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Daniel: Chapter 2

Setting

As God had prepared Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt, so He also prepared Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for His service while under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar.  The end of Daniel 1 describes their God-given skill and understanding, Daniel 1:17-21.  Since we do not know anything about Daniel’s childhood, we do not know if he was able to interpret dreams as a boy like Joseph did.  Nevertheless, both Joseph and Daniel recognized that their abilities came from the Lord, and gave the glory to God for the revelation of the meaning for the dreams, Genesis 41:15-16, Daniel 2:26-28.  Though scripture does not demonstrate any prior situation in which Daniel had an experience with interpretations of dreams, we do see a manifestation of Daniel’s faith through his prayer to God.  

Daniel 2 describes God’s plan in world events during the age of the Gentiles, as shown in the timeline for the Gentile era.  King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was given by the God of Israel to describe future events to him, and to begin revealing Himself to the king; to make him understand who the Lord is, as the Lord over all creation and of all past, present, and future events.  

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-4 King Nebuchadnezzar's dream
5-12 The challenge to the Chaldean's concerning the dream
13-18 The decree to slay all the wise men
19-30 Daniel receives the revelation of the dream
31-35 Daniel reveals all of the details in the dream
36-43 The interpretation of the image
44-45 The millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ
46-49 The king's response to Daniel's interpretation

King Nebuchadnezzar's dream     Chapter Outline     Top

There are several references to time and dates in the book of Daniel, beginning with this chapter.  It is important to be cognizant of the method of dating that is being used, whether civil, religious, or whether using the Israeli system or Babylonian system.  When Daniel and his friends were first taken captive, they were given three years to learn the Babylonian ways before appearing before King Nebuchadnezzar to be examined by him, Daniel 1:5.  In contrast is the incident of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which is recorded as the second year, Daniel 2:1.  By the time of the events in Daniel 2 occurs, three years would have advanced since Daniel's exile.  the reason for the difference in the dates, is the dating system used by Israel and by Babylon.  It was the practice of the Babylonians to not count the first year of a king's ascension to the throne.  This accounts for the one year difference between the first two chapters in the book of Daniel.

In Daniel 2:1-4, the king had a troubling dream.  It is brought out later in the chapter in Daniel 2:29 that the purpose of the dream was to show the king “… what should come to pass hereafter …”.  This chapter and the remaining chapters in Daniel are all about describing future events as they relate to the Gentiles and to Israel.  Who knows what may have been on the mind of the king that night, but it does not matter.  It was the Lord's time to reveal to mankind the changes that would take place over the several millennia during the Gentile rule over the land of Israel and Jerusalem, and the signs of His first and second advents, the first having already been fulfilled.  It was also the time for the Lord to reveal the true nature of the gifts in discernment in dreams and visions that He had blessed Daniel with, Daniel 1:17.  In the current situation as revealed in this section, as sometimes happens, the king had forgotten the details of the dream when he awoke, but not the emotional trauma he suffered as he experienced the dream.  God had impressed on him an intense dream, and he sought out its meaning.  In the discourse the king had with the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans in his court, he asked two questions:

  • The details of the dream that he had forgotten
  • Its interpretation , Daniel 2:1-3

It is evident that the king, though impressed with the four Hebrew's intellectual skills being greater than any in his realm, yet in this case he did not seek their council in the matter of his dream, Daniel 1:20.  The Lord had blessed Daniel and the other three Hebrews, and had shown Daniel to be a true prophet, Numbers 12:6.  Like the king, who had to discern between the false prophets and the true, the church today and each Christian has to guard against false teachers, 1John 4:1-4.  Another important detail to draw out, is that the second half of this verse is where the language that this book is written switches from the Hebrew tongue to the Syriack or Aramaic language, as shown in Daniel 1 of this site.

The challenge to the Chaldean's concerning the dream     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 2:5-12, the king was very serious in his quest concerning the knowledge and interpretation of his dream.  However without the details of the dream, the meaning of the dream was hidden from all of the wise men in the king’s court.  This lead up to a very tense verbal exchange between all the men that the king summoned to himself, the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans.  Whether the king was testing these men's truth in their advice to him or whether he truly lost the dream in his conscience, the verbal exchange became very tense to the point of the death for these men, and all others within their profession. The king was demanding that they tell him the dream that he had that night, and its interpretation.  In Daniel 2:10-11, the Chaldeans made several arguments to the king and they acknowledged their limitation, and a lack of knowledge concerning the one true God of Israel.   Had the king either made known, or could have made known his dream's details, they would have been like those whom God spoke against; those who presumed to speak in the name of the Lord were severely spoken against, Jeremiah 23:28-32.  Their protests to the king at this very critical point in the dialog were:

  • There was no a man upon the earth who can reveal the king's dream
  • No king, lord, nor ruler ever asked such a thing of this elite group
  • There was no other that could show the matter to the king except the gods who did not dwell with flesh (they had no knowledge of the Lord!)

The Chaldeans were correct with their first and second points, but their third point demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the Lord and His ways, Deuteronomy 29:29.  The Lord did come in the flesh and was among His people.  He will come again, but not in humbleness as in His first advent, but in Power as the King of kings, Isaiah 9:6-7 (compare with Isaiah 61:1-2), John 1:13-14, and 1John 1:1-4.  

As a result of this exchange, the king's suspicions about his advisors being deceitful in their interpretations were not assuaged by their responses, and he become furious.  He then ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon, which included the four Hebrews.  

The decree to slay all the wise men     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 2:13-18, King Nebuchadnezzar sent out the decree that the wise men should be slain.  In the process, they sought out Daniel and the other three Hebrews to kill them.  Unlike the other wise men who appeared before the king, Daniel sought to understand the issue, and as written in this chapter, he answered the captain of the king's guard wisely.  Upon hearing from the captain the reason for the rash decree, Daniel went in to the king and asked for more time to show the king the interpretation, Psalms 34:11-19.  Unlike the group of wise men who were before the king and were refused more time, the king had respect for Daniel's request, probably because of the recent interview he had given to Daniel and his fellow Israelites, Daniel 1:18-20.  This is where the great faith of Daniel is demonstrated.  He went to his friends and they all sought the Lord together so that they might not be killed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.  They sought the favor of the Lord, and did not lean on their own understandings, which the Lord had given them, Proverbs 3:1-8.

Daniel receives the revelation of the dream     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 2:19-30, the full matter was reveled to Daniel.  He was excited beyond all that one could imagine.  Daniel 2:20-23 is a spontaneous exultation and shouts of praise to God.  Not only is Daniel so overjoyed to receive the answer to the request that he and his follow Hebrews made unto the Lord, but is awed at the depth of wisdom and knowledge that the Lord had revealed to him and to King Nebuchadnezzar.  The whole heart of the matter was not just the revelation and being able to bring an end the king's decree against them and all the wise men of Babylon, but being given this knowledge by God.  As seen in Daniel 2:21-22, Daniel now understands that the Lord is the one who:

  • Changes the times and seasons
  • Removes and sets up kings
  • Gives wisdom unto the wise
  • Gives knowledge to those with understanding
  • Reveals deep and secret things
  • Knows what is in the darkness
  • Is the one that light dwells within Him

A point to stress with respect to the first bullet, is that the Lord is the one who changes the times and seasons.  This is exactly what is being revealed to the king through this dream.  It is the Lord who will cause the changes in Gentile kingdoms and He is the one to set the time when they will occur.  In Daniel 7:25, it is revealed to Daniel that in the latter half of the tribulation, Satan through the Antichrist will attempt the same, but to no avail.  Even the Lord, in responding to the Apostles who had asked when will the time come to restore His kingdom.  The Lord affirmed that it is not for man to know the times or season, only the Father has determined the time by His own authority, (no one will be able to change), Acts 1:6-7.

The Lord had prepared this situation so that Daniel and his three friends were segregated from being directly associated with the “rest of the crowd” of magicians and sorcerers.  They were not part or participants of the world by being associated with the world as represented by magicians.  God had kept them distinct from the others, as shown in Daniel 1:20, as they were found by the king to be ten times better than any of the others, so that none of the glory from this situation could ever be shared with the pagans.  The stage was set for God to receive all of the glory.  And as revealed through the Apostle Paul, within the family, all are sanctified through the believer even though they do not believe, 1Corinthians 7:14.  Similarly here, the king was greatly blessed because of the great belief and faithfulness of his servants, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  

To set up this great revelation to the king, Daniel sent for the captain of the king's guard, who in turn presented Daniel and the three young men with him.   After having suffered great disappointment with all his other wise men and advisors, the king now asks Daniel if he can do this.  It is no wonder that the king responded with such skepticism, but Daniel's boldness was in stark contrast to what the king evidenced the previous day with the other wise men, astrologers, magicians, and the soothsayers.  In fact, in Daniel 2:27, Daniel even mocks them for their ineptness in light of all the false impressions that they presented to the king, concerning wisdom and understanding.  Daniel uses the obvious contrast to bring all the glory to the Lord God of Israel, who Daniel introduces to the king.  Daniel was not shy to say and demonstrate to King Nebuchadnezzar that all that he worshiped, had confidence in, and believed in, were false gods.  These false gods were unable to do what the Lord was about to reveal to him through Daniel.

Rather than just providing the king the dream and its details, the Lord revealed more to Daniel, which is what set up this whole affair.  As the king laid in bed, he wondered about what should come to pass after enjoying his great conquests.  Daniel again reaffirms to the king that it is the Lord that Daniel obeys who reveals the secrets and makes known what is to take place.  And yet again, he directs all the glory for the information to be relayed to the king, back to the Lord God Almighty.

Daniel reveals all of the details in the dream     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 2:31-35, Daniel reveals all of the details concerning the dream that the king had the previous night.  This dream possessed the following attributes:

  • A great image
  • The splendor was excellent
  • Its form was awesome

In his dream, this image must have been huge, brilliant, and something that had never been seen before. God used a nine-part framework to explain significant present and future events. The following table lists the parts:

 

Part of Image

Verse

1

Head of gold

Daniel 2:32

2

Chest of silver

Daniel 2:32

3

Belly and thighs of bronze

Daniel 2:32

4

Legs of iron

Daniel 2:33

5

Feet of part iron and part clay

Daniel 2:33

6

The rock cut out but not by human hands

Daniel 2:34

7

The destruction of the image by the rock

Daniel 2:34

8

No remembrance of the image that became chaff

Daniel 2:35

9

The rock became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth

Daniel 2:35

The interpretation of the dream     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 2:36-43, Daniel delves into the interpretation of this dream.  These parts are illustrated with the image and its major components to the right.

There are several abstractions to be made concerning this image, such as:

  • The sovereignty of rulers declines with each succeeding kingdom
  • The strength of each kingdom is lesser than its predecessor
  • The arms of silver and legs of iron represent divided or multi-rulers
  • The ten toes are an extension of the legs of iron, but are separate and distinct in their occurrence in time, and represent a loose confederation of the ten kings.

Daniel 2:37-45 provides the interpretation of the different parts of the dream, with Daniel 2:37-43 concentrating on the image itself, and with Daniel 2:44-45 describing the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on this earth.  The parts of the image and their interpretation are broken-down below:

  • King Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold
    • This does not include the kingdom nor any of the successors, only the king is the head of gold
    • King Nebuchadnezzar is the one who possess's the kingdom, power, strength, and glory
    • King Nebuchadnezzar was given all of these things from God, men and beasts were in the hands of the king
  • Each kingdom after the head of gold will be inferior to the previous kingdom they will overthrow
    • The second will be inferior
    • The third kingdom is represented by brass
    • The fourth kingdom will be as strong as iron, but it too will eventually break and bruise, but it is not overtaken as the previous three kingdoms
  • The toes of the iron and clay mixture represent the last of all these kingdoms, and will be divided, partly strong and partly broken

It is important to note that the ten toes are called out separate from the legs of iron, but are still an extension of them. During the days of the ten toes (the revived Roman empire), the kingdom will mingle with all mankind, but they will not cleave one to another, as one body.  

The millennial reign of Jesus Christ     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 2:44-45, the description is given of the Lord's millennial reign.  In the days of the kings in the age covered by the image's ten toes, God will set up his kingdom.   At that time, the Lord will take a stone cut without hands (which is Jesus Christ) and smite the image, in King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, upon its feet . As a result, all aspects of these kings, their histories and power will be forever abolished and forgotten, like chaff in the wind. The Lord's millennial reign will never be destroyed, it will not be left to other people, and His kingdom shall break in pieces and consume all of the kingdoms represented by the ten toes.

After the stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands breaks the image, it will be pulverized, and its remnant is compared to the chaff that is carried away by the wind. As a result, there is nothing from the image that is left to germinate in the future, it is all forgotten. This dramatic transition will occur during the tribulation, and specifically at the battle of Armageddon.  More on this subject is presented in this site on Revelation 16, Revelation 18, and Revelation 19, with the millennial kingdom discussion on Revelation 20.  The stone that pulverized the image, becomes a mountain that filled the whole world; this is God’s kingdom being established to rule the whole world and the mountain the stone originates from is the mountain of God, and the hands are the hands of God. For this reason, because of the mountain and the stone, the dream and the interpretation are certain.

An interesting parallel is a dialog by Jesus with the chief priests and the Pharisees after telling a parable about a landowner who planted a vineyard and the terrible actions of the tenets in Mathew 21:42-46.  In Jesus’ first visitation, he said that He, as the stone, would grind to powder those who rejected Christ, and that the kingdom was to be taken from Israel and given to the Church (the nation producing fruits).  Similarly, in Daniel, when the stone strikes the image at its feet, the image is pulverized and the Gentile kingdoms and influence over Jerusalem and Israel, ends. The kingdom becomes the millennial reign of Christ. The parallel and application between the two descriptions is striking.  

Another passage in scripture brings further light as to the full content and attributes of this mountain that grows in place of the statue (the statue represents the contiguous rule of the Gentiles over the affairs of Israel).  The passage is found in Isaiah 2:2-4.

The king's response to Daniel's interpretation     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 2:46-49, the king demonstrates a complete wonderment at what Daniel revealed to him.  The king does the only thing he knows, which is to fall on his face and worship Daniel, and command others to offer oblations and sweet odors to him.  With emphasis, Daniel pointed out that all that was given to him was from God, the king responded and acknowledged and repeated what Daniel said about our God; that the Lord is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and revealer of secrets.  At this time, the king is still a polytheist and does not understand the truth at this second exchange with Daniel.  He does not truly acknowledge that the God of Israel is the only one and true God, and that there are none beside him.

This passage shows that the king was overwhelmed and understood the great blessings bestowed upon him by the Lord, as he gave many gifts to Daniel.  This includes making Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors and over all the wise men of Babylon.  

Finally, Daniel did not forget his friends, with whom he confided in and were prayer partners with Daniel.  Upon his request to the king, Nebuchadnezzar set Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon and were under Daniel.  Daniel was the one to sit in the gate of the king.


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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