GOD’S BLUEPRINT FOR THE NATIONS
The book of Daniel ❧ Part 1 of 1
Daniel 2:24-49 ❧ Pastor, Dr. John Denney
This morning I want to talk to you about God’s Blueprint for the Nations. People are clamoring for answers trying to make sense of what is happening in our world. They’re looking for someone who is a reliable authority to understand the alarming changes taking place. Media can’t. The media has long lost its ability to be a reliable read on world events. In most cases, the media is incapable and incompetent to give us accurate news. Politicians can’t. Politicians too have long lost their credibility to be trusted. Media can’t, politicians can’t, and the Church won’t. Many pulpits today will not address the truth of current issues due to fear of losing people and losing money. There is only one reliable authority we can ultimately trust and that is the Bible, God’s Word. More than two-thousand years ago God plainly told us of what we’re seeing take place today. I’m going to talk about that with you this morning.
I don’t think there has ever been a time in which people have been more concerned about the future of the world as they are today. All of us have heard of The Great Reset that has been gaining more and more influence and control on the world stage. It is no secret the goal of The Great Reset is world domination through godless Marxist control. Covid-19, The Green New Deal, Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter, the Great Reset have at their core a Marxist agenda, or in the words of Marx himself, “to dethrone God and destroy capitalism.” Yet, the Bible tells us irrespective of man’s plans, God is in control. In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps(Prov. 16:9, NIV).
The real question for us: Why is God allowing this to happen? Someone recently remarked, “Things are not falling apart, they are falling in place.” As believers we’re called to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Walking by faith means we make sense of our world according to God’s truth.
This morning we’re going to at one of the most remarkably clear and comprehensive pictures of the world’s future in the Bible. It is found in the book of Daniel chapter 2. It is so clear, in fact, it has raised the brow of many a critic. That shouldn’t surprise us though. Almost one third of the Bible is prophetic. God talks a lot about the future in the Bible. The reason is simple – God is the only One who completely knows and is in perfect control of the future. I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure”’(Isaiah 46:9-10, NAS).
Before we dive into the text, let me give you some significant observations about Daniel 2. Anyone familiar with their Bible knows the OT was written in Hebrew. However, Daniel 2-7 isn’t. It’s written instead in Aramaic. This was the lingua franc, or the common language of the world at that time like English is today. This is important because the message God has to share in Daniel 2 is to the Gentile world. If world leaders were smart, they would listen to what God says. Second, this passage reminds us, as we’ve already seen, God is in sovereign control of the world – always has been and always will be. As believers we can take great comfort in this great truth. Isaiah 33:6 says God will be the stability of our times. So, this is a message to the world to look to and surrender to the One who IS in control, and this is a message to believers to find comfort and hope. “He who has the most hope had the most influence.”
The first twenty-three verses of Daniel 2 introduce us to a young irritable sleep-deprived king named Nebuchadnezzar (Babylonian for Nebo, protect the boundary). He’s only in his second year of reign over the most powerful nation on earth. He’s had a dream that is so terrifying and mysterious he summons his chief spiritual advisors to help him make sense of it all. In a nutshell, he tells them if they really are what they say they are, they should be able to tell him both his dream and what it means. Knowing they were about to be exposed for the charlatans they were, they try to manipulate this young king to tell them his dream. But he refuses to budge. Tell me the dream and its meaning or you all die, he says.
It just so happens that a young Hebrew named Daniel (God is my Judge) hears about the king’s decree. He asks the king for some time to pray in which the king agrees. Daniel and his three friends whom you recently learned from Dan Fisher as the asbestos brothers (they would not bend, bow, or burn), go to prayer. During the night God reveals to Daniel both the content and the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
- The Dream-Revealer. (Read: Dan. 2:24-30) The first thing the king demands is can Daniel tell him his dream? (v.26). Daniel doesn’t directly answer his question. …there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days(Dan. 2:28). This is the first indicator of Daniel’s calm confidence, a marked contrast from the others. From the very start, Daniel sets the record straight: God alone reveals dreams. God alone deserves the glory here. Daniel must have thought of Joseph when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams (Gen. 41:16). He too was careful to make sure God received all the glory. He’s careful to put some distance between himself and the collection of mystics, the kings’ spiritual advisors (the magicians, conjurers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans) ranging from the likes of Nostradamus to Shirley McClain.
To say the least, Daniel doesn’t endure himself to his older and more powerful co-workers, the Babylonian
priesthood. This says something about Daniel’s calm confidence: He did not fear others, no matter how
powerful or intimidating they were. Oswald Chambers: The remarkable thing about fearing God is that
when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything
else. The fear of others lays a snare, but one who trusts in the Lord is secure(Prov. 29:25, NRS, see
also Luke 12:4-5). Daniel is driving home the simple lesson he will point to again and again throughout his
book: God is in charge of history. God is in charge of our lives. History is His story. Once we understand this
and fear Him and Him alone – life make sense and we are not controlled by the anything else. Next, The
Dream. . .
- The Dream.“You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. “The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became 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 whole earth (Dan. 2:31-35). In a calm, clear, and confident voice, Daniel brings the image the king saw to light. What the king saw was terrifying. It was a “great” statue that was “large and of extraordinary splendor” and its appearance was “awesome.” It emanated with an almost life-like appearance that sent crashing waves of fear through the king’s heart. The statue made all of Babylon’s great splendor pale in comparison. He had never seen anything like it. It was awesome. Yet, as great as the structure was it was inherently unstable and destined to crash.
Why was it a statue of a man? The statue represented the age of man. The corollary of this passage, Daniel 7, shows each kingdom represented by a savage animal meaning man in all his splendor and greatness will never rise above the animal kingdom. Only God can transform our lives and our world to be what we long for in our hearts.
As Nebuchadnezzar stared enraptured at the statue, he saw a Stone carved out of the mountain “without hands.” It struck the statue at its feet destroying it so thoroughly that there was not a trace of it was to be found. Like David’s single stone that struck Goliath – one stone brings down this giant as well. In the place where the statue stood, the Stone mysteriously grows until it covers the whole earth.
Before we look at the Daniel’s interpretation there are several guiding observations immediately stand out about the statue. One, the metals depreciate in value but increase in strength from head to foot (from gold to iron, to clay and iron). Two, the statue is top heavy and destined to fall suddenly and completely. Three, despite its grandeur and majesty, strength, and durability, it is destined to be destroyed. Four, the mysterious stone permanently destroys the statue and, in marked contrast to the statue, lasts forever. All of this had been keeping the king awake at night. All of these observations send a profound message to our day. But to understand their significance we have to first look at Daniel’s interpretation.
- The Interpretation. “This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king(Dan. 2:36). He sees 4 kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, & Rome represented by the different metals. In Daniel 7, each of these four kingdoms are represented as four terrifying animals which we’ll look at as well.
- Babylon. “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the
kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold(Dan. 2:37-38). “The scepter of world power” rested on Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon, in the Bible represents the city of man, the prototype of all world empires. Babylon has always been known in the Bible, but it is Nebuchadnezzar whom God now gave the power, the strength, the glory of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar ushered Babylon into an unparalleled greatness it had never seen before. Babylon was the only world power that was an autocracy – absolute rule of one. But Babylon’s power was short lived, lasting a mere 66 years. The following three world powers be inferior in it sense of power but would last longer and have a greater world dominance.
In Daniel 7, Babylon is seen as a human like winged lion representing its regal strength and swift power. Interestingly, both the lion and the eagle were symbols of Babylon.
The first thing the king hears from Daniel is his kingdom will be overthrown. This is hard, if not impossible, for Nebuchadnezzar to grasp. The city of Babylon was to the world what the “Death Star” is to Star Wars. Surrounded by a huge mote that tied into the Euphrates River; the main water source that ran through the center of the city. Looking beyond the wide mote you saw two the cliff like walls protecting the city. The ancient historian Herodotus said stretched 300 feet into the sky and were 87 feet thick! They were so wide they held chariot races on them. The walls themselves extended literally for hundreds of miles! Their defense systems were the most sophisticated in the world making Babylon seem as invincible as Darth Vader’s Death Star.
Daniel gives the most information about the first kingdom – Babylon and the last – Rome. He only briefly mentions the two world empires in between.
- Medo-Persia. After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you (Dan. 2:39). The
Second kingdom represented by shoulders and arms made up of silver two kingdoms that merge into one: The Medes and the Persians. Daniel 7 shows these two kingdoms as a bear leaning on its side with three ribs in its mouth representing one kingdom (Persians) would dominate and the three ribs represent three conquered nations. But unlike the regal man-like lion, the bear was in the words of one, ponderous and ungainly. But this kingdom was not ruled by the absolute power of one, but of a few. Medo-Persia was an oligarchy – nobles were equal in power to the king in everything accept office.
As silver is strong than gold, so the bear overthrew the lion. In 539 BC the unimaginable happened – the invincible city of Babylon was ingeniously conquered. The Medes and the Persians diverted the Euphrates River coursing through the city, causing the water level to drop and enabling the army to enter at night through the water gates. Babylon fell swiftly in one night without a shot being fired so to speak. Later Darius, the Mede, required the nations he conquered to pay tribute in silver – which is what the kingdom that follows the head of gold is made of – an inferior metal.
- Greece. …then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth(Dan. 2:39).
The third kingdom, represented by the bronze belly and thighs, will become known as Greece. The Greek soldiers used shields made of bronze which corresponds to the bronze in the image.
In 331 BC Alexander the Great, at just 30 years of age, extended the long arm of his rule to reach across the known world. When he had conquered the world, it is said he wept because there were no more kingdoms to defeat. Not surprisingly, Greece is represented as a leopard in Daniel 7, a swift and cunning predator. Alexander took the world with incredible speed and cleverness. Even so, Greece’s rule came to and end lasting only 185 years. Again, its power was inferior to Babylon’s. Greece ultimately fell under the rule of an aristocracy – power held by four rulers.
With each succeeding nation, their power and the expanse of their kingdom grew becoming seemingly more and more invincible. But not quite. After Greece a fourth kingdom arose – one made of iron.
- Rome. One commentator writes: “In 146 BC Roman legions like iron tanks rumbled across the
Mediterranean world and eventually Europe, crushing everything in their path. But the wider the empire expanded, the more it deteriorated. Its true weakness came from within, as its iron-like assets mixed with its clay-like liabilities.” Vv. 40-43 Daniel describes this with startling vividness: Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. “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 in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. “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 brittle. “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery (Dan. 2:40-43). Some point out the legs represent more than just the final portion of the statue but have distinct meaning in history. Historians point out Rome became politically divided from the East to the Wes under Emperor Valentinian in 364AD. The two legs, then came to geopolitically represent the East the West. As well, the length of the legs seems to point to a kingdom that would last longer than the former three.
Daniel 7 describes this final animal as simply a beast that is terrifying, dreadful and very strong with teeth like iron (Dan. 7:7). It appears to be a combination of all the former three. It’s form of government is essentially a totalitarianism – the state striving to control every aspect of life and civil society. In other words, the government usurps the place of God as the ultimate authority in your life. This is true to Marxism. The government owns everything of your life; your property, your family, your money, your life.
This prophecy has a profound reach that speaks with great significance to our day. Rome was the last empire to rule the entire world. Since that time many have tried. The Huns, Islam, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin. Today, you have Putin,Xi Jinping, Karl Schwab, and others vying for world dominance. Daniel says the final rule will be a confederation of ten kings (ten toes of statue mixed with iron and clay). They will rule, but never gain absolute control. Daniel 7 says the final beast will have ten horns (7:7). He says a small horn will rise among them destroy three others in order to take over. This is the Antichrist who will try to dominate the world and have power for seven years. Then Christ will return, the Stone, deposing and destroying Satan’s rule on earth. But what I want us to see is we are witnessing the return of the rule of Rome today.
Almost 50 years ago, well known pastor Ray Stedman, explained it this way:
The interesting thing now is that every single nation of this western hemisphere was begun by one of the nations of the Roman Empire. Our entire Western world is Roman to the core. You can see that even in our own [US] history. We have a senate which is one of the fundamental bases of our government, and which we copied directly from the Roman senate. The very republican for of the United States government is based upon the republic of Rome. Our courts, our laws, our military, all reflect the…forms of the Roman Empire. Now, what is the symbolism of the iron mingled with the clay? Iron symbolized an imperialistic attitude or form of government, the power and might of imperialism seeking to dominate and rule by brutal force and strength. Clay, on the other hand, is weak, pliable, easily molded. Most scholars are right in identifying this as the principle of democracy… The voice of the people is always a fickle voice. It is easily molded, like clay. That is what the politicians capitalize on…we are [also] subject to the tremendous pressures of mass media which play upon our minds to mold the will of the people. That is the weakness of democracy.
Then, quoting v.43 “they will combine with one another in the seed of men” Stedman says, [this] seems to imply a universal application, i.e. that is a grass roots matter; it permeates the masses. In the stream of humanity these two conflicting currents struggle together and as we near the end of this fourth kingdom it becomes a struggle at the grass roots level. Now it strikes me as highly significant that this is what we see arising in our own day…
What is happening in the nations of the West in our day? Well, clearly, they are torn by domestic strife. They are being weakened by internal conflict. there is enough iron, yet to threaten with the power and strength of ancient Rome, but there is enough clay to weaken and paralyze so that nations are unable to accomplish their objectives. Thus we have the sight of great and powerful nations almost helpless to carry out what they set themselves to do. They are being throttled and thwarted by internal weakness, by struggles breaking out from within, by the unmixable principle of the voice of the people and the iron will of authority in conflict.
Remember, Stedman penned these observations almost 50 years ago! Sobering! History shows us that even though we see progress and improvements, when we look deeper, we don’t see progress, instead we see decay and decline. Naturalist Henry David Thoreau summed it up best when he said America had “improved means to unimproved ends.”Or to put it another way in the words of Shakespeare, we are a people who are “much about nothing.” One person observed, We can speak easily to people in almost every part of the world, but do we have anything important to say? We can travel rapidly from one place to another, but we make little progress in solving the problems of war, violence, famine, and liberty. While we are grateful for the things that make modern life comfortable and enjoyable – good houses, cars, and planes, powerful medicines, electronic devices – we have to admit that each of these brings with it new problems that have to be solved. It is easier to make a living but harder to make a life.
D. The Rock. 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“Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of 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 true and its interpretation is trustworthy (Dan. 2:44-45). After this, Daniel says a rock hewn by invisible hands will crush the statue to fine dust. The rock (vv. 44-45) clearly points to Christ. The Bible makes this abundantly clear (see 1 Peter 2:6-8; Isa. 2:2). Psalm 118:22 says: The stone the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone. Peter picks up on this in 1 Peter. He’s pointing back to the time Solomon’s Temple was being built in Jerusalem. The stones for the Temple were quarried far from the Temple itself, according to detailed plans of the architects, and they were transported to the site and assembled without the noise of stone-cutting tools.
It is said that early in the construction of the Temple, a stone was sent that did not seem to fit. Since the builders did not know what to do with it, they laid to the side and forgot about it. Later when they came to place the chief cornerstone on their nearly completed structure, they sent to the quarry for it only to be told it was not there. It had already been sent. They searched and found the forgotten stone laid aside earlier. Once they installed it, everything fit perfectly. So the stone the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone. Jesus applied this same verse to Himself: Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust (Matt. 21:42-44).
One day Jesus will return and in an “explosion of glory” He will scatter the kingdoms of the world and set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44)!
Daniel’s main point is not to tell us all the details how Jesus will set up His kingdom, but simply that it IS going to happen (See Psalm 2). If Jesus’s is saying anything, He’s saying investments in earthly kingdoms will leave you empty in the end. Investing our lives in the kingdom that will last forever carries with it rewards untold. We see this in a microcosm in Daniel’s life. God rewards his faithfulness.
- The Promotion. Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court (Dan. 2:48-49). After literally bowing to Daniel in overwhelming gratitude, N. rewards Daniel as he said he would. But he seems to reward him with more than he initially said. Daniel becomes second in command over Babylon! In Daniel’s skyrocketing rise to fame and success, he never forgot his friends.
Let me close with one last thought. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream speaks to today more than any other time in history. We are on the brink of time; society’s foundations are cracking and rapidly deteriorating even as I speak. I am constantly amazed how fast our world is declining. Remember, things are not falling apart, they are falling in place. If you are a believer in Christ, it is win, win for you. The Bible says for us to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). That means if you are an unbeliever is lose, lose. You lose in this life – all is a waste – for naught. And you lose in the next life. Temporal waste leads to eternal waste. If you’re a believer, it is a win, win proposition.
God reminds us through Daniel – God is in charge and because He is, we can completely trust Him. Just as He is in control of world empires, He is equally in control of our lives. He knows your life from start to finish. You will never regret investing your full life in Him. For the Scriptures tell us that no one who believes in Christ will ever be disappointed. Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect: they all have the same Lord who generously gives his riches to all those who ask him for them. Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:11-13, TLB).