DANIEL CHAPTER 2
THE CONTENT OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM
(v. 31) [Daniel gives Nebuchadnezzar God's revealed content & interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream] "'You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue - an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.
(v. 32) The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,
(v. 33) its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.
(v. 34) While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
(v. 35) Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.' "
DANIEL INTERPRETS KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM
THE FIRST WORLD EMPIRE = BABYLON UNDER NEBUCHADNEZZAR
(v. 36) "This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.
(v. 37) You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory;
(v. 38) in your hands He has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, He has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
(v. 39) After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom , one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.
(v. 40) Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron - for iron breaks and smashes everything - and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.
(v. 41) Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.
(v. 42) As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.
(v. 43) And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
(v. 44) In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
(v. 45) This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands - a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. 'The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.' "
[Dr. Renald E Showers, The Most High God, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Bellmawr, N.J., pp. 18-25]:
"Daniel began the interpretation of the dream by asserting the sovereignty of God. He declared that it was the God of heaven, not the Babylonian gods nor the king himself, Who had made Nebuchadnezzar the top ruler of the then-known world. It took courage for Daniel to speak this way to the king. The pressure would have been great to win the king's favor and to avoid statements that might be offensive. Daniel was determined, however, not to sacrifice the truth of God on the altar of expediency.
Daniel called Jehovah the God of heaven not just because heaven is God's special dwelling place. The Babylonians believed that their gods came from the earth. Daniel wanted to make it clear that his God was not one of the Babylonian gods.
It is important to note that in the interpretation Daniel moved progressively from the top to the bottom of the image. This downward movement represented the passage of time. Thus, the upper parts of the image portrayed earlier history, and the lower parts portrayed later history.
When Daniel interpreted the head of gold, he said to Nebuchadnezzar: 'You are the head of gold. And after you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you.' Thus, the head of gold represented both the Babylonian kingdom and its great king. Orientals regarded kings and their kingdoms as being synonymous with each other.
Why did God represent Babylon with gold in the dream? It was an appropriate representation for two reasons. First, Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, was called the god of gold. Second, Babylon used gold extensively in its buildings, images and shrines. Herodotus, who was at Babylon ninety years after the era of Nebuchadnezzar, was astonished at the amount of gold there. Even walls and buildings were overlaid with gold.
Babylon was to be succeeded by a second kingdom, represented by the image's breast and arms of silver (v. 39). This would be the kingdom of Medo-Persia. Two arms coming together to form one breast pictured this kingdom perfectly. Two distinct peoples, the Medes and the Persians, were untied together in 550 B.C. under the same king to form one great power.
Why was silver a fitting representation of the Medo-Persian kingdom? In ancient times silver signified money, for silver was the standard of value and the medium of exchange. Medo-Persia became noted for basing its power on money which was collected through an extensive tax system (Ezra 4:13; Dan 11:2).
Daniel stated that Medo-Persia would be inferior to Babylon. It was not inferior to Babylon in military strength, for it conquered Babylon. It was not inferior in size, for Medo-Persia was a much larger kingdom than Babylon. It was inferior in one respect. Being a partnership empire, it lack the absolute unity that Babylon enjoyed.
This prophecy of the dream was fulfilled when Medo-Persia conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.
Medo-Persia was to be succeeded by a third Gentile kingdom represented by the image's belly and thighs of bronze (v. 39). This would be the kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great and his successors. One belly subdivided into two thighs was an excellent way for God to portray the Grecian kingdom ahead of time. After Alexander had unified his kingdom, he died at a young age. His kingdom was divided among his four leading generals. However, only two of the divisions played an important role in history. Those two divisions headquartered in Syria and Egypt.
Why did God represent Greece with bronze? The Greeks developed this metal highly and used it extensively in their implements of war. Thus, their kingdom was characterized by bronze.
Daniel said that Greece would rule over all the earth, referring to the world then known to Daniel and his contemporaries. It is a fact that Alexander's kingdom ruled considerably more of the earth than did Babylon and Medo-Persia.
This part of the prophetic dream was fulfilled when Greece conquered Persia in 331 B.C.
Greece was to be succeeded by a fourth Gentile kingdom represented by the image's legs of iron and feet and toes of iron and clay (vv 40-43). This would be the Roman Empire. God's portrayal of Rome with two legs was very apt, for the ancient Roman Empire ruled extensive areas of both the western and eastern divisions of the world. In fact, in 364 A. D. the Roman Empire was divided politically into two divisions - the Western Roman Empire with Rome as its capital and the Eastern Roman Empire with Constantinople as its capital.
Iron was an excellent designation of Rome for at least two reasons. First, ancient Rome was noted for its use of iron in its military weaponry. Second, as Daniel indicated in verse forty, just as iron is able to crush gold, silver and bronze because it is stronger, so Rome would crush and shatter the ancient world. Ancient Rome did just that through its great military strength.
This aspect of the prophetic dream was fulfilled when Rome conquered Greece by 146 B.C.
As noted earlier, Daniel's downward movement on the image represented the passage of time. Thus, when Daniel interpreted the last part of the image - the feet and toes - he was dealing with the final form of Gentile world dominion in time. Since the feet and toes were part of the representation of the fourth or Roman kingdom, they portrayed the Roman Empire in its final stage of existence in contrast with its earlier leg stage.
The legs of the fourth kingdom consisted of iron, but the feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay. This distinction in substance also indicated that the Roman Empire would experience two distinct stages of existence - an earlier and a later stage.
Daniel interpreted the iron and clay mixture as follows: just as iron is strong, so the final stage of the Roman Empire would be strong militarily. Just as clay is characterized by brittleness, so the final stage of the Roman Empire would be characterized by division. Different groups of people would combine with one another to form the final stage of the empire, but they would not adhere completely to one another, just as iron and clay do not combine completely with each other.
It would appear, then, that the final stage of the Roman Empire would consist of a confederation of several nations. These nations would combine forces for the sake of military strength, but they would not combine to the extent of losing their national identities and distinctives. Inasmuch as the image of the dream was human in form, it would have had ten toes. This indicated that the final stage of the Roman Empire would consist of a ten nation confederation. Indeed, Daniel 7:23-24 clearly stated that the fourth of Roman kingdom would consist eventually of ten kings or kingdoms (cf. Rev. 17:12).
As noted earlier, the iron legs represented the ancient Roman Empire as it devoured massive areas of the world through brute military strength. But when was the later foot and toe stage to exist? In as much as the Roman Empire never consisted of a ten nation confederation in past history, one is forced to conclude that this final stage of Rome's existence must take place in the future.
Sometime beyond the present there will be a revival of the Roman Empire. The empire that died in 476 A. D. will be brought to life again in the form of a ten nation confederation. Many are convinced that the Common Market of Europe will develop into this empire. It is a fact that political leaders of several European nations have met within recent years to discuss the formation of such a confederation - a confederation which will be united for military and economic strength, but will maintain the identities and distinctives of the member nations. Western leaders are thinking in that direction.
Rome was to be succeeded by a fifth kingdom represented by the stone in the dream (vv. 44-45). This kingdom would be set up by the God of heaven, not by man. The characteristics of this Kingdom of God would be as follows: it would never be destroyed; no other kingdoms would ever succeed it; it would destroy and end all the Gentile kingdoms portrayed in the image of the dream; it would endure forever. These characteristics of God's kingdom would be a stark contrast with the characteristics of the Gentile kingdoms.
The Babylonians called their chief god, Marduk, 'The Great Mountain.' They believed that their gods came from the sacred mountain of the earth - the mountain that they called 'the Mountain of the Lands.' The temples of Babylon were intended to be imitations of mountains. All of this indicates that to the Babylonian way of thinking, mountains were associated with what is divine. Because of this Babylonian mind set, God purposely portrayed His future kingdom first as a stone cut out of a mountain and second as a stone that becomes a great mountain (v. 35). This was His way of getting Nebuchadnezzar to understand that the fifth kingdom would be divine rather than human in origin. This kingdom would not be another attempt by man to rule the earth apart from God. God emphasized this divine origin by portraying the stone as cut out without human hands. But to prevent Nebuchadnezzar from concluding that this divine kingdom would be set up by Babylonian gods, Daniel made it clear that the God of heaven would establish it.
The stone struck the huge image on its feet, thereby causing the entire image to disintegrate. This indicated several things. First, the coming of the Kingdom of God would take place when the last stage of Rome - the Revived Roman Empire - would be in existence. Second, the Kingdom of God would destroy the Revived Roman Empire when it would come. Third, when the Kingdom of God would destroy the last stage of the Roman Empire, it thereby would destroy all of Gentile world dominion, for the Revived Roman Empire would be the last representative of that dominion.
After the stone had crushed the entire image, the wind blew away every remnant of it. The Babylonians believed that wind was a divine activity. They called Marduk 'Lord of the Wind.' As a result of this belief, Nebuchadnezzar would understand that the divine activity would rid the earth of Gentile world power.
Once every remnant of the image had been removed from the earth, the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth (v. 35). The Babylonians pictured the earth as a great mountain. They called the earth 'Mountain-house.' In light of this Babylonian concept, God portrayed His kingdom as a great mountain which filled the earth to make one thing clear - although the fifth kingdom would be set up by the God of heaven, it would be a kingdom on earth just as the four Gentile kingdoms had been. It would rule the earth of its day just as the Gentile kingdoms ruled the known earth of their days.
As noted earlier, the ancient Orient regarded kings and kingdoms as being synonymous. In light of this, the stone of the dream must be a representation, not only of the Kingdom of God, but also of its King. Other prophetic portions of the Bible indicated that that King would be the person who is called the Messiah (Ps 2:2), the Son of God (Ps 2:4-12) and the Son of Man who comes with the clouds of heaven (Dan 7:13-14). The Bible also indicated that Jesus Christ is that person (Mt 16:16; 26:63-63). It can be concluded, then, that the stone represented both the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. Significantly, more than once the Bible referred to Jesus as the Stone (Mt 21:33-45; 1 Pet 2:4-8).
Since the stone represented both Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, its appearance in the dream portrayed the coming of Christ to establish that kingdom. The fact that the Bible presented two comings of Christ prompts an important question: would Christ establish the Kingdom of God during His first or second coming? Some have concluded that the divine kingdom of Daniel 2 was established by Christ during His first coming and that the kingdom is totally spiritual in nature. According to this view, the kingdom consists either of the Church of the spiritual rule of Christ in human hearts, and the Gentile kingdom which was crushed by the Kingdom of God was the ancient Roman Empire, not a future Revived Roman Empire.
This view has some problems. First, earlier observations indicated that Christ would come to establish the Kingdom of God when Rome would be in its foot and toe stage - the ten nation confederation stage. They also indicated that the confederation stage of the Roman Empire must yet be future, because the ancient empire never consisted of a ten nation confederation. Thus, one is forced to conclude that the coming of Christ which was portrayed by the appearance of the stone must be His future second coming.
Second, Daniel 2:44 stated that the Kingdom of God would be set up 'in the days of those kings.' To what kings did Daniel refer? It would appear that Daniel had in mind the kings who would rule the ten nation Revived Roman Empire of the future. Again this would indicate that the Kingdom of God would come in conjunction with Christ's second coming.
Third, the imagery of the dream seemed to suggest no coexistence of the Roman Empire and the actual Kingdom of God. The appearance of the stone cut out without hands represented the coming of Christ to establish the kingdom. After the stone crushed the image, every remnant of the image was blown away before the stone became a great mountain and filled the earth (vv. 34-35). This indicated that every remnant of the Roman Empire would be gone before the actual Kingdom of God would be established to rule the earth. In contrast with this imagery, the view which concludes that the Kingdom of God was established during Christ's first coming would require several centuries of coexistence of the Roman Empire and the actual Kingdom of God. It is a fact of history that the Western Roman Empire lasted more than four hundred years after Christ's first coming. Indeed, the Eastern Roman Empire lasted more than fourteen hundred years after that coming.
Fourth, the imagery of the dream corresponds with John's description of Christ's second coming and Millennial rule. In Revelation 19 and 20, John indicated that, when Christ would appear in His second coming, He would crush Gentile world power, then would rule the earth for one thousand years. This Millennial rule would be only the first phase of the future Kingdom of God - the phase for this present earth. After the Millennium, the Kingdom of God would continue forever on the new eternal earth (Rev 21-22).
For reasons such as these, it can be concluded that the dream of Daniel 2 indicated that the future Kingdom of God would be established in conjunction with the second coming of Christ. Since it would take place of the four Gentile kingdoms, it would be a literal, earthly kingdom just as they.
Several final observations concerning the image of the dream should be made. First, the downward movement on the image not only represented the passage of time, but also revealed a descending decrease in value of the substances of the image. The intended lesson seemed to be this: the longer man would attempt to rule the earth apart from God, the more degenerated that rule would become. Second, the downward movement on the image also revealed an ascending growth in strength of the substances. The longer man would attempt to rule the earth apart from God, the more that rule would be characterized by militarism.
Third, God designed the image to portray the times when the Gentiles would be the dominant power in the world and the Jews would be at the mercy of that power. Jesus called those times 'the times of the Gentiles' (Lk 21:24). According to the dream, those times began with Babylon in the late 600's B.C. and would continue until the second coming of Christ.
The ultimate purpose of Nebuchadnezzar's dream was to assert the sovereign rule of God in the affairs of men and His superiority over the pagan gods. Not only did it show the future course of Gentile world dominion, but also the destruction of that dominion by God and the replacement of it with His kingdom that would last forever. Since the pagans thought that no kingdom could conquer another kingdom unless its god were more powerful than the god of the other, the fact that the Kingdom of the God of heaven would conquer all of the Gentile world dominion would indicate the superiority of the God of heaven to all the Gentile gods."