Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Great Image, by Louis A. Dole

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“Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image… The image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.” – Daniel 2:31-34

Readings

Daniel 2:31-49 · Matthew 8:1-13 · Psalm 139

Sermon

Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon when it was at the height of its power. It subdued Egypt and Assyria and took Judah into captivity.

Babylon is used in the Scriptures as the symbol of self-love – that love of ruling over others which would subject everything to its dominion, even the Church, that it might rule over the souls of men to the end that thus it might dominate the whole world, both natural and spiritual.

The king of Babylon represents the principle of unbridled love or rather lust of dominion. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had conquered many nations; he was ambitious to rule the whole world. And while he was in this state of mind, he had the significant dream which is narrated in our text.

This dream was a revelation from the Lord as to the state of the world and as to the future conditions of the church.

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“I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron,” by Louis A. Dole

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“I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” – Isaiah 45:2

Readings

Isaiah 45:1-2, 13-19 · John 17:1-15 · Psalm 48

Sermon

The children of Israel have been carried away captive to Babylon, and are represented as being hidden away behind gates of brass and bars of iron in the land of their exile. Now the days of captivity are drawing to a close, and through the instrumentality of Cyrus, a just and gentle prince, they are to be set free to return to their native land. Cyrus was raised up for a special mission, namely, to subdue the Chaldean oppressor and to let the oppressed go free. So Cyrus is told that the Lord will be with him and give him might. Let him not fear.

The Lord came into the world to redeem men from the power of evil. The prisons cannot be locked up so fast, the doors and bars cannot be so strong but that the work of this redemption will succeed. “I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.”

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“And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.” – Isaiah 39:2

Readings

Isaiah 39 · Matthew 7:1-20 · Psalm 62

Sermon

Hezekiah had recently been healed miraculously of a fatal illness. Merodach Baladan, King of Babylon, sent a delegation of distinguished Babylonians to congratulate him on his recovery. At least this was the reason set forth by Babylon. We usually have more than one reason for every act, and we do not always give the main one.

The truth was that Merodach Baladan cared little for Hezekiah’s recovery. He was, however, very much interested in the resources of the kingdom of Judah. And this embassy was practically a band of spies instructed to inspect the country and its treasures, so that if Babylon should ever desire to invade Judah, the undertaking could be accomplished more intelligently. Espionage is not new; it goes back into the dim past. Claiming to be solicitous for Hezekiah’s health, this Babylonian delegation came really to inspect the arsenals and the golden and silver treasures which they hoped one day to rifle.

Hezekiah was taken in by their flatteries and showed them his treasures, which had been gathered laboriously through many generations – even the sacred vessels of the temple fashioned of the purest gold.

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“Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanes,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanes, saying,
“Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanes, in the sight of the men of Judah;
“And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.
“And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.” – Jeremiah 43:8-11

Readings

Jeremiah 43 · Matthew 16:21-28 · Psalm 80

Sermon

When the king of Babylon took Jerusalem, he appointed Gedaliah governor over the poorer class of people who were left in the land when Judah was carried away to captivity in Babylon. Ishmael, a Jew, stealthily slew Gedaliah, and fled, taking some of the people with him, intending to join the Ammonites. Then Johanan, one of the leaders of the remaining Jews pursued Ishmael and brought back the Jews whom Ishmael had taken with him. But Johanan feared to return to Jerusalem, lest the king of Babylon should visit punishment upon Jerusalem for the killing of Gedaliah, and planned to flee to Egypt. First, however, he asked Jeremiah the prophet to consult the Lord as to where they should go. Jeremiah brought him the Lord’s answer, telling him to go to Jerusalem, where he would be protected by the Lord. But Johanan accused Jeremiah of being a false prophet plotting for his destruction. So Johanan went to Egypt, to Tahpanes the house of Pharaoh, taking with him all the remnant of Judah, including Jeremiah.

In the narrative of the text is presented a graphic picture of the destructive consequences of knowing the truth but reasoning against it and following fallacious appearances. The spiritual lesson lies near the surface. Jeremiah, because he spoke the words of Jehovah, stands for the Word of the Lord, the Divine truth, which counsels and unerringly guides. Jeremiah counseled Johanan and his company to go to Jerusalem, to dwell there, and not to fear the king of Babylon. But Johanan and those with him were afraid to do as the prophet advised, and reasoned that his counsel was false. They chose rather to go into Egypt, to the ruling city there.

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“We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God,” by Louis A. Dole

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“We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” – Daniel 6:5

Readings

Daniel 6 · Mark 10:13-27 · Psalm 118:1-14

Sermon

The book of Daniel is in its letter a book of the captivity of Babylon. The opening chapters are a narrative of Daniel’s experiences, written in the third person. The remainder is written almost entirely in the first person, and describes visions which were seen by the prophet alone. The book is one of marvelous interest even for its story, and contains some of those chapters in the Word which appeal to young and old alike, and which we love to read over and over again.

But the book becomes more wonderful and impressive when we know that it treats of spiritual conditions in which the soul appears to be captive and is threatened by worldly ambitions, which Babylon represents. Baal, Babel, and Babylon are words frequently met with in the Word, and they represent a state in which selfish and worldly ambitions aspire to domineer over spiritual things.

Daniel was a prophet. As a young man he had been marked for his unusual abilities, and was among the first of those taken into captivity by king Nebuchadnezzar. He was a man raised up by the Lord to hold his people steadfast during the trying times which were to come. He soon came into prominence in Babylon, and the Babylonians learned that he had a wisdom superior to that of their soothsayers, magicians, and astrologers. He could interpret dreams and read strange writings. He was feared and persecuted, but always remained steadfast.

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“And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.” – Isaiah 39:2

Readings

Isaiah 39 · Mark 7:1-23 · Psalm 62

Sermon

King Hezekiah had just recovered from an illness that had brought him near to the gates of death. Merodachbaladan, king of Babylon, sent a delegation with a letter and presents, congratulating him on his recovery. At least this was the reason set forth by Babylon. We know that we usually have more than one reason for every act, and that we do not always give the main one.

The truth was that Merodachbaladan cared little for Hezekiah’s recovery. He was, however, much interested in the resources of the kingdom of Judah, and the embassy sent to Hezekiah was really a band of spies sent to inspect the country and its treasures and its weaknesses, so that when Babylon should desire to invade Judah, it could be accomplished more intelligently. Espionage did not originate in Russia; it is a world feature both civil and spiritual.

Claiming to be solicitous concerning Hezekiah’s health, this Babylonian delegation came for the purpose of inspecting the arsenals and also the golden and silver treasures they hoped sometime to possess. In the story it is said that Hezekiah was “glad of them.” He was flattered by their apparent concern, and showed them all his treasures, even those of the Temple itself.

Then Isaiah the prophet appeared to Hezekiah and asked who these visitors were and what they wanted. And when Hezekiah told him, the prophet replied that the word of the Lord was that at some future day Babylon would prove to be a powerful enemy and would plunder the kingdom of Judah and the Temple.

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