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Tuesday: The Image – Part One — 25 Comments

  1. Here is a bit of history to provide a background to Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream. Babylon was a significant city in Mesopotamia from about 1800 – 500BC. It was widely thought to be that largest city in the world at least a couple of times in that history (pop. ~200,000). It featured significantly in the cut and thrust of power in the group of nations and kingdoms of Mesopotamia, sometimes as the seat of power, and at others, razed to the ground. In those days you did not have elections to choose your new government. You had wars to sort out who had the best technology (actually I don’t think all that much has changed really). The time of Nebuchadnezzar is sometimes called the neo-Babylonian empire and was actually fairly short-lived.

    Babylonian religion in the neo-Babylonian period was typical of the time. They worshiped idols and in particular, representations of Marduk – a creator god from their ancient past. In this period Marduk had been fused into other gods and was often represented as Bel. A big feature of Babylonian worship was the parade of a statue or Marduk/Bel through the streets of Babylon during the spring festival. The care of that statue was considered to be sacred and it was believed that the gods lived both in the statues and were also part of the natural world forces around them.

    The loss of a statue was considered to be the loss of divine favor or patronage. Typically, one of the targets during a war was to get to the enemy’s statues and destroy them. In fact, during the neo-Babylonian period when there was a bit of a battle going on between the city-state of Babylon and Sennacherib of Assyria, the Babylonians took their statue and hid it in the swamps of the lower Euphrates River.

    The shocking thing about the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was that the image was destroyed. Irrespective of the various parts of the image and their interpretation, the really hard message for Nebuchadnezzar was that ultimately the image was destroyed, signifying the loss of divine favor.

    • That was fascinating Maurice, thanks for sharing it. It is just further evidence that God always meets us where we're at. This was a symbol that Nebuchadnezzar could understand and relate to and that would have deep significance for him. Our God is so personal in the ways He relates to His children. I Love that about God.

  2. What an interesting illustration, Babylon the head of gold on a rock, probably granite. Which is more valuable?
    We discover that the one who Created granite, the foundation of this world, and the Rock, whose kingdom will rule the world, is more valuable!
    The whole message in a picture!
    Once we know the dream and its interpretation is clear we won't forget it.

    This image is the introduction to the other dreams and helps us understand them, it is an outline, the others fill in the details.

    Who benefits the most from this dream - Nebuchadnezzar or the LORD's people?

    The purpose of the whole Bible is to reveal the character of the LORD, His Principles of Life and His Plan of Salvation.

  3. Dan 2:5 did Nebuchadnezzar forget the dream or did he decide to test the wise men? Does it matter?

    Why do the translations differ?
    English Standard - the word from me is firm
    King James - the thing is gone from me
    New American Standard- the command from me is firm
    New King James - my decision is firm
    Young's Literal - the thing is gone from me

    Do we find others places in Daniel where the king makes a decision that can't be changed? Dan 3:10, Dan 6:8

    • Shirley, you are comparing the wrong part of the verse.
      "The thing is gone from me" KJV.
      "If you don't make known to me the dream and intrepretation," NAS.
      Now Shirily these do now match better, in my humble opinion.

      I like to compare different translations with guidance by the Holy Spirit to give me a better understanding of the text.

      • JH, I don't believe I was comparing the wrong phrases, please quote the whole verse from both translations you are using so we can see the difference:
        I read them as follows:-
        NAS the command from me is firm: If you do not make known the dream ,...
        KJV the thing is gone from me: if you will not make known unto me the dream ....

        • I am looking at the loss of memory implyed in, "it has gone from me" and the loss of memory implyed in, "if you don't make known to me the dream". I do not see any implication of loss of memory in, "the command still stands, other than looking back at the original command. I am sorry I was not looking how the whole verse differs in different versions. I retract my judgement. However I do still believe I should use more than one translation in understanding the Bible along with Holy Spirit leading, an aspect of immanence of God not to be confused with imminence. Sharing your knowledge is appreciated. Dr. Douglas Bechard has some good light at the end of Sundays lesson.

          • JH, yes absolutely, use several translations and of course the whole Bible.
            Do you have access to the internet (I like Bible Hub) or a program like e-sword (which is free) as they help us to compare translation easily.
            Also discussing issues here in a safe forum on SSNet is helpful.


    BABYLON has a king of kings whose kingdom has an end but Jerusalem has a real king of kings whose kingdom has no end. The counterfeit king of kings finally declared " God is the God of the gods and Lord of the kings.

    Arioch the Babylonian took the credit himself that he found Daniel but the truth is Daniel found him.
    But Daniel didn't take the credit himself, he grolified God. Isaiah 42:8

    ... Did you notice that the dream came in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign? That is after Daniel had completed the 3 years training. So who was the king when Daniel arrived in Babylon?

  5. Our hope in Christ expresses the promise of eternal life that was granted to us through His sacrifice and deep love for us.

    Indeed I can appreciate when Paul expounds that things on earth are only temporal and that we should keep our eyes on the things which are eternal.

  6. We are often worried about our daily lives because of what we see. Material things seem to occupy such an important place in our perspectives. While we are worried about the physical things that surround us, God looks into the heart of men, He sees their motives, desires, aspirations. While we are worried about our decaying bodies, God focus on the salvation of our souls! While we are worried about what we touch and supposedly possess, God is worried about the distractions that blur our minds from the perfect image of our true inheritance which is in eternity! Sin has separeted us from the divine by our own choice, sin can block our sight to the truth that is most important to our survival in this and the next world. But thanks to the Almighty, today we have a new chance to choose again, so let us choose the side of God, the Creator of all that exists! Let us look into our reality through the "lenses" that fit our personality individually, which are Jesus. Through Him our daily lives can make such a sense so that not only we can perceive this unseen reality, but also others around us may be open for the same vision! And it all starts with us.

  7. Maurice, thank you for this important historical background. In explaining the significance of destroying an enemy's idols during a battle, you have shown me that this dream was indeed very relevant for Nebuchadnezzar. He could understand the symbolism in ways that we can't today unless we know the history.

    More importantly, you've given me a new perspective. I've studied this lesson for years and can recite it from memory,
    but I never quite grasped the significance of this dream and why Nebuchadnezzar was so distressed.

    This is why it's important to read and re-read Scripture. God will always show you something new!

  8. Holy Spirit, open my understanding to your words today.
    Last question in today study.
    Look at how fleeting and temporary all human things are. What should this fact teach us about the great hope we have in Jesus, and in Jesus alone (see John 6:54, 2 Cor. 4:18)?
    John 6:5-54 THE BREAD of LIFE.
    While the Bible might look and read like a simple book to some, it has different meaning to others. The Bible is comprised of all different subject matters and areas E.g math(with its different branches), science, literature, philosophy, health, diet, diseases, etc,etc.
    In so saying, no one can study the Bible without the Holy Spirit and expect to understand its true spiritual wisdom. Jesus uses the Physical things of this life what we see everyday, or we use, or we embrace to make a spiritual point. Eg rice is universal, so is water, bread, sugar, wine, juice and some other things.
    Physically- the people were hungry but far away from food.
    Spiritual- they needed Spiritual food more than the physical food. Christ recognized both were needs, but gave the physical then the spiritual. Putting both together we came up with the beautiful explanation below. Daniel and the three Hebrew boys recognized that.

    To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Saviour, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him. It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in, that we are to become partakers of His nature. What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul. Food cannot benefit us unless we eat it, unless it becomes a part of our being. So Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal Saviour. A theoretical knowledge will do us no good. We must feed upon Him, receive Him into the heart, so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace, must be assimilated. DA 389
    In the typical culture, meals are served three times a day. Daniel prayed publicly three times a day. Daniel knew the connection between his physical and his spiritual powers.
    Many times I asked Jesus what is the difference between those people of Bible times and those of present days? Paul summarized it in Heb 11:1-40. The answer is simple- it is all in the Bible.
    If Lyn can grasp the one and only thing today, her life will become different for the rest of time on earth. That is; the connection between the physical and the spiritual.

  9. Nebuchadnezzar did not forget his dream when he brought in the the magicians the first time. He did not tell them the dream because he new they would just make up an interpretation. This has to be true or how would he know that Daniel’s description of both the dream and the meaning were accurate. I have never heard that Nebuchadnezzar could not remember the dream as described in this lesson.

  10. Mi"What does Daniel say here that’s so important for us always to remember"?
    Look at how fleeting and temporary all human things are. What should this fact teach us about the great hope we have in Jesus, and in Jesus alone?

    Take take the opertunity while you have it. Life is but a vapor. Yes with the right ingredients, it is also the breath of life healthful life, allowing a soul to exist. But in the context of James 4:17 it is wise to take Danial's example and take the opertunity to be fruitful, now, before the vapor leaves.

  11. I want to briefly share the following observation on Daniel 2: The center of this chapter are the two terms Secret and Revelation. (Daniel 2:19.21.29) The King demanded the magicians to tell him his forgotten dream, inasmuch as he was troubled to know that dream. (Daniel 2:2-3) According to grammar of the text, it reads like this: "His Spirit was troubled and his sleep took place upon him." (Daniel 2:1) That is to say: "He fell asleep." (The word "nihjetah" in the perfect passive voice of Niphal from hajah: To be, to come into existence.) Being asleep, he forgot all about the dream. Waking up, he called for the magicians demanding them to tell him the forgotten dream and the interpretaion thereof. Nothing less than God himself, the source of revelation, intervened in revealing that secret to Daniel.

    Reading nearly all the german and american translations, I discovered that all of them are translating Daniel 2:1 like this: "...his spirit was troubled and his sleep brake from him.(KJV) Just the opposite. The textcritical apparatus showed me the reason of this opposite translation. Instead of taking the word as it stands in the text (nihjetah), they take as foundation of their translation (naddedah) -- coming from nadad: To go away, to flee, to depart. This word is taken from Daniel 6:19 (KJV Verse 18) and transposed into Daniel 2:1. This would degrade revelation into an act of testing the magicians whether they were able to reveal that dream the king already knew as he -- according to that translation -- was sleepless after he dream that was still in his mind.

    Taking the text as it is, the king had a dream, and was troubled to know the dream. (Daniel 2:3) He fell asleep forgetting what he had dreamed. Not until Daniel revealed to the king the forgotten dream, was that secret revealed. Anything else would neutralize God-given revelation.

    Winfried Stolpmann

    • Hi Winfied, I have also been intrigued with the variations in the translations in Dan 2:1-5, let us look at verses:
      1) had a dream - couldn't sleep or did sleep (per your statement)
      3) want to know what the dream was or want to understand what it means
      5) my decree is final tell me the dream or I forgot the dream tell me the dream

      The majority of the translations he did not sleep and did not forget the dream.

      There is something similar in Dan 4:4-8
      Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by a dream - he issued a decree that the wise men must interpret his dream, he told them his dream, but only Daniel could interpret it.
      In Dan 6:8,12,15 once a decree is issued in writing by the king according to the law of the Medes & Persians it cannot be changed.

      As an SDA growing up based on the KJV and Prophets and Kings pg 491 we were taught that Nebuchadnezzar forgot his dream, however most of the modern translations do not say that.
      So my question - is this variation a matter of doctrine on which we must be prepared to be burned at the stake to defend?

  12. Thank you for asking this question as to whether this text variation in Daniel 2:1 is a doctrine on which we must be prepared to be burned on the stake to defend it. Now, I did not say that.

    But my doctrine is: Sola Scriptura. And this doctrine (teaching) is to be defended even now. As to Daniel 12:1: It appears that this is not just a text variation. As I have discovered and documented, it is a manipulation of the text diminishing revelation.

    I do not want to single out this one text, but would remind you, that there are bigger issues in the book of Daniel. You will find in the commentaries using historical critical interpretation that revelation in form of predictive prophecy has been eliminated. This is done by using predictive prophecy as a tool of determining the date of writing --- by using some point of history (in Daniel the second century); and looking back at the course of history, the unknown writer is believed to have changed history into predictive prophecy. In this view, there is no God declaring the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:9-10)

    I think we have to defend just now predictive prophecy as part and parcel of inspired Scripture not waiting until the death decree appears in history (Revelation 13:15). Writing from my native german background, if you do not subscribe to the historical critical method of interpretation, you are outside of accredited majority theology being pushed back into the fundamentalistic corner. If standing on the pulpit or argue in sabbath school, I still testify the sure word of predictive prophecy. (1 Peter 1:19-20)

    Winfried Stolpmann

    • Hi Winfried,
      I also believe in Sola Scripture, and in predictive prophecy, and that Daniel's visions were given to him before the events happened.

      However where minor points do not affect those principles we should not cause conflict about them, for instance I believe that whether Nebuchadnezzer forgot the dream or not doesn't matter because the wise men were not told the dream in Dan 2, like they were in Dan 4, so the only way Daniel could know the dream was if the LORD gave him the same dream.

  13. Thank you for pointing out the difference between minor and major points as to Daniel 2. As I am familiar with biblical languages, I was translating Daniel 2:1 and the following texts in preparation for sabbath school in my Seventh-day-Adventist local church and thereby discovering this manipulation in verse 1. Why should I not point out what I discovered in this text to be a manipulation? The grammar is a very clear fact as pointed out in my post. It is not my intention to make this - as you think - a point of major issue. However from minor points of diminishing revelation the transition is easy to go on this way, so it becomes an accelerating trend, as seen in the historical critical interpretation, which I commented on in my previous mail. The first step of minor deviation from scripture leads to a second and a third step, until it becomes an established trend. As I have to oppose this trend of postmodern thinking even in church, I hope you will understand my reaction. You may have another background in your country and your church. I understand my post as a testimony out of my spiritual environment. Thank you for your comment. So I will consider your valid point of difference between minor and major points, without ignoring minor points.

    Winfried Stolpmann


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