Previous study on Daniel 1 can be found here.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s second year as king, he started having strange dreams, so much so that he could no longer sleep at night. He gathered all his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, in order to get some peace from these dreams, and gain understanding about their meaning. Remember that the Chaldeans were those who learned the magic arts of ancient Babylonia (Sumeria/Akkadia).
The really strange thing about Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams was that he could not remember the details. His request of the wise men of Babylon was for them to tell him what it was the he dreamt. This goes beyond a simple interpretation, and I’m sure that these men would have been able to interpret the king’s dreams, had he remembered what they were about. In reply to the king, the Chaldeans said that “there is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.”
This statement got Nebuchadnezzar really angry. Here were his most educated men, the ones who claimed to have all the answers in the palms of their hands, or in the stars, or other magical devices. Yet, they were worthless when he actually needed them to alleviate his sleepless nights. Not only that, but they had the gall to tell him that no king, lord, nor ruler existed who would ask such things. How could that be when he, Nebuchadnezzar, was asking such things, and he surely existed. It must have seemed like such a cop out on their part.
The second part of their answer is that “it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh”. Well, aren’t these people supposed to be able to communicate with the gods? If they couldn’t do that, nor show him his dreams, then what good were they? So Nebuchadnezzar did what any sane person would do, and convicted them to death. I say that in jest, but to an extent what else was there to do with them? They had leeched off the kingdom of Babylon for years and with nothing to show for it, except insults to the king.
Unfortunately for Daniel and his friends, he was considered to be part of this group of learned men. When he heard about the decree, he asked the king to give him some time and he would show the king his dream and its interpretation. The king agreed and Daniel went back to his friends to tell them about this issue. I imagine they prayed fervently at that time, and the result was that Daniel was given a vision in the night, showing the dream and its interpretation.
When Daniel was brought before Nebuchadnezzar, the king asked him “art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?” Daniel could have fallen in this trap quite easily, and I’m sure his memory would have been wiped. He answered Nebuchadnezzar correctly stating “there is a God in heaven that reveleath secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” Daniel remembered to credit God for the vision that was granted him, as only God can make such things known to man.
It is interesting here that Daniel should say “in the latter days” when speaking of this vision. The meaning of this phrase seems to point to a time in the future, but not only that, to a time of the last days. The future visions of Daniel shed more light onto this concept, but he already knew that this vision did not pertain to the present time, that it was a prophecy, and it was going to be very relevant in the days of the end.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was actually quite simple in its structure. He saw a great idol, whose form was terrible. I’m not sure what this idol looked like, but many sources seem to think it kind of looked like a man, a king even. I tend to disagree with that interpretation. In chapter 3 (which we will address in detail in a later study), Nebuchadnezzar made an idol that is assumed to be similar to the one he dreamt. This idol was 60 cubits tall and six cubits wide. In imperial terms, this is about 1080 inches high (about 90 feet), and 108 inches wide (9 feet). This idol measures 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. I’m no mathematician, nor a biologist, but that’s not very proportional to a man. It’s more proportional to a snake, or a lizard, or even a dragon. I’m really not sure what this idol looked like, I’m just thinking that it wasn’t a man, maybe only part man (lower half). In any case, this is more of an aside than a real doctrinal point, it’s just interesting to think about.
As to the parts of the idol, the head was of gold, the arms and chest of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron mixed with clay. Each body section gets stronger as we travel down from the head, yet at the same time the metal representing the body part gets less and less valuable. The end of the dream is that stone is cut out, but not by any hands, and it hit the idol “upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces”. At this point, all the other materials of this idol broke to pieces as well, and the pieces were so small that the wind carried them away like chaff, so that no part of the idol remained. The stone that broke the idol became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Daniel goes on to say that “this is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king”. I’m not sure who else was there with him in that moment, but I’m sure he wasn’t talking about his friends. I believe he was saying that the Holy Spirit was there as well, imparting the interpretation to the king through Daniel.
The interpretation of the dream has the head of gold representing Nebuchadnezzar, “a king of kings”, whom God has given “a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory”. Nebuchadnezzar had so much power that he was able to conquer Assyria and Egypt within a few short years. His kingdom had so much splendor that we today refer to Babylon as one of the ancient wonders of the world. God truly blessed Nebuchadnezzar and his empire.
After Nebuchadnezzar will come a kingdom which is inferior (silver), and then yet another kingdom (brass), which shall rule over all the earth (at least the known portion of it). The fourth kingdom follows, and it is strong as iron. As iron breaks all things, it shall break and subdue the world as well.
The last kingdom is going to be the feet, part of iron and part of clay. In the interpretation of the dream, Daniel says that this kingdom will be divided, just as iron and clay don’t mix. However, the strength of the iron will remain in it. This kingdom will be “partly strong, but partly broken”. The people in this last kingdom will mingle, but they will not “cleave one to another”.
The next sentence (Daniel 2:44) is interesting: “in the days of these kings shall God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed”. So, while talking of the feet and toes, made of iron and clay, Daniel implies that the feet and toes represent kings: “in the days of these kings…”. What’s interesting is that the implication is that there will be many nations (these kings), attempting to unite (will mingle), but are unable to form a coherent group (will not cleave one to another).
If you thought that sentence in v.44 is interesting, what follows is even better: “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 for ever”. The kingdom which God sets up, in the latter days, in a time when nations are trying to form alliances and confederacies, this Kingdom will not be left to other people. The way I read that part is that the Kingdom of God is God’s not man’s, yet it shall be for some people because it will not be left for the others. Who are the “other people” and who are the exemptions? I propose that the “other people” refers to everyone whom does not wish, for whatever reason, to be part of the Kingdom of God. Do you know people like that today? I have certainly met my fair share.
The better part of the interpretation of the dream is spent explaining the feet and toes, so we can certainly assume that this body section of the idol is most important in the prophecy. It is, after all, the section that is struck by the stone. I believe the significance of the feet and toes can be readily seen in our present day. We live in a world that wishes to unite and live in peace and harmony. Yet there are so many forces that seem to desire the exact opposite. We see hatred and bigotry every day on the news, even in our daily lives. How can we unite the nations when we seem to hate each other. I believe the explanation given by the Holy Spirit to Daniel that kings of the latter days will attempt to mingle, but will not cleave to one another is extremely important in our era.
Daniel and the Holy Spirit finish up the interpretation by saying in v.45 “the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure”. The king then testified that Daniel’s God “is a God of gods and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets”. Nebuchadnezzar “made Daniel a great man”, “a chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon” and a “ruler over the whole province of Babylon”.
This concludes our study of Daniel ch. 2, but please tune in for a study of the remainder of the book. The next chapters will get even more exciting, and much more truth will be revealed. Thank God for His word and for His guidance in these times.