Study Notes

Daniel 2:31-49


As you recall from last week's study, King Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed something which had disturbed him greatly. He called the so-called wise men of his kingdom together to interpret the dream, but told them that they first had to tell him what he had dreamed. He wanted to know whether they would be able to interpret it properly. When the men claimed that no one on earth could do such a thing, he commanded that all of the wise men in the kingdom of Babylon be put to death.

Now, Daniel and his three friends had not been invited to the dream interpretation meeting, but they were to fall victim to the same command. The king granted them some time, and they went to prayer. God revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel in a night vision. We left off when Nebuchadnezzar was told by Daniel that he'd been given a vision of what would take place in the latter days.

Daniel said,

Dan. 2:29 "As for you, O king, {while} on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place."

Before interpreting the dream, Daniel made sure to note that this was not his own wisdom - that God should receive all credit for this interpretation.

And so, as we pick up chapter two in verse 31, Daniel begins to reveal the dream.

2:31-35 The King's Dream

Nebuchadnezzar's dream was of a statue made of several different materials. Then a stone struck the statue's feet and crushed the entire image, which blew away to nothing.

The stone, on the other hand, turned into a huge mountain. Such a strange dream.

2:36 The Interpretation

Once Nebuchadnezzar heard that Daniel truly knew the dream, he was convinced that Daniel also had the interpretation.

Daniel now begins to describe to the king of Babylon what each section of the image was.

2:37-38 King Of Kings

The first part of the image was the head of gold. Daniel says that Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold, calling him "the king of kings."

It seems somewhat offensive to refer to a man as "the king of kings," doesn't it? But we must remember that while this phrase is a New Testament title of Jesus Christ (1Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16), in the Old Testament it is used as a description. Truly, Nebuchadnezzar was the king of kings. His rule and reign had conquered many nations, and the men who sat on the thrones of these nations served him. Again, Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, was later called a king of kings (Ezra 7:12) for the same reason.

The Head Of Gold

The head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, Babylon. Just as the king personified the kingdom, so too did its capital city. Isaiah referred to Babylon as "the golden city" (Isaiah 14:4, KJV). Historically, Herodotus noted his amazement at the sheer quantity of gold in Babylon. It seemed to cover nearly everything. Even the walls around the city, remembered for such size and width that two chariots could race on them, were plated with gold. Babylon was rightly represented as the head of gold.

God Has Given

Babylon had conquered the Assyrian Empire, and gained authority over many nations. Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom stretched south of Jerusalem, and east and north to surround the entire territory covered by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that this power and authority came from God. In fact, the Lord had spoken through Ezekiel,

Ezek. 30:25 ‘Thus I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh will fall. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I put My sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt.

Obviously, the Babylonians were not righteous. How, then, could this power and authority have come from God? For His own purposes. Remember, Paul told the Romans,

Rom. 13:1 Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Although it is hard for us to understand, every authority, be it nationally, locally, or vocationally, has been put in place by God for a reason. As the Scripture says,

Col. 1:16 For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him.

The kingdom of Babylon had been established by God for God's own purposes. As Daniel had said earlier to the king,

Dan. 2:21 "...He removes kings and establishes kings..."

2:39 The Breast And Arms Of Silver

Daniel prophesied that after the fall of Babylon, a second kingdom would arise. This was represented in the image by the breast and arms made of silver.

This prophecy was fulfilled in 539 BC when Cyrus, the king of Persia, and Darius, the king of Media, besieged Babylon. We will see this take place at the end of chapter five. At this point, the world power became the Medo-Persian empire.

An Inferior Kingdom

Notice that Daniel calls it an inferior kingdom. He is not speaking of strength or size. Certainly, the Medo-Persian empire was stronger and larger than the Babylonian Empire. However, it lacked the unity and structure of government that Babylon had. These truths are evident even in the image. Traveling down from head to toe, as the metals decrease in value they increase in strength.

The Belly And Thighs Of Bronze

The third kingdom was, in the dream, the image's belly and thighs made of bronze. This kingdom turns out to be the Greek Empire, under Alexander the Great. Notice that Daniel prophesied that this third kingdom would "rule over all the earth." Not only did Alexander defeat Darius the Mede's army, but he soon had defeated everyone else as well. You may have heard in high school history class that at the age of 33, Alexander sat down and wept because there was no one left to conquer.

The Greek Empire lasted from 330 BC to 63 BC.

2:40 The Legs Of Iron

The fourth kingdom Daniel described was one of iron. This kingdom would crush everything. We know that this kingdom was Rome. The Roman Empire crushed and destroyed everything and everyone in its path. "There was no empire in world history that so crushed all of its enemies as Rome did. They were not satisfied just to take over a country and make them pay taxes, they slaughtered them. Rome crushed the peoples so that they would never even consider rebelling." (Hocking)

2:41-43 Feet Of Iron Mixed With Clay

Now the image progresses down to the toes, with the iron becoming mixed with clay. Notice that this is not described as a fifth kingdom, but an extension of the fourth one.

The toes represent ten divisions in the Roman empire at the time it is destroyed. This takes us into a vision that is yet future. Remember, the Roman Empire never divided into 10 sections, nor did anyone ever conquered it. It collapsed from the inside.

The vision tells us that in the future, the Roman Empire will arise again, with ten kings ruling over it. Some parts as strong as before, but other parts weaker. And all of it will be divided.

This kingdom is personified in a later vision of Daniel's as a beast with ten horns. From these ten kings, the antichrist will arise and subdue three of the kings.

This is further explained in the book of Revelation. The devil appears in Revelation 12 as a red dragon having seven heads and ten horns. Then, in chapter 13, the antichrist arises with these same ten horns and seven heads. In chapter 17, these things are explained to John by an angel. The seven heads are seven mountains, which speak of the city of Rome. The ten horns are the ten kings. The angel says,

Rev. 17:13-14 "These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings..."

The Lamb will overcome them. Who is the Lamb? Jesus Christ.

2:44-45 The Crushing Stone

The imagery used in Daniel is that of a stone crushing the kingdoms. Jesus has often been referred to as a stone. In Psalm 118, He is...

Ps. 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner {stone.}

The Father spoke of Him in Isaiah,

Isa. 28:16 ...Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone {for} the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes {in it} will not be disturbed.

Jesus spoke of Himself in this way as well.

Matt. 21:42-44 Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER {stone;} THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES'? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."

So there is the choice: you can fall on the stone, or the stone will fall on you. The revived Roman Empire led by the antichrist will not fall on the stone - it will fall on them. And when that happens, the stone will become a mountain. The kingdom that is established on earth in those days will be called the "Millennial Kingdom," when Jesus rules and reigns on earth for a thousand years. Then, He will establish a permanent kingdom - with a new heavens and a new earth. That kingdom will last for all eternity.

We will talk more about these things in chapter seven of the book of Daniel.

2:46-49 Advancement In Babylon

Nebuchadnezzar recognized that Daniel's God was more powerful than those which he worshiped. Unfortunately, as we get into chapter three, we will see that viewing himself as the head of gold will lead to terrible sin.

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