I’ve had some weird dreams in my life: being kidnapped by the Wicked Witch of the West, having a co-worker as a parent, finding myself at school with no pants. Never, though, have I been so troubled as to seek interpretation for these as seminal messages for my future, let alone threatening the lives of any who failed to interpret them well. When we read Daniel chapter two, we see that this is the very threat Daniel found himself on the receiving end of.
Daniel acted boldly. Just as we saw the presence and power of God with Daniel in giving him the interpretation, we see it in his response to the king. He entered Nebuchadnezzar’s court and declared that no person could interpret the dream, but informed him that “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries,” one who will make known its meaning (Daniel 2:28). He claims no wisdom or power of his own, but instead, boldly points to the true God as the source of this revelation.
In doing so, Daniel acts in faith and exemplifies what Jesus later declares in Luke 12: “Anyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him… the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said” (vv.8,12). Daniel not only acknowledged God before men, but he did so in the highest court in the land and at risk of His own life, believing God would give him the words to say. He trusted and he obeyed, believing in “the God of the heavens” who would “set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44).
The dream itself tells of a succession of kingdoms with varying levels of glory and strength which crumbled by “a stone [that] broke off without a hand touching it” and “became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.” Daniel’s interpretation of this dream is striking as well (Daniel 2:34,35). He isn’t just predicting future power clashes and regime changes; he is describing how God gives power to kings, and then goes on to say “in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed” (v.44).
So in the presence of the most powerful man in the world, as a prisoner in the midst of humiliating exile, Daniel proclaims the everlasting supremacy of Christ’s kingdom. We often think of this only in terms of individual souls being saved, but Daniel is foretelling what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: “He must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet” (v.25). Jesus came to save and change hearts, but He is a conquering King as well, defeating all enemies, all evil, all death (v.26). And unlike every man-built kingdom, His reign will last for eternity. For Daniel, these must have been words that simultaneously made him fear for his life yet gave him hope for the future. We know the story, though. We know how Christ struck the death blow to death, once and for all time. So for us, these are words that are sure and sealed and fill us with hope for His return.
Written by Barnabas Piper