Daniel Interprets the Dream
24Daniel went back to Arioch, the official in charge of executing the wise men. Daniel said, “Don't kill those men! Take me to the king, and I will explain the meaning of his dream.”
25Arioch rushed Daniel to the king and announced, “Your Majesty, I have found out that one of the men brought here from Judah can explain your dream.”
26The king asked Daniel, “Can you tell me my dream and what it means?”
Your Majesty, not even the smartest person in all the world can do what you are demanding. 28-29But the God who rules from heaven can explain mysteries. And while you were sleeping, he showed you what will happen in the future. 30However, you must realize that these mysteries weren't explained to me because I am smarter than everyone else. Instead, it was done so that you would understand what you have seen.
31Your Majesty, what you saw standing in front of you was a huge and terrifying statue, shining brightly. 32Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms were silver, and from its waist down to its knees, it was bronze. 33From there to its ankles it was iron, and its feet were a mixture of iron and clay.
34As you watched, a stone was cut from a mountain—but not by human hands. The stone struck the feet, completely shattering the iron and clay. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed and blown away without a trace, like husks of wheat at threshing time. But the stone became a tremendous mountain that covered the entire earth.
36That was the dream, and now I'll tell you what it means. 37Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings, and God has highly honored you with power 38over all humans, animals, and birds. You are the head of gold. 39After you are gone, another kingdom will rule, but it won't be as strong. Then it will be followed by a kingdom of bronze that will rule the whole world. 40Next, a kingdom of iron will come to power, crushing and shattering everything.
41-42This fourth kingdom will be divided—it will be both strong and brittle, just as you saw that the feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay. 43This kingdom will be the result of a marriage between kingdoms, but it will crumble, just as iron and clay don't stick together.
44-45During the time of those kings, the God who rules from heaven will set up an eternal kingdom that will never fall. It will be like the stone that was cut from the mountain, but not by human hands—the stone that crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. Your Majesty, in your dream the great God has told you what is going to happen, and you can trust this interpretation.
Daniel Is Promoted
46King Nebuchadnezzar bowed low to the ground and worshiped Daniel. Then he gave orders for incense to be burned and a sacrifice of grain to be offered in honor of Daniel. 47The king said, “Now I know that your God is above all other gods and kings, because he gave you the power to explain this mystery.” 48The king then presented Daniel with a lot of gifts; he promoted him to governor of Babylon Province and put him in charge of the other wise men. 49At Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to high positions in Babylon Province, and he let Daniel stay on as a palace official.
Face to face with the king, even Daniel must have quaked. However, his words were clear and confident. They contained within them a faith that takes God seriously and will not allow him to be excluded from public life. He states the dream which is, in visual form, an outline of “things to come” (v 29). The statue is portrayed in all its magnificence and then it is smashed to smithereens by the rock which transforms into a huge mountain.
Daniel stated the dream boldly, and gave the interpretation without any spin. In many ways it is very disturbing to the king, for it puts him firmly in his place. Whoever he might think he is, in the course of history he is simply one king from one dynasty in one period. However unique he would like to think himself to be, he is, in the end, simply one of a line and that line will be swept away by forces stronger and more powerful than him. It will, in the end, be God’s kingdom that endures.
Trying to salvage something from this verdict of history, the king can at least take comfort that he will outshine his successors and that the ultimate calamity will not occur in his lifetime. His foolishness is shown in that, having acknowledged God as the one who reveals mysteries and controls history, he then gets on with his normal life, leaving God out of his calculations.
However, God is not yet finished with the king! A desire to know the future does not exempt anyone from right living in the present.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of history, I worship you as the Lord who will reign forever. As I face challenges in my life I put my hand in yours. Show me what really matters in life. I surrender my priorities to yours. My hope is in you. I pray in your name, Amen.
First used in Encounter with God, July to September 2015, written by Colin Sinclair, copyright Scripture Union. Used with kind permission.