Does God control the rise and fall of nations? Did the Book of Daniel really predict over 500 years of accurate history in subsequent years? Yes. ◊
While Chapter 1 of the Book of Daniel is fairly straightforward, Chapter 2 unveils a volatile king who demands an accurate interpretation of his own fantastic dream. The king’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation is profound in its accurate alignment with the rise and fall of nations over coming years.
Actually, Daniel’s interpretation, of which he says
“the God in heaven, who reveals mysteries…has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in days to come…” (Daniel 2:28)
is so accurate in laying out 4 consecutive kingdoms (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman) that secular scholars still wonder if Daniel was not written hundreds of years later than the traditional 530 BC date commonly accepted.1
King Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Ultimatum
After successfully emerging as a talented new addition to king Nebuchadnezzar’s court in Chapter 1, Daniel is quickly decreed in Chapter 2 to die with all of the king’s magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers for their failure to interpret the King’s puzzling dream.
The king’s dream was so disturbing to him that he laid down an ultimatum:
“I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means…. If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor.
So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.” (Daniel 2:3-6)
Daniel’s Prayerful Response
Daniel does not panic, but rather responds with prudence and discretion (2:14) to the captain of the king’s guard and seeks an audience with the king, that he might show to the king the interpretation. (2:16)
He then goes directly to his small band of fellow praying friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were their Hebrew names) and they all beseeched God in prayer for His help concerning the king’s mystery dream.
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. (2:19)
Daniel thanks God in a prayer of thanksgiving:
Daniel said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank and praise You, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, You have made known to me what we asked of You, You have made known to us the dream of the king.” (2:20-23)
And then Daniel 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)
The King’s Dream Revealed
Daniel then told the king that he’d seen a great image before him:
“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 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. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces 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. (2:31-35)
The King’s Dream Interpreted
Then Daniel provided the dream’s interpretation. The image represented 4 great kingdoms including the current Babylonian Empire, followed by an eternal final kingdom:
“…You [Nebuchadnezzar] are this head of gold. After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 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.” (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)
The King’s Dream Interpreted
While Daniel doesn’t name the kingdoms until Chapter 8, we know that:
- The Babylonian Empire ruled the world from 625 to 539 BC, followed by
- The Medo-Persian Empire from 538 to 330 BC, 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 323 BC, the empire was divided among his four generals and lasted from until it was overrun by
- The Roman Empire, which dominated the world stage from 31 BC to AD 476.
- The spiritual Kingdom of God, established by God through Christ’s birth, atoning death, and the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, available for all the nations.
And 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. (2:44)
What Happened to Daniel?
So, then 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.”
Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court. (2:46-48)
Can you reconcile the Bible with human history?
“I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” – Daniel 2:23
1 When Was the Book of Daniel Written?, by Bill Pratt, in Tough Questions Answered, July 8, 2016; also addressed by Walt Kaiser and Duane Garrett, in NIV Archaelogical Study Bible, see: https://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2016/07/08/when-was-the-book-of-daniel-written/
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