DANIEL - CHAPTER 2
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
2:1. “And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.”
Dreams were one of the means by which God spoke to men in past ages, and in the present instance, the Divine communication was disturbing, as must be the case when God is dealing with the unconverted, for until a man is made to fear God, he cannot be saved.
2:2. “Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.”
Inasmuch as four classes are mentioned, and four is the number of earth and testing, the truth being declared is that they represent the virtual sum total of the world’s wisdom, which when tested by God, is found to be foolishness.
The magician was a horoscopist who practiced his art by drawing magical (so-called) lines and circles, etc. The astrologer was one who believed that the heavenly bodies had an influence on human affairs, but he was also one who conjured up spirits, and had communication with them, as do present-day mediums. The sorcerer was one who cast spells, often by means of whispered incantations; while Chaldean was the name given to professional astrologers in general.
2:3. “And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.”
The king didn’t declare that he had forgotten the dream, but merely that he had had it, and demanded an explanation of its meaning, something obviously impossible apart from knowledge of the dream itself, that knowledge, of course, being unavailable to man apart from the revelation given by God. The equally obvious spiritual truth being declared in all of this is that the man who doesn’t know God must remain a fool, as it is written, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Pr 9:10).
Many, incidentally, believe that the king hadn’t forgotten the dream, but that he was determined to make their ability to relate it, a test of the authenticity of their interpretation, his words “the thing is gone from me,” verse 5, referring not to the dream, but to his decree that they be put to death if they failed to declare the dream and its interpretation.
2:4. “Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.”
Whatever the literal reason for their addressing the king in Syriak (Aramaean), a practical lesson is easily discovered. Where ever you are confronted with a doctrine which rests in whole or in part on your lack of knowledge of the original languages of Scripture, beware of both the man and his doctrine. This has been the ploy of the great harlot church for centuries. She has used Latin, a language foreign to the common man; and to this day, she and her Protestant sister, maintain that a theological education is necessary to understand Scripture.
Relative to their speaking in Syriak, Dr. John Heading has written, “Hebrew is the language of the OT, yet from verse 4 to the end of chapter 7 the language used is Aramaic.... the subject of these Aramaic chapters concerns more particularly the Gentile nations, and their language is used for this purpose. But chapters 8-12 deal with the Jews ... and their language, Hebrew, is therefore the more appropriate.”
2:5. “Then the king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.”
The king appears to have been shrewd enough to reason that it should have been no more difficult for these so-called wise men to declare the dream than to explain its meaning. Relative to the words, “The thing is gone from me,” scholars in general agree that the statement relates, not to his having forgotten the dream, but to his edict that they be executed if they failed to declare both the dream and its meaning.
Chapter four indicates that Nebuchadnezzar may eventually have become a believer, but at this juncture he is a type of the final evil Tribulation-age beast ruler, Satan’s evil pawn, and counterfeit of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that his harsh decree serves to declare the truth that Satan is a merciless master who cares nothing about his minions once their usefulness is over, Judas being a dramatic example.
2:6. “But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.”
This continues to demonstrate the truth that Satan’s favor is a very transient thing. His rewards last only as long as the usefulness of the lackey. How different with God! Relative to His service, the Lord Jesus Christ has given the invitation and assurance, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30), and the rewards He gives His servants are eternal.
2:7. “They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.”
Their attempted bargaining with their despotic master is duplicated daily by those who serve Satan, for as the Chaldeans were in no position to bargain
with Nebuchadnezzar - he held the power of life and death over them - neither are Satan’s dupes in any position to bargain with him. He wields the same power over them.
2:8. “The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.”
Again, the thing gone from him is not the dream, but his sentence pronounced against them unless they could recall it and explain its meaning.
2:9. “But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.”
Satan is an equally hard master; and those who serve him, equally powerless against him. As Nebuchadnezzar knew all too well the minds of those who served him, so does Satan possess an even greater knowledge of those who do his bidding. Mere man is no match for the arch enemy of souls.
2:10. “The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asketh such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.”
This declares the worthlessness of mere worldly wisdom, and the limitations which bind the lives of those who know not God, for to leave Him out of the reckoning is to enclose everything within a very small compass. There was a man upon the earth, who could shew the king’s matter - Daniel. As for the king’s asking for information relative to a communication from God - and clearly the dream was such a communication - he is an utter fool who doesn’t seek to understand such messages, for it is only by understanding what God has said, that men can find eternal life. It is failure to attempt to understand what God has declared, that carries men first down to hell, and then into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
2:11. “And 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.”
It was a rare (hard) thing that the king required, but faith rejoices in the knowledge that nothing is too hard for God. He Who gives dreams gives also their interpretation, but only to His own. The Chaldean so-called wise men could speak vaguely of “the gods” with which their deluded minds peopled the air, but like many of their present-day counterparts, they knew nothing of the one true God.
2:12. “For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.”
Inasmuch as Babylon represents the world’s false religions, particularly the travesty centered in Rome, and the equally apostate Protestant system, the anger of the king against the charlatans who masqueraded as men of wisdom, portrays the true heart attitude of the world’s political bodies towards the apostate church: they hate it, and, as the book of Revelation makes clear, will destroy it at the mid point of the Tribulation.
2:13. “And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain, and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.”
The extension of the decree to include Daniel and his three friends, demonstrates the capriciousness of man. In chapter one the king had promoted them, but here in chapter two it is recorded, that by the edict of that same king “they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.” Beyond the obvious lesson of human fickleness, however, lies a spiritual lesson. As already noted, Nebuchadnezzar, king of the first of the Gentile empires to be given world-wide dominion, is a type of the final great world ruler who will exercise that dominion in the Tribulation. In this context, Daniel and his fellows represent the believing remnant in the Tribulation, and as Nebuchadnezzar sought to slay them, so will the beast emperor seek to slay that believing remnant. But the whole time of Gentile world dominion (from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to that of the beast) has the same character: it is a time when believers are exposed to the hatred of Satan exercised through the world rulers who are only his minions. In the preservation of Daniel, however, we see the symbolic disclosure of the fact that a believing remnant will be preserved through the Tribulation, as believers of every age are preserved, for though man may destroy the body, he cannot touch the soul, and to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, “which is far better” (Php 1:23).
2:14. “Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:”
Arioch, captain of the king’s executioners, means lion-like, and there can be little doubt that he is meant to remind us that the one who seeks man’s destruction is he who is described in Scripture as “a roaring lion” (1 Pe 5:8). Daniel’s addressing him with prudence and discretion, reminds us that the same wisdom should mark us in our dealings with all men, but particularly those who serve Satan, i.e., the unconverted.
2:15. “He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.”
Nebuchadnezzar, in issuing his hasty decree, is typical of the unconverted man, for as the Babylonian king was accountable to no one but himself, neither is the unbeliever - he is controlled only by a fallen, ruined, corrupted intelligence, emotion, and will. It is very different with the man who walks with God. He, in whom the intellect, emotion, and will are restored to the Divine image, and who lives in the consciousness of his responsibility to God, will be preserved from such folly, for God has written, “Be not rash with thy mouth” (Ec 5:2), “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ec 7:9).
2:16. “Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.”
There was absolute certainty in Daniel’s words when he said that he “would shew the king the interpretation,” and the question may well be asked, How could he be so certain? The answer is easily found. In 1:17 we read that “Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” This, combined with the assurance that God, Who never acts capriciously, had given the dream to communicate truth to Nebuchadnezzar, was the basis of the prophet’s confidence. The dream without the interpretation was useless. Daniel knew that in His Own good time God would reveal both. But Nebuchadnezzar had to learn what many - believers as well as unbelievers - also need to learn: the eternal God will not make His purposes subservient to the impatient haste of mortal man whose life is as “a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas 4:14). The sinner who would be saved must be saved in God’s time, and the saint who would acquire knowledge must wait for God to impart it a little at a time, as it is written, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa 28:9-10).
2:17. “Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:”
2:18. “That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning the secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”
Linked with Divine omniscience and omnipotence is human responsibility, as is also the fact that God more often works by means rather than miracles. He will not do for us what He has enabled us to do for ourselves, and nothing could be clearer than the fact that His will is revealed in His Word, so it is axiomatic that he who would know that will must read God’s book, one truth declared in that book being the need to ask of God in prayer, as it is written, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php 4:6), the assurance being given, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Mt 7:7), and again, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them” (Mt 18:20). Daniel - whose life was very obviously governed by these Divine principles, and aware that his special ability relative to visions and dreams, could not operate apart from knowing the dream - went to his three companions, and together they asked God to reveal the dream. How simple everything becomes when things are done God’s way! One reason why He commands us to pray is that our response to that command measures the state of our hearts. Prayer is the acknowledgement of total dependence on Him, while prayerlessness is the declaration of independence, which is pride - and as pride brought about the fall of Lucifer and of Adam, so will it bring about ours also.
We may learn here also the value of corporate prayer. Daniel didn’t pray alone: he and his three friends prayed together.
2:19. “Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”
Daniel was given the revelation at night (always symbolic of the world’s darkened spiritual state), reminding us that it is during earth’s spiritual night time, when Christ, the light of the world, is absent, that God reveals truth to His own; and since night is the time when men sleep, it reminds us also that the unconverted sleep spiritually, to awaken too late, in hell, unless aroused by the Gospel.
Having obtained what they had prayed for, Daniel immediately gave God thanks, and there can be no doubt that as soon as his three friends learned of this, they too returned thanks, reminding us that prayer consists of more than the presentation of petitions. Prayer in regard to present need should be accompanied by thanksgiving for past blessing, “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php 4:6).
2:20. “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:”
This grateful response of the prophet, given instantly apparently, rebukes the selfish attitude of many professed believers, who having their prayers answered, never even think of giving God thanks, that same selfishness being demonstrated in the fact that of the ten lepers cleansed, only one returned to express his gratitude (Lk 17:12-18).
Daniel’s first acknowledgement was relative to God’s wisdom and might, reminding us that it is His delight to exercise these attributes on behalf of His own, an assurance that ought to replace our anxious care with perfect peace, for, accompanying the command to pray, is the assurance, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Php 4:7).
2:21. “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”
The content of the dream, which foretold the succession of Gentile supremacy up until the end times, undoubtedly impelled these words. The passing years would see God’s word fulfilled, and thus testify to His wisdom and power. We who now live in those foretold end times, and have the testimony of history to confirm the accuracy of the prophecy, have more reason than any other people on earth to be satisfied to leave all our affairs in God’s hands, knowing that, “Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, but God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Ps 75:6-7). Nothing happens but what God ordains or permits.
The giving of wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding, is the OT declaration of what is written in Mt 13:12 “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” The man who knows Christ as Savior, and who walks in obedience, will go on to “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pe 3:18).
2:22. “He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.”
There is good reason to believe that the darkness and light mentioned here refer to the spiritual and intellectual condition rather than to literal darkness and light. What is darkness to the mind of the natural man, is not only known by God, but is revealed to those of His own who seek a deeper knowledge of Him.
2:23. “I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.”
Daniel’s words, “thou God of my fathers,” indicate his thankfulness that he was of the line of faith, one of those with whom God had entered into an unbreakable covenant to bless eternally all who are of that same line. We who are also of that same line of faith, ought to be equally thankful that by grace we belong to it.
The reference to “wisdom and might” should remind us that these are attributes of God, and as they were given to Daniel, so are they also given to every man of like precious faith. All the wisdom and might of God are at the disposal of the obedient believer.
Daniel’s three friends had prayed with him for the disclosure of the secret, but the revelation was given directly first only to him, and then through him, to the others, and in this we learn the truth of our mutual interdependence, as Paul has written, “As the body is one, and hath many members ... so also is Christ.... and the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members ... which seem to be more feeble, are necessary” (1 Co 12:14-22).
2:24. “Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.”
We aren’t told why Daniel had had access to the king in verse 16, but now must go to Arioch, nor is it necessary for us to know.
Daniel’s unselfish attitude shines out frequently in the Biblical record. His first concern was for the safety of those who were under the same sentence of death as he, “Destroy not the wise men of Babylon,” and in this we have the pattern for our own lives. The character of Christ should be revealed in the lives of those who profess to belong to Him, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (serve), and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).
It requires no great degree of spiritual intelligence to see here a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel’s words, “bring me in before the king,” remind us of him who said, “Here am I, send Me” (Isa 6:8), those words being the response of the Lord Jesus Christ when the Father sought for one to redeem fallen men. As there was no one but Daniel who could save those under sentence of death (no one but he knew the dream and the interpretation), neither was there anyone but Christ who could save condemned sinners, for only He possessed the perfection that God required in the One Who would be man’s Sin offering. As Daniel was willing to interpose himself between the condemned, and their angry sovereign, so did Christ interpose Himself between us and the God Whose laws we had broken.
Daniel had come to Babylon from Canaan, the place where God’s house was, and the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the type when He came from heaven, the place where God’s house is, down to earth. But as Babylon was the home of false religion, so was the world to which Christ came, Jerusalem being the very hub of that apostasy, for God spoke of the “Jews’ religion,” and declared that in spite of all the outward religious form, they were far from Him in heart. So was it with Babylon. It too was the result of apostasy, for it had been built by those who had rejected the knowledge of God.
There was, however, one difference between the coming of Daniel to Babylon, and Christ’s coming to earth: Daniel was carried there as a captive; Christ came to earth willingly. But even with this difference, there is also a similarity. From what is recorded of Daniel there can be little doubt that even as he was carried captive to Babylon, there was nevertheless perfect acceptance of God’s will similar to that of the Lord when He prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt 26:39).
The years are passed over in silence, during which Daniel quietly did God’s will and lived on pulse and water (both types of the written Word: pulse portraying that Word as spiritual food to nourish; and the water, type of the Word to refresh and cleanse). Those years answer to the thirty years of Christ’s life (also passed over in silence), when in obscurity He quietly did His Father’s will.
The day of Daniel’s examination, which disclosed his superiority over all others, answers to the beginning of the Lord’s public ministry, when His superiority over all others was also revealed in His words and miracles, the testimony of the multitude being, “Of a truth this is the Prophet,” and that of the officers sent to take Him, “Never man spake like this man” (Jn 7:40,46), and of Nicodemus, “No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (Jn 3:2).
Here it is recorded that Nebuchadnezzar decreed the death of all the wise men of Babylon because they were unable to declare the content and the meaning of his dream. But in the failure of the wise men to meet the king’s requirements, we see the typologic revelation of the state of all men. All have failed to meet God’s requirements, as it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one.... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Ro 3:10,23).
The decree included Daniel, but it is to be noted that he could declare the dream and its meaning, so that the sentence of death pronounced against him was unjust. He was being condemned to die, not for his own failure, but for that of others. Who can fail to see in this the foreshadowing of the Lord’s experience? “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.... he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned very one to his own way; and the lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:4-6).
Daniel and his three friends took the matter to God in prayer, and surely no spiritual mind will fail to see in this the foreshadowing of what took place in Gethsemane that night when the Lord, anticipating His death on the morrow, took with Him the three disciples, and prayed, as already noted above. Its being said in v.19 that, “Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision,” may indicate perhaps that Daniel and his friends also prayed at night.
Arioch is a double type, and in this present context he may be viewed as a figure or type of the law. He was commissioned to slay those whom the king had condemned, as the law must also slay those condemned by God. It was to Arioch that Daniel first presented himself, just as Christ first (in His life on earth) presented Himself before the law, as it were. In His earthly life He fulfilled every requirement of that law which must mete out death to all who broke it. In Daniel’s convincing Arioch that he had what was needed to meet the king’s demands, and stay the sentence of death, so Christ, in His perfect keeping of the law, proved that He had what God required so that guilty men might be delivered from the sentence of death.
2:25. “Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.”
As Arioch presented Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar with the announcement, “I have found a man,” so could the law present Christ before God, and say also, “I have found a man.”
In Ez 22:30 God said, “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” It wasn’t until that day when Pilate, pointing to the thorn-crowned Christ, said, “Behold the man” (Jn 19:5), that there stood revealed that long-sought Man. Daniel, like many another in the OT, is used here as a figure or type of that Man Who would come and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap.”
Arioch identified Daniel as “a man of the captives of Judah.” Christ, the great Antitype, was of the same tribe. Judah means he shall be praised, and there can be little doubt that Daniel was praised by those whose lives he saved, but this is only a faint echo of the praise that the redeemed of all ages will render to Christ eternally, for He transcends Daniel, as He does all the types. Daniel didn’t have to die to save the others. Christ did!
2:26. “The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?”
There must be a reason for the use of the two names, Daniel meaning my judge is God, and Belteshazzar meaning lord of the straitened’s treasure, and it may be that God wants to remind us that what Daniel was in His sight was very different from what he was in the eyes of the Chaldeans, just as what the Man Christ Jesus was in His sight, was also very different from what He was in the eyes of the world. There is a very great difference also between what we are in the eyes of God, and what we are in the view of that same ungodly world.
Whether the king’s question indicates skepticism or relief isn’t disclosed, nor is it important. The fact remains that Daniel was the man who could not only reveal the dream, but also its meaning, and this in spite of the assertion of the “wise men” that there wasn’t such a man upon the earth, verse 10. Nothing is impossible to God.
2:27. “Daniel answered in the presence of the king and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king:”
2:28. “But there is a God in heaven that reveal-eth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. The dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;”
Daniel was careful to declare the impossibility of any man’s either knowing the dream or its meaning, acknowledging that he himself was just as helpless in this respect as was any other. His determination to give all the glory to God, foreshadows the Lord’s determination to glorify the Father, not only by living a perfect life, but by offering that life up at Calvary. It would be well if all who profess faith in Christ had the same care for God’s glory.
2:29. “As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.”
It seems that on the night of the dream Nebuchadnezzar had been thinking about what the future held, though it is doubtful that his deliberations had embraced a future as distant as that which was included in the dream given by God. The very fact that Daniel was aware of what the king had been thinking on that night would itself go far to impress Nebuchadnezzar with the fact that this young Hebrew wasn’t just guessing.
2:30. “But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.”
Daniel, continuing to disclaim any honor for himself, declared that the secret had been revealed to him so that he might be able to pass on to the king this communication from God. The latter part of the verse in the KJ translation is somewhat ambiguous, for as other versions make clear it is not for the sakes of those who would explain the interpretation, but rather, that the king might learn what God had to say to him.
2:31. “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.”
The image which the king had seen in his dream was huge and dazzling, producing fear in the heart of the beholder.
2:32. “This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs (sides) of brass,”
2:33. “His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.”
As is explained in the verses which follow, the image represents the four great Gentile powers which, beginning with Babylon, would rule the world until the establishment of Christ’s millennial kingdom. The awe-inspiring magnificence of the image presents man’s view of things. He looks at the great kingdoms which have wielded world-wide sovereignty (potentially, even if not literally), and he sees a thing of awesome power and magnificence. But that is only man’s view, and it is very different from God’s.
2:34. “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.”
2:35. “Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”
2:36. “This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.”
There is nothing in the original language to indicate that what destroyed the image was anything other than an ordinary stone, but inasmuch as it is a figure or type of the Lord Jesus Christ, its seeming insignificance declares the truth that that same Christ Who will return in power and glory to destroy all Gentile power, is esteemed of as little worth today by a godless world as in the days of His earthly ministry.
Its being “cut out without hands” points to the truth that unlike all others, who are begotten through human generation, He was begotten by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was holy. There was in Him nothing of the corruption that mars all other men. The stone’s becoming a great mountain filling the whole earth, points to the universality of Christ’s coming glorious millennial reign.
The fact that the materials of the image became like chaff, declares the true worth of everything earthly. Measured by the standard of heaven, all of it is as worthless as chaff. What folly, then, for men to barter away their souls for such worthless things! Nor should we overlook the significance of the fact that it was the wind that carried away all that remained of the once glorious image. In Scripture, the wind is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit, see, e.g., Jn 3:8. The fact that it is He Who will carry them away, reminds us that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, coequal and coeternal.
2:37. “Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.”
2:38. “And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.”
The golden head represented the kingdom of Babylon, and also Nebuchadnezzar who ruled it, but it is to be noted that Babylon wasn’t the first great kingdom having actual or potential worldwide dominion: there had been others, e.g., Assyria and Egypt, but the Babylonian sovereign was the first to whom such power had been given after God had removed the scepter from the hand of disobedient Israel.
The fact that the head was of gold has something to teach relative to the character of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Despot though he was, his form of government was closer to God’s ideal than any of the others which followed, for it is God’s intention to have the world ruled by one Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, subject only to the Father, and having what Nebuchadnezzar lacked: omniscience and omnipotence combined with perfect love for God and man.
Nor does this exhaust the teaching of the golden head. A careful examination reveals that the duration of each of the four empires bears the same ratio to the whole period as the corresponding part representing it bears to the whole human body portrayed by the image. The sixty-six years of Babylonian dominion represent the same proportion to the duration of their combined dominions, as does the head to a normal human body. Only God could have portrayed with such accuracy, and and in such an amazing manner, the character and duration of Gentile dominion from the days of Nebuchadnezzar until the establishment of Christ’s millennial kingdom. It is little wonder that Satan has gone to such pains to try to discredit this book of Daniel, for it leaves the world’s “wise men” under the necessity of explaining how any mere man could have declared with such accuracy and detail, the course of more than twenty-five hundred years of history.
2:39. “And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.”
2:40. “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.”
2:41. “And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
2:42. “And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
2:43. “And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
The inferior kingdom that followed Babylon was Persia, which began as two separate kingdoms, Media and Persia (the two arms), but which became welded into one, Persia, portrayed by the silver breast. Like the gold which portrayed the Babylonian form of government, the inferior metal, silver, represents the form of Persian government. It was inferior, because being a bureaucracy, it diminished the authority of the king, and was therefore a departure from the Divine ideal of government. Note, for example, the inability of Darius to deliver Daniel whom he had been tricked into condemning, chapter six. Nebuchadnezzar was bound by no such restraints.
And again, it is to be noted that Persia’s dominion spanned two-hundred and seven years, from 538 BC till 331 BC, a period bearing the same ratio to the duration of the combined dominion of the four empires as does the breast to a normal human body.
But the silver upper body gave place to the belly and sides (not thighs of the KJ translation) of brass, the symbol of the Greek kingdom under Alexander, that succeeded Persia. And again, the lesser value of the brass as compared with silver, portrays a still further departure from the Divine ideal of government. The empire of Alexander was under the virtual control of the military.
The ratio of the sides to a normal human body, reflects also the duration of the empire’s existence in relation to the length of the combined rule of the four empires. The Grecian empire lasted from 331 BC till 21 BC.
Neither would the Greek kingdom continue, however: it was to be replaced by Rome, represented by the iron legs (the eastern and western halves of the empire), the length of the legs reflecting the length of Rome’s dominion from its absorption of the Grecian empire until its own dissolution in 476 AD. Rome was a democratic republic, that form of government being a still further departure from the Divine ideal, its inferiority being portrayed in the iron, a metal of lesser value than the brass.
The final Gentile kingdom, that of the beast during the Tribulation, is portrayed by the mixed iron and clay comprising the feet of the image, the inferior material being the symbolic announcement that the form of government (democratic) is furthest from God’s ideal. (It is to be noted, however, that since no man, except Christ, possesses the attributes necessary for the fulfillment of God’s ideal, our democratic form of government is by far the best, until Christ takes up the scepter of earth and inaugurates that reign that will bring earth’s tempestuous history to a peaceful close).
The relatively small size of the feet is the symbolic indication of the short duration of the beast’s kingdom. It will last only seven years.
History attests the accuracy of the prophecy. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome have succeeded one another in the foretold order; a fact which leaves the critic under the necessity of conceding the Divine authorship of Daniel, or of explaining how a mere mortal, writing c.600 BC could have so accurately prewritten history.
The attempt to relegate the writing of the book to a later date has been negated by the work of competent scholars.
With the iron legs we are brought, not only to the Roman empire, but to an end of that part of the prophecy confirmed by history; and in regard to the seeming demise of the Roman empire in 476 AD, it is to be noted that it didn’t really die. The “head” was only “wounded,” Re 13:3, and what is portrayed by the feet and ten toes of the image, is Rome revived as a ten-kingdom coalition of nations under the beast, and that will rule the earth in the Tribulation. But as the whole image was destroyed by the crushing of its feet under “the stone cut out without hands” verse 34, so will Gentile power be destroyed by Christ “the Stone” when He returns to end the Tribulation, and establish His millennial kingdom of peace and righteousness.
It is significant that the prophetic panorama presents only these four empires as having actual or potential universal dominion, and that while, since the fall of Rome, others have sought such dominion, none has achieved it. We should note also that the long interval between the fall of Rome, and its coming revival as the ten-kingdom empire of the Tribulation era, is ignored in the prophecy just because none of the Gentile powers in that interval has had actual or potential universal sovereignty.
It is to be remembered also that each empire absorbed something of the culture of its predecessors, so that there is found in Rome the accumulation of
what had characterized the others, e.g., the religion of Babylon, the laws of Persia, and the culture and learning of Greece, our own society having inherited not only these things, but also the military character of Rome. The ten-kingdom empire that will emerge in the coming Tribulation, will also continue to display all of these features.
Because of the iron and clay composition of the feet which portray the final ten-kingdom form of Gentile dominion, we read in verse 41 that “the kingdom shall be divided,” and in verse 42 that “the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken (brittle),” and in verse 43 that “they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” There could be no clearer description of what marks our own day, and the democratic form of government spreading over the earth. There is division even in the midst of seeming unity. Brittleness (weakness) is also inherent in a democratic form of government. The inevitable necessary compromise impedes and weakens effective rule, as is apparent in the increasing anarchy in democratic nations. And the fact that “they shall not cleave one to another” scarcely needs comment. The so called “brotherhood of man” has become a mere shibboleth in a society where it is every man for himself, and a dog-eat-dog attitude governs virtually every relationship.
Only God could have prewritten such an accurate description of our latter day society.
2:44. “And in the days of these (ten) kings 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 for ever.”
2:45. “Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; 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 ten kings portrayed by the ten toes of the image represent the ten-kingdom coalition that will be the old Roman Empire revived in the Tribulation and ruled by the beast. No intelligent reader of Scripture can doubt that out of the present European confederation of Common Market countries will emerge that final ten-kingdom form which will be destroyed by the Lord returning in power and glory at the end of the Tribulation to judge the nations and establish His millennial kingdom.
Are you tempted to succumb to the spirit of skepticism that is in the world today; to wonder whether God has indeed lost control; to doubt that Christ ever will return; to question whether there will ever be a reign of peace? Then read again this prophecy given to a heathen king twenty-six hundred years ago. It is more than the declaration of God’s plan for the ages: it is His challenge to Satan, and to rebel man, to alter one word of that plan. Neither Satan with all his cunning, nor man with all his permitted rebellion, has been able in those twenty-six hundred years to change even a word. There are at most a few brief years to run their God-appointed course, and then, they too, having become history, will verify that the events to which they bear witness were all foreknown, and written in symbol in the parts of the great image, from its golden head to its clay feet.
In the face of history’s confirmation of the events symbolically foretold in the image, from its golden head to its iron legs, can anyone, except a man refusing irrefutable evidence, doubt that the events portrayed by the feet will be as precisely fulfilled as those portrayed in the parts that represent twenty-six hundred years that are now history, since the feet represent a mere seven years?
2:46. “Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odors unto him.”
The king, whose recent decree had condemned Daniel to death with the other wise men, verse 13, and who is now found bowing at his feet, is a figure of what is yet to be. The day is not far off when the nations, which Nebuchadnezzar here represents, will bow at the feet of the One they too had not only condemned, but executed at Calvary, as it is written, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php 2:9-11).
2:47. “The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.’
As we have noted already, Daniel’s ability to relate and explain the dream, and thus deliver from death those whom the king had condemned, is a figure of what Christ did at Calvary. The glory therefore, ascribed to God by Nebuchadnezzar, points to the glory brought to the Father as a result of Christ’s perfect work.
2:48. “Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.”
No spiritual mind will fail to see in Daniel’s enrichment and promotion, a figure of Christ’s coming glory, when the scepter of earth will be placed in His hand, and He rules over all creation as King of kings, and Lord of lords.
2:49. “Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.”
In Daniel’s requested promotion of his three friends we have a foreshadowing of the elevation of Israel to a place of supremacy in the millennial kingdom, the number three (the number of resurrection) reminding us that she will have experienced resurrection out of spiritual death by trusting Christ as Savior during the Tribulation era, as does every man who trusts Him as Savior.
The typological picture, however, goes beyond earthly Israel. We have here also a figure of the transcendent grace that has led the Lord to desire to have us with him to share His coming glorious reign, as it is written, “If we suffer (endure), we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim 2:12), the difference between us and Israel being that as she will rule for Christ from the earthly Jerusalem, over the millennial earth, we will be reigning with Him over that same earth, but from the Jerusalem which is in heaven.
“... but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.” He had the preeminence, as will also the One he portrays, as it is written, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col 1:18).