A year into his reign, Nebuchadnezzar suffers from insomnia as he starts having troubling dreams. To try and help him understand the meaning of his troubling dreams, the King summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to try and make heads or tails of his dreams. Remember that at this point, the King had not yet met Daniel, as he and his friends were still undergoing their trainings before they could be even considered worthy to enter into the king’s service. So, they were not present when the king summoned all his astrologers.
No! You First
Kings and kingdoms of the ancient world considered dreams of king as an indication of what the future holds, not just for the king but for the entire kingdom. The same was in the case of Pharaoh in Genesis 41, where the dreams were not only a foretelling of what was about to happen but its timely reveal helped the nation of Egypt to plan for the upcoming famines.
Then the astrologers answered the king … “Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”Daniel 2:4
From the response of these astrologers, the narrative written by Daniel shifts to Aramaic. However, Nebuchadnezzar laid the unusual task before the astrologers in his service of not only interpreting the King’s nightmares but first they must reveal the dream itself to his satisfaction.
Perhaps the King had been fooled by his advisors one too many times and he did not want the same false flattery from his enchanters. The dream was so disturbing that the King did not want to waste time with false interpretations and wanted to know the actual implications of his nightmares.
“What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”Daniel 2:11
The King was furious with their response and ordered all the wise men of Babylon to be executed. A decree was issued to follow through on the King’s order but when Arioch, the commander of the King’s guard went to execute Daniel and his friends, God enabled Daniel to speak with wisdom and tact.
Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.Daniel 2:16
Daniel did not outrightly say that it was impossible, rather he confidently asked the King for more time to pray and ask God for the interpretation. There is something unexplainable about the Grace of God, when it is on someone, illogically things go their way. This proves again that who is really in control, even though Nebuchadnezzar may feel that he is in the driver seat.
Daniel returned to his house and explained the conundrum to his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, urging them to pray to the Great “I am”, who is the ultimate revealer of mysteries.
During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.Daniel 2:19
Daniel praised God for revealing the mystery behind the dream to him and raced to Arioch, so that he may approach the King with the interpretation. Arioch took Daniel to the King immediately and tried to take credit for finding the one who was willing to adhere to the King’s absurd demand. But Daniel quickly deflected the credit back to the Originator of the dream.
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.Daniel 2:27-28
The Revealer of Mysteries
Daniel continued to explain the dream and its meaning to Nebuchadnezzar. In the dream there was a statue with its head made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron and its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. Then suddenly a rock cut out by God struck the feet of the giant sculpture, shattering all the metals that made up the statue. The wind swept away any trace of the behemoth statue but the rock that had struck it became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
Each layer of the statue represented a kingdom of this world. The descending order of the precious metals used in the construction of the statue signified the worth of these kingdoms. Daniel made it clear that God had given Nebuchadnezzar dominion over the world for now and the empires that will be established after his reign will not match to his, in both glory and might.
There have been many different interpretations with regards to which Kingdoms did the statue represent, with the most common one being the one represented in the above graphic. The varied layers might not even imply any specific kingdoms but can be a metaphor for all the kingdoms of this earth. What we must focus on is not on the statue but on the rock. It was a simple rock, not made up of any of the aforementioned rare metals but was carved out by God. That rock destroyed all the kingdoms on this earth and setup a new Kingdom that will last forever.
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.Daniel 2:44-45
I think we all at some point of our lives, struggle with not being able to understand what the Kingdom of heaven will look like. We go by John’s revelations and imagine a place filled with gold and other earthly riches. The disciples would have known this story of Daniel interpreting the meaning behind the Statue for sure and would have misinterpreted the purpose of Jesus coming to the earth. They were perhaps expecting Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and establish His own Kingdom and that would explain the desires of the brothers, John and James, to sit next to the throne of Jesus or how Judas the Zealot, a man with an intense Nationalist agenda was moved by Jesus’s message.
Daniel himself misunderstood the prophecy of Jeremiah to mean that the desolation of Jerusalem would end in seventy years (Daniel 9:2). Till the time our desires are for the things of this earth we will never be able to understand what Jesus has planned for us. His plans are far greater than that of any King’s and far more inclusive. He cares about all of us and not just the people who fall prostrate before Him.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honour 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.Daniel 2:46-47
Daniel and his friends were exalted with the King placing Daniel in charge of all the wise men in Babylon and Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were made administrators over the province.
Nebuchadnezzar had the unmistakeable peace in his heart that could have only come from Yahweh. That peace assured the King not only that the interpretation that God gave Daniel was true but that he cannot mess with Daniel’s God in any way.
Purpose of the Dream
The purpose of the dream is, God revealing what is about to happen to the entire world. The man that God had put in power at this time was Nebuchadnezzar. What better way to make His plans known to all of us than to use an empty vessel like Nebuchadnezzar?
The Kingdom of the rock is the one that Jesus established in all of us by dying on the cross and giving us the ultimate freedom. No longer are we held captives by the evil one and can freely talk to our Father. However, imagine a father who gets to see his son only for the holidays and finds out that his son would rather fiddle with the gadgets in his father’s house rather than talk to his father.
As Nebuchadnezzar found out God is the ultimate revealer of mysteries, but are we content in deriving blessings from Him rather than sit with Him and ask Him to reveal His plans. Let us not chase after the things of this world and realise that His Rock is mightier than any statue that this world has to offer.