Daniel 2 – Nebuchadnezzar and the Kingdom of God

1 Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2 Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3 The king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.”

In the second year of his reign (603 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. He was the king of Babylon who had recently led the Babylonians to victory over the southern kingdom of Judah. He was so troubled by his dream, that he gave orders to call in all sorts of magicians, sorcerers and the like to interpret it. He was anxious to get its interpretation.

4 Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” 5 The king replied to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. 6 “But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.” 7 They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” 8 The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, 9 that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11 “Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.”

These magicians did what most of us would do. They asked the king to tell them the dream first, and they’d offer the interpretation. He didn’t respond to this well as he actually threatened to brutally murder anyone who didn’t tell him what the dream was. This obviously is an impossible thing to do. How can a man enter into the mind of another, or view a dream that was previously had the night before? It isn’t possible for a man to do. And this is exactly their response – “There is no man on earth… except gods.” Now, certainly there is one God, and not many. But they were correct in saying that this was something that could not be accomplished by man and only by a being comparable to a god.

12 Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.

So apparently, the king’s dream would go uninterpreted. This made him indignant and furious. In his frustration, he gave orders to kill all the wise men. This irrational order would even extend to Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Their Babylonian names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego).

14 Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; 15 he said to Arioch, the king’s commander, “For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. 16 So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king.

Daniel inquires about the orders, and asks for some time so that he might provide the interpretation.

17 Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, 18 so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

Daniel told his friends what had happened so that they could ask God for mercy in providing the interpretation that they wouldn’t be killed. They understood the impossibility of this task humanly speaking, and that this was something only God could do.

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

God revealed the dream and its interpretation, to which Daniel gave Him praise.

20 Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.

21 “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.

22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.

23 “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, For You have given me wisdom and power; Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, For You have made known to us the king’s matter.”

What an amazing profession of thanksgiving and praise!

24 Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me into the king’s presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king.”

Daniel tells the king’s messenger to let Nebuchadnezzar know that the dream and interpretation have been revealed.

25 Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!” 26 The king 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 before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. 28 “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed. 29 “As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. 30 “But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.

So the messenger hurried back to the king and let him know that the dream and its interpretation were revealed to Daniel (Belteshazzar is his Babylonian name). The king asks Daniel if this is true. Daniel tell him that such a request is not possible for men to accomplish, but only for God. He tells the king that God has revealed what will happen in latter days. The thoughts that Nebuchadnezzar had in his bed were thoughts of the future, and God had chosen to make it known to him.  

31 “You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. 32 “The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. 35 “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. 

Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a giant statue. It’s appearance was “awesome.” It had a gold head, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and its feet were iron and clay. Then a stone “cut out without hands” hit the statues feet and crushed them. The statue collapsed into dust, and blew away in the wind. No trace of it was found. The stone that had hit the feet became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king. 37 “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; 38 and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.

Now Daniel will provide the interpretation. He tells Nebuchadnezzar that he (the king) is the head of gold. In other words, Babylon is the head of gold, as Nebuchadnezzar represents Babylon, and the other parts of the statue are described as future kingdoms. Head of gold: Babylon.

39 “After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.

The breast and arms of silver represent the kingdom that will follow Babylon. This is Medo Persia that takes over while Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, is in power (Daniel 5). The belly and thighs of bronze are the following kingdom. This is Greece, led by Alexander. Breast and Arms of Silver: Medo Persia. Belly and Thighs of Bronze: Greece.

40 “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. 41 “In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. 42As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. 43 “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.

Finally, we have the legs of iron and its feet and toes that were mixed with clay. It is a divided kingdom. This represents Rome, who was no stranger to civil war. The ten toes represent the Roman emperors from Augustus to Titus. They combined with one another in the seed of men, but didn’t adhere to one another in that the Roman empire forced a union of various nations. This includes the Jews who were under Roman authority, but didn’t bow to the Roman caesars. Legs of iron and feet of iron and clay: Rome.

44 “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45 “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

In the days of these kings, God set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or left for another people. It will destroy all of these other kingdoms, and endure forever. So, the rock cut out without human hands is supposed by many to be Christ. But the text tells us that it is the kingdom of God. It came in the “days of these kings” or the Roman emperors – “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.” Luke 2:1. “nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:21. And this kingdom will grew throughout the whole earth. It was present with Jesus, its king, during His earthly ministry. And it came in power at Pentecost. Lastly, the final sign of its power was displayed in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD when the Old Covenant signs and shadows were destroyed with the temple of God by the Romans led by Titus. No longer did the Jews have any possiblity of atonement through those temple practices. The old age had gone once and for all, and the new age of Christ was finally established. Daniel ends by telling Nebuchadnezzar that the dream and interpretation are trustworthy.

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. 47 The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 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 prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.

The king was obviously dumbfounded and fell on his face. He gave orders to give him an offering and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon. Daniel then appointed his friends to be administrators of the province. Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel’s God as a revealer of mysteries. He really isn’t professing that Daniel’s God is the One True God. Rather, he praises God for being a God of gods. In other words, God is like a “super god.”

What an amazing revelation in the Old Testament of the coming of the kingdom of God in the days of the Romans! Praise be to God for even allowing humanity to peer into these things.

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3 thoughts on “Daniel 2 – Nebuchadnezzar and the Kingdom of God”

  1. Great points, Christopher! Something else cool about these metals and the order in which they are mentioned is that the they are each more common and a great deal stronger than the previous. Gold, the least common and the softest of the four metals – Babylon’s empire didn’t spread very far, and it didn’t last long. Silver more common and also a little harder than gold – Persia’s empire spread further than Babylon’s had, and it lasted longer. Bronze still more common than silver, and also a lot stronger – Alexander the Great spread his Grecian empire to vast distances, and Greece lasted a great deal longer than Persia. Lastly, iron and clay is much more common than bronze, and in the form of iron and concrete, far stronger. Rome spread its empire far and wide, and it endured for nearly 1000 years.

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