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.
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 in 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. (Daniel 2:31-45)
The Greatest Kingdom
Nebuchadnezzar was one of the great Babylonian kings. His construction of the hanging gardens of Babylon is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The will of the Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the remaining tribes of Judah carrying away the people to seventy-year bondage of heartache and despair. His army punished the people of God for their rebellion against the word of the prophets pleading with them to repent and turn to the Lord. With the exception of the Pharaoh in the days of Moses, no king had a greater influence on the history of the children of Israel than Nebuchadnezzar. The history of the world would be defined by events that happened when he brought four Jewish boys into his court.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were young men who were gifted in many ways. They were among the young nobles king Nebuchadnezzar had placed in his palace to serve him. Little did he know the impact these four young men would have on his life and the unfolding of God’s plan to redeem man. One night the king had a terrible dream. It was most unusual and very disturbing. Finding no one to tell him the dream and its interpretation, the king began to kill his wise men. Daniel intervened assuring the king he would grant his wish. The Lord revealed to Daniel the dream and its meaning after his three friends spent time in prayer. Coming before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel gave glory to God for what he was about to do. It was a remarkable dream.
The image Nebuchadnezzar saw was a figure of four nations: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold. After him an inferior kingdom would come and then a third. The fourth kingdom was a powerful and terrible image. The Roman Empire became one of the greatest nations in the history of man. It was during this kingdom that something more powerful would take place. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar in the days of the Roman Empire God would set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed and rule over all nations. That kingdom was the church, the kingdom of God.
History unfolded exactly as the dream foretold. The Medo-Persian Empire destroyed the Babylonian’s. Persia was defeated by Alexander the Great and his Greek juggernaut. Rome conquered the Greeks and firmly established its rule for nearly two hundred years. It was during the time of the Roman kingdom that Jesus was born. Luke refers to the rulers of Rome in his historical treatise about Jesus. The Lord told of the coming kingdom and declared there were those alive at the time that would live to see it coming. Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus the kingdom of God was established in the city of Jerusalem. The church of the New Testament is the kingdom Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. Daniel foretold of the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless all men through the seed of Jesus Christ.
All the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome have long disappeared in the dust of history. Many nations have risen and fallen in the last two thousand years but the kingdom of God has never failed to exist somewhere in the world. History may not reflect the disciples of Christ peppered throughout the world but the Lord knows those who remain faithful to Him. The Roman Catholic Church influenced the ideals of western civilization for many centuries but they could never destroy the one true church. It remained constant and today we realize the blessings of the kingdom that has destroyed all other kingdoms. Satan has turned the hearts of the people away from the knowledge of the one kingdom allowing men to “attend the church of their choice” and yet the one true church remains. The church will remain as the kingdom of God until the end of time. Thank God for His infinite wisdom and power to fulfill the words given by Daniel in the long ago and to show His glory in the New Testament church – the kingdom of Jesus Christ.