Studies in Daniel: Chapter 2:24-49

DanielThe Kingdom of God is a Kingdom that will never fail. The kingdoms of this world will all crumble and pass away, but the Kingdom of our God will endure forever! Despite appearances, despite the philosophies of human progress, despite our troubled experiences, the Kingdom of God will eventually destroy all opponents. Daniel gives us this hope, even as he gives Nebuchadnezzar this warning, in Daniel chapter 2. Daniel’s interpretation of the King’s dream reminds us of the hope we have in the Kingdom of God.

Throughout the Bible we are told of the everlasting Kingdom of God. Isaiah 28 gives us perhaps the most familiar description of it. In verse 16 we read:

therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid[c] as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’

This phrasing is picked up particularly in the New Testament to point us to the identity of that “precious cornerstone.” So, Peter quotes Isaiah:

For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Peter explains this cornerstone as Jesus Christ. Jesus himself echoes these very sentiments. In Matthew 21 we read:

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Jesus is the cornerstone of this Kingdom that will never fail. This is the stone that lies at the heart of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream centuries before the birth of Christ. Even back then, God was preparing us to see that His eternal Kingdom is built upon His eternal Son.

Daniel chapter 2:24-49 describes Daniel’s interpretation of the King’s dream. After all the chief priests had failed to accurately describe the King’s dream and give him in an interpretation, Daniel comes to the rescue. Only it’s not Daniel. The young man is clear that no human can do what the King has asked; only the God of heaven and earth can. “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries,” he says, “and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (v. 28). God reveals the mystery to the King. It’s interesting to consider why? Why has God revealed this truth to a pagan King? What is the intent? We can only speculate, but it certainly seems that God is revealing His mercy and grace to the King. He is using the Israelites to be a “blessing to the nations,” just as He had promised (Gen. 22:18). He is demonstrating His compassion even on wicked and pagan kings and kingdoms. He wants Nebuchadnezzar to know that there is only one eternal kingdom – a lesson he repeats to the King again later on.

The King’s dream involves this statue, composed of various elements. The head of gold signifies Babylon, and particularly Nebuchadnezzar (v. 37-38). God has made him mighty and powerful, but his kingdom will not endure, for after him will come a series of “inferior” kingdoms. They transition from gold to silver, to bronze, to iron, to a mixture of iron and clay. The humanistic perspective of eternal progress is undermined by these notions. There is a perspective on the world that suggests it is always getting better, always improving, and that one day we will be able to establish a perfect world, perfect society, and perfect lives. Apart from God, however, this is an illusion. Man in his fallen state spreads only sin, chaos, disorder, and selfishness. Brokenness begets brokenness. And the kingdoms of this world grow progressively more inferior, not superior to their predecessors. God gave to Nebuchadnezzar this great empire, but eventually it will be divided up, broken down, and made weaker until finally the feet of iron and clay are broken.

The rock envisioned here is depicting Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone of the eternal Kingdom. It is a rock that “was cut from a mountain by no human hand” (v. 45). It is a divine rock, the perfect cornerstone, the chief capstone of an everlasting kingdom. We read in verse 44:

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.

God’s Kingdom is eternal. No other kingdom, no matter how seemingly powerful it appears, can withstand or outlast His empire.

This is significant to remember as we look at the whole book of Daniel. Daniel is writing as a captive, a slave, within an empire that has demonstrated its might, power, and sovereign rule. Babylon was the empire of empires, and Nebuchadnezzar the “king of kings” (v. 37). Yet, God gives this vision to Nebuchadnezzar to humble him, and he reveals its mysteries to Daniel to encourage him. In the midst of his bondage Daniel has this hope: God’s kingdom is bigger than Babylon!

Consider you context, consider your sorrows, threats, burdens, and trials. Consider what enslaves you, what dominates you, what threatens you? It is bigger than you, but it is not bigger than God. His Kingdom rules over all and its chief cornerstone will one day crush all opponents. You have this hope that you are a citizen of an eternal kingdom, one that will never perish (2 Peter 1:11). With Christ as our cornerstone, we have nothing to fear and we will never be “put to shame.”

Daniel serves to remind us and encourage us, just as the revelation of the dream served to encourage and remind him. God’s kingdom is bigger than this world. The political, economic, global, familial threats that surround us cannot destroy us. As Paul says:

our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20)

Cling to this truth, friends. Regardless of appearances, regardless of experiences, God’s Kingdom is greater and we are citizens of this eternal empire.

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