Image above is from Pinterest UK.
Have you ever looked at a TV documentary made in the 1960s about what people thought life would be like in 2000?
This is comical to us living after the year 2000 to view the future as children predicted it. The children were serious, but they did not understand what would really lie in the future. They heard and read of trends and what people could see in their imaginations of the future only. They are fearful of “the bomb” being dropped on them, and of so many people living on the earth they have no room to move about freely. They projected their fears onto their conception of the future.
Hebrews 2:14-15 records a common fear people in general have—
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He [Christ] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (ESV; Emphasis mine)
King Nebuchadnezzar saw the future. He was frightened because he did know where he fit into that dream. Remember the stone smashed the whole statue at the end. He wondered if this destruction would take place in his lifetime or perhaps in the future.
Daniel is shown the future by God, so God’s servants can remain faithful to Him in all situations.
vs. 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be.
I. God wants His people to know that He is in full control of their destiny. vs. 29
This is a fantastic revelation of the future to a pagan king. He received the information in his dream, but he had to have Daniel to interpret it properly. (But I am getting ahead of the text.) Daniel had to give the King the dream before any interpretation would be heard.
What does the text mean about “after this?” Some translations seem to project this text onto the end times of the whole world. This is not the case. In the NIV, it is rendered “things to come.” God is in full control of time and space—both seen and unseen.
vs. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.
II. Like Daniel we ought always to be careful to give God the glory for any problem solutions we receive. vs. 30
I have already in previous posts made the point that Daniel takes out time to pray about the matter before rushing into the King’s presence. Even if no one else but his three friends knew God was the Reveler of mysteries, Daniel knew. He makes it clear to all that the God came to his aid.
See vs. 23 To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, because You have given me wisdom and power. And now You have made known to me what we have requested, for You have made known to us the dream of the king. (ESV; emphasis mine)
Daniel gave thanks in private, but now he takes that which is private into the public court of the king. He dethrones the king in public and attributes to the God of his fathers what the king expected to have from his soothsayers.
vs. 31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening.
III. We should live humbly before God and not get caught up in political power grabs designed by men. vs. 31
I am reminded of a poem I memorized and recited in Speech class long ago. It was Recessional by Rudyard Kipling. It looks forward from the height of Empire to the dissolution of Empire because people have forgotten they rule under God’s law and at God’s pleasure. I quote the first verses only—
by Rudyard Kipling, 1897
(I omitted verse 4 on purpose since it assumes Britain is superior to all Empires before it.)
Where we are today in the West in a similar situation to Britain at Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1896) for which Recessional was written at a later date. The Pax Americana is coming to a close even as the Pax Britania ended.
Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Service, 22 June 1897 by Andrew Carrick Gow (public domain)
We could use much humility today as we face the dissolution of Western Civilization! The hymn, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended” was played at Britain’s handover to India in 1947 (Lord Louis Mountbatten presided). It was played also at Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 (the Prince of Wales, now King Charles III presided).
The sun will set on our imperial rule just as it has over all empires of the past. And yet, for Christians God’s dominion is absolute. We can learn the lesson of humility the King of Babylon did not learn.
Again, God is teaching the King of Babylon that he is under the God of Heaven’s dominion.
Image taken from https://www.worldhistory.org/Roman_Triumph/
“At a Roman triumph, the majority of the public would have their eyes glued to the victorious general at the front—one of the most coveted spots during Roman times. Only a few would notice the aide in the back, right behind the commander, whispering into his ear, ‘Remember, thou art mortal [memento mori in Latin]!'” (from https://dailystoic.com/memento-mori/)
Tremper Longman reminds us, “Wisdom is not a concept to be learned; it is a relationship to enjoy.” Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t want a relationship with God in which he acknowledges the God of heaven to be over him.
vs. 31 As you, O king, were watching, a great statue appeared. A great and dazzling statue stood before you, and its form was awesome. 32 The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, 33 its legs were iron, and its feet were part iron and part clay.
We will expand on the empires predicted in a future post. However, the traditional list is—
Its Head = the Babylonian Empire
Its chest and arms = the Medo-Persian Empire
Its belly and thighs = the Greek Empire
Its legs = the Roman Empire
Its feet and toes = the Divided Kingdoms
The Stone = Messiah’s Kingdom
(Image from Pinterest)
vs. 34-35 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
IV. Where God’s people fit in the plan of God is in God’s knowledge alone. vs. 34-35
Nebuchadnezzar breathed a sigh of relief at this point. He was the head, and it did not perish since there were kingdoms that followed it. He read the future and assumed he was free from harm. That was all he was interested in.
In the end, we can rest at peace knowing God’s Messiah will put all kingdoms under His sovereign sway! Habakkuk 2:14 prophesies this—
For the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.