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Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream


(The Great Image of Daniel 2)


The Wise Men’s Admission


What statement did Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, make to his wise men whom he had assembled?


He said unto them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” Daniel 2:3.


After being threatened by death if they did not make known the dream and the interpretation, what did the wise men say to the king?


“Thee astrologers answered the king, “There is not a man 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 men.” Verses 10, 11.    


Daniel and the Dream


After the wise men had thus confessed their inability to do what the king required, who offered to interpret the dream?


“At this time, Daniel went into the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.” Verse 16. 


After Daniel and his fellows had sought God earnestly, how were the dream and its interpretation revealed to Daniel?


“During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.” Verse 19.


When brought before the king, what did Daniel say?


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 head as you lay on your bed are these.” Verses 27,28.


What did Daniel say the king had seen in his dream?


“As you were lying there, O king, 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 other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind. You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue – an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.” Verses 29-31. [Great image]


Of what were the different parts of the image composed?


“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 clay.” Verses 33,34.


By what means was the image broken to pieces?


“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.” Verse 34.


What became of the various parts of the image?


“Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time 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.” Verse 35.


Daniel and the Interpretation


With what words did Daniel begin the interpretation of the dream?


“You, O king, 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 mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold.” Verses 37, 38.


Note – The character of the Neo-Babylonian Empire is fittingly indicated by the nature of the material composing that portion of the image by which it was symbolized – the head of gold. It was “the golden kingdom of a golden age.” The metropolis, Babylon, reached a height of unrivaled magnificence.


What was the nature of the next kingdom?


“After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the earth.” Verse 39.


Who was the last Babylonian king?


“That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.” Daniel 5: 30,31.


To whom was Belshazzar’s kingdom given?


Peres: “Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Verse 28.


By what is the kingdom of the Medes and Persians – the Persian Empire – represented in the great image?


“Its chest and arms of silver.” Daniel 2:32.


By what is the Greek, or Macedonian, Empire, which succeeded the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, represented in the image?


“Its belly and thighs of brass.” Daniel 2:32. 


“Next, a third kingdom, one of brass, will rule over the whole earth.” Verse 39.


Note – That the empire which replaced the Persian was the Greek is clearly stated in Daniel 8: 5-8, 20, 21. Concerning the two stages of the Greco-Macedonian Empire – first under Alexander the Great and then divided under his successors or generals: Seleucus, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Cassander.


What is said of the fourth kingdom?


“Finally, 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.” Verse 40.


Note – It was well known that the great world power that absorbed the fragments of the empire of Alexander the Great was Rome.


What scripture refers to Romans emperors as ruling the world?


“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” Luke 2:1. 


Note – Describing the Roman conquests, Gibbon uses the very imagery employed in the vision of Daniel 2. He says, “The arms of the republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war. Advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and the ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome.” – The History and Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 38, par. 1, under “General Observations,” at the close of the chapter.


Man’s Failure to Unite Nations


What was indicated by the mixture of clay and iron in the feet and toes of the image?

“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.” 


Note – The barbarian tribes that overran the Roman Empire formed the kingdoms that developed into the nations of modern Europe.


In what prophetic language was the varying strength of the ten kingdoms of the divided empire indicated?


“As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. [Literally, brittle]. Verse 42. 


Were any efforts to be made to reunite the divided empire of Rome?


“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.” Verse 43.


Note – Charlemagne, Charles V, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler all tried to reunite the broken fragments of the Roman Empire and failed. By marriage and intermarriage of royalty ties have been formed with a view to strengthening and cementing together the shattered kingdom, but none have succeeded. The element of disunion remains. Many political revolutions and territorial changes have occurred in Europe since the end of the Western Empire in A.D. 476; but its divided state still remains.

This remarkable dream, as interpreted by Daniel, represents in the briefest form, and yet with unmistakable clearness, a series of world empires from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the close of earthly history and the setting up of the everlasting kingdom of God. History confirms this prophecy. Babylon was the leading world power at the time of his dream, 603 B.C. The succeeding Persian Empire, which included the Medes also, began its first year in 538 B.C. (Most historians date the fall of the city in the latter part of the preceding year, 539 B.C.). The victory of the Greek forces at the battle of Arbela, 331 B.C. marked the downfall of the Persian Empire, and the Macedonian Greeks then became the undisputed world power of that time. After the battle of Pydna, in Macedonia, in 168 B.C. no power in the world was strong enough to withstand the Romans; and at that time, therefore, world leadership may be said to have passed from the Greeks to the Romans, and the fourth kingdom was fully established.  The Division of Rome into ten kingdoms, definitely foretold in the vision recorded in the seventh chapter of Daniel, occurred in the century preceding A.D. 476.


What is to take place in the days of these kingdoms?


“In the times 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.” Verse 44.


Note – This verse foretells the establishment of another universal kingdom, the kingdom of God. This kingdom is to overthrow and supplant all existing earthly kingdoms, and is to stand forever. The time for setting up of this kingdom was to be ‘In the days of these kings.” This cannot refer to the four preceding empires, or kingdoms, for they were not contemporaneous, but successive; neither can it refer to an establishment of the kingdom at Christ’s first advent, for the ten kingdoms which arose out of the ruins of the Roman Empire were not yet in existence. It must therefore refer to the divided kingdoms, or nations, that succeeded Rome, represented by the present nations of Europe. This final kingdom, then, is yet future.


In what announcement in the New Testament is the establishment of the kingdom of God made known?


“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were voices in heaven which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15.   


For what have we been taught to pray?


Your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10.   






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