God can touch the minds of kings and slaves. How they respond is based on their faith and belief system. The 2nd chapter of Daniel demonstrates the awesome power and plan of God. ◊
The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament is a favorite among many because of the amazing and well-known stories like Daniel and his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) in the fiery furnace (Chapter 3), and Daniel in the lion’s den (Chapter 6) .
Additionally, Daniel is a noted book because Jesus makes direct reference in Matthew 24:15 to Daniel’s prophetic “abomination that causes desolation [a detestable sacrilege]” (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11) in describing a coming tribulation in the region of Judea. Jesus also directly quotes the prophetic words from Daniel 7:13 on the night of His trial. When Caiaphas, the High Priest of Israel, questions Jesus as to whether He is the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus replies:
“You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 24:64)
This comment, equating Himself with God, was seen as blasphemous by Caiaphas and quickly brought the trial to an end and sealed Jesus’ fate with the ruling religious leaders.
Certainly, the Book of Daniel is both accessible and difficult. It’s diverse enough to captivate young and old alike with iconic Bible stories and illustrations, as well as drive intense debate among Biblical prophesy students and scholars. The study of Daniel gets pretty heady and complicated, particularly in later chapters filled with detailed historical events and interpretive prophecies intertwined enough to upset and confuse anyone’s end-times eschatology.
As Chapter 1 was dealt with in a previous Viewpoint, Daniel’s New Year, the focus in this post will be on Chapter 2 and Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s confusing dream.
Only God Could Have Done This
Reading the Book of Daniel is both intriguing and encouraging as we bear witness to one young man’s deep faith and commitment to God. While we see that in Chapter 1, and even further in Chapter 2, what’s particularly clear to me can be often lost in all the trauma and drama in the Daniel story.
Simply put, God is the awesome force behind this story and all of human history.
All that happens in this Biblical/Hebrew narrative, continuously supported by recently discovered historical evidence to have been written in the 6th century BC by Daniel himself,1 is a testimony to God’s hand in human history. The story is not coincidental – only God could have done this.
And what did God do in Chapter 2?
God took a single teenager, torn from his home of privilege and affluence in Jerusalem, forcibly moved almost 900 miles east to a foreign and pagan land of Babylon (near modern Baghdad, Iraq), and used him for His greater purpose and revealed His control over all empires and nations. While Daniel’s own Hebrew nation, from 605 B.C. through a final destructive Babylonian blow in 586 B.C., was being punished by God for years of faithless disobedience, Daniel was strong and steadfast in his faith in the God of David, Moses, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. Under great emotional and psychological pressure, Daniel was now thrust into a world of anti-God conformity.
After successfully emerging as a talented new addition to king Nebuchadnezzar’s court (Chapter 1), he is quickly decreed to die with all of the king’s so-called wise men for their failure to interpret the King’s puzzling dreams. One dream was so disturbing that the king called for his advisers to tell him his dream and to interpret it. If they didn’t do so, the king told them that they would be killed. (Daniel 2:2-5)
Daniel sought an audience with the king, that he might show to the king the interpretation. (2:16) Then he went to his three friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were their Hebrew names) and they all beseeched God in prayer for His help concerning the mystery.
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. (2:19)
Daniel thanked God in a beautiful prayer (2:20-23) and then met with the king and answered him:
“No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the latter days.” (2:27-28)
A King’s Dream Unfolded
Daniel then told the king that he’d seen a great image before him – a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay. (2:31-33) He then described a great stone of supernatural origin – cut out by no human hands (2:34) – that struck the image on its feet, destroying the image completely. The stone then became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. (2:35)
He then provided this dream interpretation: the image represented four great kingdoms succeeding the current Babylonian Empire. “You are this head of gold.” he tells the king. (2:38) Then another inferior kingdom will arise; and then a third kingdom of bronze shall rule the earth. A fourth kingdom, strong as iron will crush all the others. (2:39-40)
But yet another, final kingdom will destroy the divided fourth kingdom:
“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.” (2:44)
A King’s Dream Fulfilled
While Daniel doesn’t name the kingdom names at this point, we know that the Babylonian Empire ruled the world from 625 to 539 B.C., followed by the Medo-Persian Empire from 538 to 330 B.C., when that kingdom was overwhelmed by the Greek-Macedonian Empire, led by Alexander the Great, who conquered the whole Persian Empire in three years. After he died in 330 B.C., the empire was divided among his four generals and lasted until it was overrun by the Roman Empire, which dominated the world stage from 31 B.C. to A.D. 476.
Of course, Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages, was born into human history during the Roman Empire as part of the Hebrew nation, subservient to Rome. As we now know, God spiritually, physically, and supernaturally set up His Kingdom, through Christ, which ultimately overwhelmed and superceded the Roman Empire and will never be destroyed…it will itself endure forever.
And what happened to Daniel? After hearing his puzzling dream recounted and explained, King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel. saying “Truly, your god is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Young Daniel was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. (2:46-48)
Do you have the faith of Daniel in the God of gods and Lord of kings?
“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” – Daniel 2:45
1 Historical Evidence for History of Daniel, 2012, http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/book_of_daniel.htm