Daniel 2 Bible Study Lesson: A vision of things to come

Book of Daniel Bible Study Chapter 2:24-49

Daniel 2: A vision of things to come

by I Gordon

We saw in the first part of Daniel chapter 2 that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream... Well, more like a nightmare for it shook him to the core! Now so far we haven't heard the actual dream - we've just seen his reaction and that was to warn all his wise men that they will be toast if they don't tell him both the dream and its interpretation. And that is no easy feat! This study will focus on the dream itself and the prophetic and practical implications for our lives. Let's have a look.

Daniel, the dream interpreter

Dan 2:25-28 'Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, 'Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.' Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, 'I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.' The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), 'Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?' 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 mind as you lay on your bed are these...'

There are plenty of mysteries that are unknowable and unfathomable to natural man.  [1]  Knowing someone else's dream? Impossible! Understanding the future? Unknowable! Stating someone else's dream about the future? Off the richter! So Daniel comes to the king and the king asks whether he can declare the dream and its interpretation. Now remember that the king wanted both the dream itself and its interpretation... No easy feat! It's like someone demanding an answer to a question they hadn't yet asked. Now note that Daniel is very careful to make sure that only the true God gets the glory for revealing the mystery surrounding the dream. So he answers  '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  .' And hopefully Daniel put a rather large pause between the words 'about' and 'but' just to build the suspense a little. 'No one can explain it...', he says. '...but there is a God in Heaven who can!' We also have to be careful to make sure that it is God who gets the glory for our lives and actions. As Paul said, 'we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.' (2 Cor 4:5)

Now the dream pertains to the 'latter days'  [2]  (NASB). The question immediately arises... The latter days of what? The latter days of the king's life? The latter days of the Babylonian kingdom? No... This time frame pertains to the latter days of man's kingdom's ruling on earth. This dream would see the end of man's rule and the establishment of God's rule on the earth!

The dream is revealed

Book of Daniel Bible Study Commentary Chapter 2Dan 2:29-35 '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. 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 baked clay. 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. 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  .

 So here at last is a description of the dream Nebuchadnezzar had. He saw a tremendous statue constructed mostly by previous metals. A few things are noteworthy concerning this image of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar saw. You hopefully understand that the dream spoke of four gentile empires that would dominate Jerusalem from the time of Daniel onwards. The gentile kingdoms are of course, as follows:

The Gentile Kingdoms in the dream
  • Head of Gold - Babylonian Empire (606-538 BC)
  • Silver Chest and Arms - Medes and Persian Empire (538-331 BC)
  • Thighs of Bronze - Greek Empire (331-168 BC)
  • Legs of Iron - Roman Empire (168 BC - 476 AD)
  • Feet of Iron & Clay - Revised Roman Empire (?AD -?AD)

Firstly, you will note that the metals described decrease in value as they are described, but they increase in strength. That is, the metals go from gold, to silver, to bronze, to iron - they decrease in value going from the most expensive to the least. Thus, God was showing that each successive kingdom would be less glorious that it's predecessor. But note also that each metal is stronger than the predecessor so each empire would be succeeded by one that was stronger. Each metal also characterized that Kingdom. Explaining the use of the different metals, Dr. Renald Showers, in his book 'The Most High God', writes

'Babylon used gold extensively in its buildings, images and shrines. Even walls and buildings were overlaid with gold... In ancient times silver signified money. Medo-Persia became noted for basing its power on money... The Greeks developed this metal (bronze) highly and used it extensively... Ancient Rome was noted for its use of iron in its military weaponry.' 

But a rock (or stone as other translations have it) that was cut out, but not by human hands, struck the statue on its feet and sent the whole crashing down! This rock then became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. And a great wind blew on the broken statue pieces like chaff and blew them all away so that there was not a trace of them left. Mmmm. Interesting. Let's have a look at that now.

The Interpretation

Dan 2:36-45 'This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 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 that head of gold. 'After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be 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. 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. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 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. '  In the time 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  . This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands - a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. 'The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.'

We know from this prophecy and others that the last kingdom that will reign on this earth will be one of ten kings. That is what is meant by the ten toes mentioned above. Daniel 7:23-24 is an associated prophecy to this:

Daniel 7:23-24 He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. (24) The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.

And just as the ten toes are partly iron and partly clay, so it will be based on a revived Roman empire, but there will be division and weakness within its strength. It specifically says that within this last kingdom there will be a brittle component due to disunity. This may come about because of the vast immigration most countries in the West have seen in these last days leaving these nations with a mixture of cultures, religions, ideas and allegiances. Now, the main thing to focus on is a different kingdom. It is pictured as a stone or a rock that will crush all these gentile kingdoms (but it strikes specifically at the feet - or in the days when the ten kings represented by the ten toes, are in power). Who or what is this stone? Simple I know.  [3] 

This stone then, who is Jesus, will strike the ten kings at His coming as is revealed in Revelation 17:12-14. In this passage, they are pictured as ten horns.

''The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings - and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.' '

Jesus shall then reign on this earth as it says above for 'the God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed!' See Isaiah 2:1-4. Please also remember what it said earlier in Daniel 2:35 -  '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. 

Jesus' Kingdom is Coming!

In other words this prophetic dream saw something radical! It doesn't give us a picture of Christianity slowly becoming greater and man's kingdom's slowly decreasing. No... It shows God smashing all earthly kingdom's in one event and at one time. 

Note also that the entire image (all its kingdoms) were smashed at the same time. So while the last human kingdom focused on the revived Roman Empire with its ten toes (kings) there will still be remnants and power in the other kingdoms as well such as Babylon (Iraq, Syria region) and Medo-Persia (Iran). All will be destroyed at the same time and to such an extent that they will be swept away without a trace! A whole new order will then be set up that is established over the entire earth... The kingdom of God! Finally.

The greatest mystery is yet to be revealed!

Dan 2:46-49 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, '  Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.  ' Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

Obviously king Nebuchadnezzar is blown away! He is probably relieved to some extent that this dream doesn't indicate the immediate end of him or his kingdom. In fact, such is his relief and amazement that he even lies down prostrate before Daniel. Not bad for a young Jewish boy exiled into a strange land! Not that Daniel would have wanted such praise however. He would have preferred God was given the glory. But the king states correctly that Daniel's God is the God of gods and the revealer of mysteries.

And that is certainly what God is. With the coming of the Lord Jesus all manner of mysteries where revealed and this continued with the ministry of the Apostle Paul especially. But the greatest mystery is yet to be revealed however. It is one that has been announced will be revealed at the time of the end. Do you know which mystery I speak of? It is the greatest mystery of all. It is the mystery that has puzzled every generation since being banished from the garden. I'll leave the answer for the small print while you contemplate your answer!  [4] 

And so Daniel is given a place of extreme honour. It is good to see that in his honour and exaltation, Daniel didn't forget his friends! He makes sure that they too are given places of authority and are made administrators over the province of Babylon. Unfortunately, things have a habit of changing pretty quickly in this life and we shall see this very thing starting as quickly as the next chapter!


Before closing it is worth asking what message do we take from a chapter such as this? I think the message we take is the same that King Nebuchadnezzar would have taken. You see, in verse 29 it says that this dream came at a time when he was thinking about his future. As he contemplated his vast kingdom and all that he had achieved, God gave him a vision that showed the whole thing being destroyed and coming to nothing. The king had to learn that the greatness of his kingdom meant nothing. It would be reduced to chaff and be blown away. The king had to learn that if he wanted to be part of something eternal then he had to be looking to and following the 'stone' that would become a everlasting kingdom over the entire earth! Is this not the same for mankind now? Even as Christians do we not spend most of our time on that which will be destroyed? 

We also need to remember that our entire lives will pass through a fire that will test our works. Only that which is built upon the foundation of the true stone, Jesus Christ, will remain (1 Cor 3:10-15). This is the message that God would have wanted the king then, and us now, to meditate upon. It is fine to study what is happening in this world and how it lines up with Biblical prophecy. That is to be encouraged. But God doesn't reveal these matters just for knowledge sake or as a puzzle to be solved primarily. They are revealed so that our hearts would be reminded and changed by the truth of eternal matters. What matters to you and what occupies your time and thought? Does it have any eternal significance? Important questions don't you agree?

[1] ↩  I'm sure some married couples might put their spouse into this category but I couldn't possibly comment on that.

[2] ↩  The 'latter days' is a common phrase used in the Bible. See Hos 3:5, Jer 23:21, Mic 4:1, 2 Pet 3:1-4. Be assured that things won't just carry on forever. God has established exactly how many days there will be and the 'latter days' will lead up to a time when God says 'enough! It is time for the kingdom of this world to become the kingdom of the Lord.'

[3] ↩  Jesus is known as the Rejected Stone Psalm 118:22, Tried Stone Isaiah 28:16, Stumbling Stone Isaiah 8:14-15, Living Stone 1 Peter 2:4-8, The Stone of Israel Gen 49:24  

[4] ↩  The greatest mystery I speak of is announced in Revelation 10:5-7. In it we read the following  : 'Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said , 'There will be no more delay!  But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished  , just as he announced to his servants the prophets.' 

The greatest mystery that will be revealed is the mystery of God. For centuries mankind has pondered God. Is there a God? Who is this God? Christians have come into a relationship with Him yet the vastness of God still cannot be comprehended. Who is this one who speaks light into being? Who is this one who knows all the stars by name? Who is this one that can create man from the dust of the ground and declares the end from the beginning? He is huge! One day the mystery will be revealed for God, Jesus Christ, will live amongst us again when He sets up His kingdom on earth.