Daniel 2:1 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.
Kings in the ancient world paid attention to their dreams because they were thought to foreshadow future events. Pharaoh dreamed of seven skinny cows eating seven fat cows, and it foreshadowed seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine (Genesis 41:1-40). God also spoke to the king of Gerar in a dream (Genesis 20:6).
Nebuchadnezzar employed professional interpreters, but he was not sure they were helpful. So instead of telling them the dream, and getting their interpretation, he demanded they tell him the dream. Then he could be confident their interpretation was correct.
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 honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me (Daniel 2:5-6).
When the interpreters objected, the king became so angry that he ordered the execution of all the interpreters in Babylon (Daniel 2:12), also known as wise men. This included Daniel and his friends.
Daniel 2:14 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.
When the executioner came to see him, Daniel did not overreact. Instead, he asked the king for time, and his request was granted. Then he explained the situation to his friends, and they began to pray. That same night the dream was revealed to Daniel in a vision (Daniel 2:19).
Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever. . . . He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him (Daniel 2:20-22), he said.
There is nothing unknown to God, and he can reveal things to his people. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God (James 1:5), wrote James. If you need to solve a problem, God can help you think it through. If you lose your car keys, he can help you find them. But if we fail to pray, we may forfeit the help that is available to us.
Daniel 2:26 The king asked Daniel . . . Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?
The answer to both questions was, Yes. The king dreamed of large and dazzling statue. The head was made of gold; the chest and arms were made of silver; the belly and thighs were made of bronze; the legs were made of iron; and the feet were made of iron and clay. A rock struck the statue on the feet, and broke it to bits. Then the rock became a mountain, and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35).
The interpretation of the dream was equally straightforward. Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold. After him would come three other kingdoms (Daniel 2:36-43). These are not identified, but are commonly recognized as Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.
The rock that crushed the statue and grew into a mountain is the kingdom of God. [T]he God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed . . . . It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever (Daniel 2:44), Daniel explained.
History has shown this prophecy to be remarkably accurate. The four kingdoms Daniel described have come and gone. But during the time of the Roman Empire, Christ came into the world and established the kingdom of God. For two thousand years, that kingdom has been spreading throughout the earth, and it will endure forever. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15), wrote John.
This passage also reminds us that God is in control of history. The world may seem chaotic at times, but it is not random. God created the world to prepare a kingdom for his Son (Matthew 25:34), and he is preparing us to live in it forever. The world is moving toward this predetermined goal, and it will arrive at just the right time. The only way to be on the right side of history is to be in the kingdom of God.
Reflection and Review
Why should we pray when we are confused?
How is the kingdom of God filling the earth?
What is the benefit of knowing the future?