THE TERRIFYING DREAM
Daniel's Request to See the King (24-30)
After a time of thanksgiving, Daniel then requested Arioch not destroy the spiritual mystics, but rather give him audience with the king to relay the interpretation of the dream (24). Arioch brought Daniel to the king with great haste, announcing to the king that one of the exiles of Judah, a young man they had named Belteshazzar, held the interpretation (25).
Once before the king, Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel if he had the interpretation. Daniel made it clear that none of the king's charlatans had had a hand in figuring the mystery out (26-27). In fact, the mystery was revealed through Yahweh, the God of heaven. Daniel assured Nebuchadnezzar that Yahweh had given the dream because He had determined He would reveal what would take place in the "latter days.”
This is a term used over a dozen times in the Old Testament to refer to the days extending from the time the exiles returned to their land and the coming of Messiah. The days following the resurrection of Christ in the New Testament were referred to as the "last days" (27).
Before Daniel began to interpret the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, he explained to the king:
a) the circumstance of his dream (28);
b) that the thoughts and images making up his dream were futuristic in meaning (29);
c) the interpretation did not come because of Daniel's special gift of being smart, but because God was showing kindness by revealing to Nebuchadnezzar things to happen in the future (30).
Daniel Shows the King His Dream (31-44)
First, Daniel told the king what he saw in his dream that so disturbed him.
An image of extraordinary brightness was standing before Nebuchadnezzar, and the image had the power to create terror in the great king's heart (31).
The image Nebuchadnezzar saw had:
a) a head of gold,
b) a chest of silver,
c) bronze abdomen and thighs,
d) legs of iron, and
e) feet of iron and clay (32-33).
The image obviously declined in value from head to toe, likely symbolizing the deteriorating of human power and glory.
Further in the dream, a stone with a life of its own was cut out of a mountain, but, without human help, it struck the image and turned it into dust, then drove it like chaff until not a trace was found left. The stone then became a great mountain, filling the whole earth (34-35). This all was to illustrate in dream-form that human power and beauty deteriorate and the human powers Yahweh was showing Nebuchadnezzar were facing a catastrophic fate. Its catastrophic end would come with a missile-like rock. The rock would pulverize the powers depicted in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, and then the rock would become an immovable mountain in the place of the human statue.
Daniel Tells the Interpretation (36-45)
1) The gold head was Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire. It was considered the head because the idea of world empires originated with the Babylonians. Daniel confirmed to Nebuchadnezzar that his world empire was given to him by Yahweh. Gold was an appropriate metal to represent Babylon for the profuse gold used in the buildings of Babylon and all the gold this kingdom accumulated (36-38).
2) The silver chest most likely represented the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians who conquered Babylon. The silver arms were thought to portray the two ethnic components of this kingdom—the Medes and the Persians. The chest enclosing the heart was Cyrus the Persian king having a heart to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Silver represented the empire’s insatiable thirst for wealth.
3) The bronze abdomen and thighs most likely represented the Grecian kingdom founded by Alexander the Great. Bronze was the metaphoric symbol of war, as weapons were made of bronze, and war was the most prominent feature of Alexander's rule (39).
4) The iron legs most likely represented the Roman Republic which crushed and broke into pieces all of the remaining successive kingdom. When Rome crushed what was left of the Hellenistic (Grecian) kingdom, it destroyed all previous kingdoms (40).
5) The feet of iron and clay likely represented the Roman Empire which followed the Roman Republic and then devolved into dictatorship beginning with Caesar Augustus, ending up in mixture and decline as it was absorbed into Germanic tribes. The Roman Empire was not conquered as much as it crumbled from the mixture within. The ten toes might have represented all the empires which would arise out of the Roman Empire (41-43).
Examples of a Few Post-Roman World Empires:
Holy Roman Empire: Middle Ages
Byzantine Empire: Middle Ages
Mongol Empire: Middle Ages
Umayyad Caliphate Empire: Post Mohammed Death
Russian Empire (18th Century)
Ottoman Empire (17th through 18th Century)
Spanish Empire (15th through 17th Century)
British Empire (18th and 19th Century)
Second French Empire (19th Century)
American Empire (20th)
The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain (44-45)
Finally, there was a stone cut out of the mountain. It represented a completely different kind of a Kingdom made up of a completely different substance. It was the Messianic Kingdom which would be set up during the days of those crumbling empires, kings, and kingdoms.
The nature of the Kingdom would be:
While the "cut stone" Kingdom would co-exist with statue kingdoms, in the end, the "cut stone" Kingdom would ultimately prevail and the other kingdoms would end up being no more. Daniel assured the king that the dream he had dreamed along with its interpretation was going to be a certainty.
In essence, Daniel was prophesying that the church and God's people would ultimately prevail over all oppressive regimes and empires and Jesus would one day become King of all. The great empires would finally become dust.
The Humility of Nebuchadnezzar (46-49)
Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and honored Daniel as the representative of Yahweh. He then began to give Daniel god-like worship (46). It would seem Daniel said something to Nebuchadnezzar which changed the king from worshiping Daniel to causing the king to answer Daniel and acknowledge:
a) Daniel's God was the true God
b) Daniel's God was the true King
c) Daniel's God was the true Revealer of mysteries (47)
Daniel was then given high honor, great gifts, and an extraordinary promotion as governor of Babylon and chief of the wise men (48).
Daniel remembered his friends and had them appointed his officers to do his job while he remained at court to serve the king personally (49).