Nebuchadnezzar's dream

Daniel 2

In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great, degree to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through the play and counterplay of human interest a and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will.” Ellen White, Education, 173

In no other portion of Scripture is this more clearly revealed than in the second chapter of Daniel. Here is brought to view the whole sweep of history from the time of Daniel until our day.

At the time these events took place, Babylon ruled the then-known world. It had gained its independence under the leadership of Nabopolassar, who made it a center of trade and industry. It was Nebuchadnezzar, however, who ruled Babylon for the greatest part of its supremacy and who was reigning monarch at the time this story took place.

One night the king had gone to bed, wondering what would take place in the future. As he looked at this great city he had built, it appeared as it were invincible, and in deed, there were no machines of war at that time capable of breaching its walls. Surrounding the wall was a moat formed by the Euphrates River. The river passed through the center of the city, but at the place it entered the city were large gates extending down into the water. Behind those gates were walls lining the river, with gateways that allowed access into the city from the river. These gateways could be secured by large brass gates, so even if one was able to pass beyond the gates at the wall, there was no access to the city unless the brass gates were opened.

While pondering these things and wondering if his kingdom would endure forever, Nebuchadnezzar fell asleep. That night he had an impressive dream, but in the morning he was unable to recall the details. He felt impressed, however, that somehow it answered his question, revealing the future.

The next morning the wise men were assembled, but were unable to reveal the dream to the king. In his anger, the king ordered their arrest and detention to await execution. While this order might seem somewhat extreme, we must remember that these men professed to be able to predict the future, using astrology and other means, and greatly profited by this professed knowledge.

Daniel and his companions, though counted among the wise men, were young and relatively new members of this group, and were overlooked the initial summons to appear before the king. They were, however, now included in the general arrest.

Daniel appealed for a delay in the order, promising that he would give the king the desired information That night he and his companions presented their request before God, and God, who ever honors those who put their trust in Him, in a night vision revealed the king’s dream to Daniel as well as it interpretation.

The head of gold, it was plainly stated, represented Babylon. (See Daniel 2:37–38) Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon had collected the gold of all the nations it captured, making it the richest nation of antiquity.

When Herodotus, the ancient historian, visited Babylon a century after Nebuchadnezzar’s day, he found an abundance of gold still there. Temples, altars, shrines—all were plated with this gold. Jeremiah says, “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand.” Jeremiah 51:7. Isaiah spoke of Babylon as “the glory of the kingdoms of, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency.” Isaiah 13:9

It is not, however, in the boasted greatness or the things that appear to make them invincible, that nations or individuals find their strength. It is rather by their fulfilling the purpose of God for them that their destiny is determined.

Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom lasted only until the reign of his grandson, when the second nation, represented by the breast and arms of silver, came upon the stage of action.

Generally, it is the superior kingdom that overcomes the inferior, but prophecy indicates that this is was not to be the case. (See Daniel 2:39.) In the image, the history of the nations progressed from the head to the feet, and each change was reflected by a metal inferior the one that preceded it.

In Daniel 5:28–31, it is revealed that it was the combined forces of Media and Persia that overthrew the kingdom and killed Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, and Darius the Mede reigned in his stead.

More than a century before, the Lord had revealed through Isaiah the method by which the city would be taken and under whose leadership this would take place. “Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held; To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron.’ ” Isaiah 45:1–2

Under the leadership of Cyrus the Persian, the armies of the Medes and Persians were able to During this period they entered the city by way of the dry river bed. Even then their efforts would have been futile, had not the brazen gates been left open, unwatched by the defenders, while the king and his nobles feasted and drank. (See Daniel 5)

While the Medes and Persians are referred to as jointly accomplishing this overthrow, the Medes, once the more powerful of the two nations, had actually been conquered by Persia at this time. King Darius, the Median king mentioned in Daniel 5 and 6, is thought to have been the grandfather of Cyrus the Persian. Following the passing of Darius, nothing more is said of the Medes, and the kingdom is referred to as the Persian Empire.

Just as silver is inferior to gold in value, so Medo-Persia was inferior to Babylon in wealth and luxury. While the Persian Empire was stronger in terms of military strength and territory occupied, it was never able to rival Babylon in concentrated wealth or education. The Persian Empire lasted about two hundred years, from 539 to 332 BC.

The next kingdom, that of brass, would then represent the kingdom that overthrew Persia, and we know from history that it was the Greeks, under Alexander the Great, who in three decisive battles, Granicus, in 334, BC; Issus, in 333 BC; and Arbela, in 331 BC, defeated the Persian forces, making Greece the next world empire. This historical fact is also plainly shown in another vision received by Daniel, recorded in chapter 8, where it is stated that the kingdom to defeat the Persians would be Greece. (See Daniel 8:2–8, 20–21.) Brass was the metal widely used by the Greeks, and it was introduced by them in weaponry and armor.

Rome, represented by the legs of iron, defeated the armies of Greece at the battle of Pydna in 168 BC, and ruled the world from 168 BC to AD 476, when it finally succumbed to the invading barbarians.For more than 500 years Rome seemed almost unconquerable. Her standards waved from the British Isles on the Atlantic to the Euphrates, from the north Sea to the Sahara. Her Caesers were worshiped as gods, and by her might she made the world one vast prison house. In the words of the historian Edward Gibbon, “To resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly.” The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1, 190

In vision it was shown that after Rome, there would be no more world empires. When Rome fell, the territory of Western Europe was divided into the various sections that now form the nations of Europe. As iron and clay are partly strong and partly weak, so it was to be with the nations that made up the feet. As iron and clay will not mix, so the nations would never be fully united.

For the last fifteen centuries strong men have sought to revive the glories of the old Roman Empire, welding together the various nations of Europe. Beginning with Charlemagne and continuing through Charles V, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser William 11, and Adolph Hitler—all have signally failed, though at times the goal seemed almost within reach. Seven little words of prophecy stood in their way. “They shall not cleve one to another.” Daniel 2:43

It was also revealed that it would be in the days of these kingdoms that the God of Heaven will set up His everlasting kingdom, represented by the rock that struck the image on its feet. (See Daniel 2:34–35, 44)

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