Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream is troubling him, and so he seeks the usual counsel of wise men to interpret it. In the ancient cultures, a king’s dream was important to him for knowing what he might have to prepare for. But the dream that God had given him had been made so important that he wanted to be certain that the one who interprets it does not do so falsely. So his command to the wise men is that they will tell him his dream first – and then interpret it. Of course none of them can do that; and the king orders all of the wise men destroyed – an order which would include Daniel and his companions (verses 12-13).
In a show of great faith, Daniel requested an appointment with the king to make the interpretation (verses 14-16). He prays and has Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) pray as well; and the Lord makes the dream and its meaning known to him. He praises God for the knowledge in verses 20-23, and gives him the credit in verses 27-28 when he appears before the king. Daniel recounts the dream first, and then interprets it to Nebuchadnezzar in verses 31-45. The statue in the dream is a representation of the four great kingdoms that would dominate the history of the world. The current Babylonian empire was the first. The Medo-Persian empire ruled by Cyrus beginning in 539 b.c., and then Greece, under Alexander the Great, in about 331. These latter two are explicitly named in his vision in Daniel 8:20-21. The fourth is the Roman Empire. After that, the God of heaven would establish an everlasting kingdom (verse 44), pointing to the Christ. Compare verses 44-45 to Luke 20:17-18.
Nebuchadnezzar shows his gratitude in verses 46-49, and made Daniel chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. At Daniel’s request, he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province. These young men, by being in position to look out for the welfare of the society they lived in, would be promoting their own welfare as well – just as Jeremiah had advised in Jeremiah 29:5-7.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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