God’s Pulverizing Stone
After the Lord revealed Nebuchadnezzar’s dream because he prayed, we’ve seen how Daniel responded. He praised the God of his fathers for his eternal wisdom and power, his control over time, both the flow and the sudden changes, his power to set rulers up and to put them down, his right to give wisdom and discernment to whoever he wanted, and his ability to bring into the light the secrets that only he and Nebuchadnezzar knew about the mysterious dream (Daniel 2:20- 22).
In yesterday’s devo we saw Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar spelling out exactly what the king saw in his dream. Today Daniel proves what we learned in chapter one about his ability to interpret dreams.
“This is the dream and now as I stand before the king I’ll give the interpretation. You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given to you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. He has given into your hand all the children of mankind, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you the master over them all. You are the head, the head of gold. But then after you, in your place, will arise a kingdom inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over all the earth.
Finally, a fourth kingdom will come into existence, strong as iron. And just as iron has the power to pulverize and smash everything, this kingdom will pulverize and smash all the other kingdoms. And just as you saw the feet and toes partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. It will have some of the hardness of iron, but it will also be mixed with the weakness of clay. Again, remember the toes—part iron and part-baked clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.
Iron and clay don’t mix and the people of this kingdom will not stick together or remain united. Then in the times of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom forever, a kingdom that will never be destroyed. It will not be passed over to another people. It will pulverize and bring to an end all the other kingdoms, and it will be established forever. This is the meaning of the stone you saw cut out of the mountain, but not by human hands—a stone that pulverized the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The great God has made known to the king what is to be after the present Babylonian kingdom. The dream is certain and you can trust the interpretation.” Daniel 2:36-45
Daniel assures us that history is not cyclic. It is moving from Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian rule in the 6thcentury BC through a succession of kingdoms to a fourth empire that will be the strongest. But the final expression of this fourth kingdom will have a weakness, symbolized by the feet and toes with their mixture of weakness and strength.
So far in the text we only know who the head of gold is, but who are the other kingdoms? What’s the meaning of the succession of metals that are less in value but greater in strength? What about all the emphasis on the feet and toes with their mixture of iron and brittle clay? Most importantly, who is this stone that climaxes this succession of kingdoms who becomes the eternal king of the mountain?
Daniel is clear. God in heaven is the kingmaker, and he has a stone that in the end will crush all opposition and rule forever. But we have to wait on Daniel’s story to get more clues to the identity of this final world ruler.
LORD, protect me from the lie that we can institute your power and rule by our own human political schemes and techniques. Help me remember that Jesus gives us the freedom now to decide freely to believe in him or not and I shouldn’t try to use political means to force people to obey him. Help me to find comfort in the fact that you put present leaders up and then you put them down. And help me to not to confuse Jesus’ kingdom with any present-day earthly kingdom.
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