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The 4th Annual Preachers Files Lectureship

       

Youth Gathering Oct 16th 2010

Nebuchadnezzar's 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. 

Daniel 2:1
And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.

Nebuchadnezzar 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 of it. 

Daniel 2:2-3 
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 about.

Daniel 2:4 
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. 

Daniel 2:5 
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.

Nebuchadnezzar 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. 

Daniel 2:6 
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 thereof.

Nebuchadnezzar 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. 

Daniel 2:7 
They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.

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 Babylon. 

Daniel 2:8-9 
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.

Now 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."

Nebuchadnezzar's 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. 

Daniel 2:10-11 
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 Daniel.  

Daniel 2:12 
For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar's 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. 

Daniel 2:13 
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 extraordinary character. 

Daniel 2:14 
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.   

Daniel 2:16 
Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.

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. 

Daniel 2:17 
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. 

Second,  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. 

Daniel 2:19 
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 2:20 
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. 

He changeth 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. 

"He removeth kings" (Job 12:18; Psalms 75:6-7; 1 Samuel 2:7-8).

"He giveth wisdom" as He gave it to Solomon when he chose wisdom over riches (1 Kings 3:9-12).

"He revealeth 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."

Daniel 2:24 
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 interpretation.

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 fellow man.  

Daniel 2:25 
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 interpretation.

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. 

Daniel 2:26 
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?

Nebuchadnezzar 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 2:27-28 
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;

Daniel took 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 Babylon.  

While Daniel 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. 

Daniel 2:29 
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. 

Daniel 2:30 
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.

Before Daniel 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 served. 

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. 

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Revealed

Daniel 2:31-35
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 earth."

The stone which was cut without human hands was Jesus Christ who identified Himself as such in:  Matthew 21:42-44, "Did ye 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 corner".  

"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. 

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Explained

Daniel 2:36-37 
"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 glory."

Daniel starts 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).

Daniel 2:38 
"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."

Nebuchadnezzar 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 ever lived. 

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 mighty one. 

Daniel 2:39 
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

Nebuchadnezzar 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 of Nebuchadnezzar. 

The world 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.

The Medo-Persian 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.

The third 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.  

Interestingly, 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".

Daniel 2:40 
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 bruise.

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. 

Interestingly 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 Nebuchadnezzar's dream. 

Daniel 2:41-43
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 clay.

The Roman 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. 

Daniel 2:44 
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. 

Those who 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). 

Millennialists 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 dream. 

Daniel 2:45 
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.

The "stone" 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". 

Daniel 2:46 
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. 

Daniel 2:47 
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. 

Daniel 2:48 
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.

Obviously all 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. 

Daniel 2:49 
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. 

 

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Matt 11:28-29
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."