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

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

Arioch and Daniel are contrasts. The commander of the guard lied, taking credit for finding the interpreter; Daniel gave all the glory to God for what he was about to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar. It is not stated whether the monarch saw right through Arioch’s deception. Clearly, Daniel’s humility is contrasted with Arioch’s boast.

Nebuchadnezzar’s heart must have sunk as Daniel spoke until the prophet uttered one of those great “buts” of Scripture.

But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these (Daniel 2:28).

With absolute confidence and skill, Daniel unfolded the dream while informing the king that God in heaven has the whole world in His hands and that it is He who rules the future. Nebuchadnezzar might have been surprised at having his dream revealed, but Daniel knew that God was able to reveal mysteries. After all, Yahweh had declared through the prophet Isaiah a century earlier:

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please (Isaiah 46:10).

“To come” is the Aramaic tyrxa, which denotes “end.” Hence, Daniel revealed “the days to the end.” The Hebrew expression for this period is “the Day of the Lord” or “that day.” The interpretation of the dream covers the period from Nebuchadnezzar to Christ’s second coming.

You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure 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 baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing-floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35).

The enormous, dazzling statue (Mlu tselem, image, form or idol) signifies the dawn, duration, deterioration and doom of “the times of the Gentiles” —a specification by Christ for the period covered by the statue.

They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24).

The image portrays history from man’s perspective. In chapter seven, the same period of history is portrayed from God’s perspective with beasts. From head to toes, the image reveals four trends that will occur with each succeeding empire until Christ’s kingdom comes:

  1.  Deteriorating power of the king
  2. Increasing power of the military
  3.  Increasing size of territory
  4.  Increasing duration of rule

The image depicts that the longer man attempts to rule the world apart from God, the more that rule will be characterized by military power. Therefore, we are not surprised to hear Jesus predict that there will be wars and rumors of war until the end (Matthew 24:6).

The dazzling appearance of the image speaks of the outward glory of the nations in their worldly pomp and splendor (cf. Luke 4:4-6). The enormous size of it equates to the length of the “times of the Gentiles.”

Whether this period is characterized as “awesome,” “excellent,” or “terrible” depends on one’s own circumstances and perspective; each of the meanings fit. Indeed, there is an underlying
ruthless power and beastly ferocity that is exposed in chapter seven, indicating that “terrible” is the best choice.

The image or statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream conveys significant information about the future from his day to Christ’s kingdom. The following chart, The Times of the Gentiles, reflects some of this information about this period.

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