The Youth’s Instructor



February 2, 1904

Lessons from the Life of Daniel—18

A Perversion of Truth


The dream of the great image, by which were opened future events reaching to the end of time, was given to Nebuchadnezzar that he might understand the part he was to act in the world's history, and also the relation that his kingdom sustained to the kingdom of heaven. This wonderful dream caused a marked change in his ideas and opinions, and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of God; but his heart was not yet cleansed from its pride, its worldly ambition, its desire for self-exaltation. YI February 2, 1904, par. 1

The prophet Daniel described to King Nebuchadnezzar the rise and fall of the kingdoms that were to succeed Babylon; but the king did not cherish the conviction that came to his mind in regard to the fall of all earthly governments, and the greatness and power of Jehovah's kingdom. After the first impression wore away, he thought only of his own greatness, and studied how the dream might be turned to his own honor. YI February 2, 1904, par. 2

The words, “Thou art this head of gold,” made the deepest impression upon Nebuchadnezzar's mind. Seeing this, the wise men who had been unable to tell his dream, proposed that he make an image similar to the one seen by him, and set it up where all might behold the head of gold, which was a representation of his kingdom. YI February 2, 1904, par. 3

This suggestion pleased the king. His pride was flattered by the thought that he could thus represent his greatness; and instead of merely reproducing the image seen in his dream, he determined to make an image that should excel the original. This image was not to deteriorate in value from the head to the feet, like the one he had been shown, but was to be composed throughout of the most precious metal. Thus the whole image would represent the greatness of Babylon; and he determined that by the splendor of this image the prophecy concerning the kingdoms which were to follow, should be effaced from his mind, and from the minds of others who had heard the dream and its interpretation. YI February 2, 1904, par. 4

God had spoken plainly in regard to the heavenly kingdom. “In the days of these kings,” said Daniel, “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 forever.... The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” YI February 2, 1904, par. 5

The king had acknowledged the power of God. saying: “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, ... and a revealer of secrets;” but notwithstanding this acknowledgment, the years of prosperity that followed filled his heart with pride, and he forgot God, resuming his idol-worship with increased zeal and bigotry, and cherishing the thought that the Babylonian kingdom would stand forever. YI February 2, 1904, par. 6

At the time when Nebuchadnezzar saw the vision of the great image, he had purposed to destroy the wise men, because he discerned their deceptions, and was convinced that they did not have the learning and power that they claimed to possess. Only by the intercession of Daniel had they been saved from a cruel and ignominious death. The king now united with these men in planning to dishonor the God of Daniel. The light that had been permitted to shine from heaven upon Nebuchadnezzar was used to serve his pride and self-exaltation. The wise men, in counsel with the king, concluded that Babylon was the kingdom which was to break in pieces all other kingdoms; and they endeavored to make an image that would represent Babylon as eternal, indestructible, all-powerful,—a kingdom that would stand forever. YI February 2, 1904, par. 7

From the treasures obtained in war, Nebuchadnezzar “made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” This image was placed in a conspicuous position, and a proclamation was issued that all should worship it. YI February 2, 1904, par. 8

Thus the grand lesson which God had given to the heathen through the vision of the great image, was misconstrued and misapplied. That which was designed by God to give to the world clear, distinct rays of light, Nebuchadnezzar turned from its purpose, making it minister to his pride and vanity. The prophetic illustration of God's glory was made to serve for the glorification of humanity. The symbol designed to unfold important events was used as a symbol that would hinder the spread of the knowledge that God desired the kingdoms of the world to receive. By the magnificence and beauty of his image, the king sought to make error appear more attractive, more powerful, than the truths that God had revealed. YI February 2, 1904, par. 9

Those who are willing to be taught, may learn a lesson from the conduct of the king of Babylon. As Satan sought to make God-given light serve his own purposes, by leading the king to work for his own glory instead of the glory of God, so the enemy works today to pervert truth in order to hinder God's purposes. Truth unmixed with error, is a power mighty to save; but if we allow the enemy to work through us; if, by means of the light given us, we seek to exalt self, even truth, perverted, may become a power for evil. YI February 2, 1904, par. 10

Mrs. E. G. White