Daniel Chapter 4 Nebuchadnezzar Reduced to a BeastJun 20th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Daniel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Daniel Chapter 4 Nebuchadnezzar Reduced to a Beast
Dan. 4:2 I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
The king wrote these words after his dream, after Daniel explained the dream, after experiencing insanity for seven years, and after the restoration of his sanity.
Dan. 4:3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
Dan. 4:4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
Dan. 4:5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
The king reacted somewhat as he did in Daniel 2 when he supposedly forgot the dream about the great and awesome image.
Dan. 4:6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
Dan. 4:7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
Nebuchadnezzar made a decree similar to the decree after his dream of the image, calling in all of the wise men.
Comment: Although there are similarities, a dissimilarity is that no penalty was attached for failure to interpret the dream. Thus the king’s heart attitude had changed. Also, this time the king told the dream to his wise men.
Dan. 4:8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,
Dan. 4:9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
The last individual to come before the king was Daniel. Like the Lord’s people, he was left out initially and was the last to be consulted. Now, based on the king’s previous experience with Daniel’s interpreting the dream of the image, he complimented Daniel, calling him by his Babylonian or Chaldean name “Belteshazzar.” Notice Daniel’s position: “master of the magicians.”
We can see the problem the others encountered in trying to explain a tree with only a stump left, but let us take the verses one at a time.
Dan. 4:10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
Nebuchadnezzar saw “a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.” In interpreting the dream, Daniel said the tree represented the king (verse 22). “In the midst of the earth” referred to his dwelling place; i.e., the city of Babylon was in the midst of the empire. Although the city was not in the geographical center of the earth, everything revolved around the king, whose authority was very autocratic
Dan. 4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
Like the dream of the image, this dream was very awesome and dramatic. No matter where one resided in the empire, the gigantic tree could be seen in the middle of it.
“The tree grew, and was strong.” The Babylonian Empire was a tight-knit organization. It is acknowledged that the prosperity of the empire was due to Nebuchadnezzar’s ingenuity and great ability as an administrator. His subjects prospered or did not prosper according to his disposition at any given time.
Dan. 4:12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
“The leaves thereof were fair” is a reference to Babylon’s architecture and gardens, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon being one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With information gleaned from other Scriptures, we know the king’s palace and its marble were also remarkable. The empire—the outward visible evidences of its power—was glorious and very pleasing to look at. As time went on, these factors gave the king a big head. “In it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.” Man, beast, and fowl all prospered and benefited in the empire.
Dan. 4:13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
Who was the “watcher and an holy one” that came down from heaven? It was an angel, probably the Logos here, the chief archangel, because the word “watchers” (plural) is used in verse 17. In other words, the king saw one of the angels come down from heaven. The term we would use today is “guardian angels.” These angels had something to do with the providence of the king’s empire. They were watching, looking down at the earth.
Dan. 4:14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
The “watcher,” one of authority, cried aloud and declared that the tree should be hewn down. Both short-term and long-term definitions can be applied to this dream. The actual destruction of the Hanging Gardens and the breaking up of the empire did not occur until the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar, in 536 BC. The dream indicated that all the finery of this wonderful, glorious empire (the golden head of the image) would one day perish—but years after Nebuchadnezzar was struck down personally and after his death. In other words, this dream was deeper than that which occurred during the life of the king. The angel declared a foreboding picture that all of this glory would pass away one day.
Dan. 4:15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
The tree was addressed with the masculine pronoun “his” to signify that the immediate application was to King Nebuchadnezzar. He would be cut down, and his empire would be disbanded at some future date.
Q: What is the significance of the “band of iron and brass”?
A: The radical contrast is not between the two metals (the iron and the brass) but between the “tender grass … wet with the dew of heaven” and the iron and brass. From a practical standpoint, brass is a symbol of hardness. For example, one with a brazen forehead is hardheaded; it is difficult to get through to such an individual. Brass is not amenable to molding. Iron pictures that which is hard, cruel, unyielding, inflexible. Both the brass and the iron are unmalleable and unyielding. Thus the dream was showing a set, fixed situation that only time would change. In contrast, the “tender grass of the field” was edible. The king would be cut down with only a stump left of the former condition. However, it is meaningful that the stump was not uprooted but was kept alive by moisture, by dew. The fact that the roots of the king’s empire were preserved suggests that the tree could be
restored. We use the same principle with the Garden of Eden. The fact that two cherubim guarded the way so that no one could enter was another way of saying the Garden of Eden was intentionally preserved for some purpose. Otherwise, God would have destroyed the Garden, thereby avoiding the need for protection. Likewise, the tree was preserved through the stump for the future. First, however, a time band had to expire. When we think of the dream from the king’s standpoint, his life was preserved, even though he was demoted and became like a beast.
Normally if we cut down a tree, it dies and the roots eventually decay. But here the tree was purposely fed with dew, indicating Nebuchadnezzar’s life would be preserved. Moreover, the dew signifies the tender mercy of God on behalf of the king, even though radical treatment was necessary to bring about a change in his thinking and character. “Let it [the stump] be wet with the dew of heaven.” The thought in antitype is “let the king be wet with the dew of heaven.”
“Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth.” Now the picture is changing. Moisture would keep the stump alive, and the stump represented the king. But the king was also likened to an animal, and the same dew that preserved the stump would preserve the king, even though he was like a beast and would eat the tender grass. Hence God’s mercy would keep him alive and thus preserve his life.
Dan. 4:16 Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
Indirectly “seven times” would pass over the stump, but verse 16 is saying that seven times would pass over the king. Therefore, in the first examination, the seven times refer to seven literal years. In other words, the king would be debased for a period of seven years. A “time” usually refers to a lunar year of 360 days and thus, based on the principle of a day for a year, to 360 years. The Book of Daniel uses this manner of time reckoning elsewhere for the same Hebrew word iddan. The point is that although we may make rules, we must have a measure of reserve, for if the word iddan can mean 360 years and if it can also mean one literal year, the account is opening the door for a third meaning as well.
Dan. 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers [plural].” We are reminded of Hebrews 1:14, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Throughout the Gospel Age, all of the angels in heaven have been employed as guardian angels for the Church of God to protect them. The words “sent forth” indicate they received a commission. Therefore, while the decree is said to come from the watchers, it actually came from the Heavenly Father. God gave the mandate or orders commissioning the angels what to do.
Comment: Another pertinent text is Psalm 103:20,21. “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.”
While Satan is the god of this world, God will never allow things to get out of hand. Parameters of constriction are in effect as to what Satan can and cannot do. With Satan running the normal affairs of life, the broad mass of humanity are “children of the devil.”
God does not condone evil but has permitted it. Hence the watchers are charged with the responsibility of making sure that matters do not get out of control. God is, and always will be, the Emperor of the Universe.
When this experience ended, King Nebuchadnezzar felt that the Most High God had truly protected him and granted mercy. Even though one of the watchers said, “Cut down the tree,” part of the command was to preserve it. And that is what particularly impressed the king. After this experience he felt that instead of his being destroyed, God had mercifully delivered him from the situation.
Dan. 4:18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
Dan. 4:19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
Dan. 4:20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
Dan. 4:21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
Dan. 4:22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
“Daniel … was astonied [astonished] for one hour.” An hour later he gave the interpretation. The fact that he was in the presence of the king for that hour makes the account even more dramatic. The king was no doubt watching as Daniel meditated, prayed, agonized, and was very troubled. As a counselor, Daniel empathized as he explained that the tree represented the king. It was not pleasant for Nebuchadnezzar to hear that the besetment and trouble which came upon the tree were a prophecy of what he himself would experience. Notice how he responded: “Do not be afraid to give me the interpretation.” Immediately Daniel said, “The dream is favorable to your enemies.”
Comment: Had the king not known that Daniel was speaking with the wisdom and spirit of God, he might have reacted in anger against Daniel.
“The tree that thou sawest … grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven.” Daniel was saying to the king, “When you had this dream, you saw the tree growing.” The dream was like a moving picture in which the tree kept growing until it reached up to heaven. “It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.” The tree represented the king’s prospering more and more and more.
Dan. 4:23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;
Dan. 4:24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
Dan. 4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
“They [the watchers] shall drive thee from men, … make thee to eat grass as oxen, and … wet thee with the dew of heaven.” For the third time in this chapter, the term “seven times” is mentioned. For the king personally, the “seven times” were seven literal years.
Dan. 4:26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
In other words, the kingdom would be returned to Nebuchadnezzar after he came to his senses. This was a hard interpretation to tell the king—that the dream would be favorable to his enemies, who would occupy the office of state in the interim period. Nevertheless, the king would come back into power after receiving the “seven times” punishment.
Dan. 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Dan. 4:28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
The clause “break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor” suggests that the king was not thinking of the poor. Even today it is an odd thing with those who get into power and become very, very wealthy in certain countries around the world. Although they may have been nobodies previously, their great mineral and other wealth are a sharp contrast with the people under their subjection, who are in abject poverty. The account here is suggesting that with all the power and glory of the Babylonian
administration, the king was not tender in his feelings towards the common people.
Comment: Verse 27 is a reminder of the pronouncement of judgment on Nineveh. The Lord repented when Nineveh changed its ways. Here Daniel gave similar advice to King Nebuchadnezzar. If the king would break off his sins and show mercy to the poor, he might receive a “lengthening of … tranquillity.”
Comment: The account is also a reminder of the Prodigal Son, who squandered his wealth and was reduced to eating husks like the swine before he came to his senses, repented, and returned to his father.
Comment: The account here in Daniel 4 is especially meaningful because the king was writing about his own experiences.
Reply: Yes, and some day his original writing will be found. The point is that the king himself preserved the record, and he praised Daniel’s role as the representative of the Most High God. Nebuchadnezzar was very effusive and impulsive by nature.
Comment: We have not discussed the meaning of the “seven times.”
Reply: The “seven times” would represent 7,000 years, as will be seen. Although this interpretation differs from the usual thought of 2,520 years, we can easily demonstrate that the interpretation must be 7,000 years.
Before proceeding, we will have a review. In interpreting the king’s dream, Daniel mentioned how God had favored Nebuchadnezzar by giving him a great dominion, a far-reaching realm, and Daniel likened the tree in the dream to the expanse of the king’s empire. Not only was the tree (empire) a shelter to the people of the realm, but the fowl of the air rested on its branches and the beasts of the field received shade. Then an angel came down from heaven and issued a command to “hew down the tree.” Historically speaking, the “seven times” had a fulfillment on the king himself. Verse 28 is a summation of the dream, Daniel’s explanation, and his saying to the king, “This dream pertains to you and your experiences.”
Now we will review the account from another standpoint. In Volume 2, page 93, the brother gave an ingenious explanation which led to the conclusion that the seven times represent 7,000 years rather than 2,520 years. He said of Daniel 4, “Here man’s original dominion over the whole earth, its removal, and the certainty of its restitution, to begin at the end of Gentile Times, is forcibly illustrated in a dream given to Nebuchadnezzar.” However, we know restitution did not occur at the end of Gentile Times, and when the brother wrote the Second Volume in 1889, he was thinking that the year 1914 would mark the beginning of the Kingdom. He expected all of the saints to be glorified by that time and the reign and restitution to begin. Before his death in 1916, he amended one line of reasoning because 1914 came and went without all expectations being realized. He changed the anticipated fulfillment of the expression “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in,” for he had
equated it with Gentile Times (Rom. 11:25). Nevertheless, he retained Gentile Times, for he believed in the chronology—even though the Kingdom was not set up in 1914.
The term “fulness of the Gentiles” means the Church is complete, for “blindness in part” happens to Israel “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” When the Pastor was here after 1914, he mentioned that an error had been made on his part. He stated that the “fulness of the Gentiles” pertains to the completion of the Church, which is primarily a Gentile Church. Although he did not change the interpretation of the “seven times” being 2,520 years, that correction must be made for a number of reasons, a few of which follow.
Page 93 of the Second Volume states, “Another view of the Gentile Times is presented by Daniel—Chapter 4.” However, although the fourth chapter of Daniel repeatedly uses the term “seven times,” the usage is from a different standpoint and it does not refer to Gentile Times. It is the “seven times” of Leviticus 26, which pertain to Israel in contrast to other nations, that refer to Gentile Times (7 x 360 = 2,520 years). The point is that the term “seven times” has more than one application.
It is important to realize that the “seven times” are a fixed period of time—whatever that time period is. The next sentence in the Second Volume begins with “Here man’s original dominion,” but that thought is a contradiction on the surface, for Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and kingdom are being discussed and “man’s original dominion” goes back to Adam. However, this seeming contradiction was providentially overruled, for even though the Pastor thought 1914 would conclude the Gospel Age and usher in the Kingdom, his statement opens our eyes. Now we will review what happened to the tree.
The tree grew, and all the beasts of the field and the fowl of the air were on it. Doesn’t this description beautifully fit the dominion given to Adam? Wasn’t he made lord of the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, and the beasts of the earth? Adam’s dominion began with the little Garden of Eden, which would have prospered and grown if he had not disobeyed and been put out of it. And what happened to the tree? It was cut down, and Nebuchadnezzar was dethroned or put out of his kingdom until “seven times” passed over him. Adam pictures not just Gentiles but Gentiles and Jews. Since all mankind came from Adam and man’s original dominion was given to him, we cannot restrict the application of Daniel 4 to Gentiles Times. The picture is more embracive.
Later the Second Volume discusses the same theme of man’s original dominion and restitution. The Pastor thought that Gentile Times would end in 1914 and that Adam’s dominion would begin to be restored at that time. But Adam’s dominion started back in Eden, and Nebuchadnezzar’s dominion began much later with the Babylonian Empire. Even though, relatively speaking, the Pastor made a few mistakes, who else was there on the horizon? He was a pioneer, an international revealer of truth, and on that basis we accept him as “that servant,” a special and unusual servant—but not an infallible apostle.
What happened at the end of the “seven times” (seven literal years) with regard to Nebuchadnezzar personally? His reason, his sanity, was restored. But have mankind come back to their senses since 1914? No! Conditions are worse now than ever, and they will deteriorate even further. However, if we think of the “seven times” as being seven 1,000- year periods terminating at the end of the Kingdom Age, the picture harmonizes, for that is
when restitution will fully come. Jesus prayed for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as in heaven. The Kingdom in the fullest sense will occur at the end of that age, not at the beginning. Although in the Kingdom righteousness will prevail and unrighteousness will be suppressed, there will be some unrighteousness right up until the end of the Kingdom and the testing in the Little Season. Some will rebel and refuse to listen to the voice of “that prophet” (Acts 3:23).
Comment: Verse 34 is very specific: “At the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me.” With the 1914 application, one would have to minimize the fact that Nebuchadnezzar did come to his senses and praise and extol God “at the end of the days,” whatever the “days” represent. Surely sanity did not return to the nations in 1914.
Q: Verse 11 says that the tree grew. Since it took some time for this growth process to occur, when was the tree cut down?
A: When Adam died at age 930, the “tree” was hewn down. We use the term “family tree” to trace one’s lineage, and the family tree of the human race goes all the way back to Adam (and to Noah).
Comment: In terms of the Abydos Tablet, Adam was recognized as a prince or special dignitary in the Egyptian record.
Reply: “Menes” was Adam, and the word “man” is a derivative. In explaining about the Abydos Tablet in the Photodrama of Creation, the Pastor mentioned that prior to the twentieth cartouche, with Khufu following Noah, the cartouches often omitted the solar disk. However, from Nofru on, the solar disk appeared with the word Ra. Cartouches prior to Noah, without the solar disk, were antediluvian. Some of the subjects the Pastor touched on were very remarkable, but he never had the time to fully pursue them.
Dan. 4:29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
Dan. 4:30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
After the king had the dream, Daniel interpreted it, told him what would happen, and advised him to follow righteousness and show mercy to the poor. However, one year later, the king forgot the dream and his need for humiliation. When he manifested pride and boastfulness, the experience of debasement came upon him. The king asked, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power,
and for the honour of my majesty?” Who was the king speaking to? Was he talking to himself? It would be interesting to know.
Comment: Isaiah 13:19 verifies the greatness of Babylon: “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency.”
Reply: Yes, Babylon was the golden head of the image. Its glory and power were great.
Q: Is there a significance to the 12 months?
A: The only significance we know of is that with the passage of time, the king forgot the dream.
Q: How long was Eve on the scene before the Fall?
A: The account seems to indicate that the Fall occurred soon after Eve’s creation—probably it was only a matter of months. Some reason that a period of two years elapsed before Adam sinned. Using the reasoning that the Scriptures give not only the lineage of Adam but also the time when the wife of each individual gave birth to a child. Thus locked into the lineage of the fifth and eleventh chapters of Genesis is a time period—and this is most unusual. For example, the Abydos Tablet gives the lineage but no years. In Egypt time periods are given for different Pharaohs, but they are not connected. It was felt that the ascension of a new Pharaoh to the throne marked a new era as year 1, and his death marked the end of that era. Moreover, Manetho repeated different dynasties, and sometimes these dynasties were coexistent. As an illustration, the Bible gives us the chronology of the kings of both Israel and Judah. At times a king in the ten tribes reigned contemporaneously with a king in Judah, but the fact that they are listed coherently together and sequentially enables us to co-relate them. The ancient histories of other nations do not co-relate their kings.
Dan. 4:31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
A voice from heaven announced, “The kingdom is departed from thee.”
Dan. 4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
The voice continued, telling the experiences to befall the king until he would “know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.”
Dan. 4:33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and 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.
Verse 33 tells the pitiful state to which the king was debased. He was “driven from men” because of his appearance and his deranged state of mind. He acted like a beast, eating grass like an ox, until “seven times” passed over him. “His body was wet with the dew of heaven, … his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” At present no record of this incident has been found in secular history. That he was king is not denied because broken chips of cuneiform tablets contain his name, but the detail provided in the Book of Daniel is currently missing in secular history.
Dan. 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
Dan. 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Dan. 4:36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
The king was restored to his former estate, but the account does not state how long he reigned from this point. Moreover, the Babylonian tablets are unreliable, and this is one of the problems with secular history. Consider the Egyptian records, for example. Where is Moses mentioned? When did the Egyptians ever lose a battle? Although Queen Hatshepsut reigned for a number of years in Egypt, she is not mentioned in the tablets because she was a woman. Other nations also alter history by conveniently omitting or adding names as they see fit. The Bible is the dependable record. While the small number of errors that have been permitted to occur are corrected elsewhere in Scripture, they afford critics an opportunity to scoff.
The Lord’s Prayer is “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). God’s will being done on earth as in heaven will not occur until the end of the Millennium. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats tells that King Jesus will set the sheep (the righteous) on his right hand and the goats on his left hand. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:33–34). The Kingdom was prepared, the Lamb was slain, and even the elect Church was planned from before the foundation of the world and certainly before the creation of Adam. God’s eventual purpose for the tried and proven of mankind is restitution. Therefore, the time for God’s will to be done on earth is the end of the Kingdom, not the beginning.
Comment: Those who have gone into the grave will be raised gradually throughout the Kingdom, and some will need a lot of correction. For them to get life, their lessons will have to be learned by the end of the Kingdom.
Reply: Yes, they must be not only raised but proven. That is another reason why the loosing of Satan in the Little Season will take place before the end of the Kingdom Age. The termination of his loosing will occur at the end of both the Seventh Creative Day (49,000 years from Adam) and the seventh one-thousand year day. At that time Jesus will turn the Kingdom over to the Father.
Dan. 4:37 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.
SPIRITUAL APPLICATION FROM 1977 STUDY
To review: King Nebuchadnezzar had a troublesome dream about a tree in the midst of the earth that sheltered man and beast. An angel came down from heaven and commanded that the tree be cut down and bands of brass and iron be wrapped around the stump. The tree (or stump) was to be preserved alive for a period of time designated as “seven times” with the hope that at the conclusion of the seven times, it would be restored back to its former commanding position.
The tree pictures Adam, but why? What are the similarities between this account and Adam’s experience?
Comment: Volume 2, page 94 reads: “This remarkable tree, in its glory and beauty, represented the first dominion of earth given to the human race in its representative and head, Adam, to whom God said, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’ (Gen. 1:28) The original glory of man and the power vested in him were indeed sublime, and were over the whole earth, to bless, and feed, and protect, and shelter every living thing. But when sin entered, the command came to hew down the tree, and the glory and beauty and power of mankind were taken away; and the lower creation no more found shelter, protection, and blessing under his influence. Death hewed down the great tree, scattered his fruit and foliage, and left the lower creation without its lord and benefactor.”
Reply: Yes, that statement is pertinent.
Adam is sometimes called the “father of the human race,” for all branches of the human family can be traced back to him. All have root in that one common stock. Not only was he created perfect, but he had dominion over the lower creation and sheltered them—just as in Daniel 4 the birds were on the branches of the tree and the beasts rested in its shade in comfort and serenity. The tree grew and was strong; its prominence could be seen from afar.
According to our chronology, the small Garden of Eden flourished for only two years before sin entered. In Daniel 4:13,14 a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven and made a loud proclamation: “Hew down the tree,” etc. That “watcher” was the Logos. As a result, the tree was hewn down, the branches were cut off, the leaves were shaken off, and the fruit was scattered—all suggesting a forceful dispersion. And what happened in Genesis when Adam disobeyed? He and Eve were expelled from the Garden. Two cherubim with a flaming sword were stationed at the entrance to prohibit Adam and Eve from returning lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever (Gen. 3:24). Adam’s previous condition of dominion and lordship ceased, affecting the animal creation as well and even the earth, for he would henceforth have to till the ground by the sweat of his brow to get food. Weeds and thorns grew.
Notice how in Daniel 4:13,17 the narrative changes from the “watcher” (singular) to “watchers” (plural). The purpose of the dispersion was to teach man a lesson: “This matter is … to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” We would call this the permission of evil. Without this experience, man would forever have a desire for the unknown.
However, there is a time limitation for the permission of evil. The Chart of the Ages shows three great arcs. The first, the world that then was, extending from Adam’s expulsion from the Garden to the Flood in Noah’s day, was under the control of the holy angels. The second dispensation, called the present evil world, starting with the Flood and continuing until the Kingdom, has been under Satan’s control as the god of this world. In the days
before the Flood, the demons and Satan were active, dematerializing and desiring to live on earth. With the first dispensation being occupied by Satan, the fallen angels, and a hybrid race of giants, as well as the Adamic race, there was confusion and the holy angels had much to contend with.
Let us consider the position of the holy angels for a moment. Many good angels, being concerned, sincerely desired to help mankind out of sin, and God permitted them to try. While much evil occurred before the Flood, in the beginning it was only Adam and Eve who sinned. The Flood did not occur for 1,656 years, and sin did not become rampant until 120 years before the Flood, at which time God pronounced judgment and commissioned Noah to build the Ark to preserve eight souls.
Therefore, the holy angels set out to help mankind, but instead many of them became contaminated over time. Conditions grew increasingly difficult for the holy angels, for when other angels, beings of their own nature, became lawless, they could not control the situation any more than the police force of New York City could control a hard-core criminal element of, say, 2 million people out of a population of 10 million people.
Although the Scriptures tell us that the holy angels outnumber the fallen ones, that does not mean they can keep the demons under rigid control. Because the evil angels could not be contained, a transfer of power went over to them, and among other things, they forcibly took wives of those whom they chose. Man was, and is, no match for any angel. The purpose of this digression is to show that the “watchers” of Daniel 4 are the holy angels.
First, one angel came down and cried loudly, “Hew down the tree; shake it, strip it; scatter everything.” Subsequently several angels gave a similar decree. In other words, the Lord now let the other holy angels supervise.
“The word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward” (Heb. 2:2). What was the Apostle Paul saying? In the beginning of the first dispensation, every transgression incurred a swift penalty. There was a rigid authority. The holy angels were trying to lift mankind out of sin, and it wasn’t until some of their own number—other angels—transgressed that the situation got out of control. The holy angels could handle man but not disobedient angels. What the holy angels did learn is that association with evil is contaminating. Just as Adam fell, so many of them fell through association with sin. They learned the exceeding sinfulness of sin as regards not only men but angels. That is how the rigid authority of the holy angels became a failure.
Fortunately, the consecrated of this age are judged by intentions, by motivation of will, not by conduct. In the Kingdom, righteousness will not fail because tremendous POWER will be used to rectify conditions—power that even Jesus did not have at his First Advent, for he had to wrestle with the Adversary (for example, he contended with Satan for the body of Moses and dared not bring a railing accusation—Jude 9). Nevertheless, the Logos was superior to Satan, as shown by his delivering the angel Gabriel to answer Daniel’s prayer.
For three weeks after Daniel prayed and fasted, the answer to his prayer was delayed (Dan. 10:12,13). When Gabriel arrived, he told Daniel, “I was delayed by the prince of Persia.” Through this incident we can see the power of the contest in heaven. After the Heavenly Father, the Logos was the strongest, and Satan was next. However, Gabriel, third in position among the angels, was no match for Satan, the prince of this world. If we analyze what the account is saying—that it took three weeks for the Logos to handle Satan—then we can see
that the divine nature is required for Jesus to bind Satan. Moreover, The Christ, Head and body, must have the divine nature to successfully contend with the rest of the fallen angels. Therefore, the Logos took action first, and the term “watchers” refers to the holy angels. After Adam sinned, he and Eve hid themselves when they heard the “voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). In other words, when they heard the Logos walking, they hid themselves. Having the leading authority at that time to see that the divine command was carried out, the Logos expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. After that, the holy angels took over.
In the beginning Lucifer was the only transgressor, but in time, when the holy angels were carrying out their authority, some of them became contaminated and fell through association with fallen humanity. It is that pollution which eventually began to take a toll and to counteract the strong authority of the holy angels. Therefore, it was not until, perhaps, the last third of the 1,656 years that the fallen angels began to exercise more authority down here.
Notice what Daniel 4:13,14,17,24 is saying. First, the Logos, the holy one or watcher (singular), came down and made the declaration, next the decree was by the “watchers” (plural), and then it was called “the decree of the Most High [or Holy] God.” Thus it was the decree of Almighty God executed through the Logos through the angels. A number of beings were involved, but the decree originated with God. The holy one (the Logos) came
down as God’s representative and gave the command, and subsequently the other angels took over. This fourth chapter of Daniel is telling us that the holy hierarchy is God, Jesus, and the holy angels in connection with both the cutting down of the tree and the banishment of man into the unfinished earth. King Nebuchadnezzar was cut down as a tree and became like a beast. The purpose of the New Covenant is to give mankind a heart of flesh—to write God’s Law in their hearts. Adam’s heart of flesh turned, figuratively, to a heart of stone in that the human race became more hardened as time went on. Just as Nebuchadnezzar was sent out like a beast into the field to eat grass, so Adam was sent out into the unfinished earth.
Both Adam and Nebuchadnezzar were given a kingdom, a dominion. Verse 17 states the intent of the king’s punishment to be “that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest [lowliest] of men” (see RSV). God has the right to give the kingdom of men to the lowliest of men. In other words, He can exalt those of low or humble estate just as He did with Mary when she was chosen to bear Jesus, or He can humble the proud as He did with Nebuchadnezzar. Hear Mary’s words in Luke 1:48—“For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”
However, we should remember that God gives the kingdom to the vilest of men not with authorization but with permission. Hence God is not responsible for the evil—He merely allows Satan and mankind do certain things within parameters. The humble ones of this earth will be the kings of the next age. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). God can take the lowliest, humblest person and replace a proud individual.
A time period is involved: until “seven times shall pass over” (Dan. 4:15,23,32). If the tree pictures Adam, the seven times could not refer to Gentile Times—for the tree is to be cut down until seven times pass over it. The seven times are the 7,000 years that started with Adam’s fall, and they will terminate with the end of the Millennial Age, when mankind will have reached perfection and will extol and glorify God and know that He ruleth (Dan. 4:25). Leviticus 26 teaches Gentile Times but not Daniel 4. To apply Gentile Times to Daniel
4 does not harmonize, for at the end of that “seven times,” man’s reason is to be restored, and this did not happen in 1914. When the seven times passed over Nebuchadnezzar in his dream, he came to his senses—and that was the motivation: until the king (Adam, mankind) learned that the Most High God ruleth over the children of men and can give the Kingdom to whomsoever He chooses.
Q: When did Nebuchadnezzar begin his reign? Was it shortly before 606 BC?
A: No, his reign started much earlier. Altogether, he reigned about 45 years, and this experience with the seven years occurred in the middle of his reign. In other words, the king grew in stature as he conquered various nations, including Israel and Egypt, and consolidated his empire. When he was in the fullness of his stature, he had the dream of the tree and received the warning through Daniel’s interpretation. Twelve months later,
while walking in the palace, he boasted, “Have not I, the king of Babylon, accomplished all of this? The beautiful gardens, the architectural splendor, and the great dominion are all my glory.” Immediately a voice from heaven reprimanded him, “No, you must learn a lesson,” and in that same hour he was dethroned and lost his senses. (It took one year for the dream of his loss of power to be fulfilled, and the king had evidently forgotten about the dream because nothing had happened.) After seven literal years, his senses returned. In both the beginning and the end of Daniel 4, the king praised God. In regard to the antitype, did mankind praise the God of heaven in 1914? No, and in fact, World War I was intensifying. However, at the end of the Kingdom, the great “Hallelujah” chorus will be sung, and God will be all in all (Rev. 5:13; 1 Cor. 15:28).
Bro. Russell providentially suggested that the tree pertained to the dominion given to Adam. And it was also providential, though incorrect, that he applied the seven times of Daniel 4 to Gentile Times, for this became a test after 1914 came and went and sanity was not restored. Unfortunately, some threw out both the date and the expectations and gave up the truth altogether. However, the date 1914 was valid—it is just that all of the events
expected did not materialize and had to be adjusted forward. For example, the Kingdom was not established, the reign did not begin, and the Church was not complete at that date. Next, consider King Nebuchadnezzar. Because he was a Gentile, the Pastor associated his experience with Gentile dominion. However, the seven times of Daniel 4 were a period of debasement, not exaltation. Since the Gentile king (Gentile dominion) was humiliated in this picture, the conclusion that the seven times represent Gentile Times does not fit. Gentile Times were a period of Gentile supremacy, not debasement. In contrast, the seven times of Leviticus 26 prophesied punishment to come on Israel if the nation persisted in disobedience.
After that seven times, the tables would begin to turn in favor of Israel, and that is exactly what happened, with the nation being reestablished in 1948.
Therefore, the seven times of Daniel 4 were a period of debasement of a Gentile king, not of a Jewish king, and Nebuchadnezzar’s debasement harmonizes with Adam’s debasement, for Adam was not a Jew. In fact, the Jewish arrangement did not occur for more than 2,000 years after Adam. Adam and the human race will be debased until the end of the Millennial Age, for the entire reign of Christ is the period of anastasis, the time for the raising up of the human race. The entire Millennium will be required to raise man up to where Adam was when he fell. Stated another way, it took Adam almost a thousand years to fall in death (930 years), and the Millennial Age is 1,000 years long. The fourth chapter of Daniel teaches (1) the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar for seven literal years and (2) the humiliation of Adam and his race for 7,000 literal years. The experience of Israel and Gentile Times should not be confused with Daniel 4 because they do not harmonize. Man did not praise God at the end of the 2,520 years, and a Jewish king was not exalted.
Q: In verse 27 the king was given an opportunity to lengthen his days if he broke off his sins. “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” How does this fit the antitype?
A: Daniel did not say repentance by the king would change the situation, just that it might lengthen his tranquillity. In other words, God saw that the permission of evil would be for man’s ultimate good. And because evil has been permitted on earth—with man’s experience being recorded—the lesson will not have to be repeated anywhere else in the universe in the illimitable future. Otherwise, without knowledge of the results of sin and/or with just a book about the permission of evil, future yet-unborn generations would need firsthand experience. But seeing a three-dimensional film of earth’s history as it actually occurred, and hearing the actual sounds and voices, will be as real as experiencing the events personally. Those on other planets will thus experience the permission of evil vicariously.
Just as Nebuchadnezzar needed the lesson, so mankind needs the lesson of the folly of sin and pride, to be followed by praise for God and the extolling of His holy name.
Back to the original question. If Nebuchadnezzar had broken off his sin by righteous acts, it might be that his days would be lengthened: “it may be a lengthening.” Similarly, in giving advice for the coming Time of Trouble, Zephaniah 2:3 says to “seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.” God did not promise to revoke the judgment if Nebuchadnezzar repented but to perhaps postpone it. Incidentally, Adam has had his experience—and probably in many ways of which we are unaware.
This account of Belshazzar’s feast is deliberately worded (providentially overruled) because it will be a visual presentation in the Kingdom. The repetition, the many unnecessary words, on even easy-to-understand points are intentional, for the account is being adapted for television. For instance, in the beginning of the chapter, the king talked about the dream he had. Then Daniel entered and the account repeated. And when Daniel ended his hour of meditation, there was another review. Instead of just saying to the king, “The tree is you,” Daniel repeated the details.
What do the bands of iron and brass around the tree stump represent (verses 15 and 23)? Why are there two bands instead of one when either band by itself would seem to be sufficient? The very fact the king saw two different metals or bands indicates there is a reason. The following is offered as a suggestion.
The band of brass (or copper) represents perfect humanity. The Roman Empire and its strict, orderly law were pictured by iron because iron is rigid and inflexible. Anyone who broke the Roman law trembled. For example, a jailer who allowed a prisoner to escape was put to death. If a Roman citizen was tried in an alien court, the magistrate was punished for bypassing the Roman court, the legal authority. Thus the iron is related to rigid rule and law. However, brass is also inflexible.
When Adam sinned and died, God did not release the death penalty. The rigid, inflexible rule or decree continued on the human race, on Adam’s posterity. Therefore, the period of seven times (or 7,000 years) has been determined by divine law.
Not only was the stump fettered with two bands, but moisture, the dew of heaven, was provided. And so God’s promise has kept the stump alive. Genesis 3:15 indicates that the woman seed will eventually triumph over the Satan seed. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This promise, which provided some hope, some encouragement,
sustained Adam and Eve. With that divine dew of promise, individuals back there looked for a coming deliverance under Messiah. Thus there was rigid control, firm justice, and yet a promise that was kept alive.
But why did two bands restrict the stump? Why the iron and the brass? Perhaps the iron band refers to the Mosaic Law, which came later. The entire human race was condemned in Adam, but the Jews were also condemned under the Mosaic Law. Hence the Jews were twice condemned. However, with regard to the Mosaic Law, even the Gentiles were condemned in their conscience, for the Law revealed the undone condition of men. Gentiles who meditated on God’s Law could see they were imperfect. Therefore, the iron band might pertain to the Law of Moses, and the band of brass to the penalty on Adam. The two were effective in restraining man. The Law condemned man by promising to give eternal life to any who could keep it perfectly, but none could except Jesus Since imperfect man could not keep the Law, the Law restrained him, as it were. Incidentally, perfect obedience in either case would bring life: Adam’s perfect obedience or perfect obedience to the Mosaic Law.
Comment: The iron would seem to show that just as justice is rigid, so the Kingdom cannot be returned to Adam (and the saved human race) until the end of the Millennium, after the Little Season, when only the perfectly obedient remain on the earth. From another standpoint, the two bands could be considered to represent (1) man’s incapability to obey God perfectly and (2) the rigidity of the decree itself. In any event, the Lord was pleased to insert the detail about the two bands.