Daniel 2


‘In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.’ Daniel 2:1

Nebuchadnezzar, the powerful king of Babylon, had deep concerns about the future. Falling asleep after these unhappy thoughts he was subjected to a dream from God in answer to his concern about “what should come to pass hereafter” Daniel 2:29.

So, impressive was the dream his sleep is disturbed and he awakens.

‘So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, ‘I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.’ Then the astrologers answered the king, ‘May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.’ The king replied to the astrologers, ‘This is what I have firmly decided: 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 honour. So, tell me the dream and interpret it for me.’ Daniel 2:2-6

The king immediately calls for his wise men. He demands that they give him an interpretation without his revealing what he had dreamed. It is not likely that he had forgotten what had made such an impression on him but rather if these men were good enough to interpret they could also tell what he had dreamed. The work of magicians, astrologers and sorcerers was based to a great extent on trickery and falsehood.

One wonders if Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know this having dealt with them over a period of years. He does not want some old interpretation or fraudulent prediction, he wanted the truth. It remains a sad fact that many today think astrologers and fortune-tellers can predict their future. They were frauds as there have always been.

‘Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.” The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.’ Daniel 2:7-12

These wise men asked a second time that he reveal the dream so they can interpret it for the king. The king knew they were stalling for time and so accuses them.

“I know for certain that you would gain the time because you see that my decision is firm.” Under threat, they spoke the truth that no man living had such power and that only divinity could do this. Furious with their inability to impart this knowledge, it seems the king had his fill of deceit, trickery and fraudulent predictions, a decree of execution was given against all the wise men in the kingdom. It was left to Arioch, captain of the guard to carry out the decree. In a sense, it was a decree against all the worldly wisdom and philosophy of his day.

‘So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.’ Daniel 2:13-16

The decree included all wise men thus this involved Daniel and his three friends who were not even aware of the situation. When advised of the decree Daniel goes before the king requesting a delay in the execution of the sentence that he might have time and then he would give the king his demanded interpretation. Time was obviously granted for Daniel to provide the interpretation.

‘Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.’ Daniel 2:17-18

Daniel did not go to his book of Chaldean’s wisdom and philosophy but rather he enlisted the aid of his friends in entreating God for the answer. It would have been a most impressive scene to have seen those four men praying that night.

‘During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and 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.’ Daniel 2:19-23

God answered these prayers and Daniel was given a vision in which the secret was revealed. This causes him to break out in a prayer of thanksgiving to God in which he speaks of the sovereignty, consistency, omniscience and reliability of God.

‘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.’ Daniel 2:24-30

Daniel requests that Arioch bring him before the king so that he might give the interpretation. With all haste, Daniel is brought before the king. He makes it clear that such a request made by the king could not come from man but can come only from the God of heaven who can reveal such secrets. Daniel takes no credit for himself but gives God the glory. He is merely an instrument to bring the interpretation to the king.

‘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.’ Daniel 2:31-35

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was that of a great and awesome image. Its head was of fine gold, its breast and arms were of silver, its belly and sides of brass and its legs of iron with feet part iron and part clay.

A stone “cut out without hands” smote this image on its feet destroying it so thoroughly that its fragments were like the chaff of a summer threshing floor with the wind carrying the pieces away. The stone that smote the image became a great mountain filling the whole earth. It is no wonder that this dream had bothered the king. Dreams were considered special signs and this being such an awesome sight would have concerned the king greatly.

‘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. “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 2:36-45

Daniel now proceeds to give the interpretation as given to him by God. The head of gold is Nebuchadnezzar and his great empire. After him, a second kingdom would arise which would not be as powerful as Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. This kingdom was represented by the breast and arms of silver of the image. This was the Medo-Persian Empire which followed the Babylonian kingdom.

A third great empire of brass would next arise. This was the great Greek Empire built by Alexander the Great who conquered the world as a young man. The fourth power whose legs were iron and feet were part iron and part clay is the Roman Empire. There is no cohesiveness within this empire.

All students of history know the difficulties experienced by Rome in trying to hold together her vast empire. In the days of the fourth empire a fifth monarchy, supernatural in origin would arise destroying the fourth empire. It would be different from the others. It would not be temporal but spiritual. It would also be universal and eternal.

There have been various interpretations placed upon this image. The above view must be the correct view since it is the only one that harmonizes with history. History testifies that Babylon was succeeded by Medo-Persia and that Greece came next followed by Rome. The kingdoms represented by the image are successive. Also, we know that the kingdom of God was established during the period of the Roman Empire, Mark 1:14-15 / Colossians 1:13 / Luke 22:29-30 / Mark 9:1 / Revelation 1:9.

Premillennialists have made much over the 10 toes of the image. This is interesting in that while the toes are mentioned there is no effort by Daniel to single them out as representing ten kingdoms. By making a play on the toes Premillennialist is able to extend the Roman Empire to the present age by having 10 kingdoms come out of the Roman Empire.

A popular chart shows this image with toes as long as its body. In order for the image to meet date and time requirements, the toes have to be stretched out so as to reach up into our time. The fact remains that the stone smites the image on the feet where the toes are located. Thus, the entire image including its toes was destroyed. The kingdom came during the Roman Empire therefore the image does not extend to the present day.

‘Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honour 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 2:46-49

It seems that Nebuchadnezzar is well satisfied with Daniel’s interpretation.

Perhaps the fact that these things were far off in the future relieved his mind. Also, the fact that Daniel was able to tell what he had dreamed proved he would also be correct in the interpretation. The king then worships Daniel and commands sacrifices be made to him.

Knowing the character of Daniel, we know he would have no part in this exaltation. Daniel 2:47 does not mean that Nebuchadnezzar became a convert to God. The next chapter shows he believed in many gods. God at that moment was the greatest, but only one among many. Daniel is exalted and promoted to a position of high authority. He immediately requests the promotion of his three friends.


In this chapter, we clearly see the power and superiority of God over paganism and the kingdoms of the world. Here also is predicted the superiority of His kingdom over the kingdoms of the world. While all of the four great empires are history the kingdom of God still stands today.

God’s kingdom does not conquer by sword or instruments of carnal warfare but by the word of God sown in the hearts of men changing their lives.

This is how the Roman Empire was taken by the kingdom of God. The book of Revelation assures the early Christians that God was in control and that he would give them the victory if they would overcome.

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