Review from Chapter 2
One night, Nebuchadnezzar awoke frightened by a dream. The king called for his magi to interpret the nightmare. This was standard procedure in a culture that placed a high importance on dreams and their meaning. However, he added an unprecedented requirement: “Tell me what my dream was and interpret it” (Daniel 2:5). So, not only did the royal wise men have to provide the interpretation of the dream, they had to recount the dream itself. The penalty for failure was death: every magician, enchanter, sorcerer and astrologer in the kingdom would be executed. The worried magi replied, “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men” (Daniel 2:11). When Daniel heard of this, he was determined to prove God’s power to the king (Daniel 2:18).
Daniel’s Response: The Dream
Daniel asked the king for some time to discover the dream, and then he proceeded to pray all night with three of his fellow exiles. God revealed the dream to him, and Daniel and his friends praised God (Daniel 2:19-23). The next morning, he went to the king and told him about the dream.
Daniel 2:24-35 NIV Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.” Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.” The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” Daniel replied, “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 days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these: “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind. “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.
The dream featured a huge, glorious statue of a man. Its head 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” (Daniel 2:32-33). Then a rock cut “not by human hands” (Daniel 2:34) hit the foot of the statue, and the thing disintegrated,” But the rock that hit it while the rock “became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).
This vision, by the way, gives us our modern idiom “feet of clay,” meaning “a hidden fault or weakness.”
Daniel’s Response: The Interpretation
Daniel 2:36-43 NIV “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that 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. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
Daniel’s interpretation, given to him by God, explains that the statue represents a series of kingdoms, each less glorious than the one before, as indicated by the decreasing value of the metals. Gold, to silver, to bronze, iron and then iron mixed with clay.
The Babylonian empire, initially under the rulership of Nebuchadnezzar, is interpreted as the pure gold head of this imposing statue.
Daniel identifies Nebuchadnezzar as the head of gold, stating that God had given Nebuchadnezzar much power (Daniel 2:37-38).
Daniel begins the interpretation by honoring Nebuchadnezzar’s role and status as the greatest of all earthly kings of his day. The phrase “king of kings” is also quite literal in that other regional kings paid tribute to King Nebuchadnezzar, including the kings of Judah.
God gives rulership over men, animals, birds to whomever he wishes.
This passage explains that God chose to bestow four specific blessings upon King Nebuchadnezzar.
1) The kingdom – God gave him royal power and dominion over the kingdom
2) The power – God gave him the strength to possess the kingdom
3) The might – God gave him authority to reign over the kingdom
4) The glory – God gave him honor and splendor fitting for a king
The next two kingdoms to arise will be inferior to Babylon.
“Finally, there will come a fourth kingdom, strong as iron. . . . It will crush and break all the others” (Daniel 2:40).
Finally, the feet of mixed clay and iron “will be a divided kingdom” (Daniel 2:41). During the time of this final world empire, the “rock” will smash them all to bits, a prediction that “God . . . will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed”
(Daniel 2:44). All previous earthly kingdoms will be brought to an end.
The Dream 2,500+ Years Later
The first four kingdoms have been identified as the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. This identification has come from the workings of history matching further prophecies.
Babylon fell to the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians (Daniel 5:26-31).
Daniel 5:26-31 NIV “Here is what these words mean: Mene : God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel : You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres : Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.
Greece became the successor to the Medo-Persian Empire.
Daniel 8:20-21 NIV The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king.
The “iron” empire can only be Rome.
The fourth and final kingdom has the strength of iron. It exceeds all of the other previous kingdoms in sheer power, might, and solidarity. ust as iron is strong enough to be able to crush and shatter other materials, Daniel explains that the fourth kingdom, represented by two legs of iron in the king’s dream, will crush and shatter all of these previous kingdoms. It will weaken and subdue them all.
Opinions differ on the fifth empire. Some have tried to identify various periods in Europe’s history as the clay-and-iron feet; others claim the feet represent the divided remnants of Rome before supposedly being “conquered” by Christianity.
Daniel now turns his attention to the days of “those kings.” which is probably the kings involved with the final (5th) kingdom, which he describes as being composed of strong iron and miry clay. Based on the context and the Aramaic language employed, the latter seems more plausible.– During the reign of these kings, God will establish His own Kingdom, and this Kingdom will never be destroyed.
– This Kingdom, established by God, will not be left to another people.
– God’s Kingdom will shatter and crush into pieces all of these other kingdoms.
– God’s Kingdom will bring all other kingdoms to an end.
– God’s Kingdom will last forever
Still others believe that the clay/iron empire is yet to come: the kingdom of the Antichrist will be a “revived Roman Empire.” The last theory seems to be the best. We know, according to Revelation 17:12-13, that the Antichrist will lead a coalition of ten nations (the statue’s ten toes?). And we know that Christ will defeat the forces of the Antichrist (Revelation 17:14). After that, Jesus will set up His kingdom—the rock smashes the image—and the kingdoms of this world will “become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Daniel 2:46-49 NIVThen King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were 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.
Daniel went before Nebuchadnezzar and did everything the king asked—he not only told him his dream but also gave the interpretation of the dream. Scripture says that Nebuchadnezzar absolutely lost his mind—in a good way—at that point.
King Nebuchadnezzar threw himself down before Daniel and worshiped him, and he commanded his people to offer sacrifices and burn sweet incense before him. The king said to Daniel, “Truly, yourGod is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.”
Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men. At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court.
God prospered Daniel after one of the most overwhelming circumstances he had ever gone through. If you are going through overwhelming circumstances—if you feel like life is about to crush you—then maybe, just maybe, God isn’t punishing you but is actually preparing to prosper you, just like He did for Daniel.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These guys ran into a bit of a tough situation—one full of potential stress and anxiety that could have absolutely crushed them. It all happened because King Nebuchadnezzar decided to build a statue of himself,
one that was ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and made of solid gold.
Daniel 3:1-6 NLT King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Can you imagine being in these guys’ shoes? When the decree is issued, you say to yourself, There’s no way I’m bowing, but then the “or you’ll die” section is added on. It would be easy to rationalize by saying, “Well, you know, I can bow on the outside but stand on the inside; afterall, I need to try to stay alive.”
Daniel 3:7, 9-12 NLT So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Long live the king! You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments. That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.”
They refused to bow because they knew that God is good, God is holy, God was with them, and God was in control. If you refuse to bow down to false gods, you may experience stress and anxiety because you ’re going to stand out from the crowd.
Hundreds, possibly thousands of people bowed down—except for three. They stood out like a group of senior adults at a Justin Bieberconcert! As a result of their refusal, they faced an intense exchange with the king:
Daniel 3:13-15 NLT Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
We see a remarkable response of confidence and faith in this next part of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s story.
Daniel 3:16-18 NLT Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”