Daniel Chapter Two:
The Timing of the return of Jesus Revealed
King Nebuchadnezzar saw the return of Jesus. The timing of his return was revealed, but the great King had no idea what or who he saw. He needed answers to a troubling dream. God provided those answers. (Dreams can have important meanings)
He went to bed one evening, probably thinking about himself, and woke up terrified. He saw things in a dream he didn’t understand.
Bible prophecy students, both laymen, and experienced scholars make common mistakes when looking for answers to prophecy questions.
Chapter two of the Book of Daniel is a very good starting place to find the correct understanding of Bible prophecy.
How can we interpret correctly?
The Bible is an incredibly complicated book, or not. Studying it in the original language, context, and culture is essential to understanding. But the uneducated layman can read a modern translation and understand the Gospel of God.
“God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son.” That is a simple concept. We can understand it, but the truth courses throughout the Bible. Deeper understanding is helpful if we want to dig for deeper truths in the scripture.
So how can we understand or interpret correctly?
The answer is simple. Look for the passages that God interprets for you.
He will be correct one hundred percent of the time.
Bible scholars and teachers tend to make a lot more mistakes than the Lord does. 🙂
I’m right there with them. After around half a billion mistakes I lost track of all the ones I have made. I made a crucial error almost everyone makes. I listened to or read poor interpretation and passed it on to others as though it was Biblical fact.
We’ve heard the saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Well, two wrong Bible interpretations don’t make a right one either.
Can we back up and learn correctly? Of course, we can.
Is there a hidden formula?
This answer is simple as well. Read the text carefully, trust it, it is God’s Word to mankind.
That leads us back to the first question. God wants us to know what he will bring to pass. In many places, he tells us. Those are the golden passages we should study so we can learn properly.
The Golden Chapter of Prophecy
Daniel chapter two is one of those golden passages. The Lord interprets some of this chapter for us. He also gives an answer to Daniel who asked the Lord directly for correct understanding.
We should use that as our template. Learn from the way God interprets his own word. Apply the same principles to other passages in which he doesn’t interpret for us.
In this article, we will walk through the entire chapter. We will find places that are hard to understand. Daniel, the wise prophet, is confused at times also. He models the habit we should follow. He looks to God for correct interpretation.
This chapter takes the story of God and his dealings with humanity from the time of Daniel to the time of the return of Jesus. Of course, King Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know Jesus. The Messiah’s name wasn’t mentioned in the prophecy but his return to earth and his eventual kingdom was.
Let’s take a look:
Daniel chapter two:
Nebuchadnezzar Dreams about four kingdoms
Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him.
The king had some dreams, nightmares more likely. Something scared him about the dreams, but what exactly, he didn’t know.
At the time of his dreams, he was the ruler of the greatest kingdom of the Middle Eastern region. He didn’t know it but his dreams were about his kingdom and others that would follow.
King Nebuchadnezzar seeks to understand
Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.” Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered again and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you would gain time because you see that my decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”
As this story develops we realize the king only remembers part of his dreams. The part he remembers scares him. He wants answers and so he goes to the group of people who claim they are wise. He would test that wisdom.
Make known the dream to me:
Nebuchadnezzar puts the burden on the supposed wise men to tell him what unfolded in his dreams. He challenged them, “tell me what I dreamed first, then I will know you can also interpret it.”
They quickly understand that the king was presenting them with a problem they could not solve. They weren’t as wise as they had suggested.
“If you cannot tell me the dream, you shall be cut in pieces.” Harsh, no doubt, but when you reign over a great kingdom, you make the rules.
Who were the Chaldeans?
The Chaldeans were a group of wise men that masqueraded as fortune-tellers in support of the king. They generally lavished praise upon him and told him what he wanted to hear. What the king asked them to do was impossible. They knew they were in trouble and began to explain the difficult task was beyond their meager pay grade.
The text reads; Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: From Daniel 2:4 to Daniel 7:28, the Biblical text is in Aramaic – not Hebrew. This is the only section of the Bible written in Aramaic. This was the language of the Babylonian Empire.
The Wise men Complain
The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
You, O King, ask too much of us
The sidestepping and excuses from the wise men began. They claim that no one can do what the king asks. They were correct, but they claimed to have the wisdom of the gods. Where was that wisdom when they needed it?
As we will see, this story emphasizes an important point about Bible prophecy. Correct understanding comes from God, not so-called wise men. Anyone who claims special wisdom is lying.
“There is not a man on earth who can do this,” they argue. That’s the exact point this story in God’s word is making.
“They were like some modern ministers of our own day who spend their time studying philosophy, psychiatry, psychology, social science, political science, and then continue under the pretense of being God’s messengers to men.” (Strauss)
Following up on the above quote from Strauss, we also have many in the Bible prophecy community who make bold claims which prove false.
The truths taught in this chapter should teach many false prophets of our day to hold their tongues and let God interpret.
Except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh:
The wise men in the King’s court spoke the truth but they diminished their own claims of insight from the gods. The lies they had been pushing were exposed. Only One God can reveal the hidden things.
Centuries later, Jesus would become the only man of flesh who would have such wisdom. Jesus – that He is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23).
Death to the Wise Men!
For this reason, the king was angry and very furious and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.
The king responded in the same way any ruling despot would. The ability to cry out, “Off with their heads!” is usually only reserved for great kings who have scary powers over others. King Nebuchadnezzar did have such power. To resist his will meant death if his mood was poor.
He was having nightmares so his mood was worse than poor. He proceeded to declare the death penalty upon the whole group of fake fortune-tellers.
He would not tolerate supposed wise men who were wise enough to know and interpret dreams.
God revealed the dream to Daniel
Then with counsel and wisdom, Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation.
Daniel wasn’t of the same ethnic descent as most of the Chaldean wise men. He was Jewish, a captured slave from Israel, who rose in the ranks of his fellows. He and three of his friends, also from Israel, followed the Lord in spite of the fact they lived in a foreign country that worshipped false gods.
Daniel and his three friends began searching for a way to solve the problem. Calm in the crisis, Daniel trusted the Lord and asked for time to get an answer for the king.
He needed time to pray. To this great man of faith, praying wasn’t a waste of time but the wisest thing he could do.
Daniel sought guidance and support from others
Then Daniel went to his house and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
He went to his home to pray.
Answers to his problems and that of the king would come from the “mercies of the God of heaven.” Only God could solve the problem. He knew that. We should learn from his wise choice. Daniel had a very troubled life. Danger, trouble, and tragic loss of life and a home was part of his young life. He was taken away from his homeland and his family when he was a child.
He didn’t mope and complain. He leaned upon God and he learned to make lemonade from the lemons he encountered in life. He made the best of things by trusting in God.
The battle was won when Daniel prayed with his friends. Praying friends are a blessing, and “In prayer meetings such as this history has been made.” (Strauss)
God reveals the correct interpretation to Daniel
Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
God, the One who knows every secret, revealed the hidden dreams to Daniel. He didn’t search old libraries for dark truths of the past. He didn’t make incantations and light candles to entice spirits to reveal the hidden truth.
He prayed, and God revealed the truth.
Christianity values the principle of revelation. What we know about God is what He has revealed to us. The Lord promises blessings to those who seek him. We seek God through what he has revealed. That revelation is usually found the Word of God. The situation with Daniel in this story was rare. He was a rare man and special prophet. We all would be wise not to assume to take on a similar role. The pattern he used though, is exactly the same as what we should use to find truth and answers from God.
It’s not the Prophet, it’s God who understands
Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand.”
Daniel didn’t spend any time reflecting on how special he was. He didn’t take out ads proclaiming his prophecy skills. His attention and praise went to the Lord where it belonged.
It’s all God’s work. If he reveals something to an individual that person should never draw attention to his or her self. We see regular violations of this principle today. On television shows, and behind pulpits, prophets draw attention to themselves and pass vague praise to God.
It’s a shame what many charlatans in today’s pulpits are exhibiting.
The maturity of faith is often revealed by the time it takes us to give our praise to God. Daniel even started to praise the Lord before the answer arrived. That’s strong faith.
The dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation.
Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.” Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, “I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.” The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?” Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head upon your bed were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.
I have a found a man:
Arioch, the King’s assistant came into the royal court praising his own efforts. He lifted up this man he found who could answer the king’s question.
Daniel would have none of that. He refused to take credit and put the honor where it belonged.
“But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets.” This was Daniel’s response.
What will be in the latter days: This is where the dream gets wild and crazy. This wasn’t some king having some bad dreams. This was God, who is actively involved in the affairs of men, giving revelations to an unbelieving king. A heathen, if you will, who didn’t follow God and even captured and killed many of God’s people.
God sent a very important message, in a dream, to a wicked man. Very interesting. Daniel, a good man, and a special prophet was placed by the Lord in the right place at the right time to be God’s man. God orchestrated this event.
The timing of the return of Jesus
This series of dreams was about the end of days or ‘latter days.’ As I said at the beginning of this article, these dreams will reveal the timing of the return of Jesus. Not the date, but the timing in relation to other signs and events.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream didn’t just concern him and his kingdom. It began with his kingdom and expanded across the whole span of the future.
Daniel Tells Nebuchadnezzar what he dreamed
“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.”
Behold, a great image:
Daniel described an image from the king’s dream. It apparently was an impressive statue of a man. Daniel used strong words to describe it–splendor; excellent; and awesome. The massive image was made from four types of metal and some clay at the bottom.
The head was gold, the arms and chest silver, the stomach and thighs were bronze and it’s calves were iron. The feet were noticeably different. The feet were made of a mixture of iron and clay.
What came next was crucial
Daniel told the king, “you watched while a stone…” In his dreams, the king saw a stone crash into the impressive statue. The stone hit the weakest part of the statue where clay was mixed with iron. This brought the entire image crashing into ruin. The stone became a great mountain. This ‘mountain’ will become the kingdom of the rightful King–that’s King Jesus. Jesus will replace all other kings.
But what does it mean?
Daniel gives the king understanding, and a peek far into the future
“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 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. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 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 into pieces and crush all the others. 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. 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. 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.”
Now we will tell the interpretation:
Since Daniel was able to correctly and exactly retell what the king saw in his dream he gained instant credibility. The prophet knew what he was talking about so the king listened intently to the interpretation.
You are this head of gold:
Nebuchadnezzar represented the head of gold. After him, three other kingdoms would follow. Each successive kingdom was lower on the statue and was made of a metal of decreased value. A final kingdom, the stone mountain, would be established by God not a man.
The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure:
This prophetic dream was the start of a historic fulfillment. Four kingdoms would rise to power. At the time of the fourth kingdom, a stone will crash into and crush all the kingdoms together. The stone will begin the kingdom of Christ.
But what is the identity of the four kingdoms? We know the first one because the Lord told Daniel it was Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. Do we know the others?
At that point in Daniel’s life, he was not told. Later in his life, he did receive increasing insight into their identities.
The identity of the fourth kingdom is very important in bible prophecy. Many think it is Rome. Perhaps that is true, but that interpretation has led to many erroneous assumptions. Those will be addressed in later articles.
The Lord told Daniel something very important. We need to keep it in mind when we try to understand other prophetic scriptures.
The first king’s empire was said to rule over other nations, wherever the children of men dwell, but the Babylonian Empire was centered in the Middle East. It had no influence in the Americas. It didn’t stretch into the area where Japan is today. It didn’t reach the Austrailian continent.
Why is this important?
It’s important for us to realize that Bible prophecy is focused on the Middle East. These four Empire/Kingdoms must dominate the world of the Middle East. They reach outside of those boundaries but are centered there. The final one will have a world-wide impact but it must be centered in the Middle East.
This crucial and we will study this further in later articles.
In the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed:
This verse needs careful consideration among prophecy students. If the final kingdom is Rome there is a problem. This verse tells us God’s kingdom will immediately follow the fourth kingdom. That hasn’t happened yet, so how could it be Rome?
It broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold:
This is another important piece of this prophecy puzzle. The stone mountain kingdom (Jesus) breaks all four kingdoms at the same time. How does that happen if they have passed into ancient past?
A remnant of each of the first four will reunite in some form when the Lord crushes them all at once.
When the stone kingdom comes it will break into pieces all the kingdoms. The statue will have great strength, that of iron, but it will be held together by clay. It will crumble when Jesus hits it.
The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure:
This prophecy has begun, it did so back in the time of Babylon. The dream of the king hasn’t reached fulfillment though.
It certainly will. God said so. The interpretation is sure. Good prophecy students will use this understanding of the dream to their benefit. Faithful students and teachers should match this interpretation with other scriptures when coming to further conclusions.
Truly God is the revealer of secrets!
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets since you could reveal this secret.” Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. Also, Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
King Nebuchadnezzar believed the prophet.
He fell on his face and praised the God of gods who gave the interpretation of the dream.
So what did we learn?
- This is a very crucial prophecy.
- It goes from Daniel’s day up to the return of Jesus.
- A united kingdom of some sort will exist, in the Middle East just before Jesus returns.
- That is an important timing issue regarding the return of Christ.
- We should look for verses and passages in which God gives the interpretation.
- It’s not about the prophet, it’s about the Lord who sends the dream and gives the interpretation to the prophet.
- At this point in Daniel’s life, he didn’t know anything else about the identity of the three other kingdoms.
In further studies, we will look for those identities to become clearer.