Christian Churches of God
(Edition 1.0 20090510-20100508)
Since the so-called "wise" men of Babylon failed to guess the content of the dream King Nebuchadnezzar had, he ordered all of Babylon's magicians, sorcerers and philosophers to be slain. However, with God’s help Daniel was able to relate and interpret the dream. This paper has been adapted from chapters 151-152, Volume VI of The Bible Story by Basil Wolverton, published by Ambassador College Press.
We continue here from the paper The Fall of Jerusalem (No. CB152).
The arrival of the invaders at this time was due to unusual circumstances in Egypt, as reported in ancient histories. For a long time the citizens had been increasingly unhappy with their ruler, Pharaoh Apries. When Apries learned that his people were on the verge of a national revolution, he sent one of his generals, Amasis, on a tour of the nation to try to calm the people down with so-called goodwill speeches intended to paint Pharaoh as a ruler they should learn to appreciate.
To the surprise of both Pharaoh and Amasis, the citizens were so impressed with Amasis that a large crowd of them forcibly insisted that he become their leader and seize the throne from Apries. Amasis couldn't resist this opportunity to become the ruler of a powerful nation. He became the champion of the revolution.
Apries organized enough of an army to make a feeble attempt against Amasis' army, but he was defeated in an initial battle.
News of this came to Nebuchadnezzar, who decided that this was the opportune time to invade Egypt, and punish the nation for its many attempts to bring Judah into rebellion against the Babylonians.
Nebuchadnezzar picked his time well. Even Pharaoh's army rebelled and refused to fight for him. Within days Egypt fell victim to the Babylonians and Apries was killed. Nebuchadnezzar naturally proclaimed Amasis as the new ruler and the army returned to Babylon. They took most of the Jews and many Egyptians with him. Thus more of Jeremiah's prophecies were carried out, including the one that Nebuchadnezzar would overcome Egypt as easily as a shepherd puts on his coat (Jer. 43:8-12).
Before the Babylonians started rounding up their captives, Jeremiah and Baruch safeguarded King Zedekiah's daughters and a few loyal Jews who had been taken into Egypt against their will. All were miraculously spared by the invaders. All other Jews were killed or captured and herded off toward Babylon. The hopeless captives miserably remembered that Jeremiah had told them they would deeply regret leaving their land against God's instruction.
The Babylonians departed with their spoils and apparently took Jeremiah and his little group with them. A few days later they arrived in Judah but not to stay long in a place that had become so utterly desolate. Ravaged cities had turned into the habitations of animals and birds. Fields and orchards were full of weeds.
Jeremiah and his little band might well have survived there, but God had instructed the prophet to take Baruch and Zedekiah's daughters and go elsewhere. Jeremiah obeyed God and, taking leave of Nebuchadnezzar's army, led Baruch and Zedekiah's daughters to a seaport on the Great Sea, possibly Joppa. There they embarked on a sailing ship to the far country of Spain. Irish and Celtic-European annals have preserved the record that a young Irish prince, who was in Jerusalem when the city was taken, stayed with Jeremiah in all these travels and married one of the Jewish princesses in Jeremiah's care.
To learn where Jeremiah and his companions went after going to Spain, it's necessary to flash back almost twelve centuries to the time of Judah. Judah, remember, was the father of the Jews, one tribe among the twelve tribes of Israel. Through that small part of Israel God planned to carry on the "scepter," or reigning line of His chosen people (Gen. 49:10).
But the birthright line of Israel was given to Ephraim and Manasseh (1Chr. 5:1, 2). These latter two tribes and their descendants by the millions were to receive the material blessings promised because Abraham had obeyed God, even to the extent of being willing to sacrifice his only son (Gen. 26:1-5).
Judah, one of Abraham's great-grandsons, was the father of twin sons, Zarah and Pharez. Just before they were delivered, when the midwife realized there were twins, she was especially careful to note which would be born first. That one would be the royal seed through whom the reigning line, or "scepter," (sceptre) would be carried on.
As it happened, a hand emerged first, whereupon the midwife tied a red thread around the little wrist to show which child was the first to start from the mother. However, that baby drew its hand back and the other twin emerged (Gen. 38:27-30). Zarah, with the red thread around one wrist, was rightfully first from his mother, but only in part.
The other child, Pharez, was the one through whom the reigning line in Judah was first passed on, though generations later God combined it with the line of Zarah. David, Zedekiah and Christ were of the Pharez line. But Zedekiah's daughter was destined to marry into the Zarah line.
God used the prophet Jeremiah in re-establishing the throne of David by sending him and his group by ship via Spain to the island known later as "Ireland".
There, long before King David's time, a colony of Israelites called the "Tuatha De Danaan" arrived and subdued the people called "Firbolgs", who had inhabited the island before them and ruled for hundreds of years. Later more people, called "Milesians," arrived from Scythia. These people were Magogite Scythians with prior exposure to Israel. Traditions held that they were also exposed to the line of Zarah but this was not direct and the way in which it occurred is explained in the paper Hittites in the House of David (No. 67C).
One of Zedekiah's daughters who came with Jeremiah married a prince. British Israelite legends assert he was allegedly a descendant of Zarah. This prince became king at his father's death. Inasmuch as his wife was a princess of the Pharez line, the Pharez and Zarah lines were united and David's throne was re-established in Ireland to continue as God promised.
There are many detailed facts about this fascinating matter. Most of them have been uncovered in the last few decades along with surprising revelation of what happened to the supposedly "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel, an absorbing story in itself. Jeremiah and Ezekiel had much to say about it, but the key to understanding much of what these two prophets wrote about is to realize that the Jews were not included in the ten-tribed House of Israel, although the Jews were Israelites.
Ezekiel wrote that Zedekiah's throne would be overturned three times (Ezek. 21:25-27). Much of the understanding was of a sequence of three over turnings but we will see in the work Hittites in the House of David (No. 67C) that it was in three directions also in three ways.
The first overturn was accomplished when Jerusalem was destroyed and the Israelite prince who married one of Zedekiah's daughters became king, and the throne was transplanted thousands of miles away. The dynasty that resulted lasted down through many generations in Ireland.
Eventually, the throne was overturned a second time when it was removed from Ireland and established in Scotland. The real penetration of the Line of David came into Britain among what are now the Welsh, to the North, and to Scotland also. The line then went from Scotland to Ireland and joined with the Irish line and went back to Scotland in the Dalriata Scots. So the line was in three branches and three directions and three overturnings.
What has been alleged to be the Third but what was in fact the Fourth or Fifth overturn was much later when it was removed by Edward I to London, where it exists today. Queen Elizabeth II occupies the throne that came down all the way from King David! Her line is in another direction and we can see that lineage also in the work From David and the Exilarchs to the House of Windsor (No. 067). Her grandsons are descended from David in about three different lines as we see from Hittites in the House of David (No. 067C). Christ will occupy that same throne after the third prophesied overturn and its final re-establishment in Jerusalem.
While the seat of Israelite rulership was being changed from place to place, more and more Israelites were migrating to Europe. Having escaped over the centuries from their Assyrian captors, in the area of the Black Sea, they moved northward and westward to flourish in many regions – even across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, where their numbers compounded.
God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were steadily carried out, insomuch that the descendants of Ephraim and Dan under the rule of Davidic kings became large, wealthy and powerful, culminating in the British Empire and the Commonwealth. The descendants of Manasseh developed into the most powerful single nation on earth – the United States in North America. Both fulfilled the prophecy of Israel, their father (Gen. 48:14-20).
Careful study of the Bible and history together shows that descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, the elder son of Joseph, are the birthright inhabitants of the United States. However, YDNA shows that they are the minority on the expansion of the Israelites within three major Japhethite tribes from Magog, Gomer and groups of other Japhethites who have been spread also throughout the British Commonwealth.
Most Bible scholars refuse to accept this fact not having studied the YDNA and the two branches.
The people of the British Commonwealth have elements that are descended from the tribe of Ephraim and also from Dan, the youngest son of Joseph and another tribe, as well as elements of the Ten Tribes. In both nations are also people of many lands who have come to share in the wealth and freedom. Relatively few citizens of both nations know themselves to be Israelites, although it was a fairly common belief a few centuries ago. Today most consider themselves Gentiles.
This error makes understanding Bible prophecy almost impossible for them. It's a matter of God giving special understanding to those who choose to be obedient to His laws. Most refuse to recognize the vital importance of these permanently living laws because they consider them "Jewish" and assume they were discarded and cancelled by Christ.
About the time Jeremiah was still trying to convince Judah to shun any alliance with the Egyptians, there was living in the Babylonian capital a young lad named Daniel. Daniel had been taken captive from Judah in the time of King Jehoiakim. Many other Jews shared Daniel's circumstances, in which their captors sought to determine which of the captives could be of the most value in contributing to a superior culture.
Nebuchadnezzar's nobles were particularly pleased with Daniel's abilities, given to him because God had long since chosen him to be a prophet and to find favour with his captors. With three other young princes who also proved to be unusually intelligent, Daniel went through a three-year period of intensive training in the knowledge of Babylonia's most learned men (Dan. 1:1-7).
Since Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azaraiah had grown up as followers of God, even when almost all the rest of the royal family were turning against God, they weren't swayed by the pagan philosophy of the Babylonians. Of course, their instructors naturally hoped and tried to influence their religious beliefs.
Their names were changed. Daniel was to be known as "Belteshazzar"; Hananiah was altered to "Shadrach"; Mishael was given the name of "Meshach"; Azariah was renamed "Abed-nego." Their original names had to do with God, whereas their new names had pagan meanings. When the period of instruction was at an end, these four close friends stood out as the topmost among the trainees.
It was the custom that the same kind of food that was served at the king's table was also served to the youths in special training. This meant that unclean foods and such as were previously offered to idols would often be brought to the young men. The four friends agreed that they wouldn't follow such a diet but would remain faithful to God and be at their best physically and mentally (Lev. 3:17; 7:22-27; 11:1-47).
Daniel resolved not to eat the unclean foods from the king’s table. The next time Melzar, the man in charge of them, came to bring scrolls to study, Daniel asked for permission not to defile himself with such food.
"But Nebuchadnezzar himself chooses what you should eat," Daniel was informed. "The king would have my head if he saw you looking worse than the other young men your age.”
Daniel said to Melzar, "If you could provide us with only vegetables and water for the next ten days, we'll prove to you that we'll be healthier than the men who eat the royal food."
Now God had caused the official to show favour to Daniel so he agreed to this and tested them for ten days (Dan. 1:8-14).
For the full ten days Melzar managed to bring Daniel and his companions the food they wanted. Even in that short time, the four youths developed a healthier appearance than that of the other trainees who ate unclean meats (Dan. 1:15-16). Of course, he didn't understand that the God of Israel had a hand in this because the four young Jewish men were obedient to Him in the matter of avoiding food that was unclean in the Creator's sight.
At the same time, because of that obedience, God gave them special wisdom and good judgment. Added to that, Daniel was given unusual understanding in interpreting visions and dreams. Visions and dreams by certain people sometimes have special meanings from God. Daniel was given the ability to know if visions and dreams had important meanings and what those meanings were. With God's help, he had a great advantage over "wise" men and magicians, who often were influenced by demons.
At the end of the three years of training, Daniel and his three close friends were adjudged the healthiest and most learned and intelligent of all the trainees. Nebuchadnezzar himself tested their knowledge and decided that they were far more mentally keen than any of the others whom the Babylonians had chosen to train (Dan. 1:17-20).
Not long after this happened, the king of Babylon had a dream that greatly troubled him because it was so sharp and clear at the time and seemed to have strong bearing on the future. His mind was troubled and he could not sleep so he called in his magicians, astrologers and Chaldean philosophers, hoping that there was someone among all these who could tell him the meaning of his unusual dream.
"May you live forever," these men dutifully announced, according to the manner of greeting a king in those times. "Tell us about your dream and we will interpret it for you" (Dan. 2:1-4).
Nebuchadnezzar replied, "You will have to use your powers to find out what the dream was about as well as its meaning. If you fail, you will be put to death and your homes will be turned into piles of rubble. However, if you tell me the dream and explain it you will receive gifts and rewards and great honour. Now speak out. Your lives depend on what you have to say!" (Dan. 2:5-9).
Once again they replied, "Please try to remember what you dreamed, then we will tell you what the dream means."
"It's obvious that you're all stalling because you realise that this is what I have decided: if you do not tell me the dream there is just one penalty for you. It's also obvious that you got your heads together just now to agree on some kind of lie hoping the situation will change!"
"Your request is most unusual," the astrologers answered. "No man, not even an astrologer, magician or philosopher, should reasonably be expected to have an answer to such a difficult question. Only the gods are capable of knowing such things and they do not live among men."
Of course, this was quite the wrong thing to say to Nebuchadnezzar. It was an act of desperation, done with the hope that the king would appreciate a frank approach and would reconsider his drastic threats of punishment. It didn't turn out that way.
This made the king angry and he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.
The king even included the top scholars who had been rigorously educated over a period of three years. That meant that Daniel and his three close friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, were on the list to be executed, even though they hadn't been among those summoned to tell and interpret the king's dream (Dan. 2:1-13).
On hearing this Daniel went to the king to ask for time so that he might interpret the dream.
Daniel went immediately to his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, to tell them what had happened. He requested that they ask God to reveal Nebuchadnezzar's dream and its meaning so that they would be spared from execution with the rest of the wise men of Babylon (Dan. 2:14-16).
God answered by causing Daniel to dream a very clear dream revealing the one that Nebuchadnezzar had and its meaning. Daniel was so thankful that he gave a special prayer of praise for their deliverance, though the four young Jews and the Babylonian "wise" men were still subject to death.
Then Daniel hurried to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon and said to him, “Take me to the king and I will interpret his dream”.
Then Arioch took Daniel to the king and told him that he had found a man among the exiles from Judah who could tell him what his dream meant. The king asked Daniel if he could tell him what he saw in his dream and also interpret its meaning.
Daniel replied, "The men you summoned to tell and interpret your dream were given an impossible task because they didn't have the help of the God of Israel, who wishes to make known to the king of Babylon what will happen in the future. Your dream and its meaning haven't come to me through any special ability of my own, but only because my God has made these things known to me to pass on to you for your benefit" (Dan. 2:17-28).
"You dreamed that there was a large statue before you," Daniel began. "It was bright and dazzling; awesome in appearance and frightening. The head of the image was made of fine gold; its chest and arms made of silver; its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.”
"While you were watching a rock was cut out, yet not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver and gold were broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floor; and the wind carried them away. Meanwhile, the stone that struck the image became larger and larger until it became a gigantic mountain that filled the whole earth" (Dan. 2:29-35).
“That was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation”, Daniel said.
Daniel went on:
"The God of Israel wants you to know that He has given you your great power so that you are above all other rulers in the world. You have been given power over most men and your power extends even to the animals in the world because man is ruler over them. The head of gold on the image you dreamed about refers to you and your powerful kingdom. As the most powerful king in the world at this time, it is fitting, according to the Eternal God's wish, that you should know what the future holds. That was the reason for the dream you were given.”
"The chest and arms of silver mean that another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to power after your nation declines in strength. The belly and thighs of brass indicate that a third kingdom will replace the second kingdom in strength, and it will have rulership over other nations. The legs of iron mean that a fourth strong kingdom will eventually follow, but because iron and clay can't be fused together for lasting strength, that kingdom won't be well united.
"During the lifetime of that kingdom, the one and only True God will set up a Kingdom that will replace all others and last forever. In your dream His Kingdom was the stone that struck the image on the feet, smashing the whole body, and growing swiftly into a mountain that encompassed the entire world. Now you know what will come to pass. This knowledge has come to me from my God, who is incapable of any untruth" (Dan. 2:36-45; Titus 1:2).
Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he humbly prostrated himself before Daniel in homage and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him.
The king declared to all present that Daniel's God was the God of gods and the Head of all kings and a revealer of mysteries. Furthermore, he heaped gifts on Daniel and made him chief of the governors of the "wise" men of Babylon.
On the more practical side, Daniel was made ruler of the province of Babylon, the city-state capital of Babylonia, where he would be one of the king's chief officials. Because Daniel's three close Jewish friends had great ability and knowledge and had helped him with their prayers, Daniel suggested that they also be given high positions. Nebuchadnezzar was pleased to place Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah) in offices of high rank under Daniel in the province of Babylon (Dan. 2:46-49).
Nebuchadnezzar's recognition of God's greatness was a step in the right direction, but he still had a long way to go. The more Nebuchadnezzar thought about his power, the more he thought all the world's leaders should pay special honour to his kingdom. So he made plans for building a high statue. It was built on the Babylonian plain of Dura so that it could be surrounded by great throngs of people. Including the pedestal, the image towered nearly a hundred feet above the plain. On a sunny day its bright and shimmering golden surface could be seen from many miles away.
The king went to great lengths to inform people about the image. Dedication ceremonies were announced. Important men of Babylonia were commanded to be present. Those included princes, governors, high army officers and all high government officials (Dan. 3:1-3).
On the chosen day of the dedication, a vast crowd assembled around the towering figure. Then the herald loudly proclaimed:
"This is what you are required to do. When you hear music from the orchestra that will soon play from the base of this pedestal, every one of you is to bow down and worship this great image! Any who fail or refuse to do so will be thrown into a blazing furnace."
Therefore, when thy heard the music, all the people, nations and men of every language fell down and worshipped the image of gold that the king had set up (Dan. 3:4-7).
At the same time the astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They went to inform the king about Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego who paid no attention to the king’s orders, saying, “They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold” (Dan. 3:8-12).
Nebuchadnezzar wasn't used to being disobeyed. The mere thought of anyone ignoring his wishes gave him great displeasure. So he called for Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
"I have been told that you, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, failed to bow before my golden image," the king declared testily. "I have also been told that in all the years you have enjoyed the good things of my kingdom you have never shown your appreciation by thanking any of my gods. Are these things true?"
The king was then willing to give them another change to bow down before the image of gold or else be thrown into the blazing furnace if they refused.
The three young men said to Nebuchadnezzar, “We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the furnace the God we serve will save us. Even if He does not we will still refuse to serve your gods or worship your image of gold” (Dan. 3:13-18).
Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with their attitude that he ordered the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some of his strongest soldiers to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and throw them into the furnace (Dan. 3:19-23).
This was the last act of the soldiers. The furnace was so hot that the flames leaped at them and they burned to death.
King Nebuchadnezzar quickly stood up to glance back to the bottom of the flaming pit. What he saw shocked him.
He said to his advisers, "Weren't there only three men thrown into the furnace?"
"That's right," they answered. "Look, I can make out four people in there!" the king exclaimed. "And they're walking around unbound and unharmed. The fourth looks like a son of the gods!" (Dan. 3:21-25).
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, come out, you servants of the Most High!"
The three men obediently strode out of the furnace door and the high-ranking Babylonians crowded around them. They saw that the hair and clothing of the victims hadn't been touched by the flames. Nor was there even the smell of smoke on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise the God of these men who sent his angel and rescued them. They trusted in Him and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. The God of the Jews is so powerful that He has swept aside my decree that all people should worship my golden image. Therefore I now decree that all people over whom I have dominion must show respect to the God of these men above any other god. Any who refuse to worship Him or speak against Him shall be hacked into small pieces and their homes shall be turned into piles of rubble".
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in the province of Babylon (Dan. 3:26:30).
However, Nebuchadnezzar was still far from repentant.
We will continue with the Bible story in the paper The Fall of Babylon (No. CB154).