Did you hear about the man who said that his grandfather predicted the sinking of the Titanic? He said he tried to tell everyone, from the people in charge, right on down to the people who bought tickets. But they all told him to just shut up. This went on until finally he had to be asked to leave the movie theater.
Well, if any man had been able to predict the sinking of the Titanic, he would have been considered an amazing prophet, for it was a ship that was said to be unsinkable. But here in our text in Daniel 2:31-35, Daniel makes a pretty amazing prediction of his own. In the first part of Daniel 2, God gave King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon a dream that troubled him so sorely that he asked his sorcerers and astrologers to tell him two things. First, what he dreamt; and second, what his dream meant. None of his spiritual advisers could do that, of course.
But Daniel could! He began by telling the king that his dream was a prediction about the future (2:29), and now he’s ready to tell him what he had actually seen in his dream. He began by saying,
“Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible” (Dan. 2:31).
Now to begin with, when it says that this image “stood” before the king in his dream, that’s our first hint that this was the image of a man—but not the walking, talking variety of men. He saw the kind of statue-like image of a man that he was used to worshipping, the idols made of gold and silver that made up his idolatrous religion, as we see when Daniel goes on to say that the image he saw was made of silver and gold:
“This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay” (Daniel 2:32,33).
The Original Metal Man
Now if you know anything about metallurgy—and as a former tool and die maker, I’m probably smarter than the average bear about metallurgy—you know two things about the metals of this image.
First, you know that these metals are getting stronger as you view the image from top to bottom, starting with this head of gold. Gold is one of the softest of metals. The reason jewelers have always valued and treasured it is that it is soft enough to easily form into rings, chains, and other pieces of jewelry. That makes it what we in the world of metallurgy call malleable. You didn’t know your editor knew big words like malleable and metallurgy, did ya?
Now silver is a little harder and stronger than gold, and brass and iron are stronger yet. So the metals of this image provide an excellent representation of the dream’s interpretation that Daniel is about to give. He is going to explain how they depict the coming of some kingdoms that would rise and fall and dominate the world for the next 600 years. The metals keep getting stronger because the nations they represent would have to be stronger in order to be able to conquer the nation that came before them. In Daniel 8, the prophet is going to explain that these metals depict the rise and fall of the kingdoms of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome—and ultimately the kingdom of the antichrist.
It’s All Downhill From Here
But you don’t have to know much about metallurgy to know that these metals are also getting cheaper as you go down. Gold is the most expensive of the metals, silver is a little less costly, and iron is the least expensive of them all. That tells you that these future kingdoms may be getting stronger as the prophecy unfolds, but they are also becoming less and less valuable, at least in the eyes of God. This is God’s way of telling us that civilization is going downhill. That certainly flies in the face of what evolutionists would have us believe. They hold that man is evolving and getting better and better!
It also flies in the face of something called post-millennial theology. That’s the thinking that says that Christians like us are going to keep making things better and better in the world until we finally bring in the thousand-year millennial kingdom that the Bible says is coming. After that, the Lord will see how well we’ve fixed things down here and feel comfortable enough to come back to live among us! But as Pastor J. C. O’Hair used to say, if Christians are going to bring in the kingdom, they are going to have to back it in, for the world is certainly not heading in that direction!
Daniel’s image rather predicts that the world is going to get worse and worse, culminating in the Tribulation that will follow the Rapture, and then the Lord will return before the millennium to set up His kingdom, after defeating the antichrist at Armageddon, and all the kingdoms of men who will follow the beast.
And Daniel sees the Lord’s return and defeat of those kingdoms depicted in the next verse of our text when he continues to tell the king what he dreamed:
“Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” (Dan. 2:34).
The Rock of Ages
Now the stone here is the same one that Paul says the Jews drank from in the wilderness, when he wrote,
“…they drank of that spiritual Rock…and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4).
That’s Paul’s way of saying that the stone represented Christ, the way the bread represented His body when He said, “this is My body” (1 Cor. 11:24). The stone in the king’s dream represented Him as well.
If you’re thinking, “How come it says Christ was a stone cut ‘without hands’?” it’s because that expression “without hands” means without human instrumentality. It’s the opposite of what we read about in Acts 7:48, where Stephen declared,
“…the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands.”
Temples are made with human hands, but some things are made without them, as we see when Paul tells believers,
“…ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands…” (Col. 2:11).
That’s talking about our spiritual circumcision in Christ, the one that was made without human instrumentality.
But why would Daniel call the Lord a stone cut without hands? Well, when a stone is cut, that’s when it becomes a stone of its own. Up until then, it’s just part of a larger stone. And the Lord Jesus Christ was cut out of a really large stone, as Daniel went on to tell the king later in this chapter:
“…thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands…” (Dan. 2:45).
The Original Mountain Man
A “mountain” in the Bible is a symbol of a kingdom, as we see when Isaiah describes the kingdom of heaven on earth by predicting,
“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock….They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord” (Isa. 65:25).
And the “stone” of the Lord was part of the mountain of God’s kingdom in heaven before He became a man. But He was cut out of that mountain and came to earth, where he was conceived in a human body without human instrumentality, through a little miracle known as the virgin birth. Joseph had nothing to do with the Lord’s conception.
When He came to earth, the Lord was given a body much like the one you and I will have in heaven someday, one that Paul described in 2 Corinthians 5:1 by saying:
“…if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
The body that you’ll have in heaven someday will be built by God so it can be eternal. But it will also be the same body your mother built in her womb so it can be recognizable—just like the Lord’s resurrection body was both eternal in that it was made by God, and recognizable by His disciples in that it was made by Mary.
Okay, now that we’ve identified the stone here as the Lord, what’s verse 34 mean when it says that the stone “smote” the image? Well, if these metals represent future nations, that means what you’re seeing depicted here is something we read about in will represent all the evil nations of the past, so in smashing it, the Lord will be smashing them as well.
And when Daniel says that the nations became like “chaff,” it helps to know that chaff is the light husk that envelops a grain of wheat. I’m told that in Bible days, farmers separated the chaff from the wheat by throwing it into the air on a breezy day. The heavier grain would fall at the farmer’s feet, while the light and airy husks would be gone with the wind. That’s how God wants us to picture the future of the kingdoms of men, as a civilization gone with the wind.
And when Daniel says the Lord will break those nations to “pieces,” now you know how small those pieces will be! In fact, when the Lord talked about Himself as a stone, He said,
“The stone which the builders rejected…on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matt. 21:42,44).
—powder that will be blown away by the fiery Second Coming of Christ (2 Thes. 1:7,8).
Fiends in High Places
And when verse 35 says that “no place was found for them,” that word place often refers to places or positions in government, as when people talk about having “friends in high places.” The Bible uses the word that way as well. In describing something that happened during the Lord’s ministry in Israel, John wrote:
“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:47,48).
Israel’s unsaved rulers there were worried about losing their “place” in the government of Israel. The Romans had conquered Israel, but they allowed the Jews to retain some semblance of self-government. But if the Lord became too popular, the Romans would consider Israel a threat and take away the nation, and the places in her government held by those fiendish rulers.
We see this definition of “place” again when Paul wrote,
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
That’s talking about the fallen angels who currently occupy positions of government in heaven— and will continue to occupy them until the Lord boots them out, as we read in Revelation 12:7,8:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.”
As you can imagine, there’s no place for fallen angels in the government of heaven in eternity to come! So midway through the Tribulation, Michael is going to give them the left foot of fellowship and kick them to the curb of the earth.
And that’s what the Lord will do with the nations of the earth at His second coming! Verse 35 says that after He smites the nations, “no place was found for them” in the government of the earth. You see, the kingdom that the Lord will set up after them is not going to be the culmination of all the kingdoms that came before, like Antichrist’s kingdom. Verse 35 says that the stone will become a great mountain, it doesn’t say that the obliterated powdery pieces of the nations will become the mountain of the kingdom. The Lord is going to make a kingdom out of Himself, not out of them.
In closing, how would you like to try to predict what nation will conquer the United States, the current most powerful nation in the world, and what nation will conquer that nation, and what nation will conquer that conquering nation, over the course of the next 600 years? You couldn’t do that if you tried, but God could! And when He did it here in Daniel 2, it not only proved He exists, it proved that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and worthy of all the worshipful service you can give Him.