Bible Study Guides – Prophecy Illustrated by Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

September 25, 2004 – October 1, 2004

“There is need of a much closer study of the Word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before. . . . The light that Daniel received from God was given especially for these last days.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 112, 113. With this counsel, we continue our study of the Book of Daniel.

Memory Verse

“The secret [things belong] unto the Lord our God: but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children for ever, that [we] may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29.

Suggested Reading: Fundamentals of Christian Education, 410–413.


“The historic events related in the king’s dream were of consequence to him; but the dream was taken from him, that the wise men by their claimed understanding of mysteries, should not place upon it a false interpretation. The lessons taught in it were given by God for those who live in 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.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 412.

1 What things belong unto God? To whom do those things belong which have been revealed? What is a revelation? Deuteronomy 29:29.

note: “It is presumption to indulge in suppositions and theories regarding matters that God has not made known to us in His Word. . . .

“Christ withheld no truths essential to our salvation. Those things that are revealed are for us and our children, but we are not to allow our imagination to frame doctrines concerning things not revealed.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 173.

2 Through whom does the Lord promise to reveal His secrets? Amos 3:7.

note: “Christ urged upon His disciples the importance of prophetic study. Referring to the prophecy given to Daniel in regard to their time, He said, ‘Whoso readeth, let him understand.’ Matthew 24:15. After His resurrection He explained to the disciples in ‘all the prophets’ ‘the things concerning Himself.’ Luke 24:27. The Saviour had spoken through all the prophets. ‘The Spirit of Christ which was in them’ ‘testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.’ 1 Peter 1:11.” The Desire of Ages, 234.

3 Through whom does the Lord say He has spoken? Has He given more than one vision? What has He made use of in thus giving light through the prophets? What word might be used in place of “similitudes”? Hosea 12:10.

note: “Even the disciples failed of understanding all that Jesus desired to reveal to them; but from time to time, as they surrendered themselves to the Holy Spirit’s power, their minds were illuminated. They realized that the mighty God, clad in the garb of humanity, was among them. Jesus rejoiced that though this knowledge was not possessed by the wise and prudent, it had been revealed to these humble men. Often as He had presented the Old Testament Scriptures, and showed their application to Himself and His work of atonement, they had been awakened by His Spirit, and lifted into a heavenly atmosphere. Of the spiritual truths spoken by the prophets they had a clearer understanding than had the original writers themselves. Hereafter they would read the Old Testament Scriptures, not as the doctrines of the scribes and Pharisees, not as the utterances of wise men who were dead, but as a new revelation from God.” The Desire of Ages, 494.

4 By what symbol was the future revealed in Daniel 2? Daniel 2:1, 31.

note: “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, 503.

5 Describe the experience of the king in seeking an interpretation of his dream. Daniel 2:2–10. What confession was wrung from the wise men of Babylon? Verse 11.

note: “Nebuchadnezzar demanded not only the interpretation of the dream, but the relation of the dream itself. . . . They [the wise men] declared that the request of the king was . . . 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. 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.” Conflict and Courage, 251.

6 Who in Babylon had knowledge of a God able to make known His ways in human flesh? Relate their experience. Daniel 2:13–23. What bold request did Daniel make of the chief captain, and with what result? Verses 24–30.

note: “Daniel was in close connection with God. When the decree went forth from an angry, furious king, commanding that all the wise men of Babylon should be destroyed, Daniel and his fellows were sought for to be slain. Then Daniel answered, not with retaliation, but ‘with counsel and wisdom,’ the captain of the king’s guard, who was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon. Daniel asked, ‘Why is the decree so hasty from the king?’ He presented himself before the king, requesting that time be given him, and his faith in the God he served prompted him to say that he would show the king the interpretation.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 374.

7 What was the dream of the king? Daniel 2:31–35.

note: “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. In the interpretation of the dream, he had been plainly instructed regarding the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom.” Prophets and Kings, 503.

8 What kingdom was symbolized by the head of gold? Daniel 2:37, 38.

note: “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 God’s purpose.

“An illustration of this truth is found in the history of ancient Babylon. To Nebuchadnezzar the king the true object of national government was represented under the figure of a great tree, whose height ‘reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: the leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all;’ under its shadow the beasts of the field dwelt, and among its branches the birds of the air had their habitation. Daniel 4:11, 12. This representation shows the character of a government that fulfills God’s purpose—a government that protects and upbuilds the nation.

“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 equaled—fitly represented in the Scriptures by the inspired symbol, a ‘head of gold.’ Daniel 2:38.” Education, 175.

9 What metal represents the second universal kingdom, and what is said of that power? Daniel 2:39, first part. What power followed Babylon? Daniel 5:28.

note: “God gave Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, much ‘majesty, and glory, and honor.’ ‘All people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.’

“This same universal sway was exercised by Nebuchadnezzar’s descendants until, nearly seventy years later, in the days of Belshazzar, because of the wickedness of the nation, the kingdom was ‘divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.’ Thus arose the second universal monarchy, Medo-Persia.” Review and Herald, January 23, 1908.

10 What did the brazen portion represent? Daniel 2:39. What kingdom followed Media and Persia? Daniel 8:20, 21. What metal represented the kingdom symbolized by the legs and feet of the image? Daniel 2:40–42. What power answers to the symbol?

note: “The image shown to Nebuchadnezzar in the visions of the night represents the kingdoms of the world. The metals in the image, symbolizing the different kingdoms, became less and less pure and valuable, from the head down. The head of the image was of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the sides of brass, and the feet and toes iron mingled with clay. So the kingdoms represented by them deteriorated in value.” Review and Herald, February 6, 1900.

“Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that it might be seen whether it would fulfill the purpose of ‘the Watcher and the Holy One.’ Prophecy has traced the rise and fall of the world’s great empires—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with nations of less power, history repeated itself. Each had its period of test, each failed, its glory faded, its power departed, and its place was occupied by another.” Education, 176, 177.

11 Will the smaller kingdoms that have risen out of the fourth monarchy of Rome ever be joined as one again? Daniel 2:43.

note: “We are waiting for our Lord from heaven to come to earth to put down all authority and power, and set up His everlasting kingdom. Earthly powers are shaken. We need not, and cannot, expect union among the nations of the earth. Our position in the image of Nebuchadnezzar is represented by the toes, in a divided state, and of a crumbling material, that will not hold together. Prophecy shows us that the great day of God is right upon us. It hasteth greatly.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 360, 361.

12 What will be the next step in the prophecy? Daniel 2:44. Is there any doubt about it? Verse 45. How sure is prophecy declared to be? 11 Peter 1:16–21.

note: “A great warfare is before God’s servants in the closing work of this earth’s history. The God of heaven is soon, very soon, to set up his kingdom,—a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. Every worker is to be an earnest, valiant soldier, fighting under the banner of Prince Emmanuel. Mighty victories are to be gained by the people who bear the banner of truth. We are slow to realize what will be the results of a faithful presentation of the message of the third angel. When they are obedient to the word, when self is hid with Christ in God, and they labor with God’s glory alone in view, ministers of Christ will accomplish a work as wonderful as it is far-reaching.” Review and Herald, May 6, 1909.

These lessons are adapted from International Sabbath School Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Company, Oakland, California, January 1, 1904.