King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream – and all Babylon became disturbed with him. Daniel, chapter two, tells us the story.
Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful king of his era. As king of Babylon, he had conquered Israel and taken most of the people into exile, leaving only the poorest behind in Israel to tend the land. He conscripted the brightest and best of the Hebrews to serve him in his court. Daniel was the most gifted of them, and God had given him the ability to understand dreams and visions.
The King summoned his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what the dream meant. There was a catch, however. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t just want to be told what his Magi (learned ones who advised the king) thought he wanted to hear. So he tested them. He did not tell them the dream itself. Here is what he commanded:
“This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.” (Daniel 2:5-6 NIV)
The response of the magicians and sorcerers was desperate, firm and telling:
The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans. (Daniel 2:10-11 NIV)
No one can reveal it to the king except the gods. They were mostly right. No one can reveal it to the king except the one, true, Living God – the God of Israel and the God of Daniel.
Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were among the Magi, and they were about to be executed with the rest of them. Daniel asked for more time and urged his three friends to plead for mercy and ask God to reveal the mystery. That night, God did, in fact, reveal to Daniel what the king dreamed and what it meant.
“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure 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 baked clay. 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 all broken to pieces 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 2:31-35 NIV)
Daniel then explained to Nebuchadnezzar that God had given him a vision of what was to come in history. The parts of the statue represented coming kingdoms. Nebuchadnezzar himself was the head of gold, representing Babylon. The chest and arms of silver represented another kingdom to arise, that would be inferior to Babylon (we believe this to be the Persian kingdom). After that, the belly and thighs of bronze would represent a kingdom that would rule over the whole earth (Greece). Then the legs of iron would overcome all the others (Rome). Finally the feet of iron mixed with clay would represent a mixed kingdom with both strength and brittleness (perhaps the end times). The rock that struck the statue and became a huge mountain, according to Daniel, represented the kingdom of the God of heaven. The rock is none other than Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of the Kingdom of God.
From Nebuchadnezzar’s point of view, the dream was confirmation that he was the greatest king of his day. From the point of view of the unfolding of God’s plans for history, the great truth is one for every age – including ours. We must not settle for human kingdoms to have our highest allegiance. We are people of the Kingdom of God, who happen to also be citizens of the nation in which we live. The one kingdom that will last for eternity is not the United States or the British Empire or the Soviet Union or China or Rome or Greece or any other human empire. Only the Kingdom of God is eternal. Only Jesus, the Rock, deserves our ultimate allegiance!
Whatever comes in the future, God’s Kingdom will not be shaken. His Kingdom will not be broken. It will last for eternity. And it is worth investing our lives in this eternal Kingdom. Jesus said it this way:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)
I choose to invest the treasure of my living in eternal things. I live for Jesus and not anyone or anything else. Everything else will crumble and disappear. Only what is done for Jesus will last for eternity. He is worth my all.