The Book of Daniel Chapter Two
by Cooper P Abrams III
Nebuchadnezzar 's Dream
The Prophecy of the Coming World Empires
According to Daniel 1:5 it had been three years since Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem and taken Judah into captivity. Daniel 2:1 begins stating this was the second year of the kings reign. What seems to be a contradiction is easily explained when you consider that the first year Nebuchadnezzar ruled in Babylon, his father Nabopolassar was still alive and he was subordinate to him. The time of his dream is the second year he ruled in his on stead.
In the Middle East among oriental people dreams were highly regarded and the interpretation of dreams was very profitable for the magicians and astrologers. However with Nebuchadnezzar's dream they had a major problem. When he woke from his dream he could not remember it. It troubled him that he could not remember it, and wanted know the dream and have it interpreted. As was the practice the king, he called his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to an audience and asked them to give him the interpretation of his dream. The Chaldeans were highly regarded priest-magicians who attended to the worship of idols and they represented the gods of Babylon. These wise men were probably very pleased to have been called before the king and were anticipating some great opportunity to be rewarded. Their cheerful demeanor was quickly changed to one of alarm when they heard the request by Nebuchadnezzar.
These "wise" men, who made their living in the occult, replied and asked the king to tell them what he dreamed and they would be more than happy to give the interpretation. This of course was the normal procedure. They were safe from being exposed as the frauds they were because who would question their interpretation? Nebuchadnezzar was anxious to receive the interpretation of the dream and frustrated at their inability to tell him the dream. As wise men who served their idol gods they should certainly be able to tell him not only the interpretation, but the dream itself. When they admitted they could not tell him the dream he gave them an ultimatum, reveal the dream and the interpretation or he would have them cut in pieces and their rich homes destroyed. These religious con artists, were not unlike the one's who prey on naive people today. They deceived the people with their religious trade and it brought them great riches.
However, Nebuchadnezzar also promised that if they could tell him the dream and the interpretation he would give them gifts, rewards and great honor. Can we see the hand of the Lord working in this event to expose the fraud of these men who represented the gods he worshiped and who advised him in matters of state.
These now exposed and supposed wise men pleaded with the king to tell him the dream so they could interpret it, but their crafty ways were exposed. They begged for more time, but the king knew they were simply stalling, trying to buy time to come up with some explanation. Nebuchadnezzar refused telling them again he had but one decree for them if they could not meet his request. It seems that in buying time they desperately hoped the king would forget the matter.
Nebuchadnezzar was not taken in by their efforts telling them that only if they told him the dream would he trust their interpretation. The Chaldeans spoke out in protest telling the king that there is not a man on earth that could tell the king what he dreamed and not king, lord or ruler would ask such a thing as this. Verse 11, however brings the matter into perspective. They pleaded that only gods, not men of flesh, could honor his request. This greatly angered the king and he became furious. Were not these magicians, sorcerers and Chaldeans, the mouth pieces and priests of the gods Babylon? One can but imagine the horror and shock they were experiencing at not only being exposed as fakes, but by being condemned to be cut to pieces and their families and wealth destroyed.
Most people believe that Nebuchadnezzar was later truly saved and is in heaven with the Lord. Chapter four is his testimony of how he came to the Lord. His dream is first event of several by which God revealed Himself to the King of Babylon.
The fate of the false wise men was sealed and the king's men went out to arrest all the wise men in Babylon. Daniel at this time was not known publicly to be the servant of the Lord and he and the Hebrew young men were to be included in the decree to be slain. When Arioch, the king's captain of the guards came to take Daniel he asked why the king had issued the order for them to be slain and Arioch explained the matter to him.
Daniel makes a request to Arioch, to be given some time to respond and the captain probably relays it to the king. (See Verse 25) Daniel seems to have had no knowledge of what was going on in the king's court. He must have had some special recognition from the king's guard, because he was given the time he requested to interpret the dream. Clearly, God was working in this, because the fake wise men had also asked for more time and been refused. However, Nebuchadnezzar gives Daniel the time he needs and Daniel returns to his quarters and tells his companions of what was happening. He asked for their prayers and for them to intercede with God. They asked for God's mercy and to be able to know and interpret the king's dream. We might not put much stock in Daniel's seeking the prayer of his friends, but that would be a mistake. Often the man God uses has others who are standing with him and who have the same heart to see God's work done. These young companions were praying men and were source of blessing and strength to Daniel. It is so very comforting to be assured that others are with you in the work of the Lord. Sadly the opposite is also true. What a blessing it was that Daniel had such godly and faithful friends who could be called on in a time of need. What a tragedy it is, when some how claim the name of Christ, are not faithful to the Lord and make themselves unavailable when the crisis arises. How many churches suffer because of such disobedience to God among its members.
Note that Daniel says the reason for their request to the Lord is that they and the other wise men should not perish. It is seems Daniel was unaware of God's plans and that the Lord was directing this whole matter. God was using this to reveal Himself to the king and the people of Babylon, but it seems Daniel was only aware of the immediate danger of them losing their lives. This is often to the case in the life of the believer. We rarely know the mind of God and cannot see what are His plans are for the future. We can only see our present situation and its ramifications, yet if we respond in faith, seeking the Lord's guidance. God can use us even when we are unaware what He is doing. Although Daniel was not privy the larger picture, he faithfully went to the Lord for help and deliverance. All this makes the point of how important in God's program is all we do and of how vital it is we live always filled with His Spirit and in His perfect will.
That night God gave Daniel a vision and the matter was revealed unto him. Daniel did what we all should do daily and that is to thank God for His intervention in our lives. This was a great thing that God had done and Daniel praised God for His mercy and grace. However, we must not forget that God could not have used Daniel in the very important event, if Daniel was not living daily for the Lord. So many people misunderstand this principle in seeking God's will that. His will entails living each moment of every day for the Lord. Daniel could not have been used to do great things if he neglected what we would term as the smaller things in our lives. He was a man of prayer and devoted his life to the Lord. God then had a willing servant to use in carrying our His good purposes. Daniel would not have been used of God to write the Book of Daniel, which reveals so much of God's past and future plans had if Daniel not been faithful. Surely, the Lord would have revealed His truth, but He could not have used Daniel to accomplish this had he not be a faith servant. How much has been lost in reward and service to the Lord, by people who waste their lives and by their unfaithful lives make themselves unavailable to be used by the Lord.
Daniel's praise recognized that God was eternal and all wisdom is His. He acknowledged that God was actively working in the affairs of men removing and setting up kings. He saw in Nebuchadnezzar's dream God's future plans for the centuries to come. Clearly, the narrative of his praise to God shows he was overcome with the greatness of God. Part of what God was doing was to open Daniel's understanding and to show him why Judah was in captivity. Daniel could see God's hand in all that had happened. He thanked God for answering his prayers and revealing this overwhelming revelation from God. We too can share in Daniel's praise, because we too know the dream and its interpretation and praise God for revealing it to us. We know that the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed and that He shall brake the bonds of Satan's rule on earth. We know that Great King to come is the Lord Jesus Christ who will set up His eternal kingdom. Like Daniel we know this because we have put our faith and trust in the Lord, we will be a part of the marvelous future God has planned for the earth and those that love Him.
Having received God's revelation, Daniel goes to the captain of the guard. He tells Arioch not to destroy the wise men of Babylon, because he would reveal to the king his dream and the interpretation. Time was running out and so Arioch hastens to take Daniel to the king. Arioch explains to Nebuchadnezzar that he has found a man among the captives of Judah who will interpret his dream. Anticipating the king's response, Arioch has brought Daniel with him before the king. Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel if he could tell him the dream and the interpretation.
Daniel, realizing God's purpose in this, makes the point that the wise men of the kings court could not answer the king's request, but that only God in heaven reveal what shall come in the latter days. This implies more than God knowing the future, but that this is God's plan that He will bring to past. This confirmed to Nebuchadnezzar that his dream was indeed important, but more importantly that only God, to whom Daniel served, was the true God. The term "latter day" means the days which follows. What Daniel revealed was the whole history of the future, including the coming of the Messiah and the His kingdom. This period of time began with Nebuchadnezzar and will continue to the Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus.
Verse 30, records Daniel specifically makes the point that what he was about to tell the king came from God. He explained that he had no special power greater than any other man. He says God is revealing this for "their sakes." This phrase is a Aramaic idiom meaning "to the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king." Daniel began this book in Hebrew, but in 2:4 is changes to Aramaic and continues in this language until chapter 7 where he returns to Hebrew. Aramaic was a language made up of a number of languages spoken in the Middle East. It was the common or international language of commerce such as was Koine Greek in New Testament times and as English is today. 1 Whitcomb explains that "The KJV translates the term Aramaic as "Syiac" which because the Greeks called the region of Aram by the name of "Syria." Old Testament scholars used to call this language "Chaldee" because this passages says the Chaldeans are said to have spoken the language."2 The reason could be that Daniel wanted the wise men of the king's court to be able to understand plainly that they and their false gods were being exposed and rebuked for their deceptive claims of having powers to interpret dreams and serve deities.
Daniel explains to the king that in his dream he saw a majestic, and bright image standing upright before him. The appearance of this colossal figure was such that it brought dread and fear to the king. It was an awesome and spectacular being, which was in the form of a man. Although Nebuchadnezzar could not remember the dream, it had a chilling impact on him. The emotion he much have felt continued even after he awoke and left him extremely unsettled.
The description of the colossal human image was that its head was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver and its waist and hips were of brass. Its legs were made of iron and its feet were of iron and clay.
Next in the king's dream he saw a stone, which was not cut by hands, strike the feet of iron and clay and brake them in pieces. Then whole creature also broke into pieces and fell into a pile like chaff on a threshing floor. The wind then blew the materials of this pile of now rubble and scattered them everywhere. The stone that destroyed this once great beast then became a great mountain which filled the whole of the earth.
Up to this point Daniel has only revealed the contents of the king's dream, but now he tells Nebuchadnezzar what all this meant. The following figure demonstrates the characteristics of the great image.
As the picture demonstrates Daniel reveals that the head of Gold was king Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire. Daniel boldly explains that it was God who gave him his glorious kingdom and made him powerful and strong. Hearing these words was not only the king, but the exposed wise men of Babylon who represented the various gods of that nation. Daniel's word struck to the core of their man-made religions and exposed them as false.
The truth of Daniel's statement was authenticated in the fact that he alone, who worshiped the true and living God was revealing to the king what his fake wise men could not do. Only God, Almighty had such power and it must have sent chills down the spines of the imposters.
We should note that when God did miracles it was always to authenticate His word by demonstrating His power. God always did so in such a way that there could be no other explanation except that He was God and His word was true. We can be sure that the wise men of Babylon were greatly relieved that Daniel in revealing the dream and its interpretation was saving their very lives. We also can wonder what spiritual impact this had on them. We know that even though Nebuchadnezzar saw a miracle performed before him, at this time he did not truly believe. (See Daniel 4:28-34)
Daniel then explained that after king Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire would come another kingdom which would be inferior to him which would be followed by another inferior kingdom. Gold is the most precious and expensive of all metals and has the greatest splendor and brightness. Silver too is a valuable material, but it does not compare to gold in is value. Brass is a lesser metal than silver and iron, though useful, is cold and has little or no beauty within itself. Iron is the strongest of these metals and can easily break these more precious minerals. The fourth kingdom would be the strongest nation of the four.
Interestingly, it is a fact that this great image of the kingdoms of the world had a weak foundation represented by the feet of iron and clay. Iron mixed with clay loses it strength and is easily broken up. We also understand that because this fifth kingdom is made of iron mixed with clay that it is a weaken extension of the nation of iron. This will be explained in detail further later.
Note that more explanation is given to the description of this last kingdom. Daniel 2:42, reveals that the meaning of the mixture of iron and clay is a reference to the people of this kingdom who will be politically divided which makes it weak.
Daniel then reveals that God will set up a new kingdom and eternal kingdom which shall not be destroyed. Note this coming and eternal kingdom is not associated with any metal. The scope of this kingdom will be global and include all the peoples of the earth. This kingdom will consume all the fallible kingdoms of men and twice in this verse it is declared to be eternal.
Nebuchadnezzar's attention at this point in Daniel's interpretation is again focus on the stone that was supernaturally cut out of a mountain. This great stone will break into pieces all the previous empires. Clearly this is a reference to the coming King of Kings, our Almighty God and Savior Jesus the Christ.
The scene that is now described seems to be impossible, because we have the greatest king on earth, the powerful monarch of Babylon falling on his face and worshiping Daniel. It must have been a powerful moment as the king's court witnesses the mighty king Nebuchadnezzar, who holds the power of life and death over all his nation, is bowing prostrate before a Hebrew captive.
Nebuchadnezzar then commands a more formal worship which would involve all the people present in making a animal sacrifice (oblation) and sweet smelling odors unto Daniel.
God through this dream revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar. However, as Daniel reveals in the following chapters the king really had not submitted himself to God. He saw God's power first hand, but he had not yet accept the truth that God, who had sent the dream and Daniel to interpret it, was the only God. Surely, he heard Daniel say that it was God who had put him on the throne of Babylon, but Nebuchadnezzar clearly did not believe that God was the only God. He, like many today, simply added his knowledge of God to the false idols of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar did not see or would not believe that God was the Supreme and only God the Creator of the Universe. Further, pride was in the king's heart, and he relished in his own greatness. Interestingly, God was no through with Nebuchadnezzar and would demonstrate His power to him several more times and eventually completely humble the king. End Notes: