The Word for today:
The book of Daniel takes place in Babylon. When Babylonian soldiers destroyed Jerusalem and burned the Temple to the ground, most of the Jews were taken captive and lived out their lives in this foreign land. A few of the exiles, like Daniel, rose through sheer talent to prominent positions there.
Daniel chapter two presents a far-reaching prophecy of human history. Much of what was prophecy then is history now…
It happened that Nebuchadnezzar, the powerful King of Babylon, had experienced a disturbing dream. Babylonians widely believed that the fate of individuals and nations was revealed through such dreams. In this case, Nebuchadnezzar asked what seemed to be impossible: he asked his astrologers, sorcerers, and wise men to first tell him the dream and then interpret it!
They, of course, could not. So Nebuchadnezzar decreed the execution of every wise man in the land.
Among the wise men scheduled to be executed was Daniel. But he did not despair, because he knew that God was able to reveal deep and hidden things. (Daniel 2:22)
After receiving a revelation from God in a dream, Daniel described to Nebuchadnezzar the full content of his dream. Picture a large and dazzling statue, with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay.
The statue was a pictorial summary of what Jesus would later refer to as the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). We are in the last phase of those times right now:
Images from a dream come true:
Head of gold = Nebuchadnezzar/Babylon (Daniel 2:38)
Chest and arms of Silver = Medea/Persia (Daniel 5:28; 8:20)
Middle and thighs of Brass = Greece (Daniel 8:21)
Legs of Iron / Feet part iron and part of clay = Rome.
Rome first divided into two (the legs), fulfilled in the eastern and western Roman Empires. From then on we find an ever-dividing kingdom and a government ever weakened in its power, represented by toes of iron and clay that cannot hold together.
These were the kingdoms fashioned by men. But the dream was not complete, for there remained a Kingdom to come, which will not be forged by the hand of man:
While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:34-35)
This kingdom will last forever:
In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands–a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. (Daniel 2:44-45)
Suddenly, In the time of the Gentiles, a stone not cut with human hands comes down and strikes the feet. The entire image is pulverized.
The stone is God’s Anointed, the Rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ.
But to the Jews He is a stone of stumbling (2). To the Gentiles, He’s a stone of crushing:
“Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21:42-44, quoting Psalm 118:22-23)
We are either broken before Him (in repentance), or we will be broken by Him (in judgment). We will either come to that Stone, or that Stone is coming to us.
(1) See Psalm 95:1; Isaiah 28:16; 1 Corinthians 10:4; (2) see 1 Peter 2:8; 1 Corinthians 1:23