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What Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Tells About Your Future

Golden head, representing the head of the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2.An inspired dream 2,600 years ago laid out the course of history from then onwards. This foundational Bible prophecy especially gives us hope for the troubled time just ahead of us now.

You could say a lot of things about the most powerful leader in the world six centuries before Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was arrogant, hot-tempered, extremely powerful and used to getting his own way. But no one would have accused him of being a prophet of the God of Israel.

Yet the Bible records that one of God’s most foundational prophecies was given to this pagan king in a dream.

Nebuchadnezzar’s challenge

The dream was so vivid and troubling that King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to know right away what it meant. He called all his pagan wise men together and told them to give him the dream’s meaning on threat of death. He also offered great rewards to whoever gave the meaning, but he was astute enough to realize that they would be tempted to just make something up. To be sure they were giving him the real meaning, he said they also had to tell him what he had dreamed.

“The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, ‘There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh’” (Daniel 2:10-11).

King Nebuchadnezzar was not used to hearing “no,” and he didn’t care what other kings might have done. He “gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon” (verse 12).

Daniel in danger

Daniel and his three friends, captives from Judah, apparently hadn’t been called to give an answer, but the king’s decree still demanded their death!

Daniel and his friends sought God’s mercy, and God revealed the secret to Daniel in a dream. Daniel’s prayer of thanksgiving is a beautiful masterpiece of pure praise and an example for us all. Please take time to read it in Daniel 2:20-23.

Daniel faces the king

The king asked if Daniel could tell him the dream and its meaning. Daniel didn’t take the credit. In fact, he agreed with the wise men who had said no man could do this.

“But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (verse 28). These latter days are also referred to as the last days, the end of the age and the time of Jesus Christ’s second coming (2 Timothy 3:1; Matthew 24:3). Christ’s return to save humanity from self-destruction will come after the Great Tribulation, heavenly signs and the Day of the Lord (Matthew 24:21-22, 29; Joel 2:30-31).

All of these events are major themes of prophecies throughout the Bible, and all point to a time just ahead of us now in human history.

The beauty of the prophecy in Daniel 2 is that it gives an overview of a succession of empires that would rule on the earth and ends with a striking message of real hope—a powerful promise for us today.

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image

After describing the huge statue Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream, from its golden head to its iron and clay feet, Daniel gave the dream’s meaning.

The statue’s golden head represented Nebuchadnezzar himself (verse 38).

The chest and arms of silver represented the next major empire to come on the scene after the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians.

The belly and thighs of bronze we know from history as the Greco-Macedonian Empire.

The legs of iron and feet partly of iron and clay represent the Roman Empire and its successive revivals all the way to the return of Christ. The 10 toes of iron and clay show that the last revival of this European superpower will be “partly strong and partly fragile” (Daniel 2:42).

Hope for our future

It’s interesting to consider that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was likely the best of these four world-ruling empires, since God says the succeeding kingdom was “inferior to yours” (verse 39) and the value of the metals decreases further down the statue. The implication is that, as cruel and ruthless as Nebuchadnezzar was, things would only get worse till the end.

But thankfully the end of man’s misrule will signal the beginning of a wonderful new world.

“And in the days of these kings [the 10 kings represented by the 10 toes; these are also described in Revelation 17:12-14] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (verse 44).

For more about the wonderful, peaceful Kingdom of God that will be established at Jesus Christ’s return, see our beautifully illustrated booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.

Mike Bennett is a writer and editor for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He and his wife Becky attend the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio, congregation.

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