A Baffling Dream That Touches You
IT FRIGHTENED and puzzled him. ‘I have had dreams before,’ the king no doubt mused, ‘and my priests, with their magic, would give me their interpretation. If they could not reveal the hidden meaning of a dream, then I would call my conjurers to explain it for me. If they failed, surely my astrologers would unravel the mystery. But this dream, why is it so baffling?’
So Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the ruler of the greatest world power of the sixth century B.C.E., may well have wondered. He could not find an interpreter for his strange dream throughout his entire empire, except one—the foreign captive Daniel of Judah. Once before, this worshiper of the God Jehovah had explained a dream for Nebuchadnezzar that no one else was able to solve.—Daniel 2:1-45.
But you may ask: ‘Why should this interest me? Dreams are a normal part of human life. Why should this one be any different?’ Well, it is different. How? Because its meaning touches you and everyone else who has lived since the year 1914.
The King’s Dream
While relaxing in his terraced garden palace, Nebuchadnezzar dreams of an unusually large tree:
“Now the visions of my head upon my bed I happened to be beholding, and, look! a tree in the midst of the earth, the height of which was immense. The tree grew up and became strong, and its very height finally reached the heavens, and it was visible to the extremity of the whole earth. Its foliage was fair, and its fruit was abundant, and there was food for all on it. Under it the beast of the field would seek shade, and on its boughs the birds of the heavens would dwell, and from it all flesh would feed itself.”—Daniel 4:10-12.
What the king sees next in his dream startles him; an angel shouts out the command:
“Chop the tree down, and cut off its boughs. Shake off its foliage, and scatter its fruitage. Let the beast flee from under it, and the birds from its boughs. However, leave its rootstock itself in the earth, even with a banding of iron and of copper, among the grass of the field; and with the dew of the heavens let it be wet, and with the beast let its portion be among the vegetation of the earth. Let its heart be changed from that of mankind, and let the heart of a beast be given to it, and let seven times pass over it. By the decree of watchers the thing is, and by the saying of holy ones the request is, to the intent that people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind.”—Daniel 4:13-17.
The Dream’s Meaning for the King
World rulership is the theme of the king’s dream. The dream has a twofold meaning. One involved Nebuchadnezzar. The other affects you. Daniel explains what the heaven-high tree pictures for Nebuchadnezzar: “It is you, O king, because you have grown great and become strong, and your grandeur has grown great and reached to the heavens, and your rulership to the extremity of the earth.”—Daniel 4:22.
Next, Daniel disentangles the meaning of the rest of the proud king’s vision: Nebuchadnezzar will experience a temporary fall from rulership due to an illness that will cause him to act like a grazing beast. It will last for seven years. But once those “seven times” pass, his sanity will be restored and so will his rulership. This was pictured by the two constricting metal bands wrapped around the dream tree’s rootstock. Remove the bands and at once the tree will sprout again. The point to all of this, says Daniel, is to prove “that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to he gives it.”—Daniel 4:23-26.
Twelve months after Daniel interprets the king’s dream, it comes true—Nebuchadnezzar suddenly loses his senses and his crown. Seven years later, again true to Daniel’s words, Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity is recovered and he is restored to his throne with “greatness extraordinary,” thus prompting the king to admit: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, am praising and exalting and glorifying the King of the heavens, because all his works are truth and his ways are justice, and because those who are walking in pride he is able to humiliate.”—Daniel 4:29-37.
The lesson was learned. The Almighty God, Jehovah, had the final say as to who will rule the earth and when. But the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was not limited to affecting people in Babylon. Its prophetic import of world rulership reaches into this 20th century and touches even you.
[Blurb on page 4]
The Babylonian king’s dream has a twofold meaning. One affects you