David Jeremiah - The Colossus
The second chapter of the book of Daniel has been called the "alphabet of prophecy". Anyone who wants to understand what the Bible teaches about the future has to study this chapter. The chapter is centered on King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a huge statue made of various substances that decrease in value from the head to the chest to the legs and down to the feet. There's a twist of irony in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. It was actually the foretelling of his own kingdom's destruction. This arrogant, proud king who thought he was invulnerable discovered through the dream that he was just a small part of the gigantic movement of the Gentile world.
So now in Daniel 2:31-33, we see the revelation, "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". Now let me put the best way I can show you what this image looks like up on the screen. And if you will look at the image, you will notice that the head represents the Babylonian Empire, and the arms and chest represent the Medo-Persian Empire, and the belly and the thighs represent the Greek Empire, and then the legs and the feet represent the Roman Empire.
If you go back in history, that's the sequence of the powers of the world. It started with Babylon, 605-539. The Medo-Persians came and took Babylon out, 539-331. The Greeks came and took out the Medo-Persians, and then the Romans came and took out the Greeks. These five world dominions that the king saw were in his dream, and as Nebuchadnezzar heard Daniel unfold the content of the dream, it was as if he were reliving his dream all over again. This statue is what he saw, but he didn't know what it meant. He just saw it, and it was such an ominous thing to him, he couldn't comprehend it.
So that was the revelation. Now, notice the interpretation. It begins in verse 34 of the second chapter. After Daniel told the king what he dreamed, he began to explain the meaning of the dream. He started, first of all, with verses 37 and 38, with the head of gold. Again, I've told you before, the Bible is a self-interpreting book, so listen to how the Bible tells you what this means, "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".
So the head of gold on the statue represented Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Now, you come next to verse 39, "But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours". If you remember the story of the feast of Belshazzar, when Babylon was destroyed and the Medes and the Persians came and took it over, well, that's what's going on here. The arms of silver, two arms: one for the Medes, one for the Persians, this represents the next kingdom that comes after Babylon, and 200 years this kingdom ruled, the kingdom of the Medes and Persians.
Now go to the third kingdom in verse 39. Greece is the next kingdom: "then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth". Babylon is defeated by the Medes and Persians, and now the Medes and Persians are gonna be defeated by Greece under the leadership of the great conqueror, Alexander the Great, who ruled for 12 years and literally conquered the whole world. He died at the age of 33 crying in his tent that there were no more worlds for him to conquer. The belly and thigh of bronze are of bronze, most people think, because it was Alexander who began to use helmets, breastplates, shields, and swords made out of bronze and brass.
There's still one more kingdom. Alexander ruled until he was 33, but then Greece was taken away by the Romans. Verse 40 says, "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". So now keep this in mind as you look at the statue. Babylon is the head of gold, the arms of silver are Medo-Persians, the belly and thighs are Greeks, and now the Romans are the legs and the toes. And the Bible tells us that this fourth kingdom is what it is. Though it doesn't name it as Rome, we know it's Rome simply by studying history.
In fact, when I was growing up, and some of you remember this, I remember studying in grade school the Roman legions, the iron legions of Rome. Remember that? Rome was known for its fierceness, for its fighting people, for its conquering, for its lack of compassion. In fact, Daniel had another dream in the seventh chapter, and he dreamed about this Roman kingdom, and I'm gonna read to you what he said in Daniel 7:7 and 23, "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet... 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces'".
So here's what Daniel is telling Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had this dream, and in this dream, he saw this humongous statue. Now Daniel says, "Here's what God is trying to convey to you through this dream. You're the head of gold, but you're gonna be taken out pretty soon. The Medes and Persians are gonna come and get your kingdom, and it will be gone". So much for the eternal wishes of Nebuchadnezzar. And then Cyrus the Persian will rule, and then the Medes and the Persians will be taken out by still another, Alexander the Great. And then the Romans will come and take out the Greeks.
And the Roman Empire is the last major empire that we know about in world history. We are after the Roman Empire, sort of in between a sandwich, as you will, because there's still one more kingdom that we haven't talked about, and that's the kingdom represented by the toes. And Daniel 2:42-43 says, "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".
Now, Daniel foretells a time when the Roman empire will look differently than it ever did. There never was a time in Rome's history when they were divided into ten regions under ten kings. They were divided between the western and eastern empires, but there never was a tenfold Rome, because that hasn't happened yet. Rome never was defeated by another kingdom. If you study history, that never happened, not like the others. Rome just sort of went out of business, just sort of dissipated, and the Bible says there's a long period of time before it's reconstituted, and you've heard me speak in the past about the reconstitution of the Roman Empire in the future, already underway in Europe through the European Union and the Euro dollars and all of that.
The Bible says that between the early Roman Empire and the latter Roman Empire, there's gonna be a long period, and we're living in that period right now. We are living in the period between the original Roman Empire and the reconstituted Roman Empire that's going to take place in the future. Now, if you've got that picture in mind, the Bible tells us that there's still yet one more kingdom to come, and the reason that another kingdom is going to come is because all of the others have failed. The rest of the story is the final kingdom of Christ.
Daniel 2:44, "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". Daniel describes the eternal kingdom of Christ, though it has not yet been realized, and he says that the kingdom of Christ is going to involve two things. Listen carefully. A stone and a mountain. Just remember that. He's gonna use this imagery of the kingdom of Christ, a stone and a mountain. Let me talk about the stone first of all.
Daniel 2:44-45, "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". This is the climax of the vision. After the stone strikes the image, and you see what he's saying, the stone is cut out of a mountain, and it begins to roll down this mountain toward the feet of the beast, and the Bible says the stone rolls into the feet of the beast.
What that means, of course, is, the feet of the beast aren't until way in the future. That hasn't happened yet, but it's gonna happen when the ten Roman Empire kings are in ruling. The stone cut out of the mountain is gonna roll down and crush the feet of the beast, and then it's gonna roll over the beast and crush everything. In other words, something's gonna happen in the future that's gonna take human government totally out of the picture. One day, the kingdoms of this earth will be taken out by the kingdom of the stone, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and all that has been so bad and so awful and so discouraging and so disappointing will be made right when the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords says, "Enough," and the kingdoms of this earth are over.
There's a mountain here. There's a stone, and there's a mountain. Notice the mountain is described in verse 35, "...the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth". His kingdom will be from border to border, from age to age, and it will fill everything in the whole world. Now, I want to just tell you four or five things about this kingdom that come out of this passage. You may not know this unless you get into a little bit of the theology of all of this, but there's a great battle that goes on over how the kingdom comes to pass.
There are many who teach that we are supposed to be building the kingdom now, and if we work really hard, we can make this world better, and it will ultimately be good enough so that Jesus can come back. And I'd like to give you my report on that project. We are not getting better. We're getting worse. There is no evidence in the Bible anywhere that the coming kingdom of Christ is some sort of slow formation on the part of humanity. It is exactly the opposite of that. Here are several things you can take away from this story.
First of all, the coming kingdom is a supernatural kingdom. Daniel 2 says, "This stone," which is Jesus, who is the king, "was cut out without hands. It was cut out of the mountain without hands". What is that to convey? Well, "without hands" means that the kingdom of Christ is not man-made. It's not only a supernatural kingdom, it's a sudden one. The kingdom of Christ will come suddenly, not gradually. It will happen in a moment. All the earthly kingdoms emerge from the ruins of another, but the kingdom of Christ won't emerge from anything. It will arrive from a heavenly source with a sudden decisive blow, and every passage that addresses the second coming of Christ speaks of it as arriving without any warning. He's coming as a thief in the night. It's a supernatural kingdom, it's a sudden one, and it's a severe one.
Daniel 2:35, "...the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together". This is a picture of the fact that each of the kingdoms, as they succeeded one another, managed to pick up some of the decadence of the one before, and little by little, as the kingdoms go down the list and you see them deteriorating, it's because the worst of the kingdom of gold was incorporated in the kingdom of the silver, and the worst of the gold and silver was incorporated in the kingdom of the bronze, et cetera.
And the Bible says when the stone comes, it's going to obliterate all of them. All of the remnants of any of the human management that has been so flawed and so failed will be taken out when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back to set up his kingdom. And then the Bible tell us it's a sovereign kingdom, "the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth". When the stone that came from the mountain has done its work, it will expand into a mountain once again and create a sovereign rule that will fill the entire universe.
Zechariah 14:9, "...the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be — “The Lord is one,” and His name one". Christ will seize the reins of this earthly government, placing authority rightfully in his own sovereign hands. He will fill the earth with His presence and His power and His glory, and the familiar prayer, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" will be at last answered.
And then it's a successful kingdom. It's supernatural, it's sudden, it's severe, it's sovereign, and it's successful. Daniel 2:44, "...in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed... and it shall stand forever". When Daniel was finished telling Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was and what it meant, he'd given him an outline for all of world history, from Babylon all the way to the coming of Christ. That's why this dream is so important. All of the rest of the prophecies of the Bible just fit in the empty places in this massive dream.
So Daniel is done, he's finished, he's told the king this dream, the king's kind of recovered a little bit from the shock of it all, and Daniel 2:45 says: "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". And what Nebuchadnezzar does next is nothing short of astounding. Verse 46, he praises Daniel, "King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him". In other words, he thought Daniel was a god. He wanted to worship him. Of course, Daniel wouldn't have anything to do with that.
The next thing that happens is Nebuchadnezzar praises Daniel's God. One thing to praise Daniel, the human in front of you, but he got the message, there's something going on here beyond just Daniel. And notice what he says in verse 47: "The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret”". When Nebuchadnezzar says that Daniel's God is the God of gods, what he's saying is, "Next to my gods, your God is the real God. I got all these silly, sorry, unproductive Babylonian gods. You've got a God. You've got the God of gods". He was convinced.
Now, he's not done. Not only does he praise Daniel and praise Daniel's God, but he promotes Daniel. Because of God using him in this way. Daniel 2:48: "...the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon".
King Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel to second-in-command of all of Babylon, and he's still not done. He now promotes all Daniel's friends. I mean, this is a good day for Daniel. Daniel 2:49, "...Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king".
Whoa. As soon as Daniel was honored by the king, he didn't forget his friends. Good lesson to learn. You need your friends on the way up, because you might have to have them on the way down, right? So remember that. It's just a little management principle in the midst of this message. So now Daniel sits in the gate of the king. It means that Daniel's position was that above his friends. Listen to me, Daniel came from a lowly steward, and now he's the prime minister of Babylon.
Today, we are living on the threshold of the age that is about to come. The days of human rule on this earth are nearly over. It's almost time for the arrival of the stone that has been cut out without hands. We should not be discouraged or depressed that the end of the earthly kingdoms will soon come. Rather, we should be elated that the glorious kingdom of Christ will soon begin. When we look at the culture around us, it's easy to fall into despair, but when we keep an eye peeled above, we don't have to spend our time grappling with depression. Daniel didn't lose heart. He evaluated everything with the end in mind, and he stayed calm and confident under stress.
Confidence is a Biblical attitude that affects all we do in the public arena. So when facing tomorrow, be confident. When surveying the political landscape, be confident. Remember, you do have a way to influence things through prayer. At the moment of crisis, Daniel and his companions sought mercies from the God of heaven, and the rest of the chapter tells us what happened because of that. You say, "Well, there's nothing I can do now but pray for our nation". Well, you've just been elevated to the highest potential power that we have. Don't ever use prayer as the last resort. It should have been our first resort.
So be confident when surveying the political landscape. Number two, when casting your vote, be confident. If elections don't go your way or judicial decisions disappoint you, you remind yourself that God is unaffected. He removes kings and raises up kings according to His plan. When hearing news of and instability on earth, be confident! Remember, there is a God in heaven. When discouraged about the course of world affairs, don't lose heart, because one day, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed.
When you think all is lost, think again. "The dream is certain, and the interpretation is sure," said Daniel. We know the script in advance, and we're clued in to the ending. Having studied Daniel 2, we now know that there is a divine secret, the framework of all of history, including its conclusion, so good-bye insecurity. Good-bye fearfulness. These are days that call for boldness. This is the time to be confident in Him who has begun a good work in us. This is the time to pray, "Thy kingdom come".
We have an awesome God, and he's in control, and we can rest in the truth that we know where this is all going, and one day it's not going to be the beginning of the end. It's gonna be the beginning of the beginning. Whenever you hear about the end times, you should never be depressed or discouraged, because the end times just means the good times are just around the corner.