Nebuchadnezzar had troubling images during his sleep that he could not understand. All of the various mystics advising the leader of the Babylonian empire were “summoned to tell the king his dreams.” This was an unusual request. Rather than asking for an interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to reveal what they could not possibly know. If they did not tell him the facts of what he had seen, he promised that they would be “torn limb from limb.”
Daniel was part of the group at risk. When he understood that his life might soon be taken from him, he asked about the urgency of Nebuchadnezzar’s request. When he was given further details about the king’s demands, he asked for an audience with this powerful ruler, “that he might show the interpretation to the king.” Meanwhile, Daniel asked his friends to “seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.”
Their plea to the Almighty yielded a great blessing and saved many lives, since “the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night.” Daniel’s immediate response was praise. “Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings.” This is one of the themes of the entire book of Daniel. The Lord God is in charge of all the powers of the earth.
When the young Hebrew prophet appeared before Nebuchadnezzar he did not claim credit for his accurate message. “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and He has made known to king Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.” Daniel insisted that the solution to the problem came to him, “not because of any wisdom I have.” He gave glory to God and also showed appropriate deference to the emperor.
The king’s dreams were full of important prophecies that would be played out over many centuries. Combined with other visions received by Daniel, we can know for certain that the image of gold, silver, bronze, and iron/clay stood for four regimes: Babylon, Media/Persia, Greece, and Rome.
Most importantly, during the time of the Romans, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.” This new eternal realm “shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end.” While other rulers may come and go, there is a new resurrection world ruled by Jesus. The Son of God’s very unusual government “shall stand forever.”
Nebuchadnezzar was very impressed by Daniel’s report. “Truly your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a Revealer of mysteries.” The truth regarding several successive empires was a message that God had chosen to make known. Why did He do so?
First, we remember that the Almighty does everything for His own glory. We should be impressed with the Lord of creation and providence. His astounding uncovering of what false spiritual advisers could never have guessed was in direct response to the pleas of His beloved servants. These events came about for the right use of the Lord’s prophet, Daniel. It was also part of God’s project of humbling Nebuchadnezzar, a very proud ruler.
Finally, Daniel 2 is for the encouragement of the Lord’s chosen people in every age. We enter into the drama of a tragedy averted and give glory to the Father and the Son. Our faith is strengthened by these prophetic words, and we know for certain that the kingdom of Jesus is truly forever.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, You are sovereign over both our waking and sleeping. You are aware of every detail of history and have a full understanding of all that is yet to come. This is not merely a knowledge of the future, for You have decreed all things that will come to pass. You are God, and there is no other. In various times and places You have chosen to reveal a small portion of Your great knowledge to Your servants the prophets. You gave them revelations in visions, events, and in words. You blessed them with a greater knowledge of who You are, and revealed deep and hidden things about the past, present, and future according to Your holy will. You never said more then You intended. You never spoke incorrectly. Your Word is perfect. You can make a slave the most important man in a mighty empire when You choose to reveal mysteries through a humble man. You ordain the rising and falling of kings and kingdoms. Beyond all of the powers of men, and all of their authority, You have brought about the coming of the Your Son’s reign. You inaugurated this new world during the time of a very impressive empire among men. That empire is now long gone, but Your church continues to this day. It is on the offensive through numerous struggles, and even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. You are a Revealer of mysteries, now wonderfully contained in written revelation. Your Scripture is a living Word that daily brings the breath of life to Your people in Your church.