When Jehovah Taught Monarchs Lessons
“All his works are truth and his ways are justice, and . . . those who are walking in pride he is able to humiliate.”—DANIEL 4:37.
1. To what characteristic of Jehovah does Elihu call attention?
“LOOK! God himself acts exaltedly with his power; who is an instructor like him?” Those words of Elihu directed to suffering Job call attention to one of the unique characteristics of the Creator, Jehovah God. No one can be compared with him when it comes to instructing, or teaching, others.—Job 36:22.
2, 3. (a) What is one of the lessons that Jehovah has found it necessary to teach men? (b) Who in Moses’ time was one ruler that Jehovah had to teach this lesson, and by what means? (c) How often in his Word does God state his purpose to teach men this lesson?
2 Among the things that it has been necessary for God to teach men and nations is their proper relationship to him. This is highlighted by the words of the psalmist David at Psalm 9:19, 20: “Do arise, O Jehovah! Let not mortal man prove superior in strength. Let the nations be judged before your face. Do put fear into them, O Jehovah, that the nations may know that they are but mortal men.”
3 The Pharaoh of Moses’ time was among earth’s rulers to whom Jehovah God found it necessary to teach this lesson. God did so by means of the plagues that he sent upon the Egyptians. Moreover, Jehovah told that haughty Pharaoh: “In fact, for this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16) In addition, more than 70 times, from Exodus 6:7 to Joel 3:17, Jehovah says in his Word that he will perform similar mighty works so that monarchs, peoples, and nations will come to know that he is Jehovah, the Most High over all the earth.
4. In the time of Daniel, what three rulers were taught by Jehovah, and by what means?
4 A number of striking examples of how Jehovah taught monarchs are recorded in the book of Daniel. These rulers were Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius. When did he teach them? Most likely between 617 B.C.E. and 535 B.C.E. And how? By means of dreams and their interpretation and by displays of his power. Jehovah taught these human rulers that he is the Supreme Sovereign of the universe and that they were but puny men—lessons that present-day world rulers will also have to learn.
5. By what testimony can those who doubt the authenticity of the book of Daniel be refuted?
5 But is not the authenticity of the book of Daniel questioned by many modern critics? In answering these critics, one Bible scholar well stated: “The miracles it implies, the prophecies it avers, to have been recorded by Daniel a contemporary. Either then we have true miracles and true prophecy, or we should have nothing but untruth.” (Daniel the Prophet, by E. B. Pusey, page 75) Why, time and again the writer of the book identifies himself, such as by saying, “I myself, Daniel”! (Daniel 8:15; 9:2; 10:2) Was all of this a forgery? The fact is that before the early part of the 18th century, the authorship of the book of Daniel was questioned by neither Jews nor Christians. However, carrying more weight than the opinion of any modern Bible scholar is the Scriptural testimony regarding the book of Daniel. Thus, we find Daniel mentioned three times in the book of Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3) Most conclusive of all are the words of Jesus, the Son of God, as recorded at Matthew 24:15, 16: “When you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,) then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.”*
Nebuchadnezzar Learns Who the True God Is
6. What may have fed the king of Babylon’s pride, and what did he say about himself in his writings?
6 As the prophet Isaiah shows, the kings of Babylon were very proud men. (Isaiah 14:4-23) Nebuchadnezzar was also a very religious man. In his writings he told of “his building projects and his attention to the gods of Babylonia.” No doubt it went to his head that he succeeded in taking Jerusalem and all Judea after Sennacherib had so disastrously failed in his attempt to do this.
7. What experience related in Daniel chapter 1 should have taught Nebuchadnezzar to respect the God of the Hebrews?
7 After Daniel and his three Hebrew companions appeared before Nebuchadnezzar, he certainly had reason to respect their God, for “as regards every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired about from them, he even got to find them ten times better than all the magic-practicing priests and the conjurers that were in all his royal realm.” Yes, the wise men who had Jehovah for their God greatly excelled all those who worshiped other gods. Nebuchadnezzar could not have failed to note that fact.—Daniel 1:20.
8. By what means did Jehovah expose the wise men of Babylon as being without any special knowledge?
8 Jehovah had more to teach King Nebuchadnezzar. The next lesson was recorded in Daniel chapter 2. God caused the king to have a terrifying dream and then made him forget it. This dream greatly agitated Babylon’s monarch, and he called for all his wise men to tell him the dream and its interpretation. Of course, they could not reveal the dream, let alone give its interpretation, thereby tacitly admitting that they had no special knowledge. This made the king so furious that he ordered the execution of all of them. When Daniel and his companions were told of the king’s decree, Daniel asked for some time, which he was granted. Then he and his three companions made it a subject of earnest prayer, with the result that Jehovah revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel.—Daniel 2:16-20.
9. (a) Who alone was able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and what interpretation of it did that One give? (b) As a result, to what conclusion did the king come?
9 When Daniel was brought before the king, Nebuchadnezzar asked him: “Are you competent enough to make known to me the dream that I beheld, and its interpretation?” After reminding the proud monarch that his wise men were not able to tell him the secret of his dream and its interpretation, Daniel said: “However, there exists a God in the heavens who is a Revealer of secrets, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what is to occur in the final part of the days.” Proceeding, Daniel told the king about the gigantic image he had dreamed about and what it meant. The king was so greatly impressed that he declared: “Truly the God of you men is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a Revealer of secrets, because you were able to reveal this secret.” Thus Jehovah taught King Nebuchadnezzar that He is the one true God.—Daniel 2:26, 28, 47.
10, 11. (a) In his great pride, what did King Nebuchadnezzar make, followed by what command? (b) By refusing to heed the king’s command, what issue did the three Hebrews raise, and with what result?
10 Although King Nebuchadnezzar was doubtless impressed by the knowledge and wisdom of the God of the Hebrews, he still had much more to learn. In his pride, he had a great image of gold set up on the plain of Dura. The image was 60 cubits high and 6 cubits wide, calling to our minds the number 666 that is the mark of Satan’s “wild beast” mentioned at Revelation 13:18. (A cubit being almost 1 1/2 feet [0.5 m], the image was about 90 feet [27 m] high and about 9 feet [2.7 m] wide.) The king ordered all the officials of his realm “to come to the inauguration of the image” and commanded that when an orchestra played, all were to fall down and worship the image. Some envious Chaldean officials, noticing that the three Hebrews then present did not share in the ceremony, reported them to the king.—Daniel 3:1, 2.
11 This was a most serious matter to Nebuchadnezzar, for he had once boasted that he was “the one who set in the mouth of the people reverence for the great gods.” Thus, both Nebuchadnezzar’s imperial majesty and his religious ardor were greatly offended. Reacting in rage and fury, the haughty monarch gave the three Hebrews another opportunity but with this ultimatum: “If you do not worship, at that same moment you will be thrown into the burning fiery furnace. And who is that god that can rescue you out of my hands?” Well, Nebuchadnezzar had to find out that their God was indeed able to deliver His servants out of a puny monarch’s hand and that there does not exist another god that can deliver like the God of the Hebrews.—Daniel 3:15.
The Tree Dream
12, 13. (a) What interpretation did Daniel give Nebuchadnezzar regarding his dream of the tree? (b) How did Nebuchadnezzar show that the interpretation of the dream had not had a sobering effect upon him?
12 How would learning those lessons have affected you? Seemingly, these three lessons did not suffice to make King Nebuchadnezzar know his place. So Jehovah had to teach him still another lesson. Again, a dream was involved, and again, none of the wise men of Babylon were able to interpret it. Finally, Daniel was summoned, and he was able to apprise the king of the meaning of the dream, namely, that for seven years he would live like “the beasts of the field,” and then he would return to his sanity.—Daniel 4:1-37.
13 From what followed, it is quite apparent that the dream failed to have a sobering effect upon Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, about a year later, while the king was walking about in his royal palace, he proudly boasted: “Is not this Babylon the Great, that I myself have built for the royal house with the strength of my might and for the dignity of my majesty?” What conceit! So it was that at that very moment a voice from heaven was heard telling the haughty ruler that his kingdom would be taken away from him and he would dwell with the beasts of the field for seven times, “until you know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind.”—Daniel 4:30-32.
14. How was the dream about the tree fulfilled, and with what effect upon Nebuchadnezzar?
14 After Nebuchadnezzar had lived like an animal for those seven times, or years, Jehovah restored his understanding and he had to admit ‘that no one can stay the hand of the Most High or say to him: What have you been doing?’ More than that, the Babylonian ruler showed he had further learned his lesson, by saying: “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”—as the king had done—“he is able to humiliate.” Is not all such testimony regarding the way Jehovah repeatedly settled the issue of sovereignty of itself strong circumstantial evidence that these accounts are not the figment of someone’s imagination but are the work of a writer inspired by God to record actual history?—Daniel 4:35, 37.
Belshazzar Sees the Handwriting on the Wall
15. How did Belshazzar show contempt for the true God, Jehovah?
15 Another monarch whom Jehovah had occasion to teach was Belshazzar. He was the son and coregent of King Nabonidus, himself a successor of Nebuchadnezzar. On the occasion of a great banquet, Belshazzar had the temerity to order that the golden vessels his grandfather had taken from Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem be brought in so that he, his grandees, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. So “they drank wine, and they praised the gods of gold and of silver, copper, iron, wood and stone.”—Daniel 5:3, 4.
16, 17. (a) By what means did Jehovah instill fear in Belshazzar? (b) What interpretation did Daniel give regarding the handwriting on the wall, and how was it proved true?
16 God’s time had come to end Babylon’s rule. Hence, he had strange handwriting appear on the wall. This miracle so greatly unnerved the king that he at once called for all his wise men to interpret it. None of them could. Then his mother reminded him that Daniel, who had interpreted dreams for Nebuchadnezzar, would be able to interpret the handwriting. (Daniel 5:10-12) When summoned and asked if he could do this, Daniel reminded the monarch of how God had humbled his proud grandfather so that he would know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind.—Daniel 5:20, 21.
17 Daniel further told Belshazzar: “The God in whose hand your breath is and to whom all your ways belong you have not glorified.” (Daniel 5:23) So the handwriting served notice upon the Babylonian ruler that the days of his kingship had come to an end, that he had been weighed and found wanting, and that his kingdom was to be given to the Medes and the Persians. And that very night, after Jehovah had taught that haughty monarch this much-needed lesson, Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was killed.—Daniel 5:30.
18. By what means will Jehovah teach the world rulers of today similar lessons concerning his sovereignty and saving power?
18 Even as Jehovah taught the proud monarchs Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar lessons about his sovereignty and saving power, so at Armageddon God will make all earth’s rulers know that he is the Supreme Ruler, the almighty Universal Sovereign. Your life will be affected. How? Because at that time Jehovah will also deliver his faithful servants, even as he delivered the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace.—Daniel 3:26-30.
Darius Learns About Jehovah’s Saving Power
19, 20. What event in the life of Daniel taught Darius about Jehovah’s saving power?
19 Daniel chapter 6 tells of another instance in which Jehovah taught a monarch, Darius, a lesson—that of God’s saving power. A conspiracy had resulted in the king’s having Daniel thrown into a pit of lions, much against that monarch’s will. He was not one who had proudly raised himself up against the true God. Interestingly, although Darius assured Daniel that his God would deliver him, he actually did not seem to believe this fully. Otherwise, why would he have spent a sleepless night and worried until the break of dawn, when he hurried to the lions’ pit? He then called out: “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you are serving with constancy been able to rescue you from the lions?”—Daniel 6:18-20.
20 Yes, God had been able to protect Daniel. King Darius was so joyful that he issued this decree: “In every dominion of my kingdom, people are to be quaking and fearing before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and One enduring to times indefinite, and his kingdom is one that will not be brought to ruin . . . He is rescuing and delivering and performing signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, for he has rescued Daniel from the paw of the lions.”—Daniel 6:26, 27.
21. (a) Of what do the first six chapters of the book of Daniel give striking examples? (b) What effect should the record of these things have upon us?
21 The first six chapters of the book of Daniel truly give us striking examples of how Jehovah, being zealous—yes, jealous—for his name taught powerful monarchs of this world that he is indeed the omnipotent One, the Universal Sovereign, able to humble proud rulers while he delivers his loyal servants. These accounts should instill in us a wholesome fear of God and respect for Jehovah’s omnipotence and sovereignty. At the same time, this inspired record is most faith-strengthening because it provides sterling examples of servants of Jehovah God who manifested great faith and courage, as the succeeding article will clearly show.
How Would You Answer?
□ What lesson has it been necessary for Jehovah to teach world rulers?
□ What can be said about the authenticity of the book of Daniel?
□ What was the lesson that further humbled King Nebuchadnezzar?
□ What effect should Jehovah’s teaching monarchs lessons have on us?