Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonian empire, had a disturbing dream. He demanded his wisemen to not only interpret it, but to first tell him the dream he had. None of them could do it of course, because in the end, they were a bunch of spiritual frauds. As a result of their inability, Neb. threatened their lives, but God reveals to Daniel the dream and the interpretation
And as God would providentially have it, Daniel has been placed in a position where he could testify before the most powerful leader in the known world at the time.
The dream is a prophecy about God’s dealings with the gentile nations, what Jesus describes in Luke 21:24 as the time of gentiles (See also Romans 11:25).
Daniel reveals to Neb. information only he could know, which means only God can know. This revelation to Daniel placed him in a position of highest respect as far as Neb. is concerned. Because he would know that the information Daniel gave him had to be divine, because only a divine being could know the secrets of his own mind. In addition to telling Neb. his own dream with out prior information, Daniel explains to him why God gave him the dream to begin with.
What follows with Daniel’s words to Neb. is one of the most amazing prophecies God has revealed in Scripture.
I. The Dream (2:28-35)
Daniel tells Neb. that his dream entails events that take place in “the latter-days.”
The latter-days or the last days is an expression understood by the Jews as God’s dealings with mankind as to be consummated or concluded historically in the times of the Messiah. Those days also include the intervening times between the first and second advent of Christ. This vision of the latter-days was of an enormous statue. In fact, the image of a giant statue in chapter 3 may had been Neb’s. personal attempt to reproduce the representation of what he saw, but of course, all in gold.
This statue was is described by Daniel as being excellent in splendor, meaning it reflected light and was dazzling to behold; and it was awesome, the idea of gigantic or super enormous, which could be the reason Neb. was troubled by its appearance.
The statue was also composed of 4 specific metals: Gold, silver, bronze and iron. There was a 5th “metal” that was more of a mixture than an actual metal of clay or ceramic and iron.
Each metal related to a particular section of the body on the statue.
Gold = head
Silver = arms and chest
Bronze = belly and thighs
Iron = legs
Iron and ceramic = feet and toes.
One will note that as the metals move down the body of the statue, they become less precious or valuable. But, they are metals that become stronger in their qualities.
But, as Neb. beholds this magnificent statue, a rock, described as being cut out without hands, smashes the statue to pieces, crushing it to dust where the wind scatters the pieces. The rock then grows and becomes a massive mountain that filled the earth. This last image of a rock smashing the statue demonstrates an extraordinary, supernatural power. As we will see later, a kingdom, not from men, that takes universal dominion over all the other kingdoms.
II. The Interpretation
Daniel then turns to interpreting the dream for Neb. He explains the dream as a panorama of four gentile kingdoms. All scholars agree the four sections of the statue represents four empires. They are divided, however, over their identification. Some want the empires to exist before the book of Daniel was written so as to remove the prophetic element from the work. The reality, however, is that Daniel foresaw these four kingdoms in his future, because God revealed this to him.
1) The Head of Gold – Pictured the Neb. and the Babylonian empire. He is considered the greatest of kings. The prophet Jeremiah even records God’s words of “blessing” upon Neb. and his divinely irresistible authority as the king of Babylon (Jer. 27:6,7). The Babylonian kingdom ruled for nearly 70 years before they were replaced by the Medo-Persians.
2) The silver arms – Represented the Medo-Persian empire, the two arms representing the two portions of the empire. It was originally ruled by Cyrus.
3) The bronze belly and thighs – Represented the Greek empire brought to world prominence by the exploits of Alexander the Great.
4) The Leg of Irons – Three terms describe this empire as “breaks in pieces,” “shatters, “crushes.” Iron is strong and can damage all the other empires. Speaks of the power Rome wielded through out the known world at that time. The two legs can speak of the division between the Western empire in Rome and the Eastern in Constantinople.
Up until this point, most conservative, evangelical scholars agree with this four-fold identification
of these four empires. Where they disagree is to what the toes signify.
There are a few points to ponder when identifying the toes of the statue:
A divided kingdom – clay or ceramic and iron mixed together. Rather than an united realm, it may mean it is some sort of federation. Yet, the federation will have strong members (iron) and not so strong members (ceramic).
Will be a powerful kingdom – It retains the iron that crushed and broke into pieces like the original Roman empire.
The ten toes are identical to the ten horns as described in Daniel 7 – The picture of these ten toes matches the similar description of ten horns seen by Daniel in a vision of an indescribable beast (the bookend “vision” of the Aramaic portion of Daniel’s book). Later, in Revelation 13:1, 17:2, these ten horns appear again. These are ten kingdoms that according to this vision here in Daniel 2, will be displaced by the rock cut out without hands.
Basically, just before the second advent of Christ, 10 nations of unequaled strength will rise out of what is left of the Roman empire.