Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 19 (1904)


Ms 169, 1904

Lessons From the Life of Daniel. XXIII: Daniel's Interpretation, by Mrs. E. G. White


Feb. 7, 1904

Previously unpublished.

When Daniel, in response to the king's summons, stood in his presence, Nebuchadnezzar greeted him with the words: “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 vision of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.” [Daniel 4:9.] Then Nebuchadnezzar related his dream, and appealed to Daniel to interpret the vision, saying, “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.” [Verse 18.] 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 1

The signification of the dream was plain to Daniel and it startled him. He “was astonished for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.” [Verse 19.] He had no desire to misinterpret the vision in order to flatter the king and secure royal favor, yet he was reluctant to reveal the dreadful import of the symbols presented. 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 2

The king, seeing Daniel's hesitation and distress, was led to express sympathy for his servant. “Belteshazzar,” he entreated, “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.” [Verse 19.] But the prophet realized that upon him there rested the solemn duty of telling Nebuchadnezzar the truth in plain, straightforward language. 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 3

“The tree that thou sawest,” Daniel declared, “which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; 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; 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. 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 4

“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; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king; 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. 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 5

“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.” [Verses 20-26.] 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 6

After thus faithfully telling the king that the fate of the tree was emblematic of his own downfall, and that, losing his reason, he would forsake the abodes of men, and find a home with the beasts of the field, remaining in this condition for seven years, Daniel urged the proud monarch to repent and turn to God. “O king,” the prophet pleaded, “let my counsel be acceptable to 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 tranquility.” [Verse 27.] 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 7

For a time Nebuchadnezzar was impressed by the warning and the counsel that had been given him; but a heart that is not fully transformed by the grace of God soon loses the impressions made by the Holy Spirit. Only when accepted and practiced in daily life, does the light of heaven exert a transforming influence upon character. Notwithstanding the instruction that God had given the ruler of Babylon, the king's inordinate ambition again controlled him, soon leading him once more to cherish a spirit of jealousy against the kingdoms that were to follow. The statement, “Thou art this head of gold,” still flattered his vanity, and he determined that his kingdom should be like an image of pure gold. His rule, which had heretofore been, to a great degree, just and merciful, became oppressive. Hardening his heart, he felt independent of God, and used his God-given talent of reason for self-glorification, exalting himself above the God who had given him life and power. 19LtMs, Ms 169, 1904, par. 8