July 24, 2004 – July 30, 2004
“Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” Daniel 4:27.
Suggested Reading: Prophets and Kings, 514–521.
“To understand that ‘righteousness exalteth a nation’; that ‘the throne is established by righteousness’ and ‘upholden by mercy’ (Proverbs 14:34; 16:12; 20:28); to recognize the outworking of these principles in the manifestation of His power who ‘removeth kings, and setteth up kings’ (Daniel 2:21),—this is to understand the philosophy of history.
“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.” Education, 175.
“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. 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. 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.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 147.
1 What messages were sent to Babylon of old to call her to God? Daniel 2:47; 3:28; 4:1–3.
Note: “As the time comes for it [the third angel’s message] to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven.” The Great Controversy, 606, 607.
2 What further dream was given to Nebuchadnezzar? To whom was the dream first made known? With what result? Daniel 4:4–7.
Note: “The Lord is our helper. It is not his good pleasure that any should perish, but rather that all should come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. God will not withhold from man the fulfillment of the only real hope he can have in the world. Jesus says, ‘Without me, ye can do nothing’ [John 15:5]; but in him, and through his righteousness imputed unto us, we may do all things. The work of the Spirit of God will stand forever, but the works of men will perish. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. To the worldly-wise the workings of the Spirit of God that leads to confession and acknowledgement of sin and to the acceptance of the truth as it is in Jesus, appear as foolishness. They cannot reason out the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ of its operation . . . , and they ridicule and denounce the work of God; their human wisdom cannot interpret it.” Review and Herald, July 1, 1890.
3 In the king’s perplexity, for whom did he call? What different spirit did he recognize in Daniel? Daniel 4:8, 9.
Note: “The spirit that possessed Daniel, the youth of today may have; they may draw from the same source of strength, possess the same power of self-control, and reveal the same grace in their lives, even under circumstances as unfavorable. Though surrounded by temptations to self-indulgence, especially in our large cities, where every form of sensual gratification is made easy and inviting, yet by divine grace their purpose to honor God may remain firm. Through strong resolution and vigilant watchfulness they may withstand every temptation that assails the soul.” God’s Amazing Grace, 256.
4 Relate the dream of the king. What was the purpose of the dream? What appeal did the king make? Daniel 4:10–18.
Note: “To Nebuchadnezzar the king the true object of national government was represented under the figure of a great tree, [Daniel 4:11, 12 quoted]. 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.” Education, 175.
5 How was Daniel affected by the dream? Daniel 4:19.
Note: “The prophet realized that upon him God had laid the solemn duty of revealing to Nebuchadnezzar the judgment that was about to fall upon him because of his pride and arrogance. Daniel must interpret the dream in language the king could understand; and although its dreadful import had made him hesitate in dumb amazement, yet he must state the truth, whatever the consequences to himself.” Prophets and Kings, 517.
6 What was the meaning of the dream? Daniel 4:20–26.
Note: “The last dream which God gave to Nebuchadnezzar, and the experience of the king in connection with it, contain lessons of vital importance to all those who are connected with the work of God. . . .
“Today there is a Watchman taking cognizance of the children of men, and in a special sense of those who are to represent God by receiving his sacred truth into the heart and revealing it to the world. That Watcher is guarding the interests of all. Every individual is before him. There is not a thought of the heart that is unNoted. Nothing can be hidden from him. His ear hears the secret whisperings, and every secret thing is to be brought into judgment. All need to learn that the heavenly Watcher is acquainted with the children of men. If men forget this, there is danger of a spirit of selfishness and self exaltation entering their work. These principles practiced are not only detrimental to all within the sphere of their action, but will lead to a development of character so objectionable that its possessor cannot find a place among the redeemed. He that sitteth in the heavens requires that a different spirit shall control his workers.
“Whatever the position we are called to fill, our only safety is in walking humbly with God. The man who glories in his supposed capabilities, in his position of power, in his wisdom, in his property, or in anything else than Christ, will be taken in the net of the enemy. He who fails to walk humbly before God will find a spirit rising up within him, prompting the desire to rule others connected with him, and causing him to oppress others who are human and erring like himself. He appropriates to himself jurisdiction and control over other men,—an honor which belongs alone to God.” Review and Herald, September 8, 1896.
7 How only, did the prophet say, might this punishment be averted? Daniel 4:27.
Note: “God will not condemn any at the judgment because they honestly believed a lie, or conscientiously cherished error; but it will be because they neglected the opportunities of making themselves acquainted with truth. The infidel will be condemned, not because he was an infidel, but because he did not take advantage of the means God has placed within his reach to enable him to become a Christian.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 437.
8 How long was it before the unheeded counsel allowed the punishment to fall upon the king? Daniel 4:28, 29.
Note: “Instead of being a protector of men, Babylon became a proud and cruel oppressor. The words of Inspiration picturing the cruelty and greed of rulers in Israel reveal the secret of Babylon’s fall and of the fall of many another kingdom since the world began: ‘Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.’ Ezekiel 34:3, 4.” Education, 176.
9 What boastful words were being uttered as the judgment fell upon the king? Daniel 4:30, 31.
Note: “Let us consider, What reason has man to be puffed up? . . . He has nothing but that which he has received from God the Redeemer. Learning of the very highest order cannot purchase heaven for any of us. The man possessing large estates and lofty mansions, who walks the earth with all the independence of Nebuchadnezzar as he walked in the palace of the king of Babylon, can claim the right to heaven only through humble obedience to all of God’s commandments.” Review and Herald, July 19, 1887.
10 What was the king’s condition? Daniel 4:33.
Note: “Neither riches nor honor can purchase one of the rich graces of the Spirit of God, or secure for man by all his wisdom a mansion in the heavens. The proud monarch of Babylon was made to feel that there was a power behind and above all his boasted wisdom. God simply removed from the proud boaster his reason, which was the gift of God, and he became degraded to the society of the beasts for seven years.” Review and Herald, July 19, 1887.
“Humanity may be exalted by the world for what it has done. But man can lower himself very fast in God’s sight by misapplying and misappropriating his entrusted talents, which, if rightly used, would elevate him. While the Lord is long-suffering and not willing that any shall perish, He will by no means clear the guilty. Let all take heed to the words of the Lord. ‘Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed’ (1 Samuel 2:29, 30).” Selected Messages, Book 1, 298.
11 When his reason was restored, by what words did Nebuchadnezzar acknowledge the living God? Daniel 4:34, 35.
Note: “In spite of the warning he received, Nebuchadnezzar went on in his own strength, till God took from him the talent of wisdom, that he might be led to see and acknowledge that the God of Israel was able to create and to destroy. The kings who succeeded him failed to profit by his experience, and the kingdom of Babylon passed away because, in their prosperity, her rulers forgot God, and ascribed her honor and glory to human achievement. So today, when men forget God and refuse to obey his law, they are humiliated. God tests them, and if they do not humble their hearts and confess their sins, they receive the penalty of transgression.” Review and Herald, February 6, 1900.
12 What tribute did the once proud king then render to Jehovah? Daniel 4:37.
Note: “In Daniel’s life, the desire to glorify God was the most powerful of all motives. He realized that when standing in the presence of men of influence, a failure to acknowledge God as the source of his wisdom would have made him an unfaithful steward. And his constant recognition of the God of heaven before kings, princes, and statesmen, detracted not one iota from his influence. King Nebuchadnezzar, before whom Daniel so often honored the name of God, was finally thoroughly converted, and learned to ‘praise and extol and honor the King of heaven.’ [Daniel 4:37.]” Review and Herald, January 11, 1906.
“The king upon the Babylonian throne became a witness for God, giving his testimony, warm and eloquent, from a grateful heart that was partaking of the mercy and grace, the righteousness and peace, of the divine nature.” The Youth’s Instructor, December 13, 1904.