Daniel Chapter 2

by Mike Ratliff

20 Daniel said,
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
21 “It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.
23 “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
For You have given me wisdom and power;
Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s matter.” Daniel 2:20-23 (NASB) 

Over time, Daniel became a very important person in the Kingdom of Babylon. However, as we look at Chapter 2 we find Daniel still a young man among the King’s counselors. The events in this chapter take place shortly after the promotion of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the ranks of the trainees that we looked at in yesterday’s post. In this chapter God uses a pagan King and a faithful servant to give us a prophetic picture of world kingdoms and a glimpse into the coming Kingdom of God.

Daniel is the only book in the Bible that is written in Hebrew and Aramaic. The Hebrew sections of the book are from 1:1 through 2:4a. Then Daniel switched to Aramaic from 2:4b through 7:28. Then he switched back to Hebrew from 8:1 through 12:13. Why? Aramaic was the language of Babylon. Both Hebrew and Aramaic had their roots in the ancient Chaldee language. Their alphabets were similar, but there were many differences. Daniel became a very important government official in Babylon and Persia, which also used Aramaic. He would have to be fluent in that language. The sections of Daniel in Aramaic are so probably because the focus of those sections was centered more on nations other than the Hebrews, while the Hebrew section deals more directly with Jewish matters.

1 Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2 Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3 The king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” Daniel 2:1-3 (NASB) 

The Babylonians started counting a kings years starting with the end of the first year of reign. So, this “second year” would actually be his third year according the Hebrew way of reckoning. Therefore, this event took place very shortly after the three-year indoctrination and examination of Daniel. He was probably between 18 or 19 years old at this point. God caused Nebuchadnezzar to have some dreams that disturbed him. God is sovereign. He can work in our lives any way He chooses. In this case He used Nebuchadnezzar to reveal prophetic information through him and Daniel to His people via the Bible. Josephus tells us that Nebuchadnezzar actually forgot the dreams but they still bothered him and drove him to demand that someone reveal the dreams to him. It could be that he did remember, but they impacted him so deeply and he so mistrusted the conjurers in his court that his demand that the dream be told to him along with its interpretation was a way to make sure he did not receive a phony analysis just to appease him. In any case he called the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and Chaldeans to tell him the dream and interpret it. These men would have been the heads of the various religions in Babylon. However, no matter what god these various groups worshipped, none of them believed that their god or gods communicated directly with people. Only those initiated in magic, enchanting, sorcery, or soothsaying (Chaldeans) could serve as intermediaries between the gods and the people.

4 Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” 5 The king replied to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. 6 But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.” 7 They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” 8 The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, 9 that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11 Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.” Daniel 2:4-11 (NASB) 

Nebuchadnezzar may have had these men in his court, but he also knew that they were simply going to try to blather things back to him as possible interpretations of the dreams. I saw a special report once where a man traveled to Russia to test some fortune tellers who had a world-wide reputation for being able to give interpretations of things that astounded people. The reporter took a photograph of a famous athlete from the early 20th Century with him. Most Americans would know who the person was in the picture, but few people in other countries would. He showed the women the picture. Then he asked them to “discern” whom the person was. The women then began to act like they were going into a trance. Then they started stating things in a way that would perhaps lead the reporter to lead them into identifying the person in picture. However, the reporter simply sat there and said nothing. Of course they couldn’t discern who it was. They became angry because he would not “help them.” This is all man-made religion can do. It is powerless. Oh, there may be some demonic empowerment going on in them, but nothing edifying. Nebuchadnezzar is demanding that his “counselors” put up or shut up. God has put such a burden on him to “know” the dreams that he is willing to kill all of them if they can’t interpret them.

12 Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
14 Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; 15 he said to Arioch, the king’s commander, “For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. 16 So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king. Daniel 2:12-16 (NASB) 

Notice that Daniel responds with prudence and discretion to the very man who has been ordered to kill him and all the other “wise men” of Babylon. This is humility and wisdom. Daniel walked closely with His God. In return, God’s character was growing and being manifest through him in all that he did and said. He is able to buy time for him and the other “wise men” by having the King himself appoint a time for the dreams to be interpreted. Again, this is very bold by one so young.

17 Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, 18 so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; 20 Daniel said,
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
21 “It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.
23 “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
For You have given me wisdom and power;
Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s matter.” Daniel 2:17-23 (NASB) 

Daniel has the gift of understanding and interpreting dreams, but he knows that it comes from God and it isn’t anything he can do in himself. Notice also that he called for prayer that God would be merciful to them. He did not ask to be given what he thought he deserved nor did he demand for God to be fair. Instead, his approach is all wrapped up in his view of God as being totally sovereign. He views himself as God’s servant. I believe God uses those who are His servants and does not use those who aren’t.

24 Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me into the king’s presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king.”
25 Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!” 26 The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. 28 However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed. 29 As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. 30 But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind. Daniel 2:24-30 (NASB)

Daniel is a very wise young man. He also boldly gives God all the credit. What would our churches be like if we had Christian leaders like this who gave all the credit to God and simply expounded the truth from God’s Word to those sheep whom God has given them. Instead of building their own kingdoms on earth they would minister to the part of the Body of Christ God has entrusted to them. Perhaps then we would not be in such apostasy at this time.

31 “You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. 32 The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
36 “This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king. 37 You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; 38 and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.
39 After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.
40 Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. 41 In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. 42 As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. 43 And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.
44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” Daniel 2:31-45 (NASB)

Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of the great image. It could have been a statue or, more than likely, a bas-relief form on a great escarpment. In any case, the head was gold, the chest and arms were silver, the middle and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet made of iron and clay. However, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay shattering the whole thing. Daniel makes sure that Nebuchadnezzar knows that his reign is by God’s hand. Then he explains that each section of the image represents different kingdoms. The head of gold was Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. The chest and arms of sliver represent Medo-Persia, which conquered Babylon just a few years after Nebuchadnezzar’s death. The bronze section of the image represented the Greeks. Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire along with much of the known earth. The iron part of the image represented the Roman Empire. Iron is the strongest of the metals in this image followed by bronze then silver then gold. However, gold is more glorious. The Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar must have been very glorious. The toes of the image were made of iron and clay. Most Biblical scholars agree that this part of the image represents a revived Roman empire made up of ten kings. The iron in it means it is strong to conquer but the clay means that it is little more than a federation that can fracture easily.

The stone that was cut out without human hands destroys this kingdom. The stone is the Messiah while the mountain from which it is cut represents God’s rule over all earthy powers. The Messiah is “cut out” of this sovereign rule. This would represent His advent as a man, our Lord Jesus Christ. The “no human hand” signifies that the Messiah comes by God’s hand, not the hands of Man. While Jesus’ first coming began the Kingdom of God, its fulfillment will be at His second coming which is represented by the stone striking the image and destroying it.

The federation exists at the time the stone strikes the image. The fulfillment of the Kingdom of God does away with all those that have come before. It fills the whole earth. It does not appear or come into being by human effort. The P.E.A.C.E. plan is not going to usher in this kingdom. Having evangelical pushes to baptize a record number of people is not going to cause it to happen. It will be by God’s actions according to His will in His timing.

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. 47 The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court. Daniel 2:46-49 (NASB) 

What a sight that must have been with the glorious, magnificent King Nebuchadnezzar falling upon his face before this young Hebrew! However, he does recognize that it is Daniel’s God who is mighty and awesome and worthy. God used this to have Daniel promoted to Prime Minister over the Babylon. Daniel’s three friends were also promoted. Daniel remained in Nebuchadnezzar’s court.

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “Daniel Chapter 2

  1. Thanks Mike for taking the time to write this and post this. It’s refreshing and a reminder to act in the wisdom and knowledge God gives us.

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