GETTING THE MESSAGE/God does rule over the earth
In the second half of Daniel chapter two, Daniel reveals king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its meaning. The king had been greatly troubled over the dream and so angry that none of his wise men could reveal the dream that he had decreed they all be put to death. But Daniel had prayed and sought God’s mercy. The Lord responded by revealing the dream and its meaning in a vision to Daniel.
The king asked Daniel a key question: “Are you able to make known to me the dream I have seen and its meaning?” Daniel’s short answer is no. Daniel tells the king that no man could do this (Daniel 2:27) and that he has no more wisdom than any other man to reveal the dream.
It is God who reveals truth and mysteries (verse 28). In this case, God is revealing the future, even the time of Christ coming and establishing his everlasting kingdom. The truth of God coming to us requires a humble response. We are lost and in darkness without God’s word coming to us.
Jesus said to enter his kingdom one must become as a little child. This is a disposition directly opposed to pride. It admits weakness and willingness to submit to what Christ says. Another sign of humility is to know your guilt and corruption from sin. Jesus taught that a moral man puffed up with a sense of his own merits is more offensive than an immoral man bowed down with a sense of guilt.
These are the characteristics of Christ’s kingdom because men need a Savior. Man has no righteousness before God. The condition of man required a great salvation from God, and He provided it in Christ Jesus. But He requires we enter His kingdom, to let Christ have a commanding power and King-throne in us.
We learn about Christ’s kingdom in the rest of this passage. Daniel describes the image the king saw in his dream in verses 31-35, and then he explains the meaning. The four different metals in the body of the image make up successive kingdoms of men. The traditional interpretation is that the head of gold is Babylon; the chest and arms of silver are the Medo-Persian Empire; the bronze middle and thighs are (Alexander’s) Greece, and the legs and feet of iron and clay are Rome.
The most important fact of these kingdoms is that God gave them the reign they had (verse 37). God uses the kingdoms of men for His own purposes, which purposes we often can’t see. The other factor is that as powerful as all these kingdoms were, they all had an end. All the kingdoms of men will fall in due time. If your hope is in a temporal kingdom, it is no hope at all.
The other kingdom in the dream shall never be destroyed but will bring all the other kingdoms to an end and stand forever (verse 44). This kingdom is built by a stone that crushes the other kingdoms and becomes a great mountain.
The stone is Christ. In Isaiah chapter two, we read that in the latter days the house of the Lord will be established as the highest of the mountains and many nations will flow into it. Conversely, Psalm two warns the kings of the earth that resisting the Son of God’s kingdom will result in being dashed to pieces, the same language we see in Daniel 2:35.
This is not difficult to apply. Those who see the glory of Christ and His kingdom will strive to enter it and will be thankful they do. Those who resist Christ’s reign, whether nation or individual, will perish. These are kingdoms in conflict. God’s kingdom will reign forever and in the end, stand alone, but for the present it exists alongside the kingdoms of men. We must wait on the Lord.
The last of the chapter tells us of the gratitude of King Nebuchadnezzar for the interpretation of his dream, as well as the promotion of Daniel and his friends to high positions in Babylon. Daniel belonged to God’s kingdom, but while he waited for its fulfillment he served the country he resided in, although not willing to compromise his first loyalty to the Lord.
This passage teaches us that God does rule over the earth. We tend to think that He does not see or govern because we see the kingdoms of men in power. But He is always present in power and providence to support and strengthen the hearts of His people. Don’t neglect Christ or His kingdom for anything. He will show forth the power of His word in due time.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.