The Handwriting on the Wall

Among the many things we see when we look at love is the fact that love can have limits. A young man is deeply in love with a young woman and tries desperately to win her love in return. If she never responds by loving him, his love for her will eventually reach its limits. He will give up and give his affections to somebody else.

Unfaithfulness to the marriage vow is the tragic thing that often brings love to the limits beyond which it cannot go.

God is love, but even the love of God must have its limits. The love of God cannot accept rebels into the kingdom of heaven. This would be going beyond its proper limits.

The love of God cannot go on forever forgiving a sinner while he continues to rebel and do injuries to other persons.

The Bible tells us that the love of God sets limits in sin for nations and also for individuals. The nations that God commanded Moses and Joshua to destroy had reached the limits that God’s love must set. The Bible tells us about some individuals who kept on sinning until they reached the limits that God’s love must set. We will study about one of them in this article.

The Handwriting on the Wall

In Daniel 5:22 we read a story—a very human, though tragic, story. This is the story of a man who knew what he ought to do, but did not do it. “Thou…, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this.”

Belshazzar was the king of Babylon. Babylon was one of the greatest empires, and greatest cities, of its day. Belshazzar was apparently the grandson of the great Nebuchadnezzar, who had built Babylon to its glory.

For many years we have marveled, and even doubted, at the reports that have come down through the centuries about the glories of ancient Babylon, but the modern science of archaeology has made it clear that the stories are indeed true. We know that the hanging gardens, rising terrace upon terrace, existed in all the unmatched grandeur with which legend has vested them, and its palaces were majestic. Its temples, mansions, and pleasure grounds were magnificent. Even the bottoms of the canals that crossed the city were covered with glazed tile, some beautifully ornamented with figures of trees, birds, and animals. Figures of lions, executed in brilliantly enameled tiles, have been dug from the ruins, many as bright and perfect as when they glistened on the walls of Babylon some 2,500 years ago. The royal banquet hall was 58 feet wide and 168 feet long. It is said that its pillars were figures of slaves, cast in bronze, standing upon the backs of figures of elephants, their hands supporting the ceiling.

Nebuchadnezzar, the grandfather of Belshazzar, had built this city to its greatness, but Belshazzar was not the man his grandfather, or even his father, Nabonidus, had been. On a prayer tablet from the hand of Nabonidus, archaeologists have found these words: “As for Belshazzar, my first born son, place in his heart fear of Thy great divinity, let him not turn to sinning; let him be satisfied with the fullness of life.”

Apparently Nabonidus was concerned about this son—and with good reason.

Standing Alone

Belshazzar had grown up in Babylon. He knew how God had dealt with the great Nebuchadnezzar, but he did not pay attention to this object lesson. He knew well about the exploits of his grandfather, invading the territories around the empire and bringing back slaves. He knew, too, how some of the slaves from Israel had risen to be prominent in the kingdom and how they had influenced Nebuchadnezzar so that he became a believer in the true God, instead of the sun god of Babylon.

He remembered well the time when Nebuchadnezzar had the strange dream, as recorded in Daniel, chapter 2, in answer to his question whether Babylon would last forever. He knew how Daniel had explained the meaning of the dream, showing that God had sent the dream to reveal the history of the world.

The image that was shown in this dream had a head of gold, representing Babylon, then other metals to show other future empires. Belshazzar remembered well how his grandfather had resolved to overthrow the prophecy, and had built a huge image, all of gold, to show that Babylon would not give way to another kingdom. He stood this great image on the plain of Dura. (See Daniel 3.) Here he called all the leaders of the empire to bow down before the image that he had built. Among these leaders came three who worshipped the God of Israel.

They would not bow down. It was called to the attention of the king, and he was sorry, because he greatly admired these stalwart young men from Israel whose intellectual brilliance had won them places among the advisors of his realm. So he decided to give them a second chance.

“Didn’t you understand the order?” he asked. “We will give you another chance. This time, when you hear the music, just bow down, and everything will be all right.”

The young men knew another chance wouldn’t make any difference, so they gave their answer to the king. Their reply is one of the great moments in history.

“We are not careful to answer, O King,” they said. “Our God is able to deliver us if He chooses to do so, but whether He does or whether He does not, know thou, O King, that we will not bow down to the image.”

Nothing quite like this had ever happened in Babylon before, and the God of heaven took notice of it.

Again the music sounded, and all the people, except these three, bowed low. Three against the thousands! Of course the devil tempted them, as he tempts Christians today—telling them it was not the letter of the law that was important, only the spirit, and that God would understand that the intent of their heart was that the image represented Him, etc., etc. But these men were not like the compromising, milk and water Christians of today—they were made of sterner stuff. They wasted no time on such rot. They would not even stoop to lace their shoes. Tall and straight they stood—three against the thousands and the might of great Babylon.

So they were thrown into the fiery furnace, with heat so great that it destroyed the men who threw them in, but the Son of God Himself came down and walked through that furnace with them and delivered them. Belshazzar knew all about this.

Stark, Raving Mad

Belshazzar knew also about the madness of his grandfather. Nebuchadnezzar had walked upon the ramparts of the city, his heart swelling with pride, as he looked across the monuments of his success. “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built,” he thought. He pushed aside all the warning and counsels that God had given him. He tried to force them out of his mind. He just could not believe anything evil could happen to great Babylon.

So the Lord sent him another dream. God saw something good in this king, and worked to save him. God said to him, “You are going to live like a beast in the fields and eat grass like the oxen, until you learn that the Most High ruleth in the affairs of men. In Daniel 4 we read how it happened. The king went mad—stark, raving mad. They drove him from the palace, and for seven long years he wandered through the forests and the fields, until his hair was like an animal, and his fingernails like claws.

Some have refused to believe this remarkable story, but the archaeologists have now deciphered a tablet of the king from the ruins of Babylon, on which appears corroborating testimony, telling of a time when the illustrious monarch conducted no business of the kingdom.

“In all dominions I did not build a high place of power. In Babylon buildings for the honor of my kingdom I did not lay out. I did not sing the praises of my Lord, I did not furnish His altars with victims, nor did I clear out the canals.”

For seven long years the king was mad. Then, even as God had said, his reason returned to him, and he returned to the throne, a changed man—a humbled, converted, surrendered man—as his prayer and proclamation in Daniel 4 indicate.

Crossing the Line

All of this Belshazzar knew. He had grown up right there in Babylon. Some of these things he had probably seen with his own eyes, and the rest had been recounted in his ears time and time again, but still he went on in folly.

We read in Daniel 5:1, 2: “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.”

Belshazzar, of course, did not realize that this was to be his last feast. If he had known that, he would have acted very differently, for he was like all men, in that he expected to get right with God someday. I do not believe you can find a man on earth who really intends to be lost. Deep in his heart every man plans that he will get right with God—someday. Not now, but someday.

I met a stranger in the city of Hilo, Hawaii, and invited him to attend my meetings there. He answered: “I know all about your meetings. I attended some by one of your evangelists in Florida. I know the truth.”

“Well,” I said, “why do you not live up to it?”

“Oh,” he said, “I am going to hell.”

I said, “You are the first man I ever met who was planning on it.”

“Oh, I am not planning on it,” he said, “but I am afraid that is the way it’s going to work out.”

You see, nobody really plans to be lost. Everybody plans to get right with God—someday—but for many, that day never comes.

“There is a line, by us unseen, that crosses every path—the hidden boundary between God’s patience and His wrath.”

You can not tell how close you are to that line, and Belshazzar did not know either, so in his drunken impiety, he committed a great sacrilege. He called for the golden and silver vessels that had been used in the worship of God in Jerusalem and ordered them filled with wine, that he and his companions might drink from them.

The Hand of Doom

Satan had convinced him that God does not care for His sacred things, even as he does with men today. He tells them that God will take no notice, but He does. Men today defile the holy things of God—His holy day, His holy money, His holy ceremonies of worship—thinking that God will do nothing about it, but He will, even as He did with Belshazzar. We read in verses 5 and 6: “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”

Have you ever seen a man suddenly in fear of his life? Have you noticed how quickly the curses die upon their lips, and they start imploring one another for help? I have. It makes a great difference when they are suddenly brought face to face with eternity.

So the face of the king was changed, as he suddenly became aware that there were those in the dining hall whom he had not counted. As he had looked out across the vast room, he had thought that he knew everyone who was there, but he did not. There were some in the banquet hall that he had not reckoned with, as there are in every banquet hall—the silent watchers of God, recording everything that is said and done. They do not argue, these silent watchers. They never try to force us to do what is right, but they are always there. Even when we raise our hands in blasphemy against God, they do not interfere; they just write it all into the record, for the judgment day.

In his wild alarm, the king made a mistake that has been made by many other men since then. Wanting to understand something that God had done, he appealed to the wise men of the world to help him. This is entirely useless. They may be wise in the learning of the world, but if they do not know God, there is no use asking them anything of a spiritual nature. They will give the wrong answer every time.

So the king called for his wise men, and they came. “Now all the king’s wise men came; but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. Then king Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.” See Daniel 5:8, 9. (NKJV.)

Called As a Witness

Now the queen had not been in the banquet hall that evening. This was apparently the queen mother, not Belshazzar’s own wife. She had been in her own palace, listening with great concern to the sound of merriment from the banquet hall, for as a matter of actual fact, there was an enemy army camped outside the city walls at that very moment, trying to find a way to get in. Belshazzar, young, arrogant, and foolish, had decided to show his contempt for them by having a feast while they were there—which was a matter of great concern to the queen mother. She knew that Nebuchadnezzar would never have done a thing like that.

So her concern mounts as she listens to the sound of feasting progressing toward drunkenness, but as the sound of merriment suddenly stops and an awesome silence prevails, she is alarmed more than ever. Hastily summoning a servant, she sent him running to the banquet hall to learn the cause of the strange silence. The servant can only report that something terrible has happened, so she goes herself. Entering the banquet hall, she sees the lords and ladies in a stupor of drunken fear, and the king paralyzed by terror. Following the direction in which all eyes are turned, she sees the writing on the wall, and she remembers Daniel. Approaching the king, she says: “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar… made master of the magicians…now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.” Daniel 5:11, 12.

So, they sent for Daniel. Daniel was an old man now. For seventy years or more he had lived in Babylon, since his captivity as a youth. He had seen all of God’s dealing with Nebuchadnezzar, had seen him come, and had seen him go. Now he finds himself once more called to explain the works of God to a king of Babylon—but how different the message this time! As he stood before the king, Belshazzar said: “If thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:16.

“…Daniel answered and said before the king, ‘Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” Daniel 5:17.

In the hushed silence of the banquet hall, Daniel begins to speak but not, at first, to read the writing. He fastens his eyes upon Belshazzar, and as he looks at the young king, his mind runs back across the years. He remembers all that God has done to and through Nebuchadnezzar. He finally says:

“O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor: And for the majesty that He gave him, 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. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever He will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this!” Daniel: 5:18-22.

Weighed in the Balances

Here Daniel spelled out the tragedy of the young king’s life. He knew what he ought to do, but he didn’t do it. Daniel went on:

“…this is the writing that was written, ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:25-28.

So Daniel left the banquet hall—and none too soon, for while he had still been talking to the young king, the armies of the Medes and Persians were entering the city. They had found a way to turn aside the waters of the Euphrates River, and they had marched down the riverbed, under the wall, into the city. In a few moments they burst into the banquet hall, and in that night was Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, slain.

Have you ever considered how differently sin opens her banquet, from how she closes it? As sin opens her banquet, there is laughter, gaiety, music, and song, but when she closes it—how different. Why don’t you laugh now Belshazzar? Here, have a drink! Let the clowns beguile you; let lust satisfy you; let the praise of your lords and ladies reward your bold sacrilege!

No! Sin’s banquet has closed. In all the great banquet halls, there are no smiles now—except upon the lips of the devil and his legions, who move in to look upon the faces of their victims. This is how sin’s banquet closes, then and now.

Belshazzar was weighed in the balances of God and found wanting—because he knew what he ought to do, but didn’t do it.

Dear friend, do you, today, know what you ought to do? Do not make the mistake that the king of Babylon made.

Saying Goodbye to God

Among all the names that come down to us across the pages of American history, I suppose there is no name more loaded with infamy and shame than the name of Aaron Burr. Burr was a man of great ability and of great ambition. You remember the story of how he became angry with Alexander Hamilton, then secretary of the treasury, over some trifle and challenged Hamilton to a duel.

Hamilton didn’t believe in duels, but he thought honor compelled him to accept the challenge. So they met, and Burr fired the shot into Hamilton’s heart that killed him, while Hamilton fired his shot into the air.

But public indignation was aroused against Burr. From there he went steadily downward in bitterness and sorrow, until finally he died by his own hand, disowned by his family, despised by his countrymen, loaded with infamy and shame.

This story every American knows, but few know the story of the earlier tragedy that lies behind this tragedy in the life of Aaron Burr.

When Burr was a young man, he was a student at Princeton University. While he was there, an evangelist came to town and preached the gospel of the living God. Burr, along with other students, attended the services and felt the call of God to his heart. He felt convinced that he should become a Christian.

Then he made the same mistake that Belshazzar made. Wanting advice on a spiritual matter, he went to a worldly wise man for counsel—he went to the president of the university.

“Sir,” he said, “what is your advice? I have been attending evangelistic services, and I feel convicted that I should become a Christian.”

The president answered: “I cannot tell you whether you should become a Christian or not, but this is my advice. Wait until the evangelist has left town, and no one is here to influence you. Then, by yourself, think it through and make your own decision.”

Like most of the devil’s advice, that sounded reasonable, so Burr agreed to do it. Call after call was made at the meetings, but he sat in his seat and refused to respond. Finally the meetings were closed, the evangelist moved on to his next appointment, and the revival influences ebbed away.

The fellow students of Aaron Burr reported that late, late one starry night, as they were studying in the dormitory, they heard a sudden noise. Looking out, they saw young Aaron Burr, leaning far out of his dormitory window, his face turned to the sky, gazing for a long moment towards the heavens. Then they heard his voice ring out on the silent night, “Goodbye, God. I have made my decision.”

This is the story that lies behind the tragedy of Aaron Burr. Like Belshazzar, he knew what he ought to do, but did not do it.

Bible Study Guides – Prophecy a Stabilizer

May 19-25, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:10.

INTRODUCTION: The Bible characterizes the last days as a time of great unbelief: 2 Peter 3:3–7 says, Know this first, that there shall come in the last days mockers going according to their own lusts and saying where is the promise of His coming for from the time the fathers fell asleep all things continue as from the beginning of the creation. For they wish to forget that the heavens were of old time and the earth out of the water and through the water standing by the Word of God, the world that then was being deluged with water perished and the heavens and the earth now by the same word are reserved for fire kept unto the day of judgement and condemnation of ungodly men.” Eighteen hundred years ago, God through the Apostle Peter foretold here the age of unbelief that we are in today as a direct result of the theories of geology and evolution and higher criticism alluded to in this scripture.

1 What ability does God have that no creature or other intelligence possesses? Isaiah 46:9, 10.

2 How did God show His ability to tell the future to King Nebuchadnezzar? Daniel 2:1–13; 26–28.

3 Why is a knowledge of prophecy especially important in the last days? 1 Corinthians 1:4–8.

4 How does prophecy confirm faith in the existence of God and the validity of the Bible as His inspired Word? John 13:18, 19.

5 What special promise is given to those who live in the last days in regard to prophecy? Joel 2:28, 29; Malachi 4:5.

6 How has this special promise been fulfilled? See note.

NOTE: “After devoting three articles to the Biblical backgrounds and accounts of manifestations of the prophetic gift, Butler in the fourth article introduced Ellen White and her work and demonstrated how she was one on whom the mantle of the gift of prophecy was laid. From firsthand knowledge he wrote of the visions, which he described, and then of her ministry, with which he was personally acquainted. Strong evidence of the integrity of the gift as seen in her experience included the fulfillment of predictions, the knowledge of secret things opened to her, and how her work stood the tests of the claims of the prophet as set forth in the Bible, especially the one Christ gave, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ He discussed the relation of her writings to the Scriptures.

“In his closing articles Butler observed: ‘We have tested them as a people for nearly a quarter of a century, and we find we prosper spiritually when we heed them, and suffer a great loss when we neglect them. We have found their guidance to be our safety. They never have led us into fanaticism in a single instance, but they have ever rebuked fanatical and unreasonable men. They everywhere direct us to the Scriptures as the great source of true instruction, and to the example of Jesus Christ as the true pattern. They never claim to be given to take the place of the Bible, but simply to be a manifestation of one of those spiritual gifts set in the church by its divine Lord; and as such, should have their proper weight.’” Ellen G. White: vol. 2, The Progressive Years, 1862–1876, vol. 2, by Arthur L. White, 424. 425.

Special Note: See the book Prophet of the End, by the editor of Harvestime Books, Altamont, TN, 37301 for a fuller investigation of this question.

7 What elementary prophecies of the Bible confirm that we are living in the last days of earth’s History? Matthew 24:29; Matthew 24:37–39 (Compare Genesis 6:1–5, 11); Luke 17:28–30 (Compare Ezekiel 16:49, 50); 2 Timothy 3:1–5, 13; James 5:1–8; Revelation 11:18; 2 Peter 3:3–7; Micah 4:1–6; Matthew 24:11–14.

8 Which two prophets spoke especially for the last days? Daniel 12:4; Revelation 22:10–12.

9 What does the Bible say about the dangerous conditions of the last days? 1 Timothy 4:1–6.

NOTE: “We are approaching the end of this earth’s history, and Satan is working as never before. He is striving to act as director of the Christian world. With an intensity that is marvelous he is working with his lying wonders. Satan is represented as walking about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He desires to embrace the whole world in his confederacy. Hiding his deformity under the garb of Christianity, he assumes the attributes of a Christian, and claims to be Christ Himself.—8MR, 346 (1901).” Last Day Events, 155.

“We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 122.

“The spirits of devils will yet appear to them [the saints], professing to be beloved friends and relatives, who will declare to them that the Sabbath has been changed, also other unscriptural doctrines.” Early Writings, 87.

“The apostles, as personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth.” The Great Controversy, 557.

“There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 36.

“Some who were in the 1854 movement have brought along with them erroneous views. . . . They have an unmeaning gibberish which they call the unknown tongue, which is unknown not only by man but by the Lord and all heaven. Such gifts are manufactured by men and women, aided by the great deceiver. Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church. Some have been deceived here.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 411, 412.

10 What special promise has been given for those who accept the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy for the last days? Revelation 12:17; Romans 9:27; 2 Chronicles 20:20.

NOTE: “As the points of our faith were thus established, our feet were placed upon a solid foundation. We accepted the truth point by point, under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. I would be taken off in vision, and explanations would be given me. . . . All these truths are immortalized in my writings. The Lord never denies His word. Men may get up scheme after scheme, and the enemy will seek to seduce souls from the truth, but all who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White, and has given her a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in in these last days.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 320

11 What will eventually happen to those who reject or neglect the gift of prophecy? James 4:17; Matthew 25:33, 34, 41.

NOTE: “You are not familiar with the Scriptures. If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 665.

“‘It is Satan’s plan to weaken the faith of God’s people in the Testimonies.’ ‘Satan knows how to make his attacks. He works upon minds to excite jealousy and dissatisfaction toward those at the head of the work. The gifts are next questioned; then, of course, they have but little weight, and instruction given through vision is disregarded.’ ‘Next follows skepticism in regard to the vital points of our faith, the pillars of our position, then doubt as to the Holy Scriptures, and then the downward march to perdition. When the Testimonies, which were once believed, are doubted and given up, Satan knows the deceived ones will not stop at this; and he redoubles his efforts till he launches them into open rebellion, which becomes incurable and ends in destruction.’” Ibid., 672.

Bible Study Guides – “Our God Whom We Serve Is Able To Deliver”

July 21, 2001 – July 27, 2001

MEMORY VERSE “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2.

STUDY HELP: Prophets and Kings, 503–513.


“Important are the lessons to be learned from the experience of the Hebrew youth on the plain of Dura. In this our day, many of God’s servants, though innocent of wrongdoing, will be given over to suffer humiliation and abuse at the hands of those who, inspired by Satan, are filled with envy and religious bigotry. Especially will the wrath of man be aroused against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; and at last a universal decree will denounce these as deserving of death. The season of distress before God’s people will call for a faith that will not falter. His children must make it manifest that He is the only object of their worship, and that no consideration, not even that of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to false worship.” Prophets and Kings, 512.

“In the Plain of Dura”

1 What gesture of pride did Nebuchadnezzar make? Daniel 3:1.

NOTE: “Light direct from Heaven had been permitted to shine upon King Nebuchadnezzar, and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of God. But a few years of prosperity filled his heart with pride, and he forgot his acknowledgment of the living God. He resumed his idol worship with increased zeal and bigotry. From the treasures obtained in war he made a golden image to represent the one that he had seen in his dream, setting it up in the plain of Dura, and commanding all the rulers and the people to worship it, on pain of death. This statue was about ninety feet in height and nine in breadth, and in the eyes of that idolatrous people it presented a most imposing and majestic appearance.” The Sanctified Life, 36, 37.

“Thus the grand lesson given by God to the heathen, and to all people, was misconstrued and misplaced. That which was designed by God to teach lessons of truth, and to give the world clear, distinct rays of light, Nebuchadnezzar turned from its purpose, making it minister to his pride and vanity. The prophetic illustration was made to serve for the glorification of humanity. The symbol designed to unfold important events was turned into a symbol which would hinder the spread of that knowledge which God designed the kingdoms of the earth should receive. By the height and beauty of his image, by the material of which it was formed, the king sought to make error and false doctrine magnificent and attractive, more powerful, seemingly, than anything God had given.” Signs of the Times, April 29, 1897.

2 What command did Nebuchadnezzar make regarding the image? Daniel 3:2–7.

NOTE: “This scheme, devised in the counsel of Satan, was made in order to compel the three Hebrew children to obey human laws in direct opposition to the laws of Jehovah. The most learned of the nation, men who were noted for their aptness and educational advantages, thus worked to form a confederacy that would exalt the king of Babylon and excite enmity against the Hebrew captives. They prevailed upon the king to enact certain laws which these youth could not consent to respect. The worship of the image which the king had set up, was made the established religion of the country.” Signs of the Times, September 2, 1897.

“There are Certain Jews”

3 What accusation was made by certain Chaldeans? Daniel 3:8–12.

NOTE: “These men who thus accused the Hebrews had been saved from death by Daniel’s appeal to the king in their behalf, but they were envious of the three Hebrews, and were desirous of hurting their influence; they therefore carried the complaint to the king that these men had dared to disobey his commands.” Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897.

4 What was the king’s immediate reaction to the news of the three young men’s disobedience? Daniel 3:13.

NOTE: “The thought that his slightest wish should not be respected at the dedication of the image, filled the king with rage, and he commanded that the men be brought before him. ‘Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? ’ How short-lived is the exaltation bestowed by men! How little dependence can be placed in them! These three men, once honored, and entrusted with great responsibilities, are now the objects of the wrath of a king whose will is law. Truly we can not trust in princes.” Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897.

5 What was the king’s considered response? Daniel 3:14, 15.

NOTE: “As the three Hebrews stood before the king, he was convinced that they possessed something the other wise men of his kingdom did not have. They had been faithful in the performance of every duty. He would give them another trial. If only they would signify their willingness to unite with the multitude in worshiping the image, all would be well with them; ‘but if ye worship not,’ he added, ‘ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.’ Then with his hand stretched upward in defiance, he demanded, ‘Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? ’” Prophets and Kings, 507.

“Our God is Able to Deliver”

6 What response did the three give the king? Daniel 3:16–18.

NOTE: “They had learned from the history of their fathers that disobedience to God is dishonor, disaster, and ruin; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom but the foundation of all true prosperity. They look with calmness upon the fiery furnace and the idolatrous throng. They have trusted in God, and He will not fail them now. Their answer is respectful, but decided: ‘Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up’ (Daniel 3:18).” The Sanctified Life, 37.

“Thus these youth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole nation their faith, that He whom they worshiped was the only true and living God. This demonstration of their own faith was the most eloquent presentation of their principles. In order to impress idolaters with the power and greatness of the living God, His servants must reveal their own reverence for God. They must make it manifest that He is the only object of their honor and worship, and that no consideration, not even the preservation of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to idolatry. These lessons have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days.” In Heavenly Places, 149.

7 What punishment immediately followed the young men’s reply? Daniel 3:19–21.

NOTE: “When the king saw that his will was not received as the will of God, he was ‘full of fury,’ and the form of his visage was changed against these men. Satanic attributes made his countenance appear as the countenance of a demon; and with all the force he could command, he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than its wont, and commanded the most mighty men to bind the youth, and cast them into the furnace. He felt that it required more than ordinary power to deal with these noble men. His mind was strongly impressed that something unusual would interpose in their behalf, and his strongest men were ordered to deal with them. The king’s command was urgent. He was anxious to punish the men who had dared to exercise their will in opposition to his will; and without delay, with all their clothing upon them, they were cast into the fire.” Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897.

“Four Men Loose Walking In the Midst of the Fire”

8 What was the effect of the furnace on the executioners of the three young men? Daniel 3:22.

NOTE: “The king’s wrath knew no limits. In the very height of his power and glory, to be thus defied by the representatives of a despised and captive race was an insult which his proud spirit could not endure. The fiery furnace had been heated seven times more than it was wont, and into it were cast the Hebrew exiles. So furious were the flames, that the men who cast them in were burned to death.” The Sanctified Life, 38.

9 What astonishing sight met Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes? Daniel 3:24, 25.

NOTE: “How did that heathen king know what the Son of God was like? The Hebrew captives filling positions of trust in Babylon had in life and character represented before him the truth. When asked for a reason of their faith, they had given it without hesitation. Plainly and simply they had presented the principles of righteousness, thus teaching those around them of the God whom they worshiped. They had told of Christ, the Redeemer to come; and in the form of the fourth in the midst of the fire the king recognized the Son of God. . . .” Conflict and Courage, 252.

10 What wonderful Bible promise was thus fulfilled? Isaiah 43:2.

NOTE: “He who walked with the Hebrew worthies in the fiery furnace will be with His followers wherever they are. His abiding presence will comfort and sustain. In the midst of the time of trouble—trouble such as has not been since there was a nation—His chosen ones will stand unmoved. Satan with all the hosts of evil cannot destroy the weakest of God’s saints. Angels that excel in strength will protect them, and in their behalf Jehovah will reveal Himself as a ‘God of gods,’ able to save to the uttermost those who have put their trust in Him.” Conflict and Courage, 252.

“Nor Was an Hair of Their Head Singed”

11 What words did the king address to the three young men? Daniel 3:26.

NOTE: “And now, his own greatness and dignity forgotten, Nebuchadnezzar descended from his throne and, going to the mouth of the furnace, cried out, ‘Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.’ Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth before the vast multitude, showing themselves unhurt. The presence of their Saviour had guarded them from harm, and only their fetters had been burned. ‘And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.’” Prophets and Kings, 509.

12 What effect had the fire had upon them? Daniel 3:27.

NOTE: “And they obeyed, showing themselves unhurt before that vast multitude, not even the smell of fire being upon their garments. This miracle produced a striking change in the minds of the people. The great golden image, set up with such display, was forgotten. The king published a decree that any one speaking against the God of these men should be put to death; ‘because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.’” Review and Herald, February 1, 1881.

13 What was the king’s reaction to the courage and faith of the three young men? Daniel 3:28–30.

NOTE: “These three Hebrews possessed genuine sanctification. True Christian principle will not stop to weigh consequences. It does not ask, What will people think of me if I do this? or, How will it affect my worldly prospects if I do that? With the most intense longing the children of God desire to know what He would have them do, that their works may glorify Him. The Lord has made ample provision that the hearts and lives of all His followers may be controlled by divine grace, that they may be as burning and shining lights in the world. These faithful Hebrews possessed great natural ability, they had enjoyed the highest intellectual culture, and now occupied a position of honor; but all this did not lead them to forget God. Their powers were yielded to the sanctifying influence of divine grace. By their steadfast integrity they showed forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. In their wonderful deliverance were displayed, before that vast assembly, the power and majesty of God. Jesus placed Himself by their side in the fiery furnace, and by the glory of His presence convinced the proud king of Babylon that it could be no other than the Son of God. The light of Heaven had been shining forth from Daniel and his companions, until all their associates understood the faith which ennobled their lives and beautified their characters. By the deliverance of His faithful servants, the Lord declares that He will take His stand with the oppressed and overthrow all earthly powers that would trample upon the authority of the God of heaven.” The Sanctified Life, 39, 40.

Bible Study Guides – “What Shall Be In the Latter Days”

July 14, 2001 – July 20, 2001

MEMORY VERSE “And in the days of these kings 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.” Daniel 2:44.

STUDY HELP: Prophets and Kings, 491–502.


“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.” Special Testimonies on Education, 10.

“Nebuchadnezzar Dreamed Dreams”

1 What was the effect of his dreams on the king’s state of mind? Daniel 2:1.

NOTE: “Soon after Daniel and his companions entered the service of the king of Babylon, events occurred that revealed to an idolatrous nation the power and faithfulness of the God of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar had a remarkable dream, by which ‘his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.’ But although the king’s mind was deeply impressed, he found it impossible, when he awoke, to recall the particulars.” Prophets and Kings, 491.

2 What command did the king make of his astrologers and wise men and how did they respond? Daniel 2:2–9.

NOTE: “Dissatisfied with their evasive answer, and suspicious because, despite their pretentious claims to reveal the secrets of men, they nevertheless seemed unwilling to grant him help, the king commanded his wise men, with promises of wealth and honor on the one hand, and threats of death on the other, to tell him not only the interpretation of the dream, but the dream itself. . . . Still the wise men returned the answer, ‘Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it.’” Prophets and Kings, 492.

“There is Not a Man That Can Show the King’s Matter”

3 When the wise men failed to satisfy the king, what was his reaction? Daniel 2:10–13.

NOTE: “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.

4 What was Daniel’s suggestion when he heard of this matter? Daniel 2:14–18.

NOTE: “Upon hearing this, Daniel, taking his life in his hands, ventured into the king’s presence and begged that time be granted, that he might petition his God to reveal to him the dream and its interpretation. To this request the monarch acceded. ‘Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions.’ Together they sought for wisdom from the Source of light and knowledge. Their faith was strong in the consciousness that God had placed them where they were, that they were doing His work and meeting the demands of duty. In times of perplexity and danger they had always turned to Him for guidance and protection, and He had proved an ever-present help. Now with contrition of heart they submitted themselves anew to the Judge of the earth, pleading that He would grant them deliverance in this their time of special need.” Prophets and Kings, 493, 494.

“He Revealeth the Deep and Secret Things”

5 How did Daniel learn the king’s dream and its interpretation and what was his response? Daniel 2:19–23.

NOTE: “And they did not plead in vain. The God whom they had honored, now honored them. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon them, and to Daniel, ‘in a night vision,’ was revealed the king’s dream and its meaning. Daniel’s first act was to thank God for the revelation given him.” Prophets and Kings, 494.

6 How did Daniel reply to the king’s question? Daniel 2:26–28.

NOTE: “Behold the Jewish captive, calm and self-possessed, in the presence of the monarch of the world’s most powerful empire. In his first words he disclaimed honor for himself and exalted God as the source of all wisdom. To the anxious inquiry of the king, ‘Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? ’ he replied: ‘The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king; but there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.’” Prophets and Kings, 494, 497.

“The Form Thereof Was Terrible”

7 How did Daniel describe the details of the king’s dream? Daniel 2:31–35.

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.

8 What did the golden head of the image represent? Daniel 2:36–38.

NOTE: “The vision of the great image, in which Babylon was represented as the head of gold, was given Nebuchadnezzar in order that he might have a clear understanding in regard to the end of all things earthly, and also in regard to the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom. Although in the interpretation he was declared to be ‘a king of kings,’ this was because ‘the God of heaven’ had given him ‘a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.’ His kingdom was universal, extending ‘wheresoever the children of men dwell,’ yet it was to be followed by three other universal kingdoms, after which ‘the God of heaven’ would ‘set up a kingdom,’ which should ‘never be destroyed.’” Youth’s Instructor, October 11, 1904.

“After Thee . . .”

9 What did the silver breast and arms symbolize? What was the kingdom that superseded Babylon? Daniel 2:39, first part. Compare Daniel 5:28, 30, 31.

NOTE: “The image revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, while representing the deterioration of the kingdoms of the earth in power and glory, also fitly represents the deterioration of religion and morality among the people of these kingdoms. As nations forget God, in like proportion they become weak morally. Babylon passed away because in her prosperity she forgot God, and ascribed the glory of her prosperity to human achievement. The Medo-Persian kingdom was visited by the wrath of heaven because in this kingdom God’s law was trampled under foot. The fear of the Lord found no place in the hearts of the people. The prevailing influences in Medo-Persia were wickedness, blasphemy, and corruption.” Youth’s Instructor, September 22, 1903.

10 How was the third kingdom symbolized? What was the name of this kingdom? Daniel 2:39, last part. Compare Daniel 7:3–7, 20, 21.

NOTE: “Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that the fact might be determined whether it would fulfill the purposes of the Watcher and the Holy One. Prophecy has traced the rise and progress of the world’s great empires—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with the nations of less power, history has repeated itself. Each has had its period of test; each has failed, its glory faded, its power departed.” Prophets and Kings, 535.

“The Fourth Kingdom”

11 How is the fourth kingdom described? Daniel 2:40.

NOTE: “What kingdom succeeded Greece in the empire of the world, for the legs of iron denote the fourth kingdom in the series? The testimony of history is full and explicit on this point. One kingdom did this, and one only, and that was Rome.” Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, 54.

“When the empire of Babylon was so strong and its influence so far-reaching that seemingly the most powerful foe could not take its sceptre, Daniel, a man inspired by God, prophesied that it would pass away, notwithstanding its apparent magnificence, and that a second would succeed it. He prophesied also that the second empire would be succeeded by the third, and that a fourth empire should arise, more fierce, more determined, and more powerful than any kingdom that had preceded it. As strong as iron, this kingdom would subdue and break in pieces all the nations of the world.” Review and Herald, February 6, 1900.

12 How is the later stage of Rome described? Daniel 2:41–43.

NOTE: “We have come to a time when God’s sacred work is represented by the feet of the image in which the iron was mixed with the miry clay. . . . The mingling of church craft and state craft is represented by the iron and the clay. This union is weakening all the power of the churches. This investing the church with the power of the state will bring evil results. Men have almost passed the point of God’s forbearance. They have invested their strength in politics, and have united with the papacy.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 51.

“The kingdoms that followed were even more base and corrupt. They deteriorated because they cast off their allegiance to God. As they forgot Him, they sank lower and still lower in the scale of moral value. The vast empire of Rome crumbled to pieces, and from its ruins rose that mighty power, the Roman Catholic Church. This church boasts of her infallibility and her hereditary religion. But this religion is a horror to all who are acquainted with the secrets of the mystery of iniquity. The priests of this church maintain their ascendancy by keeping the people in ignorance of God’s will, as revealed in the Scriptures.” Youth’s Instructor, September 22, 1903.

“A Kingdom Which Shall Never Be Destroyed”

13 What was the outcome of the history revealed in the king’s dream? Daniel 2:44, 45. Compare Luke 20:17, 18.

NOTE: “Read the book of Daniel. Call up, point by point, the history of the kingdoms there represented. Behold statesmen, councils, powerful armies, and see how God wrought to abase the pride of men, and lay human glory in the dust. God alone is represented as great. In the vision of the prophet He is seen casting down one mighty ruler, and setting up another. He is revealed as the monarch of the universe, about to set up His everlasting kingdom—the Ancient of days, the living God, the Source of all wisdom, the Ruler of the present, the Revealer of the future. Read, and understand how poor, how frail, how short-lived, how erring, how guilty is man in lifting up his soul unto vanity. . . .” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1166.

14 What was Nebuchadnezzar’s immediate reaction to the revelation made by Daniel and what request did Daniel make? Daniel 2:46–49.

NOTE: “The Lord was working in the Babylonian kingdom, and communicating light to the four Hebrew youth, in order that He might represent His work before the idolatrous nation. He would reveal that He had power over the kingdoms of the world,—power to enthrone and to dethrone kings. The King over all kings was communicating great truths to the Babylonian monarch, and awakening in his mind a realization of his responsibility to God. Nebuchadnezzar saw clearly the difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the most learned men of his kingdom.” Youth’s Instructor, September 8, 1903.

Bible Study Guides – “Is Not This Great Babylon That I Have Built?”

July 28, 2001 – August 3, 2001

MEMORY VERSE: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” Daniel 4:37.

STUDY HELP: Prophets and Kings, 514–521.

Introduction:“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.

“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 honour which belongs alone to God.” Review and Herald, September 8, 1896.

“The Visions of Mine Head Upon My Bed”

1 What further dream did Nebuchadnezzar have? Daniel 4:10–16.

NOTE: “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.” Education, 175.

2 What was the effect of this dream upon the king? Daniel 4:4, 5.

NOTE: “Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, which filled his heart with terror. In a vision of the night he saw a great tree growing in the midst of the earth, towering up to the heavens, and its branches stretching to the ends of the earth. In it the fowls of the air dwelt, and under it the beasts of the field found shelter. As the king gazed upon that lofty tree, he beheld a ‘watcher, even a holy one,’—a divine messenger, similar in appearance to the One who walked with the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace. This heavenly being approached the tree, and in a loud voice cried, ‘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; nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass.’” Review and Herald, February 1, 1881.

“They Did Not Make Known to Me the Interpretation Thereof”

3 To whom did the king turn for the interpretation? Daniel 4:6, 7.

NOTE: “The king was greatly troubled by this dream. It was evidently a prediction of adversity. He repeated it to the magicians, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers; but although the dream was very explicit, none of the wise men would attempt to interpret it. Those who neither loved nor feared God could not understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. They could not approach unto the throne of Him who dwelleth in light unapproachable. To them the things of God must remain mysteries.” Youth’s Instructor, November 1, 1904.

“Once more in this idolatrous nation, testimony was to be borne to the fact that only those who love and fear God can understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Prophets and Kings, 516.

4 To whom did the king finally turn? Daniel 4:8, 9, 18.

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.…The faithful Daniel stood before the king, not to flatter, not to misinterpret in order to secure favor. A solemn duty rested upon him to tell the king of Babylon the truth.” Review and Herald, September 8, 1896.

5 What was Daniel’s reaction when the king had told him the dream? Daniel 4:19.

NOTE: “To Daniel the meaning of the dream was plain, and its significance startled him. He ‘was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.’ Seeing Daniel’s hesitation and distress, the king expressed sympathy for his servant. ‘Belteshazzar,’ he said, ‘let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee.’ ‘My lord,’ Daniel answered, ‘the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.’ 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.

“It is Thou, O King, that Art Grown and Become Strong”

6 What did the tree in the dream symbolize? Daniel 4:20–22.

NOTE: “The end of all government was beautifully set forth by the Lord in the symbol of a tree that gave shelter to the beasts of the field and to the birds of the air. Nebuchadnezzar was at one time a superior ruler, a man more compassionate toward his subjects than was the ruler of any other heathen nation, and his rule was symbolized by a lofty tree. But the man who thinks it is his prerogative to command his fellow men and says, ‘You shall,’ and ‘You shall not,’ is entirely out of his place. He takes upon himself that which was never given him and lords it over God’s purchased possession. Every man is accountable to God for his actions. The man in a position of trust who is guided by the spirit of God will always protect the weak, relieve the needy, and look after the widow and the fatherless.” Manuscript Releases vol. 12, 142.

7 How did Daniel explain the cutting down of the tree? Daniel 4:23–25.

NOTE: “The dream and its meaning filled Daniel with astonishment, and ‘his thoughts troubled him.’ But he faithfully told the king that the fate of the tree was emblematic of his own downfall; that he would lose his reason, and, forsaking the abodes of men, would find a home with the beasts of the field, and that he would remain in this condition for seven years.” Manuscript Releases vol. 7, 67.

8 What did the band of iron and brass around the stump symbolize? Daniel 4:26.

9 What plea did Daniel make to the king? Daniel 4:27.

NOTE: “He urged the proud monarch to repent and turn to God, and by good works avert the threatened calamity. ‘Wherefore, O king,’ he said, ‘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.’ Had the king heeded this counsel, the threatened evil might have been turned aside.” Manuscript Releases vol. 7, 67.

“All This Came Upon the King”

10 How did the king reveal that he had not heeded Daniel’s warning? Daniel 4:28–30.

NOTE: “For a time the impression of the warning and the counsel of the prophet was strong upon Nebuchadnezzar; but the heart that is not transformed by the grace of God soon loses the impressions of the Holy Spirit. Self-indulgence and ambition had not yet been eradicated from the king’s heart, and later on these traits reappeared. Notwithstanding the instruction so graciously given him, and the warnings of past experience, Nebuchadnezzar again allowed himself to be controlled by a spirit of jealousy against the kingdoms that were to follow. His rule, which heretofore had been to a great degree just and merciful, became oppressive. Hardening his heart, he used his God-given talents for self-glorification, exalting himself above the God who had given him life and power. For months the judgment of God lingered. But instead of being led to repentance by this forbearance, the king indulged his pride until he lost confidence in the interpretation of the dream, and jested at his former fears.” Prophets and Kings, 519.

11 What immediate judgment fell upon the king? Daniel 4:31–33.

NOTE: “In a moment the reason that God had given him was taken away; the judgment that the king thought perfect, the wisdom on which he prided himself, was removed, and the once mighty ruler was a maniac. His hand could no longer sway the sceptre. The messages of warning had been unheeded; now, stripped of the power his Creator had given him, and driven from men, Nebuchadnezzar ‘did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.’ For seven years Nebuchadnezzar was an astonishment to all his subjects; for seven years he was humbled before all the world.” Prophets and Kings, 520.

“At the End of the Days”

12 What happened when the ‘seven times’ had been fulfilled? Daniel 4:34, first part, 36.

NOTE: “At the end of this time his reason was restored to him, and looking up in humility to the God of heaven, he recognized the divine hand in his chastisement. The transformation had come. The mighty monarch had become the humble child of God, obedient to His will. The despot had been changed into the wise, compassionate ruler.” Manuscript Releases vol. 7, 68.

13 What are the last recorded words of Nebuchadnezzar? Daniel 4:37. (Compare Daniel 4:1–3, 34, last part, 35.)

NOTE: “The once proud monarch had become a humble child of God; the tyrannical, overbearing ruler, a wise and compassionate king. He, who had defied and blasphemed the God of heaven, now acknowledged the power of the Most High and earnestly sought to promote the fear of Jehovah and the happiness of his subjects. Under the rebuke of Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, Nebuchadnezzar had learned at last the lesson which all rulers need to learn—that true greatness consists in true goodness. He acknowledged Jehovah as the living God, saying, ‘I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.’ God’s purpose that the greatest kingdom in the world should show forth His praise was now fulfilled. This public proclamation, in which Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the mercy and goodness and authority of God, was the last act of his life recorded in sacred history.” Prophets and Kings, 521.

Bible Study Guides – God’s Dealings with Nebuchadnezzar

July 24, 2004 – July 30, 2004

Memory Verse

“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.

Bible Study Guides – A Test of Faith

July 17, 2004 – July 23, 2004

Memory Verse

“Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:18.

Suggested Reading: Prophets and Kings, 503–513.


“These faithful Hebrews possessed great natural ability and intellectual culture, and they occupied a high position of honor; but all these advantages did not lead them to forget God. All their powers were yielded to the sanctifying influence of divine grace. By their godly example, their steadfast integrity, they showed forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. In their wonderful deliverance was displayed, before that vast assembly, the power and majesty of God. Jesus placed Himself by their side in the fiery furnace, and by the glory of His presence convinced the proud king of Babylon that it could be no other than the Son of God. The light of heaven had been shining forth from Daniel and his companions, until all their associates understood the faith which ennobled their lives and beautified their characters.” Review and Herald, February 1, 1881.

“Those who study the Bible, counsel with God, and rely upon Christ will be enabled to act wisely at all times and under all circumstances. Good principles will be illustrated in actual life. Only let the truth for this time be cordially received and become the basis of character, and it will produce steadfastness of purpose, which the allurements of pleasure, the fickleness of custom, the contempt of the world-loving, and the heart’s own clamors for self-indulgence are powerless to influence. Conscience must be first enlightened, the will must be brought into subjection. The love of truth and righteousness must reign in the soul, and a character will appear which heaven can approve.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 43.

1 What had been revealed to Nebuchadnezzar concerning God’s plan for the world? Daniel 2:44, 45.

Note: “The dream given to the king of Babylon is a very striking one. Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest ruler, the most powerful king, of the time, and the prosperity of his kingdom, which had been given him of God for the glory of God, caused the Lord to designate that kingdom as the head of gold. But Nebuchadnezzar turned the warnings of God against himself. Instead of tracing out the end of all earthly things and the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom, he turned aside to follow the imaginations of his proud heart, thinking that his kingdom should be a more extensive and powerful kingdom than it then was.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 63.

2 By what words had the king acknowledged the power of God? Daniel 2:47.

Note: “The solemn truths conveyed in this vision of the night, made a deep impression on the sovereign’s mind, and in humility and awe he fell down and worshiped, saying, [Daniel 2:47 quoted].

“Light, direct from Heaven, had been permitted to shine upon King Nebuchadnezzar, and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of God.” Review and Herald, February 1, 1881.

3 After some years had elapsed, what did the king do? Daniel 3:1. What was Nebuchadnezzar’s reason for making his image all of gold? Compare Daniel 2:32, 37, 38.

Note: “The words, ‘Thou art this head of gold,’ had made a deep impression upon the ruler’s mind. [Daniel 3:38.] The wise men of his realm, taking advantage of this and of his return to idolatry, proposed that he make an image similar to the one seen in his dream, and set it up where all might behold the head of gold, which had been interpreted as representing his kingdom.

“Pleased with the flattering suggestion, he determined to carry it out, and to go even farther. Instead of reproducing the image as he had seen it, he would excel the original. His image should not deteriorate in value from the head to the feet, but should be entirely of gold—symbolic throughout of Babylon as an eternal, indestructible, all-powerful kingdom, which should break in pieces all other kingdoms and stand forever.” Prophets and Kings, 504.

4 At the dedication of the image, what command was given the assembled multitude? Daniel 3:2–6.

Note: “The appointed day came, and a vast concourse from all ‘people, nations, and languages,’ assembled on the plain of Dura. [Daniel 3:7.] In harmony with the king’s command, when the sound of music was heard, the whole company ‘fell down and worshipped the golden image.’ [Ibid.] On that eventful day the powers of darkness seemed to be gaining a signal triumph; the worship of the golden image bade fair to become connected permanently with the established forms of idolatry recognized as the state religion of the land. Satan hoped thereby to defeat God’s purpose of making the presence of captive Israel in Babylon a means of blessing to all the nations of heathendom.” Prophets and Kings, 506.

5 Who disregarded this command? Daniel 3:8–12.

Note: “To bow down when in prayer to God is the proper attitude to occupy. This act of worship was required of the three Hebrew captives in Babylon. . . . But such an act was homage to be rendered to God alone—the Sovereign of the world, the Ruler of the universe; and these three Hebrews refused to give such honor to any idol even though composed of pure gold. In doing so, they would, to all intents and purposes, be bowing to the king of Babylon. . . .

“Both in public and private worship it is our duty to bow down upon our knees before God when we offer our petitions to Him. This act shows our dependence upon God.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 312.

6 What defiance was shown to the God of Israel? Daniel 3:13–15. By what noble words did the young men show their trust and loyalty? Verses 16–18.

Note: “The king commanded that the men [Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego] be brought before him. ‘Is it true,’ he inquired, ‘do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?’ [Daniel 3:14.] He endeavored by threats to induce them to unite with the multitude. Pointing to the fiery furnace, he reminded them of the punishment awaiting them if they should persist in their refusal to obey his will. But firmly the Hebrews testified to their allegiance to the God of heaven, and their faith in His power to deliver. The act of bowing to the image was understood by all to be an act of worship. Such homage they could render to God alone.” Prophets and Kings, 507.

“These three Hebrews possessed genuine sanctification. True Christian principle will not stop to weigh consequences. It does not ask, What will people think of me if I do this? or, How will it affect my worldly prospects if I do that? With the most intense longing the children of God desire to know what He would have them do, that their works may glorify Him. The Lord has made ample provision that the hearts and lives of all His followers may be controlled by divine grace, that they may be as burning and shining lights in the world.” The Sanctified Life, 39.

7 What did the king do? How was the command fulfilled? Daniel 3:19–22.

Note: “When the king saw that his will was not received as the will of God, he was ‘full of fury,’ and the form of his visage was changed against these men. [Daniel 3:19.] Satanic attributes made his countenance appear as the countenance of a demon; and with all the force he could command, he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than its wont, and commanded the most mighty men to bind the youth, and cast them into the furnace. He felt that it required more than ordinary power to deal with these noble men. His mind was strongly impressed that something unusual would interpose in their behalf, and his strongest men were ordered to deal with them. . . .

“Trial and persecution will come to all who, in obedience to the Word of God, refuse to worship this false sabbath [Sunday]. Force is the last resort of every false religion. At first it tries attraction, as the king of Babylon tried the power of music and outward show. If these attractions, invented by men inspired by Satan, failed to make men worship the image, the hungry flames of the furnace were ready to consume them. So it will be now. The papacy has exercised her power to compel men to obey her, and she will continue to do so. We need the same spirit that was manifested by God’s servants in the conflict with paganism.” The Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897.

8 Why was the king astonished by what he saw? How was he able to recognize the fourth man as Jesus? Daniel 3:24, 25.

Note: “When Christ manifests himself to the children of men, an unseen Power speaks to their souls. They realize that they are in the presence of the Infinite One. Before his majesty, kings and nobles tremble, and acknowledge the living God as above every earthly power. The Hebrew captives had told Nebuchadnezzar of Christ, the Redeemer that was to come, and from the description thus given, the king recognized the form of the fourth in the fiery furnace as the Son of God.” The Youth’s Instructor, April 26, 1904.

9 How complete had been the protection of God over the three young men? Daniel 3:26, 27.

Note: “He who walked with the Hebrew worthies in the fiery furnace will be with His followers wherever they are. His abiding presence will comfort and sustain. In the midst of the time of trouble —trouble such as has not been since there was a nation—His chosen ones will stand unmoved. Satan with all the hosts of evil cannot destroy the weakest of God’s saints. Angels that excel in strength will protect them, and in their behalf Jehovah will reveal Himself as a ‘God of gods,’ able to save to the uttermost those who have put their trust in Him. [Daniel 2:47.]” Conflict and Courage, 252.

10 What conviction came upon the king? Daniel 3:28.

Note: “ ‘The wrath of man shall praise Thee,’ says the psalmist; ‘the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.’ [Psalm 76:10.] God means that testing truth shall be brought to the front and become a subject of examination and discussion, even if it is through the contempt placed upon it. The minds of the people must be agitated. Every controversy, every reproach, every slander, will be God’s means of provoking inquiry and awakening minds that otherwise would slumber.

“Thus it has been in the past history of God’s people. For refusing to worship the great golden image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace. But God preserved His servants in the midst of the flames, and the attempt to enforce idolatry resulted in bringing the knowledge of the true God before the assembled princes and great men of the vast kingdom of Babylon.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 453.

11 By what command did the king show his excess of zeal? Daniel 3:29.

Note: “One man’s mind, one man’s power, should not rule and control another’s conscience. In the sight of God wealth and position do not exalt one man above another. Men are free to choose the service of God, to love the Lord, and to keep all His commandments.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1107.

“It was right for the king to make public confession, and to seek to exalt the God of heaven above all other gods; but in endeavoring to force his subjects to make a similar confession of faith and to show similar reverence, Nebuchadnezzar was exceeding his right as a temporal sovereign. He had no more right, either civil or moral, to threaten men with death for not worshiping God, than he had to make the decree consigning to the flames all who refused to worship the golden image. God never compels the obedience of man. He leaves all free to choose whom they will serve.” Prophets and Kings, 510, 511.

“He [Satan] worked to put to death those who were determined to serve God, according to the light they had received, and according to the dictates of their own conscience. Satan tries to force men even in their worship of God to carry out his ideas. Christ has given no example for this kind of work. He draws men, but He never drives them. ‘My sheep hear My voice,’ He says, ‘and they follow Me.’ ” The Signs of the Times, July 25, 1900.

12 How were the young men rewarded for their fidelity? Daniel 3:30.

Note: “In your contact with friends and associates, do you keep your lips closed regarding the truth for this time? Do they receive no help from you as to the best way to serve and glorify God? You have brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances. To each of these you should be giving an example that will honor the truth you profess. By patience and forbearance in your dealings with them, you may teach them to be patient under test and trial. When in the kingdom of God you meet those whom you have sought to influence for right, will you not be abundantly rewarded for any effort, any sacrifice, you may have made?” The Columbia Union Visitor, October 2, 1912.

A Controversy Between Truth and Error

In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams.” It is thus that we are introduced to the monarch of the greatest of earthly kingdoms in his own home. In chapter one [of the Book of Daniel], Nebuchadnezzar is referred to as the one who besieged Jerusalem; in chapter two, he is spoken of as the ruler of every nation on earth. The kingdom which Nebuchadnezzar brought to the height of its glory can be traced in Bible history to its foundation. The history of Babylon is the story of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, begun in heaven, continued on earth, and which will end only when the stone cut out without hands from the mountain shall fill the whole earth.

Satan’s accusation against God is that the Father is unjust. “But give me a fair chance,” argued Lucifer, “and I can establish a kingdom on earth which will excel in glory the kingdom of heaven.” He was granted the privilege of making a trial. The plains of Shinar were chosen; the people whom God told to fill the whole earth were gathered into a city. Babylon grew, and its mighty walls three hundred and fifty feet in height and eighty-seven feet thick, with the massive gates of brass, were designed to imitate the strength of the city of God. At the time of the founding of Babylon, Satan was still meeting with the council of the representatives of worlds, which was held at the gates of heaven. It was his design to counterfeit the plans of God. The earthly city was patterned after the heavenly. The Euphrates flowed through it, as did the river of God through Paradise. The government was an absolute monarchy; a man occupied the throne, and as it grew, every knee of earth was caused to bow to its king. Tyranny took the place of love. This is always true when man is exalted above God. There was a close union of church and state, for no power was tolerated above that of the monarch. It was to such a kingdom that Nebuchadnezzar fell heir, and the beauty and power of the kingdom were increased by him in every possible way, until it was spoken of everywhere as “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency.”

Not only the power, but the wisdom also, of Nebuchadnezzar was exceedingly great. The king favored education, and during his reign Babylon was the educational center of the world. Every art and science was taught in the schools of Babylon. The wisdom of the ancients was made known to the students who sat at the feet of her magicians and wise men. They reveled in the study of astronomy and the higher mathematics. There were linguists who could teach the language of every nation.

The king himself was highly educated, for it was he who examined the students on the completion of their course, and granted their degrees. Babylon was proud of her educational system; she trusted to it for salvation, but it was the cause of her ruin. “Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath caused thee to turn away.”

God himself speaks, saying: “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” In the Babylonish court this was exemplified. Nebuchadnezzar and his counselors,—the wise men, astrologers, and soothsayers,—on one side, represented the education of the world. Daniel, a youth not over twenty-one years of age, a Hebrew and a slave, was chosen by God to confound the wisdom of the mighty.

The Dream

The Scripture gives the story in language that can be readily understood. But why did God give Nebuchadnezzar a dream? How could the God of heaven reveal truth to this heathen king? Doubtless he could, not during his waking moments, but Nebuchadnezzar had contemplated the glory of his kingdom, and fell asleep with a longing desire to know its future. He knew that life was short. Soon he must die; what would the future be? It was God’s opportunity, and while those eyes were closed to earthly things; while self was lost,—dead, as it were,—the future history of the world was spread before Nebuchadnezzar. On awaking, he found no language to express his thoughts. He who was acquainted with the world’s wisdom knew not the language of heaven. This he had never been taught. He tried to think what he had seen, but as his eyes again rested on the glory about him, the vision faded away. Earthly things drew a veil over the things of God, and while he knew he had seen something, he knew not what it was.

The king demanded an interpretation, but the wisest men of the king answered: “There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king’s matter. . . . There is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” That the pretended knowledge of the wise men of Babylon might be exposed, the Lord had in his providence given Nebuchadnezzar this dream, and then allowed him to forget the details, while causing him to retain a vivid impression of the vision. The king was angered by the request of the wise men for him to tell them the dream, saying, “I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.” That is, they would be able to agree on some interpretation if the king could tell the dream. The king then threatened that if they failed to tell the dream, they should all be destroyed. The wise men urged that the requirement was most unreasonable; but the more they argued, the more furious the king became, and in his anger he finally “commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.”

This decree was made in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. He had ruled two years conjointly with his father, Nabo-polassar, and two years alone; so Daniel and his fellows were serving their first year as wise men in the court of Babylon, having finished their three-years’ course in the schools. They were therefore sought out by Arioch, the king’s captain, to be slain. Daniel asked: “Why is the decree so hasty from the king?” Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Daniel alone had the courage to venture into the presence of the king, at the peril of his life, to beg that he might be granted time to show the dream and the interpretation. The request was granted.

“There are in the providence of God particular periods when we must arise in response to the call of God.” The supreme moment had come to Daniel. For this very moment had God been giving him a preparation. From his birth every detail of his life had been pointing forward to this time, although he knew it not. His early education was such that at this moment when death stared him in the face, he could look up to God and claim his promise.

Although Daniel had been granted a diploma from the schools of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar himself, and had been accounted ten times wiser than his fellow students, he had not as yet been classed with the astrologers and wise men of Chaldea. Probably his youth and inexperience delayed such recognition. But God chooses the weak things of earth to confound the mighty, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.

Four Hebrew youth bowed in prayer, and that night “was the secret revealed unto Daniel.” How could God talk with Daniel?—Because the Spirit of the Lord is with them that fear him. Daniel’s education had acquainted him with the voice of God. He was in the habit of seeing eternal things with the eye of faith. God showed Daniel the same things which he had revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, but which were hidden from him by the glamour of worldliness.

The song of praise which rose from the lips of Daniel when the vision came, shows how self-forgetful he was, and how close his heart was knit to the heart of God.

The schools of Babylon developed pride, love of pleasure, haughtiness, and self-esteem. They fostered an aristocracy, and cultivated the spirit of oppression and slavery. Contrast with this the native simplicity, the courtesy, gentleness, and self-forgetfulness of the child of God as he enters the court and is introduced by Arioch.

Years before this, when Egypt was the educational center of the world, God taught Egyptian senators by the mouth of Joseph, a boy no older than Daniel. When Babylon had outgrown the counsels of Heaven, another Hebrew meets the men of the schools. “Can not the wise men show the secret unto the king?”

Before Daniel was the king in his glory; around him stood the very teachers with whom he had studied three years. At this time were exemplified the words of the psalmist: “I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.”

Nebuchadnezzar was careworn from loss of sleep, and in great anxiety because the dream troubled him; but Daniel was calm, conscious of his connection with God, the King of kings. Daniel now had opportunity to exalt his own wisdom, but he chose rather to give all the glory to God. He plainly told the king that it was beyond the power of man to reveal the dream or give the interpretation; “but there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” The king’s mind was directed to God alone.

In one night God revealed the history of over twenty-five hundred years, and what the human historian requires volumes to explain is given in fifteen verses. The Scriptures explain themselves, and in divine records every word is well chosen and put in the proper setting.

In the image revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, the glory of the Babylonian kingdom is recognized by the Lord, and represented by the head of gold. But while giving due credit to the present state of things, the spirit of prophecy with equal candor points out to the self-exalted king the weakness of the institution in which he has placed his trust, and the inability of the Babylonian learning to save from impending destruction.

“Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground; there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones and grind meal.” From being master of all, Babylon must become the most humble servant. Because these people had disregarded the God of heaven, and had said, “None seeth me,” evil would come from unknown sources, and Babylon should be cut off. She would make a desperate effort to save herself by turning to her educators and wise men. “Let now the astrologers, the star-gazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee from these things. . . . Behold, they shall be as stubble.” When the trial came, there was nothing in all the realms of Babylon that could save her.

“The strength of nations and of individuals is not found in the opportunities and facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted greatness. That which alone can make them great or strong is the power and purpose of God. They, themselves, by their attitude toward his purpose, decide their own destiny.” [The Youth’s Instructor, September 29, 1903.]

Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom lasted only until the reign of his grandson, when the second or inferior nation represented by the breast and arms of silver came upon the stage of action.

Medo-Persia took the place of Babylon; Grecia followed the Medo-Persian kingdom, while Rome, the fourth kingdom, was to be broken into ten parts, which were to remain until the end of time. In the days of these kings the God of heaven would set up a kingdom which would never be destroyed nor conquered by any other people; it would break in pieces and consume all former kingdoms, and stand forever.

The image was a comprehensive outline of the world’s history. The “glory of kingdoms” formed the head of gold, all following kingdoms deteriorated from Babylon as shown by the grade of metals forming the image. First gold, then silver, brass, and iron. In the latter part of the world’s history, a marked change was revealed by the iron being mixed with miry clay. There were to be no more universal kingdoms ruled by men when the power of the fourth kingdom was broken; it was to remain divided until the end. In place of one kingdom there would be several.

The clay mixed with iron also denoted the union of church and state. This combination is peculiar to the latter part of the world’s history, to the feet and toes of the image.

Religion was the basis of government in the heathen nations; there could be no separation of the church and the state. When apostate Christianity united with the state, each remained in a sense distinct as the miry clay is separate from iron. This union continues until the stone smites the image upon the feet. The very fact that the “stone was cut out of the mountain without hands,” shows that the last kingdoms on earth will not be overthrown by any earthly power, but that the God of heaven will bring upon them final destruction by giving them to the burning flames.

A Changed Heart

The king listened to every sentence Daniel uttered when telling the dream, and recognized it as the vision which had troubled him. When Daniel gave the interpretation, he was certain that he could accept it as a true prophecy from the God of heaven. The vision had deeply affected the king, and when the meaning was given, he fell upon his face before Daniel in wonder and humility, 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.”

The youth of twenty-one was made ruler over all the provinces of Babylon, and chief governor over all the wise men of the kingdom. Daniel’s companions were also given high positions in the government. It should be remembered that this dream as recorded in the second chapter of Daniel was given to Nebuchadnezzar in the second year of his sole reign. It was still during the lifetime of Jehoiakim, king of Judah.

It was in the providence of God that his people should carry the light of truth to all the heathen nations. What they failed to do in the time of peace, they must do in time of trouble. Babylon was the ruling power of the world; it was the educational center. The Jews were comparatively a small people; they lost the power of God by neglecting the education of their children; they failed to let their light shine. From their midst God took a few who were trained in the fear of the Lord, placed them in the heathen court, brought them into favor with the ruler of the world, so making himself known to the heathen king. He did even more; he revealed himself to the king, and used these children of his to prove that the wisdom of God excelled the wisdom of the Chaldeans. Having exalted true education, he put Daniel and his companions at the head of that vast empire that the knowledge of the God of heaven might go to the ends of the earth.

Having acknowledged the God of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar was in a position to save Jerusalem instead of destroying it. It was because of these experiences that God could send word by his prophet a few years later that, should Zedekiah, king of Judah, deliver himself to the king of Babylon, Jerusalem would not be burned, and the world would receive the light of the gospel.

The history of the city of Baby-lon is put on record because it is God’s object lesson to the world of today. The Book of Revelation, which is the complement of the Book of Daniel, frequently uses the name, applying it to the modern churches. The relation of the Jews to the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar is the same as that sustained by the remnant church, the true Israel, to the churches which, having known the truth, have rejected it.

The sins of ancient Babylon will be repeated today. Her educational system is the one now generally accepted; her government, with its excessive taxes, its exaltation of the rich and the oppression of the poor, its pride, arrogance, love of display, its choice of the artificial in place of the natural, and the exaltation of the god of science instead of the God of heaven, is the one toward which the world of today is hastening.

As God called Abraham out from the idolatry of Chaldea, and made him the father of the Hebrew nation; as he delivered to that people a form of government that would exalt God; as he gave them commandment so to teach their children that the Jews would become a teacher of nations and might be an everlasting kingdom, so today he calls forth a people from modern Babylon. He has entrusted to them principles of healthful living, which will make them mentally and physically a wonder to the world. He has given them educational principles which, if followed, will make them the teacher of the world, and finally bring them into the kingdom of God. And to them he has delivered the principles of true government which recognize the equal rights of all men, and which in the church organization bind all together—one body in Christ Jesus.

Only a few—four out of thousands—were true to these principles in the days of Daniel. How will it be today?

Story of Daniel the Prophet (1904), 28–38. Printed with permission of the publisher, TEACH Services, Inc., Brushton, New York, 1995.

Bible Study Guides – The Fall of Ancient Babylon

July 31, 2004 – August 6, 2004

Memory Verse

“When his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.” Daniel 5:20.

Suggested Reading: Prophets and Kings, 522–538.


“In the history of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, God speaks to nations of today. We are to take to heart the lessons he sought to teach these rebellious kings; for if Belshazzar had pursued a course in harmony with the instruction given to his grandfather, he would have retained not only his kingdom but his life. He disregarded the lessons, and went on in rebellion against God, committing the very sins for which his grandfather had been reproved and punished. He, too, lifted himself up in pride and exaltation, and the final judgment of God fell upon him and his house. His great sin was that, notwithstanding God had given him light, he refused to walk in the paths of righteousness.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

“The condemnation that will fall upon the nations of the earth in this day will be because of their rejection of light, and will be similar to that which fell upon the kings of Babylon; it will be because they have failed to make the most of present light, present opportunities for knowing what is truth and righteousness. Our condemnation in the judgment will not result from the fact that we have lived in error, but from the fact that we have neglected heaven-sent opportunities for discovering truth. The means of becoming conversant with the truth are within the reach of all; but, like the indulgent, selfish king, we give more attention to the things that charm the ear, and please the eye, and gratify the palate, than to the things that enrich the mind, the divine treasures of truth. It is through the truth that we may answer the great question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ ” Ibid., July 27, 1891.

1 What was God’s gracious purpose in sending messages (Daniel 2:47; 3:28; 4:1–3) to Babylon’s king? Jeremiah 51:8, 9.

note: “Through the folly and weakness of Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, proud Babylon was soon to fall. Admitted in his youth to a share in kingly authority, Belshazzar gloried in his power and lifted up his heart against the God of heaven. Many had been his opportunities to know the divine will and to understand his responsibility of rendering obedience thereto. He had known of his grandfather’s banishment, by the decree of God, from the society of men; and he was familiar with Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion and miraculous restoration. But Belshazzar allowed the love of pleasure and self-glorification to efface the lessons that he should never have forgotten. He wasted the opportunities graciously granted him, and neglected to use the means within his reach for becoming more fully acquainted with truth. That which Nebuchadnezzar had finally gained at the cost of untold suffering and humiliation, Belshazzar passed by with indifference.” Prophets and Kings, 522, 523.

2 Who was the last ruler of Babylon? Daniel 5:1. What blasphemous scenes were enacted at his last feast? Verses 2–4.

note: “Ignorance is no excuse now for the transgression of law. The light shines clearly, and none need be ignorant, for the great God Himself is man’s instructor. All are bound by the most sacred obligations to God to heed the sound philosophy and genuine experience which He is now giving them in reference to health reform. He designs that the great subject of health reform shall be agitated and the public mind deeply stirred to investigate; for it is impossible for men and women, with all their sinful, health-destroying, brain-enervating habits, to discern sacred truth, through which they are to be sanctified, refined, elevated, and made fit for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory.

“The inhabitants of the Noachian world were destroyed because they were corrupted through the indulgence of perverted appetite. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed through the gratification of unnatural appetite, which so benumbed the intellect that they could not discern the difference between the sacred claims of God and the clamor of appetite. The latter enslaved them, and they became so ferocious and bold in their detestable abominations that God would not tolerate them upon the earth. God ascribes the wickedness of Babylon to her gluttony and drunkenness.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 162.

3 What evidence was given that an unseen Watcher was witnessing this blasphemous revelry? Daniel 5:5.

note: “It is the most abhorrent form of selfishness that leads the worker to neglect the improvement of time, the care of property, because he is not directly under the eye of the master. But do such workers imagine that their neglects are not noticed, their unfaithfulness not recorded? Could their eyes be opened, they would see that a Watcher looks on, and all their carelessness is recorded in the books of heaven.

“Those who are unfaithful to the work of God are lacking in principle; their motives are not of a character to lead them to choose the right under all circumstances. The servants of God are to feel at all times that they are under the eye of their employer. He who watched the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar is present in all our institutions, in the counting-room of the merchant, in the private workshop; and the bloodless hand is as surely recording your neglect as it recorded the awful judgment of the blasphemous king. Belshazzar’s condemnation was written in words of fire, ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting’; and if you fail to fulfill your God-given obligations your condemnation will be the same.” Messages to Young People, 229.

4 What offer was made to the wise man who could interpret the writing? Daniel 5:6, 7.

note: “In vain the king tried to read the burning letters. He had found a power too strong for him. He could not read the writing. [Daniel 5:7 quoted.] In vain the king offered honor and promotion. Heavenly wisdom can not be bought and sold.” The Youth’s Instructor, May 19, 1898.

5 Why did the queen mother call attention to Daniel? Daniel 5:8–12.

note: “There was in the palace a woman who was wiser than them all,—the queen of Belshazzar’s grandfather. In this emergency she addressed the king in language that sent a ray of light into the darkness.” The Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

“Daniel is remembered, and brought to the banqueting hall. The servant of God sees the evidences of the degradation and idolatry of the feast, so suddenly brought to an end; but Daniel was not disconcerted in the presence of the king and his lords.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

6 What did the king say when Daniel came before him? How did Daniel esteem the king’s offer of gifts? Daniel 5:13–17.

note: “Then is Daniel brought before the king without delay, and the monarch promises him great rewards if he will interpret the writing. Daniel looks upon that wicked throng bearing evidence of intemperate feasting and revelry. He stands before them in the quiet dignity of a servant of the most high God, not to speak words of flattery, as was the custom of the professedly wise men of the kingdom, but to speak the truth of God. Sternly disclaiming all desire for rewards or honor, he says, ‘Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.’ [Daniel 5:17.]” Review and Herald, February 8, 1881.

7 Of what was the king reminded? Daniel 5:18–21. Why had judgment been pronounced against him? Verses 22, 23.

note: “Daniel did not swerve from his duty. He held the king’s sin before him, showing him the lessons he might have learned but did not. Belshazzar had not heeded the events so significant to him. He had not read his grandfather’s history correctly. The responsibility of knowing truth had been laid upon him, but the practical lesson he might have learned and acted upon had not been taken to heart; and his course of action brought the sure result.” The Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

8 What was the meaning of the writing on the wall? Daniel 5:25–28. How soon was the sentence executed? Verses 30, 31.

note: “Belshazzar was without excuse, for abundant light had been given him to reform his life. He had had opportunity for knowing the truth; but he lost all the benefits of the knowledge by his course of self-indulgence; he did not meet the mind of God, as a man or a king, and because of this the kingdom had been taken from him. He who has power to set up and to tear down, gave the kingdom to another.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

“This was the last feast of boasting held by the Chaldean king; for He who bears long with man’s perversity had passed the irrevocable sentence. Belshazzar had greatly dishonoured the One who had exalted him as king, and his probation was taken from him. While the king and his nobles were at the height of their revelry, the Persians turned the Euphrates out of its channel, and marched into the unguarded city. As Belshazzar and his lords were drinking from the sacred vessels of Jehovah, and praising their gods of silver and gold, Cyrus and his soldiers stood under the walls of the palace.” The Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

9 What lessons come to us from the fall of nations? Jeremiah 18:7–10. Compare 11 Corinthians 10:4, 5.

note: “The history of the world from the beginning is contained in Genesis. There it is revealed that all nations who forget God and discard His way and his sign of obedience, which distinguishes between the just and the unjust, the righteous and the wicked, the saved and the unsaved, will be destroyed. The first books of the Bible, which trace down the history of nations, including the destruction of the old world, show the overruling providence of God, which from generation to generation has provided for the education of a chosen people. The plainly written word in regard to the just and the unjust is a living testimony in regard to those whom the Lord will sanctify. None who live in disobedience can receive His blessing. Only those who are obedient can receive this.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 184.

10 In what words had the prophet foretold God’s deliverance of His people from Babylon before the captivity? Jeremiah 50:33, 34; Jeremiah 51:19–24.

note: “In the unexpected entry of the army of the Persian conqueror into the heart of the Babylonian capital by way of the channel of the river whose waters had been turned aside, and through the inner gates that in careless security had been left open and unprotected, the Jews had abundant evidence of the literal fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the sudden overthrow of their oppressors. And this should have been to them an unmistakable sign that God was shaping the affairs of nations in their behalf . . . .

“Nor were these the only prophecies upon which the exiles had opportunity to base their hope of speedy deliverance. The writings of Jeremiah were within their reach, and in these was plainly set forth the length of time that should elapse before the restoration of Israel from Babylon.” Prophets and Kings, 552.

11 By what assurance had captive Israel looked forward to this? Jeremiah 51:57, 58.

note: “With what tender compassion did God inform His captive people of His plans for Israel! He knew that should they be persuaded by false prophets to look for a speedy deliverance, their position in Babylon would be made very difficult. Any demonstration or insurrection on their part would awaken the vigilance and severity of the Chaldean authorities and would lead to a further restriction of their liberties. Suffering and disaster would result. He desired them to submit quietly to their fate and make their servitude as pleasant as possible . . . .” Prophets and Kings, 441.

12 How certain is spiritual Israel of judgment upon spiritual Babylon and of final deliverance? Revelation 18:21–19:2.

note: “After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, ‘Lo, here is Christ, Lo, he is there. This is the truth, I have the message from God, he has sent me with great light.’ Then there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith. A more decided effort will be made to exalt the false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God himself by supplanting the day he has blessed and sanctified. This false Sabbath is to be enforced by an oppressive law. Satan and his angels are wide-awake, and intensely active, working with energy and perseverance through human instrumentalities to bring about his purpose of obliterating from the minds of men the knowledge of God. But while Satan works with his lying wonders, the time will be fulfilled foretold in the Revelation, and the mighty angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory, will proclaim the fall of Babylon, and call upon God’s people to forsake her.” Review and Herald, December 13, 1892.

These lessons are adapted from Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1918.

True Freedom in Worship

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold.” According to Usher’s chronology it had been twenty-three years since the dream of this same Nebuchadnezzar as recorded in the second chapter of Daniel. As a result of the experience at that time, Daniel was made counselor, sitting in the gate of the king, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were appointed rulers in the province of Babylon. Many opportunities had presented themselves to these men of God, and they had kept the knowledge of their God before the people of Babylon. Jerusalem had in the meantime been destroyed. The Jews, as a nation, were scattered throughout the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar; their king, Jehoiachin, languished in one of the prisons of Babylon. It was a time of sorrow and mourning for the chosen people of God. Could it be that they were forgotten by Him who smote Egypt, and led the hosts across the Red Sea? As far as human eye could see, it was right to think so.

Pagan Still

Nebuchadnezzar had been humiliated when Daniel interpreted his dream, and he had then worshiped God. But as the years passed, he lost the spirit which characterized true worship, and while in the mind acknowledging the God of the Jews, in heart he was pagan still. So he made an image of gold, patterning it as closely as possible after the image revealed to him in his dream, at the same time gratifying his own pride, for the entire figure was gold. There was no trace of the other kingdoms, which were represented by the silver, the brass, the iron, and the clay in the dream. On the plain of Dura it stood, rising at least one hundred feet above the surrounding country, and visible for miles in every direction.

Then a decree was issued by Nebuchadnezzar calling to the capital the governors and rulers of provinces from all over the world. He, the ruler of kingdoms, thus showed his authority. It was a great occasion, and subject kings and governors dared not disobey the mandates of this universal king.

Heaven was watching with intense interest, for this was the occasion when the highest worldly authority was to meet the government of heaven.

Babylon was not only the greatest and most powerful government in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, but it is a symbol of earthly governments of all time, and for that reason we have the record as given in Daniel 3.

As a king, he had a perfect right to call his subjects together. As subjects, it was the duty of those who were called to obey.

Command to Worship

As that great company gathered around the image on the broad plain, the voice of the herald was heard: “At what time ye hear the sound . . . of all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image. . . . Whoso falleth not down and worshipeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

“God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit.” [John 4:24.] But of spiritual worship, paganism is entirely ignorant. Except there be some form, some image before which they can bow, there can be, to them, no worship. It was wholly in accordance with the religion, the education, and the government of Babylon, for the king to erect an image such as he did. It was wholly in harmony with the customs—educational, religious, and civil—for the people in general to respect a command to worship such an image.

While it was in harmony with worldly government, it was not, however, according to the principle of the heavenly government. Hence it is that again, in the person of the Babylonian king, Satan is challenging the government of God. When Lucifer and his angels refused to bow before the throne of God, the Father would not then destroy them. They should live until death should come as a result of the course they pursued. The Babylonian king, however, threatened utter destruction to all who refused to worship his golden image. The motive power in the heavenly government is love; human power when exercised becomes tyranny. All tyranny is a repetition of the Babylonian principles. We sometimes call it papal; it is likewise Babylonian. When the civil power enforces worship of any sort, be that worship true or false in itself, to obey is idolatry. The command must be backed by some form of punishment,—a fiery furnace,—and the conscience of man is no longer free. From a civil standpoint, such legislation is tyranny, and looked at from a religious point of view, it is persecution.

Can it be?

The vast throng fell prostrate before the image, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego remained erect. Then it was, certain Chaldeans,—teachers in the realm, jealous of the position and power of these Hebrews,—having waited for a chance to accuse them, said to the king, “There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, . . . these men have not regarded thee.”

Can it be, thought the king, that when the image is made after the pattern of the one shown me by the God of the Jews, that those men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, have failed to worship at my command? Can it be possible that when I have elevated those men, who were only slaves, to high positions in the government, that they disregard my laws? The thought rankled in the heart of the king. Self-exaltation brooks no opposition, and the men were called forthwith into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar.

Can it be possible, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, after all that has been done for you, that ye do not serve my gods nor worship the image, which I have set up? The reason for making the image was doubtless explained, and another opportunity offered them in which they might redeem the past offense. But if it was willful disregard of authority, the law of the land should be enforced. The furnace was pointed to by the king as awaiting traitors and rebels.

Test of Fidelity

What a test of the fidelity of these three companions of Daniel! They realized that they were in the presence of not only the richest monarch of earth, and that disobedience meant death, but before the assembled multitudes of the plain of Dura, and that they were a spectacle to God, to angels, and to the inhabitants of other worlds. The whole universe was watching with inexpressible interest to see what these men would do. The controversy was not between man and Satan, but between Satan and Christ, and eternal principles were at stake. Men were actors in the contest. They could stand as witnesses either for Christ or for Satan in this time of decision. Would they allow an unsanctified emotion to have possession of their lives, and compromise their faith? What could a religion be worth which admitted of compromise? What can any religion be worth if it does not teach loyalty to the God of heaven? What is there of any real value in the world,—especially when on the very borders of eternity,—unless it be God’s acknowledgement of us as his children?

These Hebrew youth had learned from the history of God’s dealings with the Israelites in times past, that disobedience brought only dishonor, disaster, and ruin; and that the fear of the Lord was not only the beginning of wisdom, but the basis of all true prosperity. They therefore calmly and respectfully told the king that they would not worship his golden image, and that they had faith that their God was able to protect them.

The king was angry. His proud spirit could not tolerate this refusal to obey his decree. He ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual, and that the most mighty men of his army bind these three Hebrews and throw them into the fire. This was done, but God in this act began to vindicate his worthies. The furnace was so exceedingly hot that the mighty men who cast the Hebrews into the fire were themselves destroyed by the intense heat.

God suffered not envy and hatred to prevail against his children. How often have the enemies of God united their strength and wisdom to destroy the character and influence of a few humble, trusting persons! But nothing can prevail against those who are strong in the Lord. The promise is, “The wrath of man shall praise thee.”

God preserved his servants in the midst of the flames, and the attempt to force them into idolatry resulted in bringing the knowledge of the true God before the assemblage of princes and rulers of the vast kingdom of Babylon. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” All things are possible to those who believe. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” God may not always work deliverance in the way that we think best, but he who sees everything from the beginning knows what will bring honor and praise to his name.

Recognizing the Son of God

Suddenly the king became pale with terror. He looked intently into the midst of the fiery furnace, and turned to those near him with the words, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered, “True, O king.” The king then said, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

How did the king recognize the form of the Son of God? Evidently by the teachings of the Jews in the court of Babylon and in remembrance of his vision. Daniel and his companions had ever sought to bring before the king, the princes, and the wise men of Babylon, a knowledge of the true God. These Hebrews, holding high positions in the government, had been associated with the king; and as they were not ashamed of their God, they had honored and given glory to the Lord whenever opportunity afforded. The king had heard from their lips descriptions of the glorious Being whom they served; and it was from this instruction that he was able to recognize the fourth person in the fire as the Son of God. The king also understood the ministry of angels, and now believed that they had interfered in behalf of these faithful men who would yield their bodies to punishment rather than consent with their minds to serve or worship any god but their own. These men were true missionaries. They held honored positions in the government, and at the same time let the light of the gospel shine through their lives. This miracle was one of the results of their godly lives.

With bitter remorse and feelings of humility, the king approached the furnace, and exclaimed, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.” They did so, and all the hosts of the plain of Dura were witnesses to the fact that not even the smell of fire was upon their garments, and not a hair of their heads had been singed. God had triumphed through the constancy of his faithful servants. The magnificent image was forgotten by the people in their wonder, and solemnity pervaded the assembly.

Truth Prevails

What the Jewish nation as a nation had failed to do in proclaiming the truth to the nations of the world, God accomplished under the most trying circumstances, with only three men. The story of the miraculous deliverance was told to the ends of the earth. The principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience were made known. The history of the Jews was told from mouth to mouth as those unacquainted with the three Hebrews asked who they were and how they came into Babylon. The Sabbath was proclaimed. The story of Jewish education was made known. The glory of Babylon was for the time forgotten as the splendor of the heavenly kingdom and the principles of God’s government became the absorbing theme. Without doubt some men dated their conversation from that day, and forces were set in operation which paved the way for the return of the Jews a few years later.

Again the heathen monarch is brought to acknowledge the power of heaven’s King. When Daniel interpreted the dream, worldly wisdom and the learning of the Babylonian schools fell before the simple gospel teaching as carried out by faithful mothers in Israel. When the three Hebrews were saved from the heat of the furnace, the principles of God’s government—true Protestantism, as it would be called today,—were proclaimed before the nations of the earth.

It was only a partial appreciation of these principles which Nebuchadnezzar at first gained; nevertheless it led to the decree that throughout the whole dominion, wherever a Jew might be living, no man should speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. This gave freedom to every believer to worship unmolested. Satan, in attempting to destroy the Hebrews, had overstepped the bounds, and in place of the death of three, life was granted to thousands.

Test of Faith

The trial on the plains of Dura was the crowning act in the lives of the three Hebrews. We are told that they were advanced to higher positions in the province of Babylon, but we hear nothing further of them. In the testing time they did not know that the Lord would deliver them from the furnace, but they had faith to believe that he had power to do it if it were his will to do so. In such times it takes more faith to trust that God will bring about his purposes in his own way than it does to believe in our own way. It is the absence of this faith and trust in critical times which brings perplexity, distress, fear, and surmising of evil. God is ever ready to do great things for his people when they put their trust in him. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Seldom are we placed in the same circumstances twice. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and others were sorely tried, even unto death, yet each test came in a different way. Each one today has an experience peculiar to his character and circumstances. God has a work to accomplish in the life of each individual. Every act, however small, has its place in our life experience. God is more than willing to guide us in the right way. He has not closed the windows of heaven to prayer, but his ears are ever open to the cries of his children, and his eye watches every movement of Satan to counteract his work.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were men of like passions with ourselves. Their lives are given to show what man may become even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities within his reach. Among the captives of the king who had similar advantages, only Daniel and his three companions bent all their energies to seek wisdom and knowledge from God as revealed in his Word and works. Although they afterward held high positions of trust, they were neither proud nor self-sufficient. They had a living connection with God, loving, fearing, and obeying him. They allowed their light to shine in undimmed luster, while occupying positions of responsibility. Amid all the temptations and fascinations of the court, they stood firm as a rock in adherence to principle.

A direct compliance with Bible requirements, and a faith in God, will bring strength to both the will and the body. The fruit of the Spirit is not only love, joy, and peace, but temperance also. If these youth had compromised with the heathen officers at first, and yielded to the pressure of the occasion by eating and drinking according to the custom of the Babylonians, contrary to God’s requirements, that one wrong step would undoubtedly have led to others, until their consciences would have become seared, and they would have been turned into wrong paths. Faithfulness in this one point prepared them to withstand greater temptations, until finally they stood firm in this critical test on the plain of Dura. . . .

Future Test of Faith

All the world was called to worship the image set up in the province of Babylon; refusing, they would suffer death. In Revelation there is brought to view an image to the beast,—governments on earth which will frame laws contrary to the requirements of God. Life and power will be given to this image, and it shall both speak and decree that as many as will not worship it shall be put to death. All, small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, will be required to receive a mark in the right hand or in the forehead. Men will be disfranchised for not worshiping this image; for no one will be allowed to buy or sell who has not the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Who will be able to stand the test when this decree to worship the image to the beast is enforced? Who will choose rather to “suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”? What children are now being trained and educated in these principles of integrity to God? From what homes will come the Daniels and the Meshachs? This will be the final test brought upon the servants of God. The scenes portrayed in the third chapter of Daniel are but a miniature representation of those trials into which the people of God are coming as the end approaches.

Story of Daniel the Prophet (1904), 28–38. Printed with permission of the publisher, TEACH Services, Inc., Brushton, New York, 1995.