While king, Nebuchadnezzar had two striking dreams that were prophetic in nature. In both instances, only Daniel could interpret them.
The Statue and the Rock
In the first dream, the king saw an enormous statue. The head of the statue was gold, its chest and arms of silver, stomach and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and his feet of clay mingled with iron. A great rock, cut without hands, then struck the feet of the statue and shattered the entire statue. The rock then grew into a huge mountain covering the whole earth.
Daniel gives the interpretation of this dream telling us that the head was the Chaldean empire under Nebuchadnezzar. The silver chest was another kingdom, which we now know would be the Medo-Persians. The bronze was the third kingdom, the Greeks under Alexander the Great. The fourth kingdom was iron, representing the Roman Empire. The fifth kingdom would be the Romans mixed with the weakness of men.
At the end of these empires, God would bring The Rock and set up an everlasting kingdom, not made of men, but God only and that this kingdom would level man’s government and fill the whole earth.
Its when we get to the second dream that things get interesting.
The Great Tree and the Heart of the Beast
A couple of years later, Nebuchadnezzar had a second dream. Here is the dream in his own words from Daniel 4:
“Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
“I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: Let his heart be changed from man’, and let a beast’ heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”
Now anyone that went to Sunday School as a child is familiar with this dream and what happens next. Daniel warns Nebuchadnezzar that the dream is about him. A year after having this dream, Nebuchadnezzar is gloating over his accomplishments.
“The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’ mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying , O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers , and his nails like birds’ claws .
“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
The thing that I just came to understand when re-reading this is that the what happened to Nebuchadnezzar is really a parabalized form of what the dream is really about. In all actuality, this dream is about the same thing the first dream is about.
The key is the bands of bronze and iron placed around the stump. You will notice that there is not mention of these bands in Daniel’s interpretation. This is because these bands are there to match up with the metals of the statue in the first dream and indicate that there’s more going on here than first meets the eye.
The top of the tree is the same as the head of the statue. Cutting down the tree signifies that the head is going to be cut off, but the stump and the trunk are going to remain embedded in the earth. This stump will be given the nature of the beast and will continue to exist.
The bands of iron and bronze mean that this beast nature is going to continue in the earth through the descendants of the Greek and Roman Empires. That beast nature, then is going to rule the earth for seven times, the seven years of the great tribulation.
The Babylon/beast nature system is going to rule the earth through the leftovers of the Greeks and the Romans. All of our thinking, our science, is named for Greece. Our words science, biology, geography, are all Greek words. Most of our government buildings are modeled after Greek and Roman architecture, like the U.S. Capitol.
On the back of our money is mottoes in Latin, the language of the Romans. Our laws and medicine are fraught with terms from the same language.
What God is saying through all of this is that the beast nature still rules in the earth and will continue until the completion of the Great Tribulation. At the end, though, God will establish his kingdom made without hands.
“…that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”