Posts Tagged 'Nebuchadnezzar’s dream'

Daniel: The Amazing Stone

 

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Daniel 2:31—45

Daniel was a man of God.  But he was not born a man of God; he became a man of God because he had a living relationship with God.  He became a man of visions and the interpreter of the Divine mind because he walked in obedience with God.

He was also a politician in the court of Babylon.  Imagine that; a God-fearing Hebrew living and working in the court of Babylon!  Truly God has His people everywhere!  God accomplishes His will in the most astounding ways.

Daniel’s boss, King Nebuchadnezzar, had a disturbing dream one night but he forgot its details when he woke up.  Still, he remembered enough to be disturbed.  So he called for his “wise men” to tell him his dream and tell him what it meant.

The astrologers replied to the king, “There isn’t a man alive who can tell others what they have dreamed! And there isn’t a king in all the world who would ask such a thing! This is an impossible thing the king requires. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they are not here to help.”  (Daniel 2:10, 11  TLB)

The king, angered by what his supposed wise men said, ordered their deaths.  Daniel got swept up in that decree even though he wasn’t involved.  But God gave Daniel wisdom and grace, and Daniel intervened.

So Daniel went in to see the king. “Give me a little time,” he said, “and I will tell you the dream and what it means.”  (Daniel 2:16  TLB)

And he did just that!

“O king, you saw a huge and powerful statue of a man, shining brilliantly, frightening and terrible.  The head of the statue was made of purest gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part iron and part clay. But as you watched, a Rock was cut from the mountain side a by supernatural means. It came hurtling toward the statue and crushed the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits.”  (Daniel 2:31—34  TLB)

The “statue” Nebuchadnezzar saw in  his dream revealed God’s plan for the successive kingdoms of this planet, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s, represented by the head of the statue.  The different parts of the statue represent successive kingdoms and nations that would follow Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar must have been thrilled to hear this interpretation:

“Your Majesty, you are a king over many kings, for the God of heaven has given you your kingdom, power, strength, and glory.  You rule the farthest provinces, and even animals and birds are under your control, as God decreed. You are that head of gold.”  (Daniel 2:37, 38  TLB)

It was only a handful of years before this that the Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying this:

So now I have given all your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my deputy. And I have handed over to him all your cattle for his use.  All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until his time is up, and then many nations and great kings shall conquer Babylon and make him their slave.  Submit to him and serve him—put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation refusing to be his slave; I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until he has conquered it.  (Jeremiah 27:6—8  TLB)

In effect, Nebuchadnezzar was divinely irresistible.  He was God’s chosen instrument and God gave Nebuchadnezzar incredible success and Babylon became the “head of gold.”  But, it became obvious that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would not last forever; other kingdoms would follow it, rising and eventually falling to other kingdoms.  Daniel 4 seems to indicate that it was Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance and pride that prevented him from literally conquering the whole world.  But the essence of the dream was God’s revelation to Nebuchadnezzar of His (God’s) plan for the Earth.

The Rock, or Stone in some translations, is the symbol of Christ, who will at some point in the future destroy the nations like they were nothing more than clay pots.  Christ is referred as a Stone or Rock seven times in Scripture, as a symbol of strength and durability.

Let’s consider Jesus as “the Stone.”

1.  Israel tripped over the Stone

Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone rejected by the builders has been made the honored cornerstone; how remarkable! What an amazing thing the Lord has done’?”  (Matthew 21:42  TLB)

Jesus’ enemies had just passed judgment on their own conduct and Jesus, in a stroke of genius, drove home the point by quoting Psalm 118:22, 23.  To you and me, Jesus’ talk of stones and cornerstones seems a bit odd.  But to the religious elite of Jesus’ day, there was no doubt what Jesus was talking about.  The kingdom of God would be taken away from the Jewish leaders and given to another nation.  In other words, Jesus was saying that He was getting ready to include the Gentiles in His kingdom.

How this must have shocked, galled, and offended them!  But the action of opening up the kingdom to all people came about because of their own hypocritical conduct.

“What I mean is that the Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and given to a nation that will give God his share of the crop.  All who stumble on this rock of truth shall be broken, but those it falls on will be scattered as dust.”  (Matthew 21:43, 44  TLB)

The Jews stumbled and fell on the Stone that is Jesus—they rejected Him as Messiah—and Israel was broken up.  This literally happened in 70 AD when persecution drove a lot of Jews (and some Christians) from Jerusalem.  In essence, they rejected Him, and so He scattered them like dust.

2.  The Church is built on the Stone

The moment Peter uttered this great truth, Jesus proclaimed a great truth that would change everything.

Then he asked them, “Who do you think I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  “God has blessed you, Simon, son of Jonah,” Jesus said, “for my Father in heaven has personally revealed this to you—this is not from any human source. You are Peter, a stone; and upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.”  (Matthew 16:15—18  TLB)

Not long after that exchange, after the Day of Pentecost, that same Peter declared that a lame man had been healed because he had faith in the Name of Jesus:

“…let me clearly state to you and to all the people of Israel that it was done in the name and power of Jesus from Nazareth, the Messiah, the man you crucified—but God raised back to life again. It is by his authority that this man stands here healed!  For Jesus the Messiah is (the one referred to in the Scriptures when they speak of ) a ‘stone discarded by the builders which became the capstone of the arch.’”  (Acts 4:10, 11  TLB)

Jesus IS the foundation upon which the Church is built.  It is not built upon a man-made doctrine or theology and a church is not built upon a man or a family or a confession written by a committee.  The true Church of Jesus Christ is built upon Jesus Christ, the Stone.

Come to Christ, who is the living Foundation of Rock upon which God builds; though men have spurned him, he is very precious to God who has chosen him above all others.  (1 Peter 2:4  TLB)

3.  The Stone will break the Gentiles

Yes, Israel was broken up by the Stone.  Yes, the kingdom of God was opened up to all people—the Gentiles.  But eventually the nations of this world—the reign of the Gentiles—will be smashed by the exact same Stone!

But as you watched, a Rock was cut from the mountain side by supernatural means. It came hurtling toward the statue and crushed the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits.  (Daniel 2:34  TLB)

We’re back looking at Nebchadnezzar’s dream.  All of a sudden, a great stone came hurtling toward the statue in the dream and smashed it’s feet, bringing the whole statue crashing down.  In the dream, it was a supernatural stone whose identity isn’t given.  However, the identity of the Stone is revealed in Daniel 7.  Here, Daniel had a vision that was related to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, except where Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue that represented the kingdoms of the world, Daniel saw those kingdoms as animals.

Next I saw the arrival of a Man—or so he seemed to be—brought there on clouds from heaven; he approached the Ancient of Days and was presented to him.   He was given the ruling power and glory over all the nations of the world, so that all people of every language must obey him. His power is eternal—it will never end; his government shall never fall.  (Daniel 7:13, 14  TLB)

We learn that this eternal government, this divine kingdom, is the one Jesus taught His disciples to pray for, “…your kingdom come…”  (Matthew 6:10), and is shown to have a thousand year initial phase—the Millennium—which follows immediately after the glorious Second Coming of Christ, and which will ultimately merge into the eternal state of the New Heavens and Earth, as seen in Revelation 19—22.

Both the Stone in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the Man in Daniel’s vision clearly portray Jesus Christ at his Second Advent.

For as the lightning flashes across the sky from east to west, so shall my coming be, when I, the Messiah, return.  (Matthew 24:27  TLB)

When He returns, the reign of man on the Earth will draw to its inevitable close.  The kingdoms of this world will finally and forever pass away as the Messiah establishes His eternal Kingdom.

4.  The glory of the Stone will fill the world

Then the whole statue collapsed into a heap of iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold; its pieces were crushed as small as chaff, and the wind blew them all away. But the Rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.  (Daniel 2:35  TLB)

When Christ returns, the world will not end.  In fact, this world will never end.  Indeed, Christ’s return will mark the beginning of a whole new world!  It will be a world dominated, not by man, but by the Kingdom of God.  What will Christ’s Kingdom on earth look like?  Psalm 72 is a good place to start looking for clues!   Paul himself had an idea:

After that the end will come when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having put down all enemies of every kind.  For Christ will be King until he has defeated all his enemies, including the last enemy—death. This too must be defeated and ended.  For the rule and authority over all things has been given to Christ by his Father; except, of course, Christ does not rule over the Father himself, who gave him this power to rule. When Christ has finally won the battle against all his enemies, then he, the Son of God, will put himself also under his Father’s orders, so that God who has given him the victory over everything else will be utterly supreme.  (1 Corinthians 14:24—28  TLB)

No more enemies.  No more death!  All  nations will give Christ His due.

But that day isn’t  here yet.  It’s yet to come.  Until Christ returns to establish His eternal kingdom, we should do what He told His followers to do:

We ask that your kingdom will come now. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.  (Matthew 6:10 TLB)

Daniel: The Everlasting Kingdom

 

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The prophetic book of Daniel is fascinating to read and often acts like an lightening rod, galvanizing those who hold to a literal interpretation of Scripture and those who like to spiritualize and allegorize Scripture.

Some scholars have great difficulties with the accuracy of Daniel’s prophecies, so they claim much of the book was written after the fact by an anonymous writer calling himself Daniel, pretending to write prophecies when, in fact, the events he wrote about in future tense had already happened.  Conservative scholars, however, take the book of Daniel at face value, believing Daniel to have been exactly what he claimed to be, writing when he claimed to have written, and his words are taken to be prophetic utterances, exactly what he said they were.

Daniel was a young man when he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar to the city of Babylon.  He, along with many of his people, had been taken from Jerusalem and the surrounding area as the great kingdom of Babylon rolled over the Middle East, absorbing smaller nations and making their people part of a greater whole.  Eventually, though, many Jews were permitted to return home and rebuild their city.  But this was long after Daniel wrote his famous prophecies.

The events in his book of prophecy cover a long period of time; from Nebuchadnezzar’s time (605 BC) to Cyrus’ time (559-530 BC).   By the time he  wrote some of his prophecies, young Daniel had become an old man, living most of his life in Babylon, working in and around the highest political circles.  God has His people everywhere!

1.  Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel 2:26-35

(a)  Trying to understand, verses 26, 27

The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?  Daniel replied, No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about…”  (Daniel 2:26-27 NIV84)

The Babylonians were an interesting race of people.  Babylon, the capital city (Baghdad, Iraq today), was a true marvel in its day.  The Babylonians, though quintessential nation-builders, were not interested in war and killing, but in peace.  This is why when they conquered a nation, like Judah, for example, rather than kill everybody in sight, the Babylonians would come in, take most of the citizens away as captives and re-settle them in various locations around the Babylonian Empire.

They were also a very spiritual people, interested in such things as dreams and visions. And this is why Nebuchadnezzar was so determined to get to the bottom of his dream and why he was troubled by it.  Apparently there were no wise men or magicians in Babylon capable of giving the king a satisfactory explanation.  Enter Daniel, claiming he could do what nobody else could do.  The king may have been skeptical, but in back of all of this was the hand of God, moving Daniel along a divinely charted course.

(b)  God’s ability, verses 28-35

Right away, Daniel makes an important point made centuries later by Paul:

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  (1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV84)

For the foolishness of God is wiser than mans wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than mans strength.  (1 Corinthians 1:25 NIV84)

God had put Daniel in the perfect position to enlighten the king of Babylon:

but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. (Daniel 2:28a NIV84)

This is an important verse because it forms the very basis and purpose of the whole book of Daniel:  to show the king what will happen in the future.  Furthermore, Daniel, living in a land of pagans who worshiped strange gods, wasn’t afraid to give the one true God credit!  The dream, declared Daniel, was given to the king by God.

Some people may wonder why God chose to show a pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar, a detailed history of the future.  First, we can actually learn something about God here:  He is completely sovereign, and He can use whomever He wants to reveal His will.  Here God chose to reveal His plan for the future to a pagan king, but God also used a donkey one time (Numbers 22:21-40).

Second, this dream was given to tell the king of Babylon something.  Would Nebuchadnezzar have listened to Jewish prophet?  Probably not.

Lastly, this dream was so important, it needed to be paid attention to and it needed to be remembered.  Lots of people have dreams, but when a king has a dream, people notice.  And when God gives a pagan king a dream and God’s man interprets it, it has credibility and it is remembered by believes and non-believers alike.

Another very interesting factoid about the book of Daniel has to do with language.  The Old Testament was written in Hebrew because it was written for the Hebrew people, except for one section, which was written in Aramaic.  The section is Daniel 2:8 – 7:28, and Aramaic was the language of the Babylonians!  God always communicates to people in a language they understand.

2.  Kingdoms come and go, Daniel 2:36-43

The king saw a big statue made out of various substances, and it probably looked something like the one at the top of this study.

God’s plan for the future, revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, the first great world leader, symbolized him using a head of gold.  Of Nebuchadnezzar, we read this elsewhere in Scripture:

By my great power I have made the earth and all mankind and every animal; and I give these things of mine to anyone I want to. So now I have given all your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my deputy. And I have handed over to him all your cattle for his use.  All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until his time is up, and then many nations and great kings shall conquer Babylon and make him their slave.  Submit to him and serve himput your neck under Babylons yoke! I will punish any nation refusing to be his slave; I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until he has conquered it.  (Jeremiah 27:5-8  TLB)

The point, which Nebuchadnezzar eventually got during his tenure on the throne, was that God made him; God made Nebuchadnezzar into the king he was.  But since God establishes earthly thrones, He can also topple them, and this is what the dream was all about.  God would eventually bring Babylon’s dominance in the world to an end, only to be replaced by a succession of kings and kingdoms.  Each successive kingdom was represented by another part of the statue and another substance.  Each successive substance, it has been noted, is less precious than the one that preceded it.

The forth kingdom is the kingdom we are in today.  Yes, it’s the Roman Empire, or more accurately a form of the Roman Empire.  We have been in this era since the days of Christ.  There will be no great world empires following the Roman Empire.  Rome, incidentally, was never destroyed like other empires were; Rome fell apart from the inside.  But in a sense, it exists today in the nations of Europe (Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany).  The laws and even language of Rome live on.

The image represents four empires, and there will be no great world empire after the forth one.  There are 4 interesting points about the statue in the dream:

First, the quality of the metals.  Gold is more precious than silver; silver finer than brass, brass more valuable than iron, and iron is preferable to clay.  There is a definite deterioration from the head down.

Second, the position of each metal says a lot about the honor and glory of each kingdom.  The head, for example, has more honor than the feet.  No other kingdom had the glorious position that Nebuchadnezzar had.

Third, we have the testimony of Scripture:

After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.   (Daniel 2:39 NIV84)

And last, we can see how nations are temporary and their position as world leaders never lasts.  A nation’s influence in the world comes and goes.

3.  Christ’s enduring kingdom, Daniel 2:44-45; 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

(a)  A final kingdom, Daniel 2:44-45

The Antichrist, at some point in the future, will “revive” a version of the Roman Empire.  He will try to become a world-wide dictator and he will attempt to rule the world as Nebuchadnezzar did (Revelation 13).  The feet represent his kingdom, which will be very inferior to those kingdoms that came before.  For all his abilities, the Antichrist will be failure.

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 handsa rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.  (Daniel 2:44-45 NIV84)

The Antichrist’s pathetic attempt at world dominance will be a utter failure; his “kingdom” crushed by the Kingdom of God.  When Jesus Christ returns in power and glory, He will be the King – the world leader – all people from all times have been looking and waiting for.  He will crush the Antichrist and smash up his puny kingdom as he sets up His own Millennial Kingdom.

(b)  Be worthy of the Kingdom, 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.  (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 NIV84)

The thing about man’s kingdoms and governments is that they rule by force; you must submit to them.  Christ’s kingdom is a little different:  He calls us to live in His kingdom, but it is up to those who hear the call, to heed the call.  The model for kingdom living is found in the Gospels, where we see Jesus calling people to follow Him.  Some chose to follow, many did not.  Some even chose to oppose Him.

We are considered worthy to live in Christ’s kingdom by making Him our Sovereign and by living for Him.  Paul, for his part, tried to model Christ so accurately that people would be drawn to Christ through his example.

Are we worthy to live in the kingdom?  It’s true, we can’t see the kingdom because it’s not here yet physically.  But in the spiritual sense, the kingdom of God IS here, right  now, and it is being built one soul at a time.  If you can’t live for God now in His spiritual kingdom, how will be you able to live for Him the the physical, future kingdom of God? 


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