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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible
Daniel 2

 

 

Verse 1

This chapter might well be entitled "The King's Dream," that being the principal feature of it. An outline of the chapter is as follows: (1) the occasion for the dream (Daniel 2:1); (2) the king's demand (Daniel 2:2-9), (3) the failure of all the wise men (Daniel 2:10,11); (4) the king's decree that they should all be put to death (Daniel 2:12,13); (5) Daniel's request for a delay (Daniel 2:14-16); (6) the dream and its interpretation revealed to Daniel (Daniel 2:19-23); (7) Daniel refers all glory to God for the revelation (Daniel 2:24-30); (8) Daniel relates the dream and its interpretation to the king (Daniel 2:31-45); (9) Nebuchadnezzar's response to the revelation (Daniel 2:46-49).

Daniel 2:1

"And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams; and his spirit was troubled, and his sleep went from him."

THE KING'S DREAM

This great chapter of God's Word with its magnificent predictive prophecy of the establishment of the kingdom of God has been the object of the most unreasonable and vicious attacks by Biblical enemies. Under their "a priori" rules which disallow any such thing as a genuine prophecy, they are forced to deny a chapter like this, no matter what preposterous and false arguments they must seize upon in their vain efforts to destroy the chapter.

The attack begins on the word "and," the very first word. According to the critics, this signals an interpolation, or arouses suspicion. However, as Leupold said, "The word is very much in place here, because it connects the events of Daniel 1 with those recorded here."[1] Furthermore this use of "and" is a genuine indication of Biblical style. The word "and" begins all four of the four final books of the Pentateuch; and this extensive use of that connective extends all the way into the New Testament where in Mark it is found to be one of the salient features. Note that Daniel 1:17 relates that Daniel had "understanding in all visions and dreams." The "and" of this passage, connects the events of Daniel 2 with that special skill of Daniel recorded in Daniel 1:17.

Another ground of assault is the statement that this troublesome dream came "in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar." It is alleged that this is a contradiction, because the four Hebrew companions have just concluded a three-year term of education provided by Nebuchadnezzar. No problem! It was while Nebuchadnezzar was commanding the first western expedition that Daniel and his companions were deported and enrolled in the special school; and it was, "While Nebuchadnezzar was on that first expedition that his father Nabopolassar died; and Nebuchadnezzar suddenly left the front and went back to assume the throne."[2] Thus, in all probability, the training of the Hebrew youths actually began a year before Nebuchadnezzar actually ascended the throne. In any case this is a picayune objection having no substance whatever.

"There are too many uncertainties about the chronology of the last twenty years of Israel's history (which include the time in focus here) to permit this to be labeled erroneous.[3] In addition, there is the near-certainty that, "The phrase three years (Daniel 1:5) refers only to portions of years, so that the first year of training would comprise part of the year of Nebuchadnezzar's succession; and thus the third year would have been part of the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (Babylonian style of reckoning)."[4]

The only objection that critics have been able to raise against the fact just cited was stated by Owens: "With this reckoning, one system of of time is found in Daniel 1 but a different method in Daniel 2![5] Certainly! There was the Judaic system in chapter 1 and the Babylonian system here. Nothing could be wrong with this. The apostle John followed exactly the same pattern in the Gospel where he followed the Jewish system of counting the hours of the day in some instances; while, in others, where the Roman government or its representatives were under consideration, he followed the Roman system.


Verse 2

"Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the enchanters, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in the Syrian language, O king, live forever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye make not known unto me the dream and the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. But if ye show the dream and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor: therefore show me the dream and the interpretation thereof. They answered the second time and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. And the king answered and said, I know of a certainty that ye would gain time, because ye see the thing has gone from me. But if ye make not known unto me the dream, there is one law for you; for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof."

THE KING'S DEMAND

Certainly His Majesty was in a vile mood! The KJV indicates that Nebuchadnezzar had actually forgotten the dream; but our version seems to reveal the king's utmost distrust of the alleged "wise men" who had been summoned. The last two lines of the passage cited here reveal the king's purpose of requiring the wise men to tell him the dream in order that he might also trust them to reveal the interpretation of it. In this light, we do not know whether Nebuchadnezzar had actually forgotten the dream, or if he had merely decided to test his enchanters and magicians by requiring them to repeat the dream.

Of interest is the mention of the Chaldeans in this passage. `This was a name that came to be applied to the astrologers, soothsayers, magicians, enchanters, diviners and wise men as a class, and without reference to race. The inclusion of Daniel in the number here indicates as much. (See the introduction for more on this.) It will be noted that the Chaldeans also included a special group who bore that name; but they seem to have been spokesmen for the entire group.

In Daniel 2:4b, the Syrian language is introduced, not by the author of Daniel, but by the Chaldeans; and Daniel, the faithful author was able to report the proceedings in the language by which the communications were carried on. It is a virtual certainty that only Daniel could have done such a thing. The preposterous notion that some forger some four hundreds years subsequent to the times of Daniel could have done this is such an outlandish improbability that it seems impossible that intelligent writers should have been deceived by it. This Syrian language (the 6th century Aramaic) continues through Daniel 7.

"O king, live forever ..." Such language of respect and servility was the stock in trade of all flatterers and courtiers at oriental courts. The king in this instance was unmoved by all the high sounding words. He wanted one thing, actually two, (1) the dream repeated to him, and (2) its proper interpretation. After all, the thing that the king required was not all that unreasonable. Is it not true, that if a man can reveal the future, he should have no trouble remembering someone else's dream? Something had compelled the king to believe that the alleged wise men could not do either!

"Ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses made a dunghill ..." Such cruel and excessive punishments were common in the behavior of oriental despots; and there is no doubt that the whole confraternity of the wise men were threatened at this juncture with destruction. The Chaldean spokesmen repeatedly informed the king that they would be unable to interpret the dream unless they were given the essentials of the dream to form the basis of their interpretation; but the king refused to be moved.


Verse 10

"The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter, forasmuch as no king, lord, or ruler, hath asked such a thing of any magician, or enchanter, or Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is no other that can show it before the king, except the gods whose dwelling is not with flesh."

THE WISE MEN ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR INABILITY

Here was a full admission by the Chaldeans and their associates of their utter inability to do what the king required. Furthermore there was an inherent confession in their words of their belief in the supernatural, "the gods" to which they referred. This set the stage for the recognition of Almighty God's hand in the ultimate giving of the dream and its meaning through Daniel. What the Chaldeans said here was simply the truth, except for the implied polytheism.


Verse 12

"For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went forth, and the wise men were to be slain; and they sought Daniel and his companions to be slain."

THE DECREE THAT THEY SHOULD BE PUT TO DEATH

It is not clear whether the wise men were being put to death as they were found, or if there was planned a public execution of all of them at one time. It appears that the latter was what was intended to be done. The creel injustice of such an unreasonable destruction was absolutely characteristic of the tyrannical monarchies of that era.


Verse 14

"Then Daniel returned answer with counsel and prudence Arioch the captain of the king's guard, who was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Wherefore is the decree so urgent from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. And Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would appoint him a time, and he would show the king the interpretation."

DANIEL REQUESTS A DELAY

This is an abbreviated account. Even high servants of the king, such as Daniel, would not merely have gone into the presence of the king without observing the formalities that the occasion would have required. The daring account of how Esther defied tradition and custom by going unbidden into the presence of a Persian king at a later time shows how this was true. Therefore, we must conclude that all necessary formalities were observed on this occasion, just as they were in Daniel 2:24, below, and that they were merely passed over here by the abbreviated account. The great fact working for Daniel and the wise men was that the king had a burning desire to find out what the dream meant. Another indication that the account is abbreviated here is seen in the fact that no mention was made of the king's compliance with Daniel's request for a delay; but a delay there surely was.


Verse 17

"Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his companions should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon."

DANIEL AND COMPANIONS GO TO PRAYER

This was a wonderful way, and the only way, that the believer should confront every crisis in his life. Like these Hebrew companions, let the believer go down upon his knees in prayer whenever the issues of life and death are involved and where unaided human effort is doomed to futility. Daniel's leadership in this was wonderful; and when the victory came, when the secret was revealed, Daniel failed not to deny all credit for it, and to give the glory to God. A nobler example may hardly be found anywhere.


Verse 19

"Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God forever and ever; for wisdom and might are his. And he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings and setteth up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that have understanding; he revealeth the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and now hast made known unto me what we desired of thee; for thou hast made known unto us the kings's matter. Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and said unto him Destroy not the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show unto the king the interpretation."

THE DREAM AND THE INTERPRETATION REVEALED

Daniel exhibited here all of the skill and diplomacy of an accomplished statesman. Note that, even in his prayer, he included his companions. Note the "we" in Daniel 2:23. Furthermore, since Daniel had already received a delay from the king and an appointed day when he might reveal the secret, Daniel, in all probability at that point, might have gone directly to the king; but he sought out the captain of the king's guard Arioch, thus going through channels. A collateral benefit of this was that it also could have delayed the execution of some of the wise men, that is, if Arioch was already proceeding with the executions. Furthermore, it gave Arioch the opportunity to play a conspicuous part in the process of the dream's revelation, an opportunity which Arioch apparently exploited fully. (See Daniel 2:25).

Many scholars have pointed out how Daniel's prayer displayed an intimate acquaintance with Old Testament literature, including the Psalms. Like Jonah's prayer from the belly of the fish, Daniel referred to God as "the God of heaven." Many of the phrases used in Daniel's language here are found in the Psalms.


Verse 25

"Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said unto him, I have found a man of the children of the captivity of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation. The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? Daniel answered before the king and said, The secret which the king hath demanded can neither wise men, enchanters, magicians, nor soothsayers, show unto the king; but there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and he hath made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed are these: as for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets hath made known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than many living, but to the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that thou mayest know the thoughts of thy heart."

DANIEL GIVES THE GLORY TO GOD

Daniel's disclaimer of any glory for himself in that situation should have disarmed much of the jealousy that was certain to arise against him; but we later learn that it did not. What Daniel said here was a complete defense of the wise men, for he affirmed that "no man," but only God, could reveal what the king demanded. That corresponds fully with what the wise men said.

"The `latter days'... (Daniel 2:28). This expression reveals the passage as Messianic. In the Old Testament, "the latter days" invariably speak of the days of Christ's kingdom. "The dream is eschatological, it deals with the Messianic age."[6]

Note that Arioch announced to the king, "I have found a man ...!" (Daniel 2:25). Under the circumstances, it seems that Arioch should be pardoned for presenting himself as the man who found the man who could unravel the mystery! Such self-seeking on the part of the king's ministers contrasts with the reluctance of Daniel to claim any glory for himself.


Verse 31

"Thou, O king sawest, and, behold, a great image. This image which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the aspect thereof was terrible. As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breasts and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and, part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."

THE DREAM WAS RELATED

The significance of various features of this immense image will appear in the interpretation of it which Daniel promptly revealed to the king. That this image was indeed the feature of Nebuchadnezzar's dream appears in the fact that the king accepted it as the revelation of the dream which he had.

"No place was found for them ..." (Daniel 2:35) is merely an archaic way of saying that, "No trace of them was found."[7]

"A stone cut out by no human hand would be heaven-sent."[8]


Verse 36

"This is the dream, and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art king of kings, unto whom the God of heaven hath given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory; And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens hath he given into thy hand, and hath made thee to rule over them all: thou art the head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee; and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that crushes all these, shall it break in pieces and crush. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters clay, and part of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but there shall be in it of the strength of iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken."

THE INTERPRETATION

Owens noted that the number four prevails in this chapter. "There were four Hebrew children, four classes of wise men mentioned, four metals in the image, which represented four kingdoms."[9] The identity of the four kingdoms is certain. For the first 1700 years of the Christian religion, the four kingdoms represented by the four parts of the image were universally understood to be:

The kingdom of Babylon, represented by the head of gold.

The Medo-Persian Empire, represented by the silver.

The World-Wide Kingdom of Alexander, represented the brass.

The Roman Empire, represented by the iron mingled with clay.

Owens admitted that this understanding of the passage dates back to the book of 2Esdras in the apocryphal Old Testament, although we were unable to find it from the reference he gave (2 Esdras 12:12).[10] No one can deny that the understanding of the fourth kingdom as that of the Romans is actually older than Christianity. Despite this and without regard to the truth that the fourth kingdom cannot possibly be identified with any other except the Romans, the current crop of Biblical critics are shouting in the most vociferous manner that the fourth kingdom was that of the Greeks. There is only one reason for such allegations, that being the purpose of critics to get rid of the magnificent predictive prophecy in this chapter of the establishment of the kingdom of heaven. That kingdom, of course, was set up in the days of those Roman kings; and, after moving the date of Daniel as close to those times as they dared (quite arbitrarily, of course), the predictive prophecy still foretells the establishment of the kingdom of Christ! So, what do they do? They misinterpret the prophecy in a vain and ridiculous attempt to make it say that the kingdom of Christ would be set up in the days of the Alexandrian Empire. One has to be ignorant of both the Bible and human history in order to be deceived by such a perversion of the truth.

The first thing to be determined in the interpretation of this prophecy is the question of what the four kingdoms mean, whether regimes or individual kings, or persons. Owens was correct in his declaration that, "There is no question as to the identification of regimes instead of persons. It was not Nebuchadnezzar as a person, but the Babylonian era,"[11] that was meant by the head of gold. Even today there is no disagreement on this.

Now, as any student of history knows, Babylon was succeeded by the Medo-Persian Empire, not two empires, but only one. The Medes and the Persians are repeatedly mentioned in the Book of Esther as joint names of a single government (Esther 1:19, etc.). However, in order to move the prediction of the establishment of Christ's kingdom from the days of the Romans, the critics have (in their own eyes) removed the kingdom of the Romans from the image! How do they attempt such a thing? By making the nonexistent Kingdom of the Medes to be the second kingdom, that of the Persians the third, and that of the Greeks the fourth. We reject such an adjustment of history out of hand. As Leupold put it, "There never was such an empire as the Median empire,"[12] that is, in the worldwide extent indicated by the vision, and especially if it must be found as a successor to Babylon, that is, coming after Babylon, a vital requirement of the vision. There was, of course, a state called Media (never a world empire); but it was conquered by Babylon in 550 B.C.,[13] years before Babylon itself was conquered by the Medo-Persians. Even more disastrous to the theory of making the Medes a successive empire to that of Babylon, is the fact that the Medes were also subjugated by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.,[14]thus forming a portion of the Greek Empire, exactly as they had been subjugated at an earlier time by the Babylonians. Thus, the Medes were an important subordinate part of both the Babylonian and Greek empires. In the days after Babylon, they enjoyed their greatest worldly authority as identified with Medo-Persia.

The Medes first appear in ancient history in the year 836 B.C.; but throughout the greater part of their entire history they were subject to Assyria, Babylon, (subordinate partners with Persia for awhile) and then subject to Alexander the Great. Herodotus referred to Media as an empire; but in view of what is known concerning them they were never an empire in the worldwide sense indicated in this vision, and certainly not after the fall of Babylon!

In view of these facts and others to be cited below, the critical device of making subordinate Media one of these worldwide empires is totally unacceptable. Critics misconstrue Daniel 5:31, which declares that Darius the Mede took the kingdom. However, there is no reference in that to a Median kingdom, for the same passage says that, "The kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians" (Daniel 5:19); thus it was one kingdom with two prominent elements, The Medo-Persian Empire. The mention of Darius' race in Daniel 5:31 did not change the facts. It was just like saying that Herod the Idumean (the Great) ascended the throne of Judea; but that could never have meant that he took over the Kingdom of Esau! (Idumeans were Edomites, the posterity of Esau).

The interpretation of the vision by Daniel continues.


Verse 43

"And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay. And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces, the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure."

INTERPRETATION CONTINUED

We shall now notice how exactly the traditional interpretation of these four kingdoms fits the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

BABYLON was the head of gold. And, by the progressive decrease in the value of the materials in the image, the principle that human governments shall wax worse and worse throughout history is established. It will appear strange to some, in view of Nebuchadnezzar's unreasonable cruelty, that Babylon should have been the head of gold. However, since it was Daniel's duty to interpret the vision, it would have been fatal to him, perhaps, if anyone except Nebuchadnezzar had been named as the head of gold. Besides that, the deep religious convictions of Nebuchadnezzar, and the strict manner in which he honored his word, and a great many other commendable qualities of his reign attest the appropriateness of this symbol. In the matter of the captives, Nebuchadnezzar did not seek out young women to gratify his lust, but young men to be trained in art and science. Later human systems reversed this completely. We have never read of a commentator who denied that Babylon was the head of gold.

MEDO-PERSIA was the breasts and arms of silver; and it seems impossible that a more appropriate representative of this dual authority could have been devised than the breasts and arms of the great image. That Medo-Persia was indeed the empire that succeeded Babylon is a matter of history. Darius the Mede was a close confederate of Cyrus who appointed him as his first governor over Babylon after it was taken from the Chaldeans. His name is found on ancient monuments as Gubaru or Ugbaru. (See the full discussion of this in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, pp. 788,789). It is impossible to suppose that any authority, other than that of the Medes and the Persians succeeded the overthrow of Babylon.

THE GREEK EMPIRE (THAT OF ALEXANDER) succeeded to worldwide authority upon the overthrow of Medo-Persia. This power was symbolized by the belly and thighs of brass. "A third kingdom of brass" is the Biblical description; and Jamieson tells us that "This third empire (the Greeks) were celebrated for the bronze armor of their warriors."[15] Another distinguishing mark of this third empire was "its universality."[16] It is said of this third empire, "They shall bear rule over all the earth" (Daniel 2:39). This mark of identification settles forever the error of ascribing this third spot to Persia, for Persia never was able to conquer Greece; and, while it must be admitted that "the whole earth" here must mean the "whole known world"; a prominent nation like Greece could not have been left out of the reckoning. Such allegations as that of Owens which states that, "The third kingdom is that of the Persians,"[17] is clearly in error. Alexander alone conquered the whole world and then sat down and wept because there were no more nations to conquer! There is yet another identification mark of this third world power; and it was pointed out by Thomson. "The word translated "belly" (Daniel 2: 32) is plural; and it expresses along with the two thighs the idea of four-foldness!"[18] This points squarely to the Alexandrian Empire, because, upon the death of Alexander, the empire was promptly divided among the four generals of Alexander's army. "Not only that, the four parts eventually were only two: Syria and Egypt. These are the two thighs of the statue."[19] Efforts to make Alexander's Empire the fourth world power represented by the image fail completely. As Young noted, "The understanding of these four world powers foretold by the image as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome is the only position that interprets Daniel 2:44 correctly. That verse states emphatically that God's kingdom will appear in the days of these four powers; that means the kingdom had to be established after the fourth of these great powers appeared on earth, that is, in the clays of the Roman kings.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE corresponded to the legs of iron and the feet of iron mingled with miry clay. "It shall be a divided kingdom." Rome divided into the Eastern and Western Empires with capitals at Rome and Constantinople. The iron-like nature of the Roman power to break in pieces and crash all nations is known to every student of history. "They shall not cleave one to another" shows that Rome's conquests, despite their overwhelming nature, and the brutal ruthlessness with which they were executed could never actually unite the conquered peoples. Note the rebelliousness of the Jews and that of the Parthians, and that of practically every other power subdued by the Romans. In no sense whatever were Rome's conquered peoples ever united. Iron cannot mix with clay. "They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men." We find no basis whatever for viewing this as the intermarriage of Roman kings with the heads of conquered states, or any such thing. What seems to be indicated by this is the absorption into the historic Roman Empire of successive waves of barbarian invaders. None of these things suggests either the empire or the times of Alexander.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD is symbolized by the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and which smote the great image upon the feet, broke it all into pieces and scattered all of the world empires as dust, and which increased until it filled the whole earth! Some have dared to assert that such a thing never happened, to which it may be replied that all of the world powers of this vision have long since disappeared from the earth; and nothing whatever is known of any of them except what men have written about them in the libraries of the world; but the kingdom of God is still flourishing. There have been more buildings erected to the honor and service of Jesus Christ in the United States of America alone during the last decade only than were previously erected all over the world in honor of all the kings and rulers who ever lived.

A certain critic quoted by Leupold stated that, "The victory of Christianity over Paganism was in no sense a victory of Christianity over the Roman Empire."[20] This, of course, is a gross error. Yes indeed Christianity destroyed the Roman Empire. As Leupold put it, "Christianity was in a sense God's judgment upon sinful Rome."[21] Will Durant has this:

"There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, beating all trials with fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won."[22]

The Roman Empire was the climax of paganism; and even in the days of Theodosius there yet remained four hundred twenty four pagan temples, each of them manned by a tremendous staff of pagan priests.[23] Every emperor was a self-styled god; and well into the second century Christians were being burned alive for refusing to burn incense to the emperor, as proved by the martyrdom of Polycarp at Smyma (155 A.D.). Did Christianity win over that? Yes. In the year 389 A.D., the Emperor Theodosius closed down all the pagan temples, proscribed and outlawed the pagan priesthood, and initiated many other changes that emphasized the totality of the Christian victory.


Verse 46

"Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odors unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou hast been able to reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel great, and gave him many great gifts, and made him to rule over the whole province of Babylon, and to be chief governor over all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel requested of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel was in the gate of the king."

It may be that Daniel protested against divine honors being offered to him by the king, because the king's "reply" seems to indicate such a protest. At any rate, the worship conferred upon Daniel was intended to honor Daniel's God, as the king plainly indicated.

Notice also that Daniel's being made to "rule" over the province of Babylon did not mean that this "rule" was absolute. Daniel recognized this in procuring the king's permission to name his companions to responsible posts. The magnificent prophecy of the establishment of Christ's kingdom reaching its climax in Daniel 2:44 above is one of the great features of the Book of Daniel. It is significant that all schools of interpreters accept this as a prophecy of the establishment of Christ's kingdom.

"Interpreters of all schools, Christian, Jewish, rationalistic, unbelieving, millennial, amillennial, etc., agree that Daniel 2:44 refers to Christ's kingdom."[24]

This alone is more than sufficient to establish Daniel as a valid prophet of future events. If Daniel was not inspired by God, and even if he wrote as late as 165 B.C. (which we emphatically deny), then how could he or anyone else have known that Christ's kingdom would be established and that it would flourish and fill the whole world?

We conclude with the immortal words of Sir Isaac Newton:

"To reject Daniel's prophecy is to reject the Christian religion, for this religion is founded upon his prophecy of the Messiah. This vision composed of the four metals is the foundation of all of Daniel's prophecies. It represents four great nations who should reign over the earth successively, viz. the people of Babylonia, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans ... And the stone cut out without hands which smote the image and filled the whole earth shows that in the days of those Roman kings, the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that should never be destroyed, the Kingdom of Messiah."[25]

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Daniel 2:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/daniel-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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