In answer to the earnest prayers of Daniel and his friends, the Lord provided the prophet with both the king’s dream and its meaning. Further revelations and visions in Daniel’s life will fill in more detail about the specific interpretation of the dream, but Daniel shares what he has been given so far with King Nebuchadnezzar.
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 secrets has made known to you what will take place. Daniel 2:29 (NASB)
31 “You, O king, were watching and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary radiance, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. 32 The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its chest and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Daniel 2:31 (NASB)
The great statue in the king’s dream represents the succession of future Gentile empires that will reign upon the earth from Daniel’s time until the second coming of Jesus Christ. At that time, the kingdom of heaven will be installed over all people on our planet, with Jesus exercising physical leadership over the nations.
The kings of Judah in David’s line were intended to reign until the birth of Christ, but due to their rejection of God, He ended their line with the exile into Babylon. From here, the Messianic line would be preserved in the form of governors and others of more modest roles who will make up the remainder of the genealogy of Jesus.
The majestic statue in the dream has a head of gold at the top, representing King Nebuchadnezzar himself. He would be superior in power and authority to the other Gentile empires that follow, including Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and its descendants. As Daniel explains:
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 honor; 38 and wherever the sons of mankind live, or the animals of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has handed them over to you and has made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold. Daniel 2:37-38 (NASB)
The next two empires, Medo-Persia, the chest and arms of silver, and Greece, the belly and thighs of bronze, hold successively inferior positions. They each occur lower on the statue and are composed of less precious metals.
39 And after you another kingdom will arise inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. Daniel 2:39 (NASB)
Much more will be said of the kingdoms of Medo-Persia and Greece further into the book of Daniel.
The lowest part of the statue had:
33 its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Daniel 2:33 (NASB)
The legs of iron and feet of iron and clay in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represent the empire of Rome and its derivatives. This great and powerful empire eventually collapsed and broke into pieces, many of which still survive today as nations as well as their former colonies. The book of Revelation tells us that there will be an attempt to re-assemble these pieces into a world government led by Antichrist at some time in our future.
40 Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; just as iron smashes and crushes everything, so, like iron that crushes, it will smash and crush all these things. 41 And 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 within it some of the toughness of iron, since you saw the iron mixed with common clay. 42 And just 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 fragile. 43 In that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in their descendants; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not combine with pottery. Daniel 2:40-43 (NASB)
Though the last of the great human empires has now made its appearance, the dream does not end here. There is another great empire coming after this which is not of this world. It is of our Creator and His Christ.
34 You continued watching until a stone was broken off 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 to pieces all at the same time, and they were 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 entire earth. Daniel 2:34-35 (NASB)
All the great strivings of mankind that do not honor the Lord will ultimately turn to dust. The kingdom of God led by Jesus Christ will replace each of them into eternity.
44 And 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 Just as you saw that a stone was broken off from 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 certain and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and paid humble respect to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and incense. 47 The king responded to Daniel and said, “Your God truly is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of secrets, since you have been able to reveal this secret.” Daniel 2:44-46 (NASB)
God permitted the great empires of history to rise, but they will all fall – only the divine will remain. Christ’s arms are open to us to cleanse us of all our shortcomings and sins. He will gladly receive us into His new kingdom forever if we seek Him.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
Lord, we turn to You and humbly confess our sins and shortcomings. Thank you for providing for our cleansing through Your suffering and death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Help us to live a better life through the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.