Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

by Tad Lindley

King Nebuchadnezzar was hard core. Imagine this, you are working a job and your boss comes up to you and says, “I had a nightmare last night. I want you to drop everything you’re doing and tell me what my nightmare means!”

What would you say? Maybe something like, “OK, boss of mine, but first tell me about your dream, then maybe I can interpret it for you.” That’s a fair request.

But your boss says, “Look, you tell me what my dream was and interpret it for me, or I’ll have you killed and your house turned into a honey bucket dump!”

Not quite exactly

Actually, Nebuchadnezzar commanded that all of his magicians and astrologers and sorcerers and the Chaldeans and all his wise advisors either tell him what his dream was or be killed. This included the prophet Daniel. In fact, Daniel found out when he got a knock on the door. The captain of the king’s guard, Arioch showed up at Daniel’s place. He said, “Come along with me boys, we’re going to kill you.” (Up to this point Daniel had not even heard about the king’s nightmare). Somehow Daniel talked Arioch into giving them one more day. Daniel and his friends had an all night prayer meeting and then was the secret revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. (Daniel 2:19)

The king’s dream

“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine 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 clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. (Daniel 2:31-36 NKJV)

Head of gold

You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. (Daniel 2:37-38 NKJV) The statue represented a timetable of the kingdoms of the world from King Nebuchadnezzar’s day forward.

Chest and arms of silver

And after thee shall arise another kingdom that is inferior to thee… (2:39) We have the advantage of interpreting this after the fact. The kingdom that arose and replaced the Babylonian Kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar was the Medo-Persian Empire. This happened in 539 BC. Daniel recounts a small portion of these events in Daniel 5.

Belly and thighs of brass

…and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. (2:39) From our vantage point in history we know that what Daniel was prophesying about was the transfer of power under Alexander the Great beginning in 334 BC when he attacked the Persian Empire. This Greek Empire held sway over the Eurasia and North Africa until the Roman Empire arose.

Legs of iron

And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. (2:40) Again the calendar of history tells us that the center of power shifted to Rome officially in 27 BC and continued until 395 AD at which point it split into East and West (which split resulted in the Catholic Church in the west and the Orthodox Churches in the east). The Eastern Roman Empire continued on for over a thousand years. The Western Empire collapsed after less than 100 years.

Feet of iron mingled with clay

Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. (2:41) After the dividing of the Roman Empire, there arose the Holy Roman Empire in the west. On December 25, 800 AD, Catholic Pope Leo III crowned King Charlemagne as head of the Holy Roman Empire.

Time of the toes

And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.  As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. (2:42-43) At this point, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is converging on the present. The toes represent a further division of the empires as peoples broke away and formed independent nations.

The Stone

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.  Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” (2:44-45) Now we are reading about events that have yet to take place. The stone is none other than Jesus Christ coming to establish his kingdom on earth (see Revelation 19 and 20 for further details). Are you ready?

Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church.