Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon
November 17th, 1996
NEBUCHADNEZZAR OF BABYLON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-17-96 Sunday School
It was worth preparing this lesson just to hear your tribute. And thank you for it.
We’re going to turn now to the second chapter of the Book of Daniel. And our subject will be the sure and unfailing Word of God. We’re going to start off with the second chapter, and verses 3 to 12. And we’re to notice the long emphasis upon the forgetfulness of the king.
So, let’s start at the third verse of chapter 2, and read on down until we decide to quit. Now, we’re talking about king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon:
And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king, O king, live forever; tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.
The king answered and said to – the astrologers, the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
But if ye show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor; therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation of it.
These astrologers answered and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and then we will show the interpretation of it.
The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because you see the thing is gone from me.
But if you will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation of it.
Those astrologers and magicians and Chaldeans answered and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king’s matter; therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asks such things of any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
And it is a mere thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
For this cause the king was angry and furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
And the decree went forth that these wise men and magicians and Chaldeans should be slain.
And then you have the story of Daniel and his fellow prisoners. Well, that’s one of the most interesting things you’ll ever read in all of your life.
Now, I ran across in my studying the beatenest suggestion that I have ever heard of. And the suggestion was: Did the king really forget? Or was he just feigning forgetfulness to test the astrologers and the Chaldeans – those priests of the god Baal-Merodach? Was he just testing them to see if they really knew, or if they were just feigning their interpretation?
Well, that’s a pretty good thought. I really was grateful for the suggestion. If they knew the interpretation, and avowed that it came from the gods, why could not the gods also show them the dream? One would be as easily done on the part of the gods as the other. So, in order to test them, why, I say the king feigned his forgetfulness – he pretended his forgetfulness – just to see if these astrologers could really make correct the interpretation thereof.
Well, I want to apply that feigning, that pretending in an area that I’ve been introduced ever since I was a boy and namely, the speaking in tongues in the church. Is that real? Do they really speak in tongues that are ununderstandable? Or, are they just pretending – are they just feigning? Is it fakery what they are doing?
Now, in the story of the visitation of God at Pentecost, there were three wonderful miracles. One was the sound of a rushing of a mighty wind. The second one was the lamps of fire, the flames of fire that burned over the head of each one of the disciples. And the third one was speaking in some kind of a foreign language.
So, what these feigners and fakers do is, they assume the ability to speak in an unknown tongue. And then – fakery again – someone stands up and proposes, and avows, to translate that unknown tongue into the language of – if it’s an English audience, into English. If they were over there in France, into French. Now, that’s one of the most interesting things you tried to follow in your life. Is that hypocrisy? Is that foolishness? Is it idiocy? Is it unthinkable in the life of a congregation – such a thing as that? Well, it’s almost universal in different places all around. So, I have been introduced to it since I was a boy.
And here is one of the things that came into my life about it. I had a friend who was a seminary student. And being untaught and bold without privilege why, he attended one of the services. And they were speaking in unknown languages, unknown tongues – gibberish, I call it. They were just speaking in that. So, he stood up and he quoted the first Psalm in Hebrew – in the original Hebrew. He stood up there in the midst and quoted the first Psalm in what was to them an unknown tongue. Then, they waited for an interpretation.
And in a little moment why, one of the fakers stood up to interpret what he had spoken in an unknown tongue. And this is what he said. He said God has given him this revelation, spoken to us in an unknown tongue. And that unknown tongue is this: he has spoken to us by revelation how a woman ought to dress when she comes to church and how she ought to do and comb her hair in order to be in public. Well, the interpretation was given. The young student laughed and then he told them what he had done. He had actually just quoted the first Psalm in the Hebrew language. And it made those people in that church so furious that the men grabbed him and literally threw him outside on his face. What do you think about that?
Well, my observation is. There is no area in human experience, and in human life, that equals the deceitfulness, and the fakery, and the feigning, and the hypocrisy in the church, in the house of God. There are more things that go on; more unbelievable things that are repeated. There’s no place in this earth where so much of it is done as in the house of the Lord, in religion, in the name of God. All right, I want to give you another example. This time it is going to concern, partly, forgetfulness. Remember, I mentioned the fact that this author, in discussing this king’s long presentation here of his forgetfulness; here is something about forgetfulness and tongue speaking.
Some time ago, I took a group of our people to Communist Russia, and some of you were with us. And two of them, especially Mrs. C and Jack Pogue, they were in that group going to Communist Russia. And on the way to Communist Russia, we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden for a few days. And in the providence of God, the few days included a Sunday: the Lord’s Day. And I was invited to preach at the biggest church in Sweden, located in Stockholm. So, I was escorted up to the pulpit and I sat there in the pulpit.
The church was a great deal like ours. It had a balcony all the way around and up there in the balcony sat Mrs. C and Jack Pogue. Well, they sang an hymn. And when they got through singing the hymn why, the pastor invited all the people to be seated. And the seats were like we used to have – maybe still do, I can’t remember – you know, when you stood up, the seats stood up. And when you sit down, you had to get a hold of the seat and pull it down to sit on it. Well, while I was looking up there at that couple in the balcony, and they got through singing the song, and the pastor said, "You may now be seated," there was a female – there was a woman, right almost next to Jack Pogue who burst out into loud language and spoke in an unknown tongue.
And it scared Jack Pogue to death. He had never seen anything or experienced anything like that all his life. To me, it was just kind of funny you know to see that woman up there speaking loudly in that unknown language. But, as I say, she scared Jack to death. So, when the pastor said, "You may be seated," why, Jack had no idea of the situation in which he was standing. And he didn’t pull the seat down. So, forgetting it was up, he sat down and sprawled out on the floor. And all the people around there were laughing at him, including Mrs. C, as he was sprawled down there on the floor. And for the few days thereafter why, in his hinder and ultimate parts, he felt the feelings of having gone to church that morning. I’m just saying to you that there is more fakery, and feigning, and hypocrisy in the church than in any other place or spot in this earth! And this is one of them.
Well, why God’s revelation and His interpretations? I have several answers to that; why God does it. My first observation is God does that – He gives us revelations and interpretations – in order that we might be delivered from mistaken judgments. It is so easy for a people to fall into aberrations:
In time, the era of man;
In space, to speak of the world around us;
In truth, like looking into a vast mountain range;
In purpose, like a continued labyrinth.
God must reveal to us the sweep and the meaning of everything about us in life. As I grow older – studied endlessly, still do – I’m overwhelmed by how little, little, little, increasingly little we understand about anything. So, it must be revealed to us the sweep and the things that contain and pertain to our human life. And that brings to us God’s goodness and grace in His revelations and in His interpretations. Do you remember in the Book of Jeremiah, in chapter 8, the people were saying: "Peace! Peace! Peace! Peace!" And Jeremiah was saying, from the Lord: "You’re going to be carried into captivity!" That’s very typical of it.
Well, let me take a part out of my life. I grew up in the day of post-millennialism. Post-Millennialism is the doctrine – and Truett was one of its exponents, right here in this church. Over there in our Southwestern Seminary, the man who founded it was a vigorous exponent of post-millennialism. Beats anything you ever saw! Truett never had a sermon that he preached more often than, "Things are going to get better." Christ must reign until all things are placed under His feet. Post-Millennialism: everything is going to get better, and better, and better, and better until finally we usher in the millennial and the coming of Christ by our good works. Now that’s the way I grew up.
So, that gave rise to the pacifists of this whole world and especially in America. Things are going to get better, and better, and better. We don’t have to worry about things getting worse, and worse, and worse. So, we call a section of them pacifists. Things are going to be peaceful. We’re going to forget war, and confrontation, and on and on. And that was especially prominent in the 1920s and the early 1930s. So, when World War II broke out, you can’t imagine you’re an American, unless you lived through it. Dear me alive! There was no preparation for such a confrontation as that in this earth and especially was it true of America.
Now, all you’ve got to do is to read the Bible, like Daniel 9:16: "War and desolation is determined until the end." That’s what God’s Book says. Yet these wonderful preachers – post-millennialists: "We’re going to achieve things that are better, and more perfect, and more sublime until, finally, the millennium is ushered in." All you got to do is read Revelation 16:13-16 and Revelation 19:11-16 and, there, you’re introduced to the end of our age. How does it end? In the war of Armageddon! How does it end? In unbelievable war and desolation! I tell you, we need this Book!
May I give another instance of it in the life of our people? And it concerns our false persuasions concerning the sources of crime. The sociologists used to say, when I was a boy the source of crime lies in poverty; our poor conditions. And they carried the second avowal: if we all are affluent, there’d be no crime. To begin with, that was strange to me because I grew up as poor a boy as you have ever known or have ever seen. And when I had my first church of eighteen members, my salary was $20 a month. I had learned to live on nothing. And I lived, literally, on $20 a month. That’s no exaggeration! So, the sociologist avows that the source of all of our crime is our poverty. The TV panels, on and on, they have echoed the same persuasion.
So, we became affluent, as nobody in this earth has even dreamed of being affluent. One day this past week, just Friday, we had a big dinner at our college – had about four hundred businessmen there to listen to Sir John Templeton, who’s a billionaire. And beats anything you ever heard, he took the entire thirty minutes of his speech, speaking about how we have become affluent beyond anything the world has ever dreamed of. Our incomes now are one hundred times as much as they were just a few years ago – on and on and on. All right, what about that? What about that? That affluence will do away with crime – what about that?
Well, one of his statistics was, there has never been a time in the history of creation when crime was so rampant as it is right now! Doesn’t that beat anything you ever saw? Did you know, when I came here to Dallas 52 years ago, Dallas was jammed downtown with everybody, including me and Mrs. C. Everybody! The picture-shows were downtown, the dramatic things were downtown, the stores – oh, the streets downtown were crowded – downtown!
Did you know the man who headed Ensearch, they own our city gas system, Lone Star Gas, he had me for dinner – he’s one of my deacons – he had me for dinner on the top floor of that block down there where they have all of their offices? So, when we got through eating lunch, and it was about 1:30 o’clock, why, I was coming back to my study here at the church. So, he said to me, "Now, I’m going to have a car for you to take you back to your office."
I said, "You’re not going to do it! It’s about five blocks from here to my office and I need to walk."
Well, he said, "I’m going to get a car for you, anyway!"
Well, I said, "You’re not going to do it!"
When he insisted on something, he said, "Well, if you won’t let me get you a car, I’m going to get one of my security officers here at Lone Star Gas and let him walk with you up to your office."
I said, "You’re not going to do it! It’s the middle of town and I’m just going to walk through the middle of town to my office from yours to mine." And I said, "Why, under high heaven, would you want to have a security officer walk by me, going to my office?"
And he said – and I’m not pulling your shirt-tail – he said to me, "You may get mugged, if I don’t have a security officer walking by your side." Can you believe that? Through the middle of this city – downtown, "I’m going to put a security officer by your side to walk five blocks lest you get mugged."
Did you know I was grown before I ever saw a door lock? Even when I came to Dallas, I can’t remember when we locked our door or not. Can you imagine leaving your house now and not locking that door or turning on an alarm? And yet, they said to us, "When we become affluent, there will be no more crime" – no more crime! That’s the reason I say, one of the reasons why, we need God’s revelation, just to understand the times.
I have another one here. We need the revelation of God because of sometimes our vicious attitude toward the Jew, the descendants of Abraham. Now, you may think I’ve lost my mind when I avow that but I believe it! And that’s the reason I’m saying it. In the beginning with Abraham, in Genesis 12 – when you’re introduced to Abraham – in Genesis 12, verse 3, the Lord says: "Those that bless, live, and love the descendants of Abraham, I will love and I will bless." Now whether God’s lying to us or not, just depends upon your heart. But, I believe that. Any people who will be good to the Jew, God will bless them.
I think one of the reasons for the blessing of God upon America is our kindness to the Jew. You’ve got them here in Dallas by the thousands. And we are gracious to them. We are! On the other hand, I think one of the reasons for the curse of God upon Germany, upon Russia, upon the Nazis and upon the Communists is because they hated, and crucified, and slew and persecuted the Jew.
Now, you remember, I’m just telling you what I think. But, I’m also saying to you that I’m just reading the Bible. You remember Psalm 122, verse 6: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper who love thee." Now, remember: I’m a literalist. And you have to always take that into account when you listen to me. I believe the Bible – every syllable of it, every word of it! And I think, when we open our hearts toward the Jew and toward Jerusalem, I think God will bless us.
Well, I’ve just got started good on this lesson today. Dear me, I don’t know what to do. I’ve just started it.