Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 2

Outline and Background

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream - Daniel 2:1-11

Nebuchadnezzar's Folly - Daniel 2:12-13

Daniel's Wisdom - Daniel 2:14-16

Daniel's Request - Daniel 2:17-18

Daniel's Vision and Praise - Daniel 2:19-23

Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's Dream - Daniel 2:24-45

The Image is Four Empires

The Everlasting Empire

Eschatology of the Mt Olivet Discourse

Christ's Kingdom

Nebuchadnezzar's Declaration - Daniel 2:46-49

Application and Typical Prophecies

Outline and Background - Daniel 2

Outline of Chapter Two

The Aftermaths of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream, 2:1-23

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream and Distress, 1-3

Nebuchadnezzar’s Unreasonable Request, 4-11

Nebuchadnezzar’s Folly, 12-13

Daniel’s Wisdom, 14-16
Daniel’s Reasonable Request, 17-18

Daniel’s Vision and Praise, 19-23
The Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream, 2:24-45
The Declaration of Nebuchadnezzar, 2:46-47
The Advancement of Daniel and His Three Friends, 2:48-49

Timeline

timeline of Daniel 2

Background of Chapter Two

THE CHRONOLOGICAL PUZZLE. This chapter opens with a chronological puzzle. Daniel was carried to Babylon in 605 B.C., received three years of training, interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the second year of the king’s reign (602 B.C.), and is promoted to a high position. An
inspired writer of Daniel’s ability would not make such an obvious contradiction. What happened to the third year?

In their second year of exile (603 B.C.), Daniel and his three friends were examined by Nebuchadnezzar and they entered the king’s service. It is reasonable they completed their academic training ahead of schedule since they were ten times better than were their teachers in every matter of wisdom and understanding. Another solution to this chronological puzzle is that the youths were taken captive in August 605 B.C., but Nebuchadnezzar did not begin his first official year as king of Babylon until the first of Nisan in the following spring (April 4, 604). Consequently, the youths completed their third year just before Nisan 602, which would still have been the second official year of Nebuchadnezzar (ending April 9, 602).

THE SWITCH OF LANGUAGES. Among the most spectacular discoveries in the Dead Sea Scrolls is the transition in the book of Daniel from Hebrew to Aramaic and then back again to Hebrew. This section (Daniel 2:4b-7:28) was written in Aramaic, whereas the rest of the book was written in Hebrew. Since the Aramaic section covers the “times of the Gentiles,” Daniel wrote in the international language so his message could not be missed by the Gentiles of that time.

There are three periods of Aramaic: Old Aramaic (10th-7th centuries B.C.), Official or Imperial Aramaic (6th-4th centuries B.C.), and Western and Eastern Aramaic (3rd century B.C. forward). Aramaic was the language spoken by the Jews coming out of captivity. The Levities had to translate and interpret the Hebrew Scriptures in order for the people to understand what was being read (Nehemiah 8:8). In Jesus’ day, the Jews spoke both Aramaic and Greek.

In the Aramaic section, an amazing revelation of world history is set forth from the time of Daniel until the second coming of Christ. In particular, the imagery in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream reveals the empires that arise during this period of history. In the Hebrew section, Daniel 9:24-27 provides the outline of Israel’s future during the “times of the Gentiles.”

The Aftermaths of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

In our day, dreams are usually attributed to physical, emotional and psychological causes. Yet, dreams given by God in order to reveal the future were nothing new in history as can be seen with Abimelech (Genesis 20:3), Jacob (Genesis 28:13), Joseph (Genesis 37:5), Pharaoh (Genesis 44:1, 25), and Gideon (Judges 7:13-15).

The time was ripe for God to reveal the future. His people were captives in a foreign land. The captives and Nebuchadnezzar were faced with an inescapable question, “Who really controls the present and the future—Marduk or Yahweh?” The king was about to find out what Paul declared six centuries later.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27).

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is like a skeleton to which one attaches the tendons and flesh of Biblical prophecy. Many prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah are brought together in the book of Daniel. The subsequent visions and dreams in Daniel add many details. In addition, the book of Revelation completes the image and God’s forecast of history. Therefore, God gave to Nebuchadnezzar the dream of dreams! God’s plan for the times of the Gentiles are encoded in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and decoded in Daniel’s interpretation of it.

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

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