We continue to examine Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The dream consists of four different civilizations: gold, silver, iron, and bronze that represent the progression of the human story. The nation of Israel, exiled in Babylon, has a unique part to play in this traditional progression of nations. God and his holy people are set apart, and will not follow the same script.
Today we come to really one of my favorite passages in the Bible. We set it up two times ago, and then Dave did chapter 3 of Daniel, and then—what is it?—Pool Rack, Tool Shed, and the Billy Goat, the three Hebrew guys in the furnace.
And we didn’t really go into the interpretation of this dream. We just set up the reality that the dream happened. And the fact that Daniel’s response to it was so amazing.
So just to kind of review chapter 2 coming up to the dream.
The king had a dream, and he went to his advisors, Chaldeans, and the magicians, and the astrologers. He said, “Tell me my dream and what the interpretation is.”
And they said, “No problem. What was your dream?”
And he said, “No. You didn’t understand me. You tell me the dream. Then I’ll know the interpretation is accurate.”
They said, “Nobody can do that!”
He said, “Well then, I’m just going to get me a new set of counselors.”
So he went to the captain of the guard and said, “Kill all the wise men!”
And they start killing the wise men. They’re slow rolling it, I think, hoping the king will change his mind. It’s pretty rash.
And Daniel asks the captain of the guard, and the captain of the guard says, “Hey, sorry, I’m going to have to kill you.”
So, I’m not sure how that conversation goes. What day are you available? I’m not sure what exactly they’re talking about.
But he says, “Why is this so hasty? This just sounds like something rash. What’s the king up to?”
And he told him.
And he appeals to the king. He’s the appellate guy. This is the third appeal we’ve seen him do. He says, “Give me some time.”
He and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego go and pray, and God gives Daniel the interpretation of the dream.
So he goes in to the king, and he says, “I’ve got it. I’ve got it.”
And the king says, “That’s great.”
And he says, “It’s not me. I’m just the messenger. What you need to understand here is that there’s a true and living God.”
An interesting thing here is that even though we’ve already seen that when the other wise men have a chance to knock somebody off that’s in front of them, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego with the fiery furnace and the statue thing—and that’s the culture there. You saw that last week. That’s going to happen in chapter 3. And we’ll see a little later that Daniel will have the lion’s den episode when guys, specifically, try to set him up and knock him off.
You’ve got a culture where if you can get ahead by knocking somebody else off, you do. Daniel doesn’t do that. He saves all the counselors and all the wise men.
So we looked at Daniel’s amazing humility and his willingness to serve.
And then we get to 2:31, and we get to the dream.
Now, I love history, and I love understanding history, what happened, why it happened, what we can learn from it, and what we should do next. That’s just totally fascinating to me.
When we travel, I always want to go to someplace where something significant happened. And for me, I can go to a place and talk to a guide and get a hundred times more out of the experience than if I read about it. Being there makes a big difference to me. So I’ve read about Waterloo. But when I actually went to Waterloo, I walked away with what I thought was a pretty concrete idea about what happened and why it happened.
And if you read secular historians, that’s what they’re doing. They say, you know, here’s what happened. Here’s why it happened. Then they project going forward.
But what we have here is God’s tour. God’s going to give us a tour. Unfortunately we’re not actually in Babylon. That would really be cool.
That’s one place on earth I’d really love to go see. I’d love to go see the ruins and things. I guess there are even more ruins now. You know, we’re going to get a tour of history right now.
So verse 31. “You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.
“This image’s head was of fine 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 clay.
“You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.
“Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
As Dave said last week, when we get to chapter 3, there’s going to be this big statue that Nebuchadnezzar builds, and he wants everybody to bow down to it. And it could well be that that’s one of the takeaways that he got from this dream, that he got this idea from this dream. Wrong application, though, as we’ll see.
Verse 36. “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.
“You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory;
“and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold.
“But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.
“And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.
“Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.
“And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
“As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
“Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”
Here’s what this dream is telling. This is 600 B.C.ish, sometime between 605 and whenever Nebuchadnezzar died B.C., and the rest of history is being told.
And here’s what it is:
Babylon is going to fall in 539 B.C., from the time of Nebuchadnezzar until the fall of Babylon, you only have about 66 years.
And I think when Dave did the prelude to Daniel, he talked about the Persians, how they dammed up the river and went under the wall and just took Babylon in one night. We’re going to see that when we get to the handwriting-on-the-wall chapter. We’re going to see that happen. That’s the night it took place.
That’s Babylon, and that’s the head of gold.
And then next comes the Persians. The Persians lasted around 200 years. The Medo-Persian Empire. It went from roughly 539 B.C. to 330 B.C.
We know, in the dream, that the head of gold is Babylon. We know that because Daniel told us that. He said, “You’re the head of gold. You’re the king of kings. You’re Babylon.”
We are going to see the Persians take over in the next chapters of Daniel. So that’s fairly certain.
So the head of gold is Babylon, and the chest of silver is the Persians.
And then next is going to come the Greeks, the bronze torso. The Greeks go from about 330 to 31 B.C., so about 300 years. That’s certain.
We’re going to see this in chapter 8 when we get there. He’s actually going to say, “This is Persia, and this is Greece.” He’s going to use a different thing than the statue; he’s going to use animals. And he’s going to say this is what’s unfurling. And he’s going to say, “This is Greece.” He’s going to actually name it as Greece.
It’s going to be unmistakable because there’s this furious goat that goes out and conquers the earth. And then he dies. And then four horns come out of the goat and spread over all the earth, and that’s Alexander the Great’s four generals. And that’s exactly what happened.
For about 300 years, the Greeks ruled the world.
And interestingly enough, in chapter 8, it talks about the kingdom of God coming in the time of the Greeks. Whereas, in this dream with this statue, it talks about another time, the time of iron and clay.
How can both be true?
I think it’s fairly easy to understand looking backwards, and it is because it’s arguable whether Rome took over Greece or Greece took over Rome. Because Rome adopted all the Hellenistic approach to life and became the purveyor of Hellenistic thought throughout the world even though Rome was the one that actually ruled the world.
Rome is the fourth kingdom, and Rome really, probably, took over fully from the Greeks about 31 B.C., and Rome goes all the way until today. And that surprises some people. You mean we’re still in the Roman era? Oh yeah. Go back to verse 44, and that’s really cemented.
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed—And the fourth kingdom is as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything—”
We’re still in the Roman era.
If you study a little bit about Rome, that’s really not very difficult to embrace. Just take into account the reality that the Holy Roman Empire only dissolved in 1806, just about 50 years before our Civil War. The Holy Roman Empire was still going until right before that time.
If you look at Rome and what Rome was like, you’ll see Rome was a republic. And then the republic became a tyranny, and then back to a republic again. There was this republic, and power was dispersed, and great prosperity took place.
And then the power started concentrating. And then there was an opportunity to get the power dispersed again.
If you know much about American history, this cycles. We’ve already gone though this cycle multiple times, from the time of Franklin Roosevelt, there was wage and price controls. If you had a business you could not even set your own prices. The government told you what prices to set.
Then World War Two came, and, really, that didn’t work, so they had to disperse the power again so they could win the war. And now we’re in the process of the power being concentrated again.
And if you’re reading the papers at all, what you’re seeing now is there’s actually a civil war happening between the administrative state and people who are employed in the administrative state and who live under a regime where they can’t be fired, and they have sovereign immunity, and they get to make laws, interpret the law, execute the laws, and adjudicate the laws—meaning all three branches of government are vested in these people who are not accountable to anyone. So little surprise that they’re rebelling against someone that says I want to take your power away. It’s happening in the headlines today.
Well, it’s because we’re Roman. It’s just another cycle. We’re going through the Roman cycle.
Rome falls apart and is reconstituted
But what about this iron and clay that it falls apart? Well, the Roman Empire did not ever get conquered really. It’s still around today. It just keeps breaking in pieces.
You know the Vandals came in and sacked Rome. They didn’t defeat Rome. They just really sacked it. They ruined Rome’s reputation. But all that meant was that Rome broke into pieces.
And there’s been this longing in the Roman world to reunite it. That’s still with us today. We have this big movement of globalism. We’ve got to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. We can do it if we just all get along and do what I say. That’s all that it takes.
Rome actually just fragmented. They just couldn’t hold it together anymore. And that was about 450 something A.D., on the western side.
The eastern empire did not fall until 1453. It actually fell to the Turks. 1453.
The Roman Empire, one of the legs—remember there were two legs, east and west—and the eastern leg actually stood until 1453. So that’s right around the time America’s discovered.
The Roman Empire is made “holy”
The western side, though, just keeps reconstituting and breaking into pieces. It was officially reconstituted on Christmas Day 800 A.D. when Charlemagne, Charles the Great, was crowned king of the Holy Roman Empire. That’s when they first said, OK, we’re redoing the empire. So the Roman Empire is back in—western empire. The eastern empire is still going. But we want the western empire. Now it’s going again. But this time, it’s holy!
So now what we have is we’re going to “holify” the emperor by having him crowned by the pope. So now we have a spiritual king and the spiritual king gives authority to the earthly king, and now we have God’s kingdom on earth.
Again, if you read the pronouncements of Columbus when he was coming to America—so this was 600 years later. The Holy Roman Empire is still going. He says things like, “Hey, all these people in the Caribbean Islands, they’re going to make great servants of God because we’re going to put them in the salt mines.” They’ve just been living on the beach eating bananas. And we’re going to put them in the salt mines, and that will make them great Christian servants of God.
So what’s the thinking? If you’re a slave to the king, giving gold to the king, you’re a servant of God because the king is God’s regent on earth. Nice, huh? Nice for the king!