Daniel 2 - Nebuchadnezzar's Dream and Its Interpretation

Turn in your Bibles to Daniel 2:24;

 

24 Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.”

 

25 Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, “I have found a man of the captives[b] of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.”

 

26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?”

 

27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: 29 As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. 30 But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.

 

31 “You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs[c] of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.[d] 34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

 

36 “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

 

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. 47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate[e] of the king.

 

May God bless the reading of His word.

 

Let us pray.

 

In the previous verses we saw how Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and had demanded that the wise men not only interpret the dream, but that they tell him what the dream was as well. Because the wise men could not tell the king his dream and its interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that all they all be killed. When they came to Daniel, he asked the king for time to have the dream revealed to him, which it was. Now, Daniel will explain to the king a dream that God has given first to the king and then to Daniel. The dream encompasses the breadth of the history of the kingdoms which will encompass and enlarge the kingdom which God has put into Nebuchadnezzar's charge.

 

Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel;

 

“Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?”

 

To which Daniel replies;

 

“The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: 29 As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. 30 But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.”

 

The preface to Daniel's interpretation contains some extremely important information.

 

First Daniel tells the king that there is no one who could declare the secret to the king, because God in heaven has revealed to Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.

 

He explains to Nebuchadnezzar that these things were revealed to him by God because Nebuchadnezzar wanted to know what would come after his kingdom. Daniel goes on to add that the secret has been reveal to himself not because he was wiser than the others, but in order that they all might be spared and that Nebuchadnezzar would finally understand that which he had asked of God.

 

This single dream in and of itself, recorded by Daniel, is astounding, and yet is only the first of the prophecies contained in this book. In fact the accuracy of the prophecy is such that detractors of the Bible try to discredit the date of the writing of the book in order to deny the obvious divine nature of the prophecy which is revealed.

 

Even those in the room when Daniel gives the interpretation will not be alive to see much more than the empire of the head and part of the empire represented by the chest and arms of silver.

 

But I'm getting ahead of the story.

 

Daniel first tells Nebuchadnezzar about his dream. In verses 31-35 we read;

 

“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs[c] of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.[d] 34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

 

With the accurate depiction of the dream, Daniel has proven that he is worthy to give the interpretation, which he gives in following verses. Starting in verse 37 we read;

 

37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

 

Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which takes a single paragraph to convey, is indeed all that will come to pass as regards Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, and finally all the world.

 

It is not a complete history in that it only concerns the kingdoms that will come after the Babylonian one, but it reveals to us the power of Daniel's and our God.

 

Remember, this dream would have been recorded in 603 BC. As Daniel says, the head of gold represents Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom. The Medo-Persian empire, which is represented by the arms and chest of silver will come about in 539 BC, 64 years after Nebuchadnezzar's dream is recorded. It is a dual kingdom, which is depicted by the silver arms and joined together by the chest.

 

A case could be made that perhaps Nebuchadnezzar could have subliminally known that the Medes and Persians would overthrow his kingdom with their combined strength, but then we come to the “belly and thighs[c] of bronze.” This is the Greek empire as established by Alexander the Great who conquered the Persians in 336 BC, 266 years after Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The Greeks weren't even on anyone's radar in Nebuchadnezzar's time. They were far away and scattered, constituting a bunch of separate city states, and yet Alexander's kingdom would rival the Babylonian or Persian empires in size.

 

Next we come to the legs of iron. You may have been taught that the fourth empire is the Roman empire. There are some problems with this interpretation that you may want to consider. First, consider Daniel's explanation of the iron kingdom. He says in verse 40;

 

And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.

 

People that argue for an alternative fourth kingdom, argue that Daniel is saying that the last kingdom will encompass all of the kingdoms that the previous ones did, when he says that the “kingdom will break in pieces and crush all others.” The Roman empire didn't do this. It simply was never as large as either the Persian or more importantly the Greek empire.

 

The second argument is that the Roman empire was not ruthless as Daniel describes the fourth kingdom. Daniel says that the fourth kingdom shall “be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything.” Again, this does not really describe the Roman empire which was tolerant of other cultures and religions.

 

Those that argue against the Roman empire being the fourth kingdom argue that the fourth kingdom is actually the Islamic caliphate. If you look at the extent of the Islamic caliphate you will see that at its height it encompassed all of the countries that Alexander's kingdom did. Hopefully, you would also agree that fundamentalist Islam is unrelenting and totally intolerant of anything or anyone that goes against it.

 

The hindsight of history allows us to look back and evaluate Daniel's interpretation in the light of all of the facts. As you consider whether the legs of iron are the Roman empire or the Islamic caliphate, you might also take into consideration that when the Roman empire theory was first postulated, they were the bad guys. They were killing Christians and were the “bully” on the block during the history of the early church.

 

Muhammad and his followers didn't come onto the scene until after the Holy Roman empire had been established and then collapsed upon itself. When they came, they were far more ruthless than the Romans and they crushed all the kingdoms that had been part of the Babylonian, Persian and Greek empires.

 

There are several other places in Scripture where our “western focus” may cause us to lose sight of what might be seen as obvious references to Islam in prophecy. Jesus' warning that those who “live by the sword shall die by the sword” could be seen as a reference to the religion of the sword, Islam, a fact that my brother Pastor Masikh point out to me many years ago. Jesus Himself, speaking of the end times, tells His disciples in John 16:2;

 

“the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”

 

There is really no other religion which is known for its insistence on killing those of other religions and thinking that they are doing the will of their god, save Islam.

 

Furthermore, even as crucifixion was unknown in the time of David, when he wrote Psalm 22, which is certainly a depiction of Jesus' crucifixion, so in the times of John, beheading wasn't a common form of execution in the Roman empire, and yet in Revelation 20:4 John tells us;

 

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.

 

Again, the most common method of killing apostates in the Muslim religion is beheading, which is why it is known as the religion of the sword.

 

Ok, so I've just recently discovered this line of thinking and it has some definite merit that requires prayer and further study. Obviously, whatever we determine to be the iron is important for the fifth kingdom, because Daniel tells us that;

 

As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.

 

When we think of the iron as being the Islamic caliphate, the meaning of this passage takes on a meaning that we have all experienced. Adherents to fundamentalist Islam do not mix well among the “seed of men” as it were. We see this around the world where fundamental Muslims come into western or even moderate Muslim contacts. There is no mixing between the two.

 

The standard teaching around the Roman empire is a little further stretch but envisions a reunified Roman empire based tenuously upon an organization such as the EU. Proponents of this theory point to the document which was used to found the EU, which is named the “Treaty of Rome.” However there is difficulty in using the member countries as the toes as there are now some 28 members of the EU.

 

Once again, I won't try to influence you one way or the other. However, I think that sometimes we are too quick to jump onto a bandwagon just because someone else tells us that what they think.

 

It's important to study these things in the light both of history as well as current events with the leading of the Holy Spirit. A fundamental principle of the Protestant tradition is semper reformanda, always reform. Islam, a religion that did not exist until 622 AD is now the second largest religion in the world with 1.6 billion adherents, or 21% of the worlds population, as opposed to Christianity which has about 1.9 billion professing believers.

 

What is more exciting than all of this what Daniel tells us of the kingdom that comes after the fifth one. He tells us Nebuchadnezzar in verses 34-35;

 

You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

 

Which he explains in verses 44-45;

 

“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

 

Of course this is a perfect description of the kingdom which God establishes through our rock, Jesus Christ. It is He, the Stone cut out without human hands, that will destroy the evil nations of the world and establish His kingdom forever.

 

God blessed Nebuchadnezzar to see this vision and Daniel to both see it and to interpret it and more than that to set it down for us some 600 years before Jesus was born.

 

If you confess Jesus as Lord I pray that you will appreciate, as I do, the power, the beauty, the absolutely phenomenal simplicity and depth of this dream, recorded by Daniel two thousand six hundred and nineteen years ago.

 

There is no other book in all of mankind that contains this kind of remarkable vision into the future, not just concerning the future or history of mankind and their paltry kingdoms, but also as regards the Stone cut without human hands, our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

I pray that you will seriously consider not just this first of many prophecies in the light of current events as well as history, but that you will continually reevaluate God's prophecies in the light of history exposing more and more of God's promises and His final and ultimate coming to establish the New Jerusalem upon the Earth.

 

And if you have never confessed Jesus as Lord, I urge you to earnestly consider what is happening here. The God of the Bible has revealed all of coming human history to King Nebuchadnezzar most of it hundreds of years before it was ever realized.

 

This in itself would be amazing except for the fact that the Bible is full of such prophecies, prophecies that pertain to ancient cultures, our current situation and the future of all mankind. Every single one of these prophecies has come true, save for those that are yet to come and have to do with the return of Jesus Christ as the righteous judge. He will separate His sheep from the goats, the sheep will have eternal life, and the goats will be doomed to the lake of fire.

 

He is the Stone that crushes the kingdoms of the world to dust and Who will reign forever.

 

His judgment will be upon all men, your deeds will be written in down, everything that you have done, good, and bad. But it will not be your deeds that will save you. You see, the wages of sin is death, so if you have ever done anything that God forbids, or if you have not done something which God commands, then your just payment will be to go with the goats into that place that Jesus describes as the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the fire is never quenched and the worm, which is the human soul, never dies.

 

But take hope.

 

If the God and His impending wrath has become real to you, if the Holy Spirit is testifying to you the power of the truth of God's word and your need for a Savior, then God is making you in to a new creation.

 

God's word says that if you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved, for with the heart a man believes resulting in righteousness and with his mouth He confesses, resulting in salvation.

 

Cry out to God to give you the faith to confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that He raised Him from the dead and be saved.

 

Do it today.

 

 

Let us pray.

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