Daniel and the Dream

Posted: January 19, 2017 in Daniel, Uncategorized

Daniel 2, “Daniel and the Dream”

It’s inauguration week.  Just in case you were hiding under a rock, avoiding the news, this coming Friday is the day the US Presidency changes hands (the precise date being set by the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution).  The peaceful transition of power is always an amazing sight to behold, and fairly unique among the nations of the world.  Historically speaking, royal dynasties and other regimes are just as dangerous as they are wealthy, and world powers have rather violent ways of changing hands.

Yet no matter who has the position of political power, it is the God of the Bible who is always on His throne.  Almighty God is supreme over every world leader, be they believers or not.  God is just as powerful over pagans as He is over Christians.  (Which is a good thing, considering Christians are the minority among world leaders!)

God is sovereign today, and He was sovereign in Daniel’s day, which is what Daniel was able to share with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  In the ancient world, there had been other emperors and powerful leaders of nations – but there had been no one to this point like that of the Babylonian king.  The Chaldeans (Neo-Babylonians) led the most powerful empire to that point in world history.  The Egyptian Pharaohs had been long past their prime, the Assyrian kings had been conquered, and the Persians were still years away.  Babylon reigned supreme over the nations of the near-east, but there was a God who reigned supreme over Babylon, even if they didn’t realize it.

This was the lesson King Nebuchadnezzar needed to learn, and this is what God showed him in a series of dreams.  The king was unable to interpret the dreams for himself, so he got help from what he would have probably thought to be an unlikely source: one of his Hebrew captives – a young advisor in training named Daniel.

Chapter 1 gave us the background to Daniel’s work in Babylon.  He had been brought there along with many other Jews from the 1st wave of conquest of Babylon over Jerusalem.  He (along with his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) purposed to honor God in whatever situation he was placed, which meant an early test in his life regarding the kinds of food he would eat.  God blessed Daniel’s intent to remain pure, and God also blessed him & his friends with intellectual skill & spiritual gifts.

What would Daniel do with these spiritual gifts?  Use them!  When confronted with a danger to his life (as well as his friends), Daniel took his crisis to the sovereign God, fully confident that God would provide what was needed…and God did.  In the process, God showed that He was not only sovereign over the nations of the world, but over the individual lives of His people.  The sovereign God was in control, and He could be trusted!  He still is & can.

Daniel 2

  • The dream (1-13)

1 Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. 2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.

  • Chronologically, a year had passed since the beginning of Chapter 1.  It was now 604BC, during the 2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, and also the 2nd year of Daniel’s schooling to become an advisor to the king (1:5).  By this point, Daniel had already passed the test of his diet, and he & his friends had settled into their “new normal.”  (They made whatever adjustments were necessary, and got to work glorifying God right where they were.)
  • During this time, Nebuchadnezzar began having “dreams.”  These weren’t necessarily nightmares (as we’ll learn later in the chapter), but they were still disturbing.  Apparently he received the same dream over & over again, always being left confused upon waking.  It’s no wonder that he soon had trouble sleeping!  So what did he do?  He did what any king of the ancient near-east would have done: consult his “magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans.”  (“Chaldeans” being a specific tribe in Babylon, most likely referring to a special class of sorcerers upon whom the Babylonian king called.)  For Nebuchadnezzar, these were his wise-men – the experts.  It seems superstitious to us, but for him, it was the best a pagan king had.

3 And the king said to them, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.” 4 Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.” 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. 6 However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”

  • No doubt the magicians became fairly troubled themselves!  The king wanted to understand his dream, but he was unwilling to describe it to the sorcerers and astrologers gathered before him.  It’s almost reminiscent of when the Egyptian Pharaoh commanded the Hebrews to make bricks without straw.  Yet there’s an important difference: these were the supposed wise-men, with access to the gods regarding things that were unknowable.  If they could consult the gods, stars, demons, etc., about the dream’s interpretation, surely they could do it about the dream itself.  Basically, Nebuchadnezzar used his troublesome dream to set up a giant test.  He’s saying “Prove yourselves!  Prove you can do what you say you can do.”  And they had good incentives to do it!  Succeed, and there would be great reward.  Fail, and there would be torturous death for them and their families.
    • To be honest, it wasn’t such a bad plan from the king.  If all of those pagan theologies were real, they should have been able to produce something.  If not, it just proved false advertising…it proved that all of the claims were false.
    • This is a crucial difference between Christianity and the religions of the world (which is exactly what Daniel is going to demonstrate).  The true God of the Bible demonstrates Himself to be true.  Granted, we aren’t to test Him & He is under no obligation to answer our tests…but His work is demonstrably evident!  Jesus did historically die on the cross & rise from the grave.  There were hundreds of eyewitnesses to His resurrection, not to mention His other miracles.  And that doesn’t even begin to go into the accuracy of Biblical prophecy, or the current interaction of God among His people today.  God proves Himself…something the false religions of the world cannot do.
  • The magicians knew they were in trouble, so they attempted asking the king again.  Vs. 7…

7 They answered again and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.” 8 The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm: 9 if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”

  • The argument from the magicians sounded reasonable, but the king was unwavering.  They wanted him to tell them the dream, so they could then provide the interpretation.  However, the king knew that if he provided the dream, then the magicians would simply make up an interpretation.  They could invent something out of thin-air, having nothing to do with what the dream really meant.  Nebuchadnezzar didn’t trust his wise-men.  Perhaps they had failed him in the past – perhaps he didn’t trust the advisors to his father, wanting his own group of men.  Daniel didn’t record the reason for the king’s lack of trust, but his distaste for them was obvious.  His judgment remained: the magicians would have to tell him the dream AND the interpretation…he would tell them nothing.

10 The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. 11 It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

  • These may have been the truest words the magicians ever uttered to the king.  What Nebuchadnezzar commanded of them was humanly impossible.  No “man on earth” could do it.  The only way it was possible was via “the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”  They didn’t know the true God, but they did know that only a god such as the true God would be able to reveal the dream.  Unbeknownst to themselves, they set the situation perfectly for Daniel to come, and introduce Nebuchadnezzar to the God whose dwelling was in heaven & not with the flesh.
  • Of course, this answer didn’t sit well with the king.  Vs. 12…

12 For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.

  • The king was proving to be good to his word.  Since the magicians were unable to provide him the details of his dream & the interpretation of it, the king would have all of them executed.  Apparently this included not only the magicians, astrologers, etc., who had been gathered by Nebuchadnezzar at the time, but all of the men who had the same vocation.  This included Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, the four young Jews in training to become wise-men.  Their own lives were now in danger, and that’s when Daniel sprang into action.
  • The revelation (14-23)

14 Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; 15 he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel.

  • Step 1: Gather information.  Daniel could have panicked, but he didn’t.  His life & the life of his friends was in danger, but panicking wasn’t going to get him anywhere.  He hadn’t been present at the time the king gave out the command, so he did some research to learn what was going on.  Daniel questioned the captain of the guard, getting what information he could.  The Scripture says that Daniel did so “with counsel and wisdom,” which means that Daniel knew what he was doing & was cautious about the way that he did it.  Again, there’s no hint of panic in Daniel’s words or actions.  Urgency, yes; panic, no.
  • Panic always gets us into trouble.  So often when we encounter troubles, we react out of our emotions, which can easily make the situation worse.  Emotions aren’t bad, but they can be misleading.  Cool heads are needed in a crisis, and that means we’ve got to be rational enough to stop and assess the situation.  Proverbs 14:29, "He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly."  Don’t be foolish in crisis; be wise.  That means being proactive, instead of reactive.  Daniel was proactive in gathering information, in order that he might be able to know how to proceed. 
  • Of course, that’s not all he did.  Once he understood the situation, he acted upon it.  Vs. 16…

16 So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation.

  • Step 2: Faith.  Daniel took immediate action, and asked the king for more time.  How is this faith?  He was already certain of the outcome. Notice that Daniel is already confident of receiving the interpretation before anything is recorded of his prayer.  (That’s not to say Daniel didn’t pray at all…we just don’t know what/if he did.)  He knew that if he was to survive, God would have to help him, providing for him what God alone could provide.
  • Keep in mind there’s a vast difference between faith and foolishness.  Daniel isn’t writing checks that he can’t cash (so to speak).  He isn’t trying to speak something into existence by his faith.  He simply trusts the work of God.  What God had previously done in Daniel’s life is unknown to us.  Perhaps he had received some sort of revelation of his future ministry in Babylon – perhaps he received some other assurance from the Lord.  Of course, perhaps he didn’t have any of this, and he just trusted that if God worked, he would live, and if not, he would die…and he was OK with that.  Daniel’s commitment to the Lord God did not hinge on whether or not God gave him the interpretation to the dream.  His physical life did, but not his spiritual life.  Spiritually, Daniel was committed to the Lord no matter what.  Foolishness would have been “commanding” God to act based on the power of his faith, as so many word-faith teachers do today, believing that it is our faith that has the power, rather than God.  True faith is simply trusting God, in whatever God did.
    • We need to be those who live by faith!  It’s the knowledge that God is good, all the time & all the time, God is good.  It’s knowing that our relationship with God is based upon the work of Jesus and not the circumstances that surround us.  It’s believing that God will keep every promise in the Bible, while understanding that we are not the center of the Bible; He is.  Christian, live by your faith!

17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

  • Step 3: Prayer.  Again, it’s not that we can say with absolute certainty that Daniel hadn’t prayed prior to this point – all we know is that Scripture doesn’t record any prayer before this.  The point of prayer being “Step 3” isn’t that we need to wait before we pray; it’s that we are absolutely dependent upon prayer.  Daniel may have been confident in the outcome, but he also understood that nothing would happen until he prayed.  So he got his friends together, and that was exactly what they did.  They sought “mercies from the God of heaven,” knowing that it was only by the mercies and kindnesses of God that they would live.  They understood that God didn’t have to help Daniel & the others, but they trusted that God would want to do so.  That’s why they asked for His mercies.
  • A key concept about prayer that’s often forgotten is that God is still God.  Prayer is not us pushing our demands upon God; it is beseeching the Lord as His people.  We have glorious freedom in Christ to come to God at any time in prayer – we have the privilege to come to God as His own children.  But that’s not something to take for granted.  At the end of the day, God is still God, and we are still humans.  We ask; we do not demand.  That’s what Daniel did…and God answered!

19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

  • How soon was “the secret revealed”?  We don’t know.  But it is indeed interesting that the interpretation for the dream the king received (presumably) at night during his sleep was given to Daniel during a “night vision” of his own.  Was this also a dream?  Did Daniel remain awake & have a revelation imparted to him?  We’re not told the details; just the results.  However the information came to Daniel, he received exactly what was needed.
  • What did Daniel do next?  He “blessed the God of heaven” – he praised the Lord.  Daniel prayed, God answered, and Daniel glorified God.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work!  Sadly, too often it doesn’t go that way.  We’ll spend time in prayer, begging God for help, pouring out our hearts to Him – and when He answers, we just jump into action without giving Him another thought.  May it never be!  We need to praise the Lord!
  • Daniel’s specific praise is recorded starting in vs. 20…

20 Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.

  • God has wisdom & power.  Verse 20 is the summary statement for the rest of the prayer.  God is to be blessed and praised for all time, because all “wisdom and might” belong to Him.  There is no wisdom among men that is not first possessed by God.  All of the wisdom that men lack is known by God.  The same applies to power / might / authority.  He is sovereign over all the world, able to do things that none other can.  Unlike the false gods of false religions, our God is real, full of knowledge and power.
  • God uses His authority.  Daniel goes on to praise God for His sovereignty over the universe and the workings of the world.  God is the one who both gave and maintains the created order, causing even the earth itself to keep turning on its axis & revolving around the sun.  In addition, God has not removed Himself from interacting with humans & nations.  He is sovereign over every king & world leader (including our own!).  This is something that becomes even more evident when Daniel gives the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  God is sovereign over every nation of the world.
  • God gives wisdom.  He does not only possess wisdom & knowledge, but He hands it out as He sees fit.  Daniel was the personal beneficiary of God’s knowledge.  The prophet now possessed everything he needed to go to the king and save his life.
  • God knows all.  No bit of knowledge is secretly hidden from the Lord.  He knows everything that has (and will) ever taken place.  Even the things men & women attempt to keep hidden in the “darkness” is known to the Lord.
    • Practically speaking, this has a huge impact on our confessions to Him.  Why try to hide our sin from God?  It’s an exercise in futility!  He already knows what we’ve done – we may as well confess it.  Keep in mind that unconfessed sin does not hurt the Lord – it hurts us.  This is why God gave Adam and Eve the opportunity in the Garden of Eden to confess, when He asked them “Where are you?”.  God knew where they were…He was helping them figure out where they now were in relation to God & what they had done to themselves.  So when you sin, confess.  He knows it anyway.  (And what’s the promise for the Christian when we confess?  Forgiveness!  1 Jn 1:9)

23 “I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

  • Daniel had blessed God for His general attributes – now he gives God his personal praise.  God had demonstrated His supernatural knowledge and power on Daniel’s own behalf, and Daniel was sure to thank Him for it.
  • BTW – God is not finished answering the prayers of His people.  He personally intervened on Daniel’s behalf, and God regularly intervenes for us as well.  God is not far removed from us as His people – the Holy Spirit dwells with us, prays for us, and God acts on our behalf.  Take the time to recognize it when He does, and praise Him for it!
  • The interpretation (24-45)

24 Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.” 25 Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, “I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.”

  • Daniel went back to the captain of the guard, and reported that he was ready to give the interpretation to the king, and what did the captain do?  He took the credit.  Earlier, we read how Daniel personally went before the king asking for time, and that Daniel was the one who had initiated the conversation with Arioch.  Now Arioch brags of how he “found” a Jew with the interpretation.  Typical politician!

26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. …

  • Notice that Daniel never brags on himself.  When asked by the king if he had the interpretation, Daniel freely acknowledges that the king’s demand was humanly impossible.  Instead, he points to the “God in heaven who reveals secrets,” saying that any interpretation given the king was truly coming from God Himself.  It’s not unlike Joseph’s interaction with Pharaoh, when faced with a similar situation: Genesis 41:15–16, "(15) And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.” (16) So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”"  Likewise, Joseph gave credit to the Lord God.  The interpretation was in neither Joseph nor Daniel; it was in the Lord.
  • What does this mean for us?  Give glory to God!  Any work that God equips you to do is not something for which you can take credit.  Any spiritual gift you exercise is not yours to claim.  These are things granted by the Lord, and God ought to receive the glory.  Keep in mind that one of the underlying reasons God does these things through us is so that other people can come to know Him as God.  How will that happen, if we steal the glory?  Daniel had a perfect opportunity to tell this pagan king about the true God of the universe, and he ran with it!
  • BTW – over and over again, Daniel will refer to God as “God in heaven.”  Why that title & not YHWH?  Why not use God’s covenant name?  Because Nebuchadnezzar wouldn’t understand it.  Daniel describes the Creator God to Nebuchadnezzar in conceptual language that the king could grasp.  The personal name of God could come later; first the king had to know which God Daniel was talking about.
    • It’s good to define our terms – even when talking about Jesus.  A lot of people acknowledge a god named Jesus, but it’s not the Jesus who is God the Son crucified for sins & risen from the dead.  The Mormon Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.  The New Age Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.  The same thing applies to God.  When people use the term “God,” what do they mean?  Is it “The Man upstairs” – Allah – general spirituality?  Or is it the Creator God of the Bible?  We need to be careful in our witness that people understand of Whom we’re witnessing.

…Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: 29 As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. 30 But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.

  • Again, Daniel refuses to take the credit.  He goes to great lengths to ensure that Nebuchadnezzar understands that there is nothing special or magical about Daniel that knew the dream.  All of this was due to the God of heaven, the One “who reveals secrets.”  What was the dream?  It was about the latter days – it was about the things yet to come.  Vs. 31…

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

  • Daniel describes a multi-layered, materialed statue. [PIC]  Describing it from head to foot, it began with gold, and the metals became of less & less value, though increasing in strength all the way down to iron.  Finally, the feet of the statue had a mixture of materials that don’t normally mix: iron and clay, thus making the feet extremely brittle.  That was all the 1st structure.  The 2nd item was a massive uncut stone that violently collided into the statue, demolishing it to the point that all of the previous material turned to dust.  From there, the stone grew into an all-encompassing mountain, taking up far more space on the earth than the statue ever did.
  • If you thought your dreams were weird, you’ve got nothing on Nebuchadnezzar! J  It was indeed an unusual dream – not horrifying, but confusing.  It seems that this dream was given over & over again to Nebuchadnezzar (which is why he was so bothered by it), and he simply could not understand the meaning.
  • Just the fact that Daniel could describe the dream to him would have been extremely comforting!  This wasn’t a “usual” dream of working all day, being trapped, etc.  This wasn’t something that a so-called wise-man would have been able to guess.  For Nebuchadnezzar to hear Daniel so accurately recount his dream (to the smallest details) would have given him incredible hope for the interpretation.  That was something that truly only the God of heaven could have revealed!  No doubt the king was on the edge of his seat, hanging on Daniel’s every word.
    • This is the effect that the true work of God has upon people.  It’s one thing to hear tall-tales from the lips of crusade evangelists or faith-healers…those are people you expect to stretch the truth (if we’re being charitable towards them).  But when someone testifies of a true miracle – when the word of God speaks right to our hearts – that’s something that leaves an impact.  There’s the moment when the Holy Spirit of God gives confirmation to what we have heard, and we can’t wait to hear more.
    • This is one reason it’s so important to simply take people to Jesus.  We don’t need a lot of attention upon ourselves in our witnessing; we need people to see the work of Christ.  That may indeed be telling our own story, but telling it in such a way in which the focus is on the work of the Lord.  It may be simply quoting Scripture – not in an offensive aggressive way, but in such a way where people’s attention is refocused.  It’s then that people see the truth of Jesus, and He is enough to grab their attention.

36 “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 37 You, O king, are a king of kings. …

  • Don’t be thrown by the title.  Daniel is not calling Nebuchadnezzar THE King of kings, as in the ultimate king over all kings.  That’s a title reserved for the Lord Jesus (Rev 19:16).  Instead, this is a description of an emperor: a king who had power and jurisdiction over other kings of the earth, which is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar was.

…For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold.

  • Nebuchadnezzar was a glorious king – one that had power that extended all over the known world at the time.  His kingdom was beautiful, and would be known for the ages yet to come, which is why his kingdom was described as the “head of gold.” [PIC]
  • That part, Nebuchadnezzar knew.  Certainly he would have described his own kingdom as one of gold.  Yet what he didn’t know was what would come afterwards, which is what God revealed to him in the dream.  Nebuchadnezzar had authority (no doubt), but he didn’t have eternity.  He would pass on, and others would follow.  Vs. 39…

39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.

  • Daniel goes on to describe the empires that would succeed Babylon.  Each one would be of inferior worth (perhaps a reference to a weaker internal dynasty, or less power over the lands they ruled – which arguably is true).
  • Kingdom #2: the silver torso = the Medes & Persians. [PPT]  Whereas all scholars agree that the gold is Babylon, scholars are mixed on the nations that follow, with some separating out the Medes & Persians into separate empires.  Conservative scholars agree that Daniel sees them as one, and for good reason as there was much intermingling between them.  Interestingly, the statue was specifically said to have arms (2:32), which hints at the dual nature of the empire.  The book of Daniel will later record the very night that the Babylonian empire fell to the Medes & Persians – but at this point it was still in the future for Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Kingdom #3: the bronze belly & thighs = the Greeks. [PPT]  The next major empire to rise on the scene would be that of Alexander the Great.  His kingdom would be militarily stronger, though it wouldn’t last long.  This empire would later be split between two warring factions: the Ptolemies (in Egypt) and the Seleucids (in Syria & northward).  The two thighs might be a reference to this.  The specific actions between these factions will be detailed in Ch. 11.
  • Kingdom #4: the iron legs = the Romans. [PPT]  The strength of Rome is historically unquestioned.  They ruled over a vast empire that stretched from Britain to North Africa (and everything in-between).  Yet even the Romans could not last – its empire would be split into north & south, i.e. the Holy Roman Empire of Europe & the Byzantine Empire based in modern-day Turkey.  Thus the two legs.
  • There’s one more piece to the statue: the feet.  Vs. 41…

41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.

  • The interesting thing here is the mixture of the iron & clay. [PPT]  Debate rages on this, as to whom it refers, but it seems likely to be some sort of New Rome, or some future empire that springs out of what was once the Roman Empire.  It isn’t Rome, but it is, all at the same time.  There’s iron there, but it’s not nearly as strong as it once was, being mixed with clay.  What is it specifically?  There’s not a historical empire that truly fits the description, so it seems likely that this is some future kingdom – perhaps the same kingdom described by the apostle John in the book of Revelation regarding the kingdom of Antichrist.  There, Antichrist’s kingdom is described as a beast having seven heads and ten horns.  The seven heads are seven mountains, and ten horns are ten kings (Rev 17:9-10).  Rome was famously founded upon seven hills, and the ten kings fits the picture of ten toes.  Thus it seems that this future kingdom has a Roman foundation, but comprised of ten individual nations.  Beyond this, we have no specifics.  Many attempts have been made to identify them, but they all fail as maps and borders often change.
    • The key for us to remember as Christians is that we don’t need to identify these nations in order for us to know that God’s word is true.  It will come to pass, just as He said.  All the other empires have come & gone according to the word of God, so we know the same will apply in the future.
  • There’s one more element to the dream: the uncut stone.  Vs. 44…

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

  • Remember that the stone uncut by human hands destroyed the statue, pulverizing all of the precious metals into dust.  Daniel gives the interpretation to that as well.  The final kingdom is that of God.  Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would not last (nor would any of the others), but God’s would be eternal.  God’s would be all-encompassing.  God’s would grow to the point of covering the entire earth.
  • This is speaking of the Kingdom of Christ Jesus!  Although some interpret this as the growth of the church among the world, it simply doesn’t fit.  At what point did the church violently destroy the kingdoms of the earth?  At what point did it take over?  It hasn’t.  Praise God for the growth of the church, but it has grown throughout the centuries, sometimes slowly & patiently.  In addition, the kingdoms of this world remain.  Satan still roams through this world seeking whom he may destroy.  Thus this can’t be the church.  It must describe the 2nd Coming of Christ, when King Jesus comes in power, and physically sets up His worldwide kingdom upon the earth.  He is the stone uncut by hands, for He is God Himself – the Creator; not the created.
  • The final point: this is “certain!”  This will assuredly happen.  That’s what God was communicating to Nebuchadnezzar & communicates to us as well.  The king of Babylon needed to know that he wouldn’t be around forever, nor would his descendants.  His kingdom would be replaced time & time again.  But there was coming a kingdom that would never fail: that of the Lord Jesus.  (We want to be a part of that kingdom!)
  • The reward (46-49)

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. 47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”

  • The king’s response?  Amazement!  He’s so overwhelmed by the message that he actually falls “prostrate before Daniel,” something that people were expected to do with him.  Sadly, he does not yet seem to worship the true God – but he does recognize that Daniel did.  He saw the difference between the God of Daniel & the false gods of his magicians.  It was not yet faith, but it was the beginning.  A seed had been planted…one that would eventually come to fruition.

48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.

  • “And everyone lived happily ever after…”  Maybe not. J  But it was a start…at least everyone lived!  They survived the wrath of the king, and Daniel not only saved his life, but the lives of his fellow Jews & even the pagans around him.  He received all of the reward that Nebuchadnezzar had promised to the other failed wise-men, and was set up in a position of influence for generations to come.  Even Daniel’s friends were promoted…something which the book will pick up on in Chapter 3.

Conclusion:
God is sovereign!  He rules over the affairs of the world, and knows the minds of men.  He is wise and powerful and utterly infinite in His grandeur!  But…He is knowable.  He is beyond us, but He knows us.  He interacts with us.  His desire for us is that we would know Him, experience His mercies, and walk by faith.  That’s what He did with Daniel, and that’s what He’ll do with us.

Where in your life have you had trouble walking by faith?  Where have you fallen prey to panic and uncertainty?  Have faith in your sovereign God!  Trust Him – determine to trust Him, no matter what.

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