[This is the text version of my video, “Daniel Chapter 2”.]
In our first class, we looked at something which might be a completely new to many of you: prophecy and its fulfillment physically, in the real world. In that class, “Introducing Prophecy in History” we looked at some of the outstanding prophecies of the Old Testament and also had a bird’s eye view of the history of Israel to see how prophecy was fulfilled for that nation and people.
And I spoke briefly about how that there are prophecies in the Bible yet to be fulfilled, ones that might impact you and me in this world and in our immediate future. In fact, I’ll mention again, as I did in the first class, that when Jesus was asked by His disciples about the future of the world, He specifically referred to the prophet Daniel. He told them, “When you shall see… (the future events) …spoken of by Daniel the prophet (whosoever reads, let him understand)…” (Matthew 24:15)
“Whosoever reads the prophecies of Daniel, let him understand.” It sounds like Jesus is trying to tell us that what Daniel said was, and is, important. So we’re going to look at Daniel Chapter 2 which is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. Let’s find out who Daniel was, what his life was like and what this is all about.
The date is around 604 BC. Daniel was probably a young teenager at the time. His country, Judah (as it was called then) was in its last few years and months as an independent nation after close to 800 years of existence.
Those were ominous, unstable, troubling times for a young man to be growing up in. The biggest news in the world at that time was the fall a few years earlier of the former super power of its day, the Kingdom of Assyria, and the emergence of the Kingdom of Babylon which was conquering and subduing all before it.
In 604 BC, the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, sent a military force against Judah and Jerusalem, all that was left of the former kingdom which we know of as Israel. It was in this raid against Jerusalem that our young teenage Daniel was carried away as a captive and virtual slave hundreds of miles to the east, to Babylon.
After they were taken away to Babylon, Daniel and his 3 friends were placed in something like a training school for young men who’d been found to be of royal ancestry within Israel. Immediately they distinguished themselves there by deciding to stay true to their faith and convictions while also cooperating with their new rulers.
Just to mention it, Babylon in its day was every bit as awe inspiring as Rome or Athens were in their day. Or modern cities are today. Babylon was called “the Golden City”— intelligent, modernistic, powerful—the center of the world for those times and seemingly invincible.
We’ll begin the story at the time when Daniel and his friends had been already been living in Babylon for 3 years. What we learn is that king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. And he couldn’t remember it. Now that can happen to anyone but this was something special. For one, he was virtually the ruler of the world at that time, or at least most of the known, civilized world of his day. And secondly, he was accustomed to having his way… Immediately.
So he did what any ruler of the world would do: he called in his magicians and advisors and all the folks that world rulers have around them. And he said,
“I have had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” (Daniel 2:3)
It seems like people haven’t changed much over the last 2600 years because his advisors answered,
“O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.” (Daniel 2:4)
Nebuchadnezzar saw right through that and said,
“If you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dung hill. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor.” (Dan. 2:5 and 6)
The advisors stalled around some more and the king threatened them again to which they finally got shook up and real honest and said,
“There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician or advisor. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” (Dan. 2:11 and 12)
That’s the truth, isn’t it? Nobody can tell you what you dreamed. Well, this was very unsatisfactory for Nebuchadnezzar and he immediately ordered the beginning of the slaughter of all his magicians, astrologers and advisors. And this was the type of position that Daniel and his friends were being schooled for.
Now if you’ve never heard about this before, you might be thinking, “What’s all this ancient history stuff got to do with prophecy and the future?” Just hang in there, it’s coming.
So, next thing you know, one of the king’s chief guards was over at Daniel’s dormitory, letting him and his friends know that they needed to be prepared to get executed. Daniel asked what was up and when he heard about the king’s dream, asked if he could have time to pray to his God for the dream and interpretation to be revealed to him.
This was granted and Daniel and his friends got down to some real serious prayer time with God in order to get a hold of Him and to find out what this was all about. How could he know what the interpretation was when he didn’t even know the dream?
And, here’s what it says happened next.
“Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.” (Dan. 2:19)
That means that the Lord actually showed Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was and what it meant. Completely impossible without the supernatural help of God! So he prays a real prayer of thankfulness. Here it is:
Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.
I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers, who has given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand.” (Dan. 2:20-23)
So Daniel went to the head of the king’s guards and asked to be brought before Nebuchadnezzar so he could tell the king the dream and the interpretation.
I like to try to put all this into context. This really happened. It’s not a movie or fiction. From the way it’s described in the Bible, it seems like Daniel was possible around 14 years old at this time. He and his friends were called “children” several times. Here was this really young exile, away from his family, away from his religious base, about to go before the ruthless, violent, cruel leader of the world, to try to tell this king what he had dreamed and what it meant. If ever the odds were against someone and a young man needed to have faith and certainty of a superhuman kind, it was Daniel at this moment.
Daniel was brought before the king, and it sounds like there was a whole thrown room scene, with lots of folks around, and the king asked him,
“Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?” (Dan. 2:26)
“The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. (Dan. 2:27 and 28)
Daniel had boldness and confidence! And he immediately gives God the credit, not himself. Plus, he says here that the God of heaven is making known to the king what shall be in the later days. So, it’s a prophetic message from God to the king about the future.
“Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass hereafter (There it is again, it’s a message about the future); and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be.” (Dan. 2:28 and 29)
If you’ve never heard this before, it is sort of surprising and mysterious in the beginning. Daniel is first going to tell the king what he dreamed and afterwards tell him what it all meant.
You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! (That means sort of like a statue) This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. (Dan. 2:31)
This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. (Dan. 2:32 and 33)
You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. (Dan. 2:34)
Then the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. (Dan. 2:35a)
And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Dan. 2:35b)
It must have been just an incredible feeling in the room. Did Daniel ever for a moment wonder what would happen if he was wrong? Were Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors completely expecting the young foreign kid to get cut to pieces in front of them in the next minutes? What was Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction and feelings when Daniel began to describe this strange amazing vision? Let’s see what Daniel said next as he began to explain the meaning of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar.
This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all -you are this head of gold. (Dan. 2:36 to 38)
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, “You are this head of gold.” This is the key to unlocking the mystery of this dream. “Nebuchadnezzar, you, and your kingdom of Babylon, are this head of gold.”
But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; (Dan. 2:39a)
Then another, a third kingdom of Brass which shall rule over all the earth. (Dan. 2:39b)
Here comes the beginning of the predictions of the future. He’s telling him what kingdoms will come after his. We’ll just see here what Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar and look for an explanation afterwards.
And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. (Dan. 2:40)
Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with miry clay.
And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. (Dan. 2:41 and 42)
If you don’t understand all this yet, just hold on; we’re going to go over it. But take note of this next part because it is perhaps the most important verse in the whole chapter.
And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. (Dan. 2:44)
Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold-the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure. (Dan. 2:45)
So Daniel finished. And stood there. Surely Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar were looking intently at each other. Almost certainly there was an awesome hush over all present at that moment. Would Daniel be killed? Was he actually right in what he told Nebuchadnezzar? Let’s see what the Bible says happened next.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. (Dan. 2:46)
Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face before Daniel in front of all his court and commanded that they should make an animal sacrifice to him! You know what that means: that was what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed and the king knew for sure that it was the explanation of it all!
The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” (Dan. 2:47)
Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. (Dan. 2:48)
Just think if the leader of your country fell down at the feet of some young teen age migrant or virtual prisoner of war because of some truth that was revealed to him. It made just an unimaginable impact on this ruler of the world at that time. Let’s look then at all this and see what it all meant. We know from what Daniel said that the statue’s head of gold symbolized or represented Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom, Babylon, from verse 38.
And wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all-you are this head of gold. (Dan. 2:38)
And the next verse says that the silver represents “another kingdom, inferior to you”. So these parts of the statue represent kings and/or their kingdoms. But why was Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon represented as “a head of Gold”. Some people think that maybe Daniel was just flattering Nebuchadnezzar there. But God Himself gave the dream so that couldn’t be it. Well, for one, we can see the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s growing faith in God when he said to Daniel, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” (Dan. 2:47)
So right there at that time he proclaimed the God of Abraham as the most high God. In chapter 3 of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar commanded all people everywhere to worship Daniel’s God. And in chapter 4, actually the whole chapter is written by Nebuchadnezzar. He tells of his complete change of heart and mind though the mighty power of God humbling him to almost nothing and then restoring him again. No other foreign king ever went so far as did Nebuchadnezzar and so God pictured him and the kingdom of Babylon, with all its wealth and knowledge, as this head of gold. But then Daniel says that the next part of the statue, the breast and arms of silver, represent the kingdom that will follow Nebuchadnezzar’s, or in other words, will come after Babylon.
What did follow Babylon? Well about 50 years later, around the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Babylon was conquered by the “dual kingdom” of the Medes and Persians.
You may ask, what is a “dual kingdom”? History tells us that the Medes were a people from the area of what is today northwest Iran and that they were the ones who first conquered the Babylonians. Have you ever heard of “the handwriting on the wall”?
That is actually from the 5th chapter of Daniel where a literal hand appeared on the wall during a great party that Nebuchadnezzar’s drunken grandson was having. The hand wrote that he was “weighed in the balances and found wanting.” (Daniel 5:27) That’s where that phrase comes from. And that his kingdom of Babylon was delivered into the hand of the Medes and Persians.
The chapter goes on to tell us that, that very night, the defenses of Babylon were breached and the city was entered and defeated by the Medes.
But the stronger coalition partner was the Persians and these two peoples were the next major power in the ancient world after Babylon. So the statue has two arms next, signifying that the kingdom to follow Babylon would have something dual in its nature. Sure enough, the next kingdom was that of the Medes and the Persians. We’ll be seeing more things like that.
So we know from history that the kingdom that followed Babylon, the “arms of silver” being prophesied here, was that of the Medes and Persians. What was the third kingdom, the one of brass? Historically we know that Greece, led by Alexander the Great, conquered the Persians around 333 BC. Is there anything symbolic about the “belly and thighs of brass” having to do with Greece? For one, they were a very physical, sensuous bunch of folks. Also they were very spiritual minded and the Bible tells us the seat of the spirit is in the midst of our bodies.
And “a forth kingdom of iron”, what do you think that is? Well, the Romans took over as the world power from the Greeks, somewhere around 44 BC. Here the symbolism is really clear. For one, the Roman Army was so strong, like iron, that for over 100 years of Roman rule, there were basically no wars. It was the period of the “Pax Romana”, the Peace of Rome and there just wasn’t any country that could stand up against them.
Here is another thing that fits with this picture of the Roman Empire, seen hundreds of years before it began: do you know anything about the shape of Italy, the main land mass of the Roman Empire? It’s shaped like what? Like a leg or a boot. And what’s the longest part of your body? Your legs. The Roman Empire, continued for nearly 500 years, based from the city of Rome,
Two arms signified something “dual” about Persia and the Medes, right? And here on the Statue there are 2 legs. Anything “dual” about the Roman Empire? Sure was. After the fall of Rome, the western part collapsed. But there was the eastern part, later called the Byzantine Empire which continued on almost another 1000 years, based from its eastern headquarters, Constantinople, today called Istanbul. So, two legs, two divisions of the forth Empire, all foreseen and pictured to Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar over 500 years earlier.
But then, after the forth empire, symbolizing Rome, the picture changes. For one, there’s a lot about those strange toes, “part of iron and part of clay” (Daniel 2:41). What could that mean? Well, if iron represented the iron rule of the dictatorships of Roman Caesars and other dictatorships after them, the clay symbolizes the government by the people, or democracy. Clay in God’s Word always symbolized “the people”. As Isaiah 64:8 says, “We are the clay.”
So government by the people, or democracy, is a “clay” government. It is a weaker form of government because it does not have “the strength of the iron” (Daniel 2:41), which represents the strong-man dictatorships & their “iron” rule, which usually have an “iron man” as their dictator.–Such as some of the dictatorships we have seen in history up till now.
And it says, “The kingdom shall be divided.” (Daniel 2:41) Since the fall of Rome, there has been division amongst the nations, with no one power completely dominant, though some–like Napoleon & Hitler–have tried. At times, equally powerful “empires” have existed simultaneously, such as the British, the French, the Spanish, the Ottoman and the Chinese, to name a few. But no one nation became the dominant power as Rome had been.
But what about that “Stone cut out without hands” (Daniel 2:34). What is that? It strikes the stature, where? On the toes. That symbolizes at what point in history, what point in time that this would happen. When was that to happen? After the fall of Rome. And what does the Stone do? It crushes and destroys all these kingdoms of this world and kingdoms of man. What does Daniel say the stone hitting the toes and the whole statute crumbling to dust and being blown away represent?
Here’s what he says to Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps the most important verse in the chapter.
“In the days of these kings [which kings? In the time of the toes, we’re going to learn more about that] shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. And the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms. And it shall stand forever.” (Dan. 2:45)
The Stone that “smote the image” & this “great mountain that filled the whole earth” is none other than the coming Kingdom of God on Earth. God Himself is going to set up a kingdom on this very earth.
When? During the time of the countries and nations who have remained and come out of and after the Roman Empire, represented by the toes of iron and clay. What does it mean by “a stone cut out without hands”? (Daniel 2:34) Jesus is called “the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20), rejected by man but chosen by God. He is going to inherit the Kingdom prepared for Him and those who have chosen him.
And here’s something I hope you get. Did you notice how we went from all these already fulfilled prophecies right into one yet to be totally fulfilled? We, the people of the future, can look back 2600 years to this incredible moment when Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar his dream before the whole court of Babylon. And we can see one after the other: boom, boom, boom, the fulfillment of each of these parts of the statue.
But then, what happens? We see something yet to be fully fulfilled. We see a prediction that is yet to have its fulfillment: the coming of The Stone to crush all these kingdoms of man; we see the coming kingdom of God on earth in the person of his son Jesus.
And how can we doubt it? Nebuchadnezzar didn’t. He knew it was what he had dreamed and he fell at the feet of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar recognized it as a mighty miracle of God, and as a result, promoted Daniel to his counselor.
That’s the marvelous thing about these prophecies, most of them have already been fulfilled, the empires have already come and gone! So why shouldn’t the last one happen just like it says?
God wants us to know this because He loves us and has something better for us than this present evil world. I have both good and bad news for you. This world is just going to get worse. But the good news is… just what we have been reading, already told us thousands of years ago. I’m going to share that verse with you again:
In the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. (Dan. 2:45)
We’re nearly finished with this class but I have one little point. It just might be that some of this might leave you worried or fearful. God is going to destroy all the kingdoms of the earth? Well, please don’t worry. Some religious teachers will have you believe that this could happen in the next five minutes, immediately.
Believe me, that’s not true. We’re going to work to clear up that false teaching and it may be quite a surprise to some of you or your friends. Jesus taught that there were specific things that would happen, very clear signs and warnings before His kingdom returns to the earth and we are going to study these points.
But the best way I can help you not to worry about any of this is to let you know, if you don’t know already, that you are invited to be a part of that kingdom of God which is to come on earth. The answer is that He wants to set up His kingdom in your heart right now. He said one time, “A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
That’s the solution and answer. You can have that Kingdom that is to come right now in your heart and it will stay there forever. It’s as simple as a prayer which you can pray with me right now. Just say with me,
“Dear Jesus, I want to be a part of your kingdom, both now and the one to come. Please come into my heart. Take away my sins and my stony heart and give me the new heart and spirit you promised so I can live and love with you and your people forever.”
If you prayed that pray, He has done it. He promised He would. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. (That’s the door of your heart) If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him…” (Revelation 3:20) So, you don’t have to worry about the future. You are going to be in His kingdom if you have Him in your heart.
In our next study, we’re going to be with Daniel again but not as a young man. After this amazing meeting with Nebuchadnezzar that we have just read about, he went on to be a high official in the kingdom of Babylon throughout his adult life. And as old age approached, he himself began to receive dreams and spiritual experiences which are some of the most astounding in the whole Bible. Our next class will be on Daniel chapter 7. And if you’ve found this class we’ve just had on Daniel chapter 2 to be interesting, I believe the next one will just really take you to another level. I look forward to sharing that with you soon. God bless you!
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