of conquest he gave much thought to the strengthening and beautifying of his capital, until the city of Babylon became “the golden city,” “the praise of the whole earth.” Isaiah 14:4; Jeremiah 51:41. His success in making Babylon one of the wonders of the world ministered to his pride, until he was in grave danger of spoiling his record as a ruler whom God could continue to use. {SS 267.3}

We see him occupying his mind and his thoughts with enlarging his empire and making his city more beautiful. Imagine going and conquering nations these are big enterprises and building a city, that is a big enterprise. Lots of mind occupation. But although he had these powerful revelations of God in his life, he was being occupied in his mind on other things so that he could quickly lose those impressions. Besides that, as he was enriching the glory of his kingdom, the temptation came for his proud heart to come back into function again, thinking, “Look at this, this is so wonderful. I have done this.”

Jesus gives us some wonderful light on this matter of occupying our mind and our time and our efforts in different areas which overflow our minds so that we forget the impressions that we had once received. He relates the parable of the seed that is sown and the different ways by which it is lost and this is one of those:

Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

That which we have gained in His word and which has given us a beautiful conversion and experiences, all of a sudden things come in that crowd out those mental exercises and we think of everything else but the memory of Jesus. 

Jesus specifically gives us this counsel:

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares.

We forget. This is what happened to Nebuchadnezzar. He was overcharged with enlarging his kingdom. His mind was occupied with enlarging it so that it could become consolidated and that it wouldn’t fall. That is what he was hoping.

There is much written in reference to what Jesus said of the cares of this life – cares that are so essential, especially in today’s circumstances. So much is crowded into the mind in this fast age. How is it possible to lose the impressions just like Nebuchadnezzar did?

No class is free from the temptation to worldly care. To the poor, toil and deprivation and the fear of want bring perplexities and burdens. To the rich come fear of loss and a multitude of anxious cares. {COL 51.2} 

Wasn’t that the case with Nebuchadnezzar? He had a fear that his kingdom would lose somewhere so he was pumping his mind to prevent that from happening. Are we Christ’s followers?

Many of Christ’s followers forget the lesson He has bidden us learn from the flowers of the field. They do not trust to His constant care. {COL 51.2} 

They forget, they do not trust to His constant care.

Christ cannot carry their burden, because they do not cast it upon Him. {COL 51.2} 

Have you ever caught yourself doing that? There is this concern and that fear, and that financial problem, and this and that and the other thing, and I am anxious; I am filled with concern and you can’t just forget about it. You’ve got to work hard to try and keep it, to save yourself from financial problems. So we forget that God takes care of the flowers. Can’t He take care of us? We do no cast our burden upon Him, we carry it.

Therefore the cares of life, which should drive them to the Saviour for help and comfort, separate them from Him. {COL 51.2} 

What should our cares do? They should drive us to Him. But no; we get so occupied with the burdens of the cares and the anxieties associated with that that our mind is oppressed; we become frustrated with this or that, and Jesus is at a distance; we are not trusting Him. O that the Lord would help us to get hold of this principle. You have no idea how much I see this happening around me all the time. There is a crush look on the face that tells me, You are not at peace. There is this anxious look that tells me, “No trust in God! I am carrying this burden myself.” This is the path that Jesus is trying to help us not to go down into.

Many who might be fruitful in God’s service become bent on acquiring wealth. Their whole energy is absorbed in business enterprises, and they feel obliged to neglect things of a spiritual nature. {COL 51.3} 

What do they feel obliged to do? “To neglect things of a spiritual nature.” Obliged, because I’ve got this business to take care of. That is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar was doing.

Thus they separate themselves from God. We are enjoined in the Scriptures to be “not slothful in business.” Romans 12:11. We are to labor that we may impart to him who needs. Christians must work, they must engage in business, and they can do this without committing sin. But many become so absorbed in business that they have no time for prayer, no time for the study of the Bible, no time to seek and serve God. At times the longings of the soul go out for holiness and heaven; but there is no time to turn aside from the din of the world to listen to the majestic and authoritative utterances of the Spirit of God. {COL 51.3} 

As we saw in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, God came to him in great authoritative majesty, but then he had no more time for that, to continue in the memory of it, and then he lost it; and so do we. Then we wonder, Why have I lost something I had? Have you ever experienced that? You had something, and then you lost it, and you wondered why. Here is the reason.

The things of eternity are made subordinate, the things of the world supreme. It is impossible for the seed of the word to bring forth fruit; for the life of the soul is given to nourish the thorns of worldliness. {COL 51.3}

And many who are working with a very different purpose, fall into a like error. {COL 52.1}

We work and we occupy ourselves with something a little bit better than just the cares of riches.

They are working for others’ good; their duties are pressing, their responsibilities are many, and they allow their labor to crowd out devotion. {COL 52.1}

Isn’t it right for us to work for the good of others? But what happens? It is another error. We become so wrapped up to work for the good of others, we become so pressed with duties, that to take time to be holy is crowded out. I want us to think very carefully on how that actually happens.

We should be ready for the Sabbath when it comes shouldn’t we? But then, so many duties, so many things that we are doing, and even on the Friday, when we should be devoting ourselves to the cause of getting ready for Sabbath, so many other things crowd in, and we go rush, rush, rush to the last minute, and then we are so overcrowded that our mind cannot even absorb the deep, gentle and beautiful influences of the Holy Spirit, because the mind has been crowded. That is just an example. There are so many examples of this nature.

With the responsibilities that press upon us because we are doing others good, and because we want to make them happy, we forget our own need.

Communion with God through prayer and a study of His word is neglected. {COL 52.1}

Why are we supposed to have communion with God in the study of His word? Not just to get information, but to be reminded of His wonderful power that has been played out in front of us in the past, and to keep that alive.

They forget that Christ has said, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. They walk apart from Christ, their life is not pervaded by His grace, and the characteristics of self are revealed. {COL 52.1}

What is this? By being distracted from remembering these things our life is separated from the consciousness of the Lord’s blessings, of His guidance and presence in our life. What does it mean for the characteristics of self to be revealed?

Their service is marred by desire for supremacy, and the harsh, unlovely traits of the unsubdued heart. {COL 52.1}

Have you ever been perplexed because you wanted to be Christlike but you aren’t? Then you become harsh and unlovely in your expressionism to your fellowmen? Why? Because we are walking apart from Christ which has happened because we have been doing so much good for others that we are so crowded that we have no time to keep our spirit sweet.

Here is one of the chief secrets of failure in Christian work. This is why its results are often so meager. {COL 52.1}

God is answering our needs here. How important it is that we take this to heart as we look upon Nebuchadnezzar’s forgetfulness. This is our own problem and God is trying to help us.

Because Nebuchadnezzar did not continue to walk in the light he had received from heaven, he lost the holy impressions that had been made upon his mind. {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 1}

He didn’t just forget what God had done. He lost the holy impressions that had been made upon his mind. That is what happens and because the holy impressions are lost sight of, we drift into this cold-hearted way again. We forget the holy love that has generated me in the past, that made me kind and courteous to my family, to my husband, my wife. We become used to each other and we can’t communicate sweetly anymore. Here is the reason. There is no other reason. We want to get to the bottom of why we fall and fail. This is the reason. Through all these mind-occupying events and pressures around us we lose the holy impressions that had been made upon our minds. But don’t despair if that has happened:

But God, in his mercy, gave the king another dream, to save him, if possible, from appropriating to himself the glory that belonged to the Supreme Ruler. {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 1}

God will give us, as it were, another dream, to save us from drifting along without the presence of Jesus right in our midst, in our mind. In this we may take courage. God will assist us as illustrated in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. If my heart is like Nebuchadnezzar’s heart – that innate sense of justice and right, that innate sense of godliness which was there – if that is there, God will arouse it again. We don’t want to despair because we have failed him, but I want to quickly pick myself up again by fleeing to Him as He gives me this privilege and opportunity.

What was it that God gave to Nebuchadnezzar? In mercy God gave the king another dream to warn him of his peril.

Daniel 4:10 Thus [were] the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof [was] great. 11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: 12 The leaves thereof [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. 13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; 14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: 15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and [let] his portion [be] with the beasts in the grass of the earth: 16 Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him: and let seven times pass over him. 17 This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

This was the second dream that God had given to Nebuchadnezzar. This time he knew what the dream was. But notice how far he had once again backslidden since the fiery furnace humiliation and the memory of the time that he had his first dream. Where does he go for the explanation of the dream? He knew that he had Daniel there; he knew that he had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego there. Why didn’t he immediately go to them? Because he had been side-tracked. He went along the familiar path that he was used to.

Daniel 4:4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise [men] of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream. 7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.

Oh what short memory. This is so real to the natural heart; we will always go along the path of past habits. That is the principle we see here. He went straight back to what he was used to, to his magicians, to his astrologers, instead of remembering the God of Daniel. He went to them first but then, because he was stumped again, and they could not explain the vision, he remembered, of course, Daniel.

Daniel 4:8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom [is] the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, [saying], 9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. 18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise [men] of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou [art] able; for the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee.

He came back to his senses. God sometimes rattles people’s memories when they go along the path of natural habits and then fail. This is a very important thing for us to understand. We go along the natural path and then we think, “What did I do this for? I remember how God helped me before, why am I doing this?” Can you see how the experience of Nebuchadnezzar is touching ours?

Daniel was esteemed by the king because of his unswerving integrity, for he was faithful in honoring God at all times and in all places. His wisdom was unexcelled, and neither he nor his fellows would make any compromise to secure positions in the court, or even to preserve life itself, when the honor of God was involved. In the early part of his acquaintance with Daniel, the king had found that he was the only one who could give him relief in his perplexity, and now at a later period, when another perplexing vision is given him, he remembers Daniel. {13MR 63.3}

He remembers Daniel, at the last. “What am I doing? Why didn’t I remember that to start with?” You can see he is making progress. He is making progress in his sensitivity. Even though he has fallen back so many times, he is at least able to remember when things fail around him, “Oh, the Lord.”

We have a very interesting object lesson here in the faithfulness of God’s servant. Nebuchadnezzar recognised that Daniel was a faithful servant of God. The faithful servants of God are used of Him, and we need to understand the difference between leaning on the arm of flesh versus leaning on the arm of the Lord. What was Nebuchadnezzar to do in leaning on the arm of the Lord? He was to call Daniel. That meant leaning on the arm of the Lord not on the arm of flesh. Before he was leaning on the arm of flesh by calling his magicians, but now he called Daniel and that meant leaning on the arm of the Lord. This is a very vivid understanding of what it means to lean on the arm of flesh versus the arm of the Lord in human beings. The same thing that Nebuchadnezzar did we need to do today, to lean on the arm of the Lord.

God today is as surely speaking by His servants as in past ages. He has His messengers today as in ancient times, but those souls who have not had divine enlightenment, [who] have had no deep and rich experience in the things of God, know not by experimental knowledge at what they stumble. {19MR 220.3}

To receive help from those today whom God is saying are His servants, like they were back then in Daniel’s time, it is people who by experience in the things of God, by experimental knowledge, know where others stumble, who have made an experience with God so that they can communicate God’s arm to the people.

They are infatuated; deluded by the enemy; rejecting offered mercy, when the Eternal Father is seeking to save them by the cross of Calvary. Oh, that hearts might be touched by the love of Jesus! {19MR 220.3}

This is an interesting way of expressing herself. She is talking about God having His faithful servants, but then she says that there are people who cannot be trusted because they are by experience not servants of God.

Now observe how Nebuchadnezzar had definitely progressed from all those past experiences. Nebuchadnezzar respects what is communicated to him now even though what was told him through the dream was against him. He had said to Daniel, “You show me now; what is this dream about?” Daniel was in shock. He knew exactly what the dream meant.

Daniel 4:19 Then Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.

But Nebuchadnezzar said, “Don’t let it trouble you. Okay, it’s against me, never mind; tell me what it means.” Here is the magnanimity of Nebuchadnezzar once again. His heart is touched in the right direction, and he permits the message to come home. Notice how Daniel in trying to help King Nebuchadnezzar speaks to him after having explained the vision to him:

Daniel 4:27 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.

Not only does Daniel communicate what the vision means, but he tells him, “Look, this tree is you, and you are going to go insane for seven years, and the kingdom is going to be taken from you.” (This explanation was given in verse 20-26). But then he says, “It’s a warning, don’t fall for it. Break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” “If you would make restitution you will be tranquil; you won’t go insane. Break off your sins.” How well did this dream, and the explanation of Daniel, take root in Nebuchadnezzar? Did he do what Daniel told him? He was touched with the explanation; he was convicted.

Then Daniel exhorted the king, as we have before presented, to break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. But the light from heaven was not accepted, and did not exert a saving influence upon his character. Those who receive light will either change their course of action, or else the work of the Lord will become less and less palatable, and will finally be set aside. {13MR 64.2}

The work of the Lord becomes less and less palatable. If I don’t listen to the counsel of the Lord that impresses me, after a while I don’t want to hear it anymore. Have you been in that place? I have had people actually say to me, “John, stop. I can’t take it anymore.” Sometimes I feel like in our conferences where I have been labouring, people are saying, “This is too much, please stop. Can’t we have a break?” I know, that has been said. It becomes less palatable. Why? Because we haven’t made the deliberate, genuine changes by stopping the crowding of our mind with all those things that crowd us.

We think we have to do this and we think we have to do that, and we haven’t got any time to mould my mind by time with the Lord by communion with Him for periods of time so that then I can go back to my duties with a refreshed and fragrant spirit. Then the messages of the Lord “Come on, break off your iniquities,” become a grindstone. “Do I have to hear that all the time?” It doesn’t become a grindstone when we are listening and we are in the realm of the joys of meditation in the Lord; then it is, “Yes, thank you, that was good.” But it becomes less palatable when we are too crowded by the cares of this world.

We are living in the last days of this earth’s history, and we may be surprised at nothing in the line of apostasies and denials of the truth. Unbelief has now come to be a fine art, which men work at to the destruction of their souls. {4BC 1170.4}

Unbelief is become a fine art. “But I don’t have unbelief, do I?” It is such a fine art that you don’t recognise it is unbelief.

There is constant danger of there being shams in pulpit preachers, whose lives contradict the words they speak; but the voice of warning and of admonition will be heard as long as time shall last; and those who are guilty of transactions that should never be entered into, when reproved or counseled through the Lord’s appointed agencies, will resist the message and refuse to be corrected. {4BC 1170.4}

When the servant of God seeing the danger that the church is in expresses the reproofs and counsels because the mind is crowded and it hast lost connection with Jesus, the voice of rebuke becomes a nagging discomfort. They will resist the message and refuse to be corrected as did Nebuchadnezzar.

They will go on as did Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar, until the Lord takes away their reason, and their hearts become unimpressible. The Lord’s Word will come to them; but if they choose not to hear it, the Lord will make them responsible for their own ruin (NL No. 31, p. 1). {4BC 1170.4}

What is the strong message to us at this time? The message of Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.” What is the knock? The reproofs, the messages of appeals, these are the knocks. When a message comes to him that says, Break off your iniquities, follow the instructions that I am counselling you with; there is an unwillingness to submit to that. But there is a strong appeal to us now in the light of the story of Nebuchadnezzar:

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.

If Nebuchadnezzar would have given earnest heed to the counsel of Daniel and not let it slip, would he have gone insane? No. As Daniel said, If you will do this, your tranquility will be extended. But no. We will examine closely in our next research what happened to Nebuchadnezzar after hearing Daniel’s interpretation. Let us now grasp hold of what we have gained here.

Take time to be holy. Even the good that you want to do can crowd out the voice of God and the closeness of Jesus to you. If your day is so crowded that you only have a few moments here or there to stop and commune with Jesus, correct that situation and trust God to help you. Don’t permit the cares of this world, financial, or whatever they may be, to cause such anxiety that you don’t trust the Lord, but you try to think, “I have to do this and that and this person should be doing this and that.” It goes on and on, and it will drive us to distraction; and if we are not careful, it will drive us to insanity.

Posted on March 6, 2015, in Nebuchadnezzar Life Lessons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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