Prophetic History of the World
Lesson 17

In ancient times the great trade routes of the then civilized world passed through the land of Canaan. God planted Israel at the crossroads of the world that they might be a light to the surrounding nations. As Israel through disobedience lost the power to command the attention of the other nations, that the nations might consider God and His wonderful works and ways with the children of men, God’s purposes were largely frustrated. There were nations, however, who had acquired the power to arrest and command the attention of all other nations, and by scattering Israel among those nations, God’s purposes which could not be fulfilled in Israel’s prosperity, were fulfilled in their captivity. This is the whole purpose of Daniel being in the position he held in Babylon; and in Nebuchadnezzar and his successors standing in the positions in which they stood.

“In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as dependent on the will and prowess of man. The shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the Word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will.” Ellen White, Education, 173

In no other portion of Scripture is this principle more clearly revealed than in the second chapter of Daniel. Here is revealed the whole sweep of history from the time of Daniel until our day.

As we saw in the preceding lessons, Israel, because of continued apostasy, fell into captivity to Babylon. Daniel, with others of the Hebrew princes, had been given a special education and then positions as wise men, or counselors, in the Babylonian court. A short time later, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, summoned the wise men of his kingdom to a meeting.

1. For what purpose was this meeting?

Daniel 2:3
Daniel 2:3

2. How did the wise men reply?

Daniel 2:10–11
Daniel 2:10-11

Note: These men belonged to a class who professed to be able to foretell future events by supernatural means. Sorcerers by the aid of evil spirits claimed to have hidden insights regarding the future. The study of astrology apparently originated in Babylon, where 12 groups of stars, which we now call the “twelve signs of the zodiac,” were laid out. The planets were regarded as the powers that were of particular significance in controlling the fortunes of men, and the five leading Babylonian deities were identified with the five planets then known. This ancient practice, with slight variations, has come down to us as the astrology of today. The Chaldeans were the astrologers of ancient Babylon.

3. Who was able to give the king an understanding of his dream?

Daniel 2:27–28
Daniel 2:27–28

Note: In the first meeting that was called, it is apparent that Daniel and his friends had been overlooked. God allowed this, in His providence, that the fraudulent claims of the other wise men might be exposed, and that their inability to reveal future events might stand out in stark contrast to the wisdom that comes from God. Daniel and his friends were, however, now included in the general arrest.

4. What had the king been thinking of the night of the dream?

Daniel 2:29
Daniel 2:29

5. What had the king seen in his dream?

Daniel 2:31
Daniel 2:31

6. Of what was this image composed?

Daniel 2:32–33:
Daniel 2:32–33:

Head_________________________________________

Breast and arms________________________________

Belly and thighs________________________________

Legs__________________________________________

Feet__________________________________________

7. What happened to the image?

Daniel 2:34–35
Daniel 2:34–35


8. Whom did the head of gold represent?

Daniel 2:37–38
Daniel 2:37–38

Note: Nebuchadnezzar was by far the greatest of the kings to rule the Babylonian empire. In fact his name became synonymous with the empire itself, which lasted but a few years beyond his death. When, therefore, the king was told that he was the head of gold, it is to say that Babylon itself was represented by the head of gold.

9. How would the second world empire compare with Babylon?

Daniel 2:39
Daniel 2:39

Note: It is generally supposed to be true that the superior kingdom overcomes the inferior, but prophecy indicates that in this instance the opposite was true. In the image, the history of the nations progressed from the head to the feet, and each change was reflected by a metal inferior to the one that preceded it.

10. What kingdom was this?

Daniel 5:28–31
Daniel 5:28–31

Note: While the Medo-Persian Empire was stronger in terms of military strength and territory occupied, it never was able to rival Babylon in concentrated wealth or education.

11. By what metal was Greece, the third world empire, represented?

Daniel 2:39
Daniel 2:39

12. What is said of the strength of the fourth kingdom?

Daniel 2:40
Daniel 2:40

13. What is indicated by the mixture of clay and iron in the feet and toes?

Daniel 2:41
Daniel 2:41

Note: This is dramatic. The prophet does not describe three world empires or five—he describes four and says that there would be no more, and history testifies to the accuracy of this prophecy. There has been no world empire since the downfall of the Roman Empire.

For the last fifteen centuries strong men have sought to revive the glories of the old Roman Empire, welding together the various nations of Europe. Beginning with Charlemagne and continuing through Charles V, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser William II, and Adolph Hitler—all have signally failed, though at times the goal seemed almost within reach. Seven little words of prophecy stood in their way: “They shall not cleave one to another.”

14. What is to take place in the days of the nations represented by this mixture?

Daniel 2:44
Daniel 2:44

15. Who is referred to as the Rock in the Bible?

Deuteronomy 32:3–4
Deuteronomy 32:3–4

16. What is the alternative to having the Rock fall on us?

Matthew 21:44
Matthew 21:44

Note: We are faced with the choice of either falling on the Rock, or of having the Rock fall on us. In either case there is a breaking process, but when we fall upon the Rock, it is a breaking of our hard and sinful hearts (see Psalm 51:17), that Christ might create in us a new heart. See Psalm 51:10. If, however, we wait for the Rock to fall upon us, it will be to our everlasting loss. See Ezekiel 18:31.

17. What may we also become?

1 Peter 2:5
1 Peter 2:5

18. As “living stones,” upon whom are we building?

Ephesians 2:20
Ephesians 2:20

Note: While Christ, the chief Cornerstone, is an offense to the disobedient (see 1 Peter 2:7–8), He is the security in time of storm to those who have chosen to identify themselves with Him. See Matthew 7:24–25.

19. What reveals that we are indeed a part of the Rock?

1 John 2:3
1 John 2:3

Note: Whether or not we are in union with Christ is revealed in the matter of obedience. It is not possible for us to be walking with Christ and at the same time be antagonistic to any principle of His law. See Amos 3:3. Many in the last day will claim a relationship with Christ (see Matthew 7:22–23), only to have Christ disclaim them as His own; for their works do not correspond to His revealed will.

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