Dream (Daniel Chapter 2)
The first chapter of Daniel is an
introduction to the person of Daniel, his three companions and a brief
history of their capture, enslavement and life in Babylon. Daniel
himself wrote this book as evidenced by Him using the autographical
first person from chapter 7 onward. Interestingly, Daniel
wrote the first three chapters as a historical account much like Moses
wrote Exodus, keeping in mind that Daniel did not put the chapter
divisions in his book. Chapter 4 begins with an accounting of
Nebuchadnezzar as seen from his perspective, looking for all the world
like it was written by Nebuchadnezzar himself. It is most likely
that Daniel wrote what Nebuchadnezzar narrated. Then in chapter 5,
Daniel returns to the narrative mode type of writing and continues
this style until chapter 7 where he then began using much more apocalyptic
language to describe his visions.
We will look much more closely at
apocalyptic language at the beginning of chapter 7. Daniel is
recognized as the apocalypse of the Old Testament and presents a
detailed and comprehensive view of prophetic history. Daniel wrote
chapter 1 in Hebrew, then he switched to Aramaic in chapters 2 thru 7
where he prophesied about the future course of the Gentile world powers.
Then in chapters 8 thru 12, he returned to his native language of Hebrew
to predict the future of the Israelite nation under Gentile domination.
How comforting it must have been to the Israelites in bondage in Babylon
to know from Daniel's prophecies that their nation would continue into
the future. With the Jerusalem and the temple utterly destroyed,
it must have seemed to the captives that there was no hope of them ever
returning and being a nation again. But Daniel's prophecies
concerning the Israelite nation in the future let them know that there
would indeed be a future for the nation of Israel.
Daniel chapter 2 begins with the
account of Nebuchadnezzar's dream about the future and what lay in store
for his empire and thereafter. He went to sleep one night pondering the future of
Babylon (Daniel 2:29), and he received an answer from God in the form of
a troubling dream which he could not remember. From this account
we learn that God did indeed make himself known to nations other than
Israel and that he had expectations of them in their conduct and
behavior. From Daniel, we learn that God was very proactive in the
life of Nebuchadnezzar and from this we can infer that He was with the
kings and rulers of other nations as well.
And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled,
and his sleep brake from him.
was not quite yet king when Daniel was taken from Jerusalem.
Nebuchadnezzar's father was old and
infirmed back in Babylon while Nebuchadnezzar led his father's
(Nabo-polassar), campaigns against Egypt. It was during this
campaign that Nabo-polassar died. Upon hearing the news of
Nabo-polassar's death, Nebuchadnezzar hastened to Babylon to secure
his ascension to the throne of his father.
Nebuchadnezzar probably arrived in Babylon after the Judean captives
did so he began his reign a matter of months after Daniel and
company arrived in Babylon.
Daniel was almost certainly a young teenager
and had only been in Babylon a short time when Nebuchadnezzar had
this dream. Nebuchadnezzar was obviously disturbed by this
dream enough that it woke him up and he was unable to sleep because
Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the
astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the
king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And
the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was
troubled to know the dream.
The Chaldaeans are classed with the magicians and
astronomers, and evidently form a sort of priest class who have a
peculiar "tongue" and "learning" (Daniel 1:4) and are consulted by the
king on religious subjects. The Chaldeans were the inhabitants of a
particular exclusive society of people within Babylonia. It is the
learning and tongue of this society which Daniel and his companions were
trained during their three year period precluding the presentation of
them before Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:5). No doubt
Nebuchadnezzar wanted servants near him who could translate their
language for him.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted to know what this dream
meant so this group of supposedly learned and wise priests were
consulted. Nebuchadnezzar obviously held them in regard because he
wanted his captive servants to be educated in their ways. So
Nebuchadnezzar looked to them to find out what this troubling dream was
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we
will shew the interpretation.
Syriack is a term for the Syrian language which
was 6th century Aramaic.
The Chaldeans obviously speak to each other in their own peculiar tongue
choosing to keep themselves distinct from the general populace.
For this occasion when standing before the king of Babylonia, they
thought it wise to address him in his own tongue. Especially in
view of the fact that Nebuchadnezzar was obviously in a vile mood and they did not know what his dream was so they were
at a distinct disadvantage.
The king answered and said to 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.
either could not remember his dream or he chose to tell the Chaldeans he
could not as a test of their ability. It is a common thing to have
a disturbing dream one cannot remember. Upon waking, the dream
fades into oblivion leaving the emotional reaction to it behind.
It is likely Nebuchadnezzar experienced just such a dream and wanted to
know what it was. The Chaldeans were recognized as an exclusive
society of learned magicians and astronomers and Nebuchadnezzar figured
it was time they demonstrated their abilities. He obviously felt
that it should have been within their abilities to know and tell him
what his dream was. Whether Nebuchadnezzar really forgot his dream
or not is inconsequential to the narrative. What is significant is
that if the Chaldeans could not perform to Nebuchadnezzar's
expectations, they were going to be put to death. And as we see
later, this was not going to be confined just to the ones that stood
before him that day on his throne. It was going to mean the
execution of their entire society at least in the city of Babylon.
But if ye shew the dream, and the
interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and
great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation
started with the negative incentives. Now he gives the positive
ones. If the Chaldeans can perform to Nebuchadnezzar's
expectations, they will be showered with gifts and honors. Failure
will result in their deaths. The Biblical record restricts itself
here to a simple recording of the facts. However, one cannot but
help to speculate on the obvious consternation among the Chaldeans upon
hearing Nebuchadnezzar's request and the consequences for failure.
It is safe to draw the conclusion that there were some high level
discussions going on among the Chaldeans over this predicament they
found themselves in.
It is often the
case when someone or a group of people set themselves up as mystics and
magicians that there are times when they are called upon to perform
something clearly outside their ability. Trickery and illusion can
only go so far and these people may be able to maintain their sham for
some time, but in this case, they were caught and they knew it.
One cannot help but consider the foolishness of trying to maintain such
activities in any society, let alone one where the disfavor of the wrong
individuals can cost one their lives. Charlatans have been around
for centuries and through Daniel they can look back and see a grim
example of the consequences that can befall them if they find themselves
in the unfortunate position of being unable to live up to the things
they claim they can do.
They answered again and said, Let the king
tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of
They have no
idea what Nebuchadnezzar's dream was. And how could they?
Such a thing is not within the scope of mortal man without divine
intervention. They knew they were in trouble and their lives were
hanging in the balance and they knew it. One can only speculate on
their anxiety and consternation as they stood before the king of
The king answered and said, I know of
certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is
gone from me. But if ye 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 shew me
the interpretation thereof.
Nebuchadnezzar is getting upset. If he had any suspicions over the
ability of the Chaldeans and the magicians, etc, it is quite evident now
and is being displayed in his reaction to their insistence on him
telling them what the dream was.
What Nebuchadnezzar is saying here is "I know that you are trying to
stall for more time. You know that your lives are forfeit and that I
will do what I said if you don't tell me about my dream. You have all
conspired to lie to me, hoping for more time so that I will forget what
I want you to do. Now tell me the dream and then I will know that you
can tell me what it really means."
suspicions are evidently aroused at this point. The king's last
statement now reveal his purpose of requiring the wise men to tell him
the dream in order that he might also trust them to reveal the
true interpretation of it.
The Chaldeans answered before the king, and
said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's
matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such
things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king,
except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
They have now acknowledged their
inability before the king. Here was a full admission by the
Chaldeans and their associates of their utter inability to do what the
king required. Furthermore there was an inherent confession in their
words of their belief in the supernatural. "The gods" to which
they referred were not the one true and living God that we serve, but by
citing their false ones, they demonstrated their belief in them
nonetheless. This set the stage for the recognition of almighty
God's hand in the ultimate giving of the dream and its meaning through
For this cause the king was angry and very
furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
disgust and fury with their inability to tell him the dream has now
resulted in him ordering the execution of all the wise men of Babylon no
matter who or where. He now thoroughly distrusts them and
wants them all killed. The cruel
injustice of such an unreasonable destruction was absolutely
characteristic of the tyrannical monarchies of that era. There
were no free societies then. The people lived under the rule of a
supreme monarch who could and did order people executed at will.
And the decree went forth that the wise men
should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
So angry was the
king that even Daniel and his companions who had earlier impressed him so much
were going to be slain right along with the rest. It should be
noted here that Daniel and his companions were still quite young with
Daniel himself probably being in his mid to late teens. This fact
when taken into account makes this event in their lives all the more
extraordinary. That Daniel had the conviction, composure and self
possession to accomplish what he did is a testament to this man's
Then Daniel answered with counsel and
wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone
forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: He answered and said to Arioch the king's
captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made
the thing known to Daniel.
There is an
obvious relationship evident here between Daniel and Arioch. The
king's guard had been dispatched to find and execute all the wise men of
Babylon. Arioch was probably going to have to dispatch Daniel and
his companions himself, probably right there in the palace royal.
It is quite possible he was standing in front of Daniel with his sword
drawn at this point. Daniel did not even know what was going on
and asked Arioch why the king's decree was so urgent. Obviously
Nebuchadnezzar lashed out in a rage without thinking about what he was
doing. There was enough of relationship between the captain of the
king's guard and Daniel that he explained to Daniel what was going on.
This alone could have cost Arioch his life if this had not gone well.
This is the second time we have seen someone under the rule of a tyrant
like Nebuchadnezzar risk their lives to help Daniel.
Then Daniel went in, and desired of the
king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king
One does not
just stroll into the presence of the king of Babylon or any other king
in this era of history for that matter, unless they are well favored.
We should recall that Esther put her life on the line in order to come
into the presence of the Persian king Ahasuerus and she was his wife.
It was a significant accomplishment that Daniel was even able to do
this, let alone get a stay of execution for himself and his companions.
But he was successful which testifies to the regard Nebuchadnezzar held
for Daniel and to the fact that Nebuchadnezzar really wanted to know
what his dream meant.
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the
thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God
of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should
not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
Two things of
interest here. First, Daniel had his own house. Doubtless
this was a palace residence reserved for palace servants but it was his
own nonetheless and the text seems to indicate it was a separate
dwelling from the palace itself.
Daniel sought out his companions, who knew nothing about this, and he
wanted them all to pray to God for the answer to the mystery of the
king's dream. Daniel had absolute faith in God and knew God could
reveal the secret to them.
Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in
a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
God was indeed
merciful to Daniel and Daniel was properly grateful. The
application here for us today is that God has indeed been merciful to us
as well. The plan of redemption by which we are saved
is nothing short of the most incredible gift man could have ever
received from God. We today need to be as grateful as Daniel was
that next day following his night vision. Daniel's prayer of
thanksgiving to God is given to us in the following scripture.
Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the
name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons:
he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the
wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he
knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God
of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made
known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made
known unto us the king's matter.
In this prayer
of thanksgiving to God, Daniel exhibits a considerable knowledge of old
testament scripture. This young man who was probably just barely a
teenager when he was deported from Jerusalem, knew the scriptures well.
the times and the seasons
At this point Daniel knew the dream and what it meant. The dream
was all about the changing of times and seasons and rulers over nations.
The "times" are the phases and periods of duration of empires (Daniel
7:25; 1 Chronicles 12:32; 29:30); the "seasons" are the fitting times for
their culmination, decline, and fall (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Acts 1:7; 1
Thessalonians 5:1). The existence of empires, with their times and
seasons, are not regulated by chance or fate, as the pagans thought, but
by God alone.
kings" (Job 12:18; Psalms 75:6-7; 1 Samuel 2:7-8).
wisdom" as He gave it to Solomon when he chose wisdom over riches (1
the deep and secret things" (Job 12:22, "He discovereth deep
things out of darkness").
"He knoweth what
is in the darkness" (Psalms 139:11-12, "If I say, Surely the darkness
shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the
darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the
darkness and the light are both alike to thee"
Daniel gave all
the glory to God for this revelation. He shows the proper attitude
of a man of God. He was not haughty or self important. He
did not use this as an occasion to further his own standing in the eyes
of men. Daniel was a true man of God in every sense. The
application for us today is that nothing we
have or possess came about by the result of our
actions apart from the will of God. The New Testament scripture in
support of this is found in James 1:17 "Every good gift and every
perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom
the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went
and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring
me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the
Daniel went to
Arioch first and made a plea for the lives of the wise men of Babylon.
We do not know if the executions of the wise men had commenced at this
point or not. The text indicated in verse 13 that the king's guard
had already been dispatched to carry out the executions so it is
entirely likely that some of the wise men had already been executed.
Of interest here is that Daniel sought to have them spared. This
speaks to the character of Daniel's righteousness and compassion for his
Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the
king in haste and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the
captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the
This was an
urgent matter. Did Arioch dispatch messengers immediately to stop
the executions at the request of Daniel or did he hasten Daniel in front
of the king in hopes that he would receive the similar order from
Nebuchadnezzar himself. It seems unlikely at this point that
Daniel had the authority to put a stop to Nebuchadnezzar's decree.
It seems logical that Arioch brought Daniel immediately before the king
with this in mind.
The king answered and said to Daniel, whose
name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream
which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
asked Daniel to confirm what Arioch had announced to him.
Nebuchadnezzar is interested in knowing what Daniel had to say but there
is no hint in the text here that he was in any way going to retreat from
his decree to have the wise men slain if someone could not tell him what
the dream was and what it meant.
Daniel answered in the presence of the
king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the
wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto
the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth
secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be
in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy
bed, are these;
advantage of the opportunity here to set forth God as being far superior
to the wise men of Babylon and their false gods. Daniel made sure
Nebuchadnezzar knew exactly where this knowledge was coming from and to
who should be given the glory and praise for it. We see here that
God was making things known directly to Nebuchadnezzar. God was
dealing with the king in a direct and personal way. God, in his
wisdom and in displaying his providential care of the Israelites in
captivity, revealed this information to the king through Daniel in such
a way that it would benefit Daniel and all the Israelite captives in
performed an extraordinary feat in revealing and explaining
Nebuchadnezzar's dream, let's not overlook the importance of the fact
that it was Nebuchadnezzar who God gave the dream to. The
Israelites often considered themselves to be much better than the
Gentiles because they were God's chosen people. This does not mean
that God left the Gentiles to their own devices and abandoned them to
their fate. He certainly did not. God dealt with the Gentile
nations and He had expectations of them. God sent Jonah to the
Assyrian capitol of Nineveh to preach God's righteousness to them so we
know that the Gentiles had direction from God on matters of
righteousness. They, like the Israelites on numerous occasions,
chose to reject Him and embrace their own forms of righteousness.
God desires no men to be lost anywhere, be they Israelites or Gentiles
and this is why he strove with them to try and give them all an
opportunity to escape the fate of sinners.
As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into
thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he
that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
Daniel is here
telling the king what prompted the dream in the first place.
Nebuchadnezzar was lying in bed contemplating the future of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar was no different in this regard than anybody who at a
quiet time ponders their existence, purpose and the future of their
endeavors. Nebuchadnezzar went down in history as a great master
builder for the Babylonian Empire. His architectural achievements
in both infrastructure and culture were widespread across the empire.
It is said that over 90% if the bricks excavated from that time period
of history bore the stamp of his name on them. Obviously
Nebuchadnezzar was reflecting on what would come to pass in the future
of this great empire he was building. Nebuchadnezzar
doubtless got more than he was looking for. He received in his
dream about 600 years
of "what should come to pass hereafter" and he received
a prophetic vision of the most powerful and glorious kingdom that will
ever exist and its king.
But as for me, this secret is not revealed
to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their
sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that
thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
reveals Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he assumes a penitent and subservient
attitude. Daniel did not go into the presence of the king of
Babylon and try to portray himself as someone with more wisdom and
importance than anybody else. This was in stark contrast with
Arioch who announced to the king that he was the one who found someone
that could reveal the meaning of the dream. Doubtless it was the
humble attitude of Daniel which caused him to be so favored by those he
Daniel tells the
king that the dream was not revealed to him because of any wisdom he had
more than anybody else, but it was revealed for the preservation of
those who would make known the meaning of it. Furthermore Daniel
affirms that the dream is revealed to him so that Nebuchadnezzar could
know the thoughts of his heart. This dream was intended for a
purpose and it was meant for Nebuchadnezzar to know it from the
beginning. God's use of Daniel in the process assured a
measure of protection for the Israelites in captivity by diminishing the
influence of the Chaldeans and elevating the influence of the
Israelites, especially those who served in the palace courts and could
directly influence the king who
had already demonstrated a capacity for cruel and bloody reactions
towards those who could not provide him exactly what he wanted at the
time. God's providential hand is evident in his dealings with
Nebuchadnezzar and with the kings who came after him as well.
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great
image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood
before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his
breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and
part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out
without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron
and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the
silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the
chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away,
that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image
became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Daniel said, "Your Majesty, what
you saw standing in front of you was a huge and terrifying statue,
shining brightly. Its head at the top was made of gold. Moving
down, its chest and arms were silver, and from its waist down to its
knees, it was bronze. From there to its ankles it was iron, and
its feet were a mixture of iron and potter's clay. As you
watched, a stone was cut from a mountain-but not by human hands. The
stone struck the feet, completely shattering the iron and clay. Then the
iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed and
blown away without a trace, like husks of wheat at threshing time.
But the stone became a tremendous mountain that covered the entire
The stone which was cut without
human hands was Jesus Christ who identified Himself as such in:
never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the
same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it
is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom
of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the
fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be
broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Jesus was quoting prophecy from Psalms 118:22-23 when He said this
to the chief priests and scribes.
Peter later identified Jesus
Christ as this stone in Acts 4:10-11, "Be it known unto you all, and
to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of
Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him
doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which
was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the
"and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and
filled the whole earth."
The stone, Jesus Christ, became a tremendous mountain that covered
the whole earth. Daniel explained this in V44 as the kingdom that
the God of heaven set up which shall endure and consume all other
kingdoms. This is a figure of the church, the body of the saved,
which grew to cover the whole earth.
"This is the dream; and we will tell the
interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the
God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and
out by telling Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom, power, strength and
glory came from God. And indeed it did as stated from the word of
God by inspiration in Jeremiah 29:23.
Nebuchadnezzar was told at the onset of the interpretation that God was
behind his success. Not the pagan false gods he served, but the
God of Daniel, the one true and living God. Nebuchadnezzar
had some trouble with his pride and would have done well to heed this
gentile admonition from God through Daniel. Later in life, this
pride resulted in his being basically dethroned for 7 years and placed
into a position with the wild beasts of the fields (Daniel 4:30-32).
"And wheresoever the children of men dwell,
the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given
into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art
this head of gold."
did not actually rule every part of the globe. However God granted
him vast domination in whatever direction his ambition led him, Egypt,
Nineveh, Arabia, Syria, Tyre, and its Phoenician colonies.
Starting at the head of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he was
represented as the head of gold. The Babylonian Empire did not
last long as compared to some of the other empires in history, but it
certainly was one of the most glorious and powerful.
Nebuchadnezzar was certainly one of the post powerful gentile kings who
The designation "Thou art this
head of gold", does not refer to his person, but to the
world-kingdom founded by him and represented in his person, having all
things placed under his control by God. The kingdoms in view here
in this vision are not small nations, rather they are world powers which
dominated vast regions of the known world at the time. None of
these world kingdoms extended over all of the whole earth, but they did
encompass the majority of the historical nations of their time.
Babylon, being the head of the figure in Nebuchadnezzar's dream
established the pattern by which the following world kingdoms would be
recognized. We should bear in mind here that what Daniel's
explanation of the dream meant to Nebuchadnezzar is what it must mean to
us as well. In Nebuchadnezzar's mind, the kingdoms following after
him would be similar to the one he reigned over. They would be an
empire of many smaller nations in service and under the authority of one
And after thee shall arise another kingdom
inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall
bear rule over all the earth.
is now told that the Babylonian empire will endure to at least the end
of his life. His empire will fall and be replaced so all the news
he is receiving is not completely good but he can console himself with
the fact that all of this will occur under the reign of another king.
The kingdom following Babylon will be inferior, meaning it will not rise
in world dominance to the magnitude that Babylon achieved under the rule
kingdom which rose up but was inferior in supremacy to the power of
Nebuchadnezzar at the time was the Medo-Persian Empire which was
represented on the figure as the breast and arms of silver. The
kings of Persia were the worst leaders to ever govern an empire.
The power and authority of the central government was shared with the
nobles by the king. Being thus weakened by growing independence of
the provinces, it was inferior in supremacy to that of Nebuchadnezzar,
whose sole word was law throughout the Babylonian Empire.
Empire was formed
under Cyrus the Great, who took over the empire of the Medes and
conquered much of the Middle East, including the territories of the
Babylonians, Assyrians, the Phoenicians, and the Lydians. The
Median were allies of the Babylonians in the conquest and overthrow of
the Assyrian Empire by the father of Nebuchadnezzar.
Medo-Persia was illustrated as the
breasts and arms of silver in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. This
was an appropriate representation of the dual authority of the Empire.
Darius the Mede was a close confederate of Cyrus who appointed him as
his first governor over Babylon after it was taken from the Chaldeans.
kingdom of brass, or bronze, was the Grecian Empire formed under the
reign of Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC). He started out as the
king of Macedon and he went on to extend Macedonian power not only over
the central Greek city-states, but also to the Persian empire, including
Egypt and lands as far east as the fringes of India.
His conquests included Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Gaza, Egypt,
Bactria and Mesopotamia, and he extended the boundaries of his own
empire as far as Punjab, India. If he had not died an untimely
death at a relatively young age, he would likely have conquered the
known world to the west of him which would have included Rome. For
a brief time, Alexander had control of the largest empire the world had
ever seen by that time in history.
the Grecian armies were well known and celebrated
for their bronze armor. Another distinguishing mark of the Greek
Empire was its universality. Under Alexander, the Greek Empire's
unity was unmatched. Daniel said of the third empire, "They shall
bear rule over all the earth". It is certain that "the whole
earth" here must mean the "whole known world".
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as
iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things:
and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and
The Roman Empire
was well known for its use of iron in
weaponry. A huge iron mining and refining operation has been
discovered near Brayford on the southern edge of Exmoor in what is today
the United Kingdom. Thousands of tons of metal was smelted
at the site - far more than would have been needed locally. There
is also the iron mining trench or openwork known as "Roman Lode," at
Burcombe near Simonsbath. The Roman military was one of the
strongest military powers in the ancient world because of their superior
weapons made of iron. Helmets, Body Armour, Shields, Swords
and other weapons made of iron served to identify the Roman Empire's
military as the most fearsome yet.
history classifies the period of time known as the bronze age up to
about 500 BC and from there to what is called the early iron age.
The Persians used iron in the armor of their troops before the Romans
did. The Romans got the idea from their iron clad enemies, refined
it and expanded on it. The Roman Iron Age is shown to
be from 0 to 400 AD. 0 to 200 AD is known as the early Roman Iron
Age with the period of time from 200 to 400 AD being the late Roman Iron
Age. During this period of time in history, iron rose
to be the metal of choice for weaponry and fortification. The iron
weaponry of the Roman soldiers helped to secure their dominance in
warfare and they used it to subdue their enemies and to become the great
Roman world empire that was represented by legs of iron in the figure in
And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes,
part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be
divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron,
forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of
iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and
partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with
miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but
they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with
Empire, even though she ruled and dominated much of the the known world
during the Roman Iron Age, had divisions within herself. The
Roman Empire conquered nations to add to the empire and taxed them.
As long as these nations paid their taxes, they were allowed to retain
their cultures to a degree. This was unlike the Greek Empire which
diligently sought to assimilate their vassal nations to their culture,
which was labeled as Hellenism. Later on the imperial cults set up
idols and temples and imposed emperor worship on the populace throughout
the empire. These smaller nations within the Roman Empire never
completely united under the Roman banner. As a result they were
always a divided kingdom. The ten toes represented the
smaller kingdoms or nations within the empire.
Another great adversary of the Empire within was the Christians. They
were a people who refused to join with the Empire in her dealings.
They refused to serve in the Roman Army because the troops were required
to worship the emperor. They refused to partake in worship of any
kind with the pagan people of Rome. While law abiding where
possible, in areas where the will of God conflicted with Roman law, they
stubbornly and steadfastly opposed them and refused to have any dealings
with them. The Christians however were not represented by the clay
in the figure. In the vision, the clay along with the rest of the
materials making up the statue in the dream
"became like the chaff of the summer
threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away" (Daniel 2:35).
The Christians were not carried away, they grew to be the mountain the
covered the entire earth. Yet, it is significant to note that the
Roman Empire was indeed a divided kingdom on many different levels. Truly the Roman Empire was a divided realm and in the end
when she was overthrown the provinces under her authority turned on her
and helped to bring her down from within.
And in the days of these kings shall the
God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and
the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in
pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
In the days of
the kings of the iron age, the Roman Empire, God will set up a kingdom
which shall never be destroyed and it will stand forever. The God
who revealed the secret of Nebuchadnezzar's dream to him through Daniel
is telling Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom will pass, then the next
three kingdoms after him will pass and that He, God, will set up a
kingdom that will never fall.
believe in and teach Premillennialism today teach that Jesus Christ was
rejected by the Jews when He came to establish his kingdom in the first
century. They teach that Jesus will return again some day and set
up his earthly kingdom, rebuild the temple and reign from Jerusalem for
a thousand years. The immediate problem with this belief in
the face of Daniel's interpretation is that for this to be true, then
this prophecy of God has to fail. The burden now lies on the
Millennialists to demonstrate that the iron kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar's
dream was not the Roman Empire. The next burden for the
Millennialists is to demonstrate from scripture that there is not now a
kingdom and that Jesus Christ is not reigning over it in the face of
clear inspiration that indicates there is a kingdom that Christ reigned
over in the first century (Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 12:28, Revelation
1:9, 1 Corinthians 15:24-25). This kingdom which scripture clearly
identifies did indeed outlast the Roman Empire and all the other great
empires, nations and kingdoms since then. For 2000 years now this
kingdom spoken of in NT scripture is enduring and Christ is still
reigning over it from the right hand of God the Father in Heaven
(Hebrews 1:3; 10:12).
also need to locate those who were in the presence of Jesus Christ when
He declared that the kingdom of God would come during their lifetimes
(Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27) and must still be alive today and
will continue to live until Jesus' next coming if what Jesus Christ
said, by inspiration in the first century is true. We know there
is nobody alive today on earth who lived in the first century.
Thus the only possible conclusion is that God's kingdom came in the
first century and is the spiritual body of Christians who serve Jesus as
their King, otherwise known as the church. Jesus Christ is
reigning over the collective group of His people who are in the body of
Christ. This body of Christ is the spiritual kingdom of God and is
identified as the church in scripture (Colossians 1:18).
Daniel said of
this kingdom that was to come that it would not "be left to other
people". Scripture elsewhere is quite conclusive that God is
the one who sets up kings and kingdoms on earth. Nebuchadnezzar
himself affirmed that in his narrative as recorded by Daniel in chapter
4 verses 25 and 32. Later in chapter 5, Nebuchadnezzar's son,
Belshazzar, heard the same thing from God through Daniel in an
interpretation of the writing on the wall in chapter 5, verse 21.
Jeremiah affirmed the same thing in Jeremiah 27:6-7. God gives the
kingdoms of the earth to who he chooses, but the kingdom that God will
set up will not be overseen or ruled by men. This kingdom will
consume all other kingdoms and stand forever. This is of course
the kingdom of God, established in the days of the kings who were
represented by the feet and toes of the great figure in Nebuchadnezzar's
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was
cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces
the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great
God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter:
and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
that was "cut out of the mountain without hands" is none
other than Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. Scripture describes
Christ as a stone or as rock in numerous places. The imagery being
that Christ is enduring, unmovable and strong. Jesus portrayed
Himself as the stone which was rejected by the builders and then became
the cornerstone, the stone around and upon which all other stones were
placed. Paul portrayed Christ as the chief cornerstone of the
foundation of the household of God. Peter's words as written by
inspiration show Christ as the "chief corner stone, elect, precious"
(1 Peter 2:6). Peter then went on to say that to those who were
disobedient, Jesus became a "stone of stumbling, a rock of offence".
The stone which
was cut from the mountain without hands utterly destroyed all the
kingdoms represented by the figure in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. It
would emerge victorious over all the rest of the glorious kingdoms that
would rise after Babylon. This is the answer Nebuchadnezzar
received by revelation in response to his thoughts as to what would "come
to pass hereafter".
Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his
face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an
oblation and sweet odours unto him.
The revealing and the
interpretation of the remarkable dream made a powerful impression on
Nebuchadnezzar. So much so that he fell down in supplication
before Daniel and ordered sacrifice to be offered to him. Falling
prostrate to the earth is found as a mark of honour to men. To the
Chaldean king, Daniel appeared as a man in whom the gods manifested
themselves; therefore he shows to him divine honour, such as was shown
by Cornelius to the Apostle Peter (Acts 10:25), and at Lystra was shown
to Paul and Barnabas, Acts 14:13. What an image it portrays to
visualize one of the greatest kings on earth to ever live prostrating
himself before Daniel, a servant in his palace.
The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of
a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings,
and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
At this point in Nebuchadnezzar's
life he praises the God of the Jews as the God of gods. Nebuchadnezzar
did not abandon his belief in his own pagan gods. He did not recognize
the God of the Jews as the one true and living God, but only as the God
of gods, as the highest or the most exalted of the gods, who excelled
the other gods in might and in wisdom, and was a Lord of kings. As
such Nebuchandnezzar believed Daniel's God worthy to be honored along
with the pagan gods of his own country. Later in Nebuchadnezzar's
life, he would find good reason to think more highly of Daniel's God and
less highly of his own. This was not the only dream
Nebuchandnezzar had and this is certainly not the only dream Daniel
interpreted for him during his reign in Babylon. God dealt
extensively with Nebuchadnezzar throughout his life and it is entirely
within the scope of possibility that Daniel's influence on
Nebuchadnezzar might have brought him to God's righteousness.
Unfortunately, as is the case so often, after the passing of
Nebuchadnezzar, it was short lived and Babylon continued in her evil
ways and paid the price for it.
Then the king made Daniel a great man, and
gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole
province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise
men of Babylon.
the wise men of Babylon had not been slain when Daniel intervened on
behalf of them, or there would have not been any of them left for Daniel
to rule over. Nebuchadnezzar was so disgusted with the inability
of the Chaldean wise men to show him the dream that he appointed the one
man in all the empire who did show him the dream as their ruler.
The Chaldeans stood before the king and declared that what he desired of
them could not be done by mortal man. Daniel, by the will of God,
was able to prove to the king of Babylon that his own wise men were not
so inspired by God. The Chaldeans spoke the truth when they told
Nebuchadnezzar that "there is none other that can shew it before the
king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh". What
they didn't know was that there was a man on earth to whom the one true
and living God would reveal Nebuchadnezzar's secret through. And
for that error and their failure, they were placed under the rule of the
man who with great humility and penitence before God and before the king
made them eat their words. These wise men literally owed
Daniel their lives. It is quite probable that these wise men
received extensive instruction under the rule of Daniel about the ways
of righteousness and about the one true and living God. Daniel
found himself in quite a unique position where he could influence a
great many people and given the evidence from scripture there can hardly
be any doubt that he did so.
Then Daniel requested of the king, and he
set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the
province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
Here we see
Daniel asking to have his companions set in positions where they could
influence others as well. Nebuchadnezzar granted this request and
the people of Babylon found themselves under the authority of those who
were brought to Babylon as captives from a deposed nation. What an
inspiration these young men must have been to their fellow Israelites in
captivity. They could look at what happened with Daniel and his
companions and they could see the fruits of their righteousness manifest
before all Babylon. There is every reason to believe they knew why
they were there. They had been warned by Ezekiel for years before
their overthrow. There can be no doubt that many of the Israelite
captives knew they were getting what they deserved and in seeing Daniel
and his three righteous companions being elevated to positions of
authority over the province of Babylon, they had to know that God was
behind it and His blessings would have been on them in Judah if they
would have but listened and heeded the words of the prophets.
To the captives
who were righteous in Judah and got carried off like Daniel and his
companions, these four young men were examples for them to live by.
They represented the hope that God was indeed active and watching over
his righteous children, even in Babylon.