28 November 2017

Daniel 2:31-45

"The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed" (v. 44)

Psalm: Psalm 127


The original readers of the book of Daniel were Jews living in Palestine under foreign rule in the second century before Christ. Daniel offers them stories set in the past in order to encourage their faith. Although today's passage is set four centuries earlier in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, its message for the readers in verses 44 to 45 is contemporary.

We were introduced to Daniel in chapter 1 and told that he had the gift of interpreting dreams (Daniel 1:17). Now we see him in action. Earlier in the chapter the king demanded that his experts should demonstrate their insight by telling him what dream he has seen before interpreting it. But they cannot. God gives Daniel the insight to do so.

Colossal statues, in temples and public places, were not uncommon in the ancient world. Sometimes they were made of more than one material. Here the materials, progressively deteriorating in quality, represent Nebuchadnezzar and his successors down to the competing claims of different powers trying to forge alliances in the readers' own times.

They are progressively destroyed by a 'stone not made by human hands' (verse 34) (that is, by God). They are replaced by a towering mountain (suggesting Mount Zion? - compare Micah 4:1), representing God's rule. It was only by God's permission that the earthly rulers exercised their powers anyway (verse 37).

To Ponder

  • Does God speak to us in dreams?
  • What do you think God's kingdom will look like when it comes?

Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..