RESCUED! Hope for the Future from the Book of Daniel (Part 2)
DANIEL CHAPTER TWO – The King’s Troubling Dream
Daniel 2:19 “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.”
READ DANIEL 2
King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that troubles him. He demands that the wise men of his kingdom not only give him the interpretation, but they must also tell him what he dreamed. They cannot, of course, so the king commands that they all be killed. Upon learning of this, Daniel makes a discreet inquiry of Arioch, the captain of the king’s body-guard, about this urgent matter. Daniel then boldly requests of the the king for time to get the interpretation.
Daniel gathers his three friends and together they pray to God. They “request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery,” so they would not be killed along with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. God does indeed show Daniel, who has a gift for visions and interpretation, both what the king has dreamed and its meaning.
Daniel gives thanks to God, no doubt greatly relieved. He pleads with Arioch for the wisemen of Babylon and asks to be taken to the king. Daniel is careful to give glory to God before Nebuchadnezzar. He tells the king that he is unable to interpret the dreams without God’s help.
“Daniel answered before the king and said, ‘As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days.’” (Daniel 2:27-28)
Daniel then describes for the king his vision of the statue with the head of gold, chest and arms of silver, trunk of bronze, and the legs of iron with the toes of iron mixed with clay. As he interprets the meaning of the statue for the king, there is an admonishment for King Nebuchadnezzar in the present and great hope for God’s people in the future
In verses 31-35, Daniel relates the king’s dream. The interpretation is found in verses 36-45. Daniel describes an ornate metal statue made out of four different metals, which represent four kingdoms beginning with Babylon and the rule of Nebuchadnezzar.
On a piece of paper, sketch the statue that Daniel describes. Label each part of the statue with the metal or material shown in the dream. Don’t forget the stone that strikes the feet of the statue.
Four Metals, Four Kingdoms 1
Bible scholars are generally in agreement that the four parts of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represent the four kingdoms of the ancient world which had a direct impact upon the people of Israel in the period leading up to the first coming of Messiah. The period of their rule spanned from the time just before the Jews were first exiled to Babylon until the coming of Messiah during the days of the Roman Empire.
The quality of the materials found in the statue decreases in purity as the strength of the materials increases.
1. Head of gold – Babylon (626 BC to 539 BC). Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar: “You are the head of gold.” Babylonian kings were absolute monarchs.
2. Chest and arms of silver – Medo-Persia (539 to 331 BC). The two-armed kingdom of the Medes and the Persians were ruled by a king who shared power with a class of nobles.
3. Belly and thighs of bronze – Greece (331 to 63 BC). The king shares power with an even larger group of nobles in the Greek system of government. Civilization’s earliest forms of democracy came out of ancient Greece.
4. Legs of Iron – Rome (Western half: 27 BC to 476 AD. Eastern half: 330 to 1453 AD) Roman occupation of the land of the Jews began under General Pompey in 63 BC. Rome began as a democratic republic, giving both the plebeian classes and the aristocratic classes a voice in the Roman Senate. Rome later became an empire on the shoulders of Julius Caesar.
In addition, the feet of the statue were composed of iron mixed with clay. Though iron-like in its militaristic power, Rome developed schisms over time throughout the provinces of the empire. In the end, they would not hold together. The Roman Empire suffered the same fate as the three previous kingdoms in the king’s dream.
Make notes of these empire names on your sketch of the statue.
The Interpretation Concludes
Daniel concludes the interpretation of the king’s dream:
“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. 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 its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Daniel 2:44-45)
At the end of the dream, a stone cut from a mountain without human agency crushes the feet of the statue. This stone, representing God’s coming kingdom, crushes and puts an end to all the human kingdoms represented in the statue.
King Nebuchadnezzar is so awed by what Daniel reveals to him that he falls on his face before Daniel in homage. The king gives honor to Daniel’s God and rewards Daniel with lavish gifts and a position of great authority in Babylon within his court. At Daniel’s request the king also places Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into high positions over the province of Babylon.
Amazingly, the Jews living in Babylon now have the blessing of four Jewish men being placed in charge of the empire to which they are exiled. God is watching over the destiny of His people.
1. What does the behavior of Nebuchadnezzar towards the wise men of Babylon tell you about the power of this king?
2. Daniel and his friends, being part of the wisemen of Babylon themselves, were also in peril of death if no one was able to both relate and interpret the king’s dream. What courage Daniel must have shown to approach the man charged with carrying out the king’s execution order! Where do you think he got that courage?
3. Have you ever been threatened in some way by a powerful authority? How did it affect you? How did you respond to the threat? How did God help you in that situation?
4. Daniel intercedes with the king’s bodyguard not just for his own life, but for all the wisemen of Babylon. What does that tell you about the kind of man he was?
5. Imagine the moment when Daniel realized that God had shown him just what the king had dreamed and also what it meant. What was his first response? How did he present himself to King Nebuchadnezzar?
6. What ultimately happened to each of the four empires in the dream? Whose kingdom goes on forever?
7. Describe the turn in Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude when Daniel interpreted his dream.
8. What kind of hope and encouragement do you suppose Daniel himself gained from the interpretation that God revealed to him? Does it give you any hope for our world today?
1. "World Kingdoms from Daniel's Time On," pg. 1411, The New Inductive Study Bible, New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition, Harvest House Publishers.