Nebuchadnezzar’s Image

A remarkable prophecy spanning mankind’s history from Babylonian times right up until our times and beyond is outlined in the prophecy of Daniel 2.

The Bible’s Claim

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed… Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (Gods Power).” 2 Peter 1:19-21

The Bible claims to have a divine author. It claims to be the infallible word of God. How could we test such a claim and is there any evidence to support this? Bible prophecy is often pointed at to show that God wrote the Bible because no human can foresee events far into the future. In this article we hope to look at the evidence from a prophecy found in the book of Daniel.

Who was Nebuchadnezzar?

In Daniel chapter 2 we are introduced to Nebuchadnezzar, a king of Babylon. For many years it was thought that Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar were a myth and fictitious. However, with the archaeologist’s spade these accusations have been proved false. Consider these artifacts:

If you followed the links above you will have seen from these three examples (and there are more) that Nebuchadnezzar was a real person. His kingdom was real.

Nebuchadnezzar was a king of Babylon. Because of disobediance to God, God had allowed some of His people Israel to be captured. What the Babylonians did when they had taken over a country was to take the most important people out of their native lands, and train them in the ways of the Babylonians. They integrated them into their culture and made them serve their kings. Daniel was such a man. With this background in place we hope to now examine the Biblical record of the events around Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel.

Search for an interpreter – The Background

Daniel 2:1-9
1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
6 But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
7 They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree 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 shew me the interpretation thereof.

So Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and it effects him so greatly that he requires an interpretation for it.

Daniel 2:10-13
10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’ matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

The wise men quite reasonably admit their inability to interpret a dream they do not know of. As a result of this they are condemned to death by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was one of these wise men, captured from Israel and brought to Babylon.

Daniel 2:14-18
14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’ guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
15 He answered and said to Arioch the king’ captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

So Daniel, the man of God and his faithful friends pray to God, to reveal the secret of king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

Daniel 2:19-23
19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
21 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 know understanding:
22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’ matter.

So after the secret of the dream is revealed to Daniel, he thanks God for His mercy.

Daniel before the King

Daniel 2:24-30
24 Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
26 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?
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men , the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh 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;
29 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 maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.

So Daniel gives all the glory to God and claims nothing of himself. He then outlines to the king the events of the dream – this of course the king would have known but he was testing the wise men to see if they were as wise as they claimed to be. He reminds the king that he had been wondering what would eventually happen to his kingdom after he had gone. He states that the dream has been shown to king Nebuchadnezzar to explain the events of the “latter days”.

The phrase “latter days” in the scriptures denotes a specific time period. Consider this verse from Hosea:

“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4-5

The first part of this quote is speaking about the time when the Jews would be scattered and would not be able to perform national religious worship. This of course happened in AD70 when the Romans dispersed the Jews all over their empire. This situation continued right up until recent years until in 1948, the birth of the nation of Israel came about and Jews started to RETURN to their land. This time of returning is happening now in our time. We are witnessing the events of the latter days – about which Nebuchadnezzar’s dream holds further information.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Daniel 2:30-26
30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
31 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.
32 This image’ head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34 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.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, 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 of an ‘image’ – a sculpture of a man. It had a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of brass, two legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. Then a stone flies at the image and strikes it on the feet, smashing it and then the stone grinds the image to powder and grows to fill the whole earth. This may sound bizarre, and it did to Nebuchadnezzar, but so vivid was the dream that he knew it had further deeper meaning. Daniel continues:

Daniel 2:36-38
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.

So the metal head represented the then present time period. The kingdom of Babylon (approx BC 602 – BC 527) with Nebuchadnezzar as its king.

Daniel 2:39
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

The territory of the kingdom of Babylon was taken over by the Medo-Persians (approx BC 527 – BC 336) who are the next kingdom represented by the chest and two arms of silver. Then, in turn their kingdom was taken over by the Greeks under Alexander the Great (approx BC 336 – BC 28). Incidentally what a fitting metal to represent the Greeks whose armour was bronze.

Daniel 2:40
40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things : and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.

The next thing that happened to the Kingdom was that the Romans took it over and grafted it into their kingdom (approx BC 28 – AD 476). The Romans, (whose armour was made from iron) are represented by the iron legs.

So in simple terms, what was to happen to king Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was clearly foretold. 4 kingdoms (including Babylon) would inherit it from each other down through time. Each would replace the other and the image was a time-line, a continuous historic unfolding of man’s kingdoms. After the fourth empire it’s kingdom would not be inherited and dominated by one single nation again but by many – some strong and some weak. This is exactly what we see after the fall of the Roman empire.

Was it written after the events?

Because of this amazing prophecy and the obligation this may put upon people to take the Bible seriously, many have suggested that it had to have been written after the events. All the evidence of the writing of Daniel suggests it was not written after the events. Consider these points:

  • Royal characters have been proved by archeology and are accurate
  • Written in an old form of Chaldee – proved to be from the Babylonian era of Nebuchadnezzar
  • The oldest version of Daniel in circulation is from the ‘Dead sea scrolls’ discovered between 1947 & 1956. These date back to 200BC and are themselves copies of older manuscripts which were copied using strict accuracy guidelines
  • There are 10 non-biblical references to the book of Daniel dating back to around 300BC

Of course an Almighty creator would have no problem in foreseeing human history. This is the Bible’s claim:

“…I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” Isaiah 46:9-10

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” Amos 3:7

“But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” Daniel 2:28

The Stone

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream does not stop with the feet of clay and iron though. In his dream we next read of a stone which flies at the image and hits it in the feet:

Daniel 2:34-35
34 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.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

So what does this mean then? Here we are given 2 important details:

  • The stone brings about the destruction of the image
  • The stone acts as a catalyst for the mountain which covers the earth

The stone represents Jesus Christ. We can see this from the following verses where the Bible interprets itself:

“…are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” Ephesians 2:20

“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the …and whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” Matthew 21:42-44

The Bible teaches that Jesus is soon to return to the earth:

“…this same Jesus,  which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go
into heaven” Acts 1:11

“And he (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you” Acts 3:20

“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” Matthew 25:13

The Mountain

It is quite clear from the interpretaion Daniel gives that the mountain represnets God’s Kingdom:

Daniel 2:44
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

Mountains are used by the Bible as 
a symbol of “kingdoms” (see Jeremiah 51:25
, Isaiah 13:4
, Zechariah 4:7). What this prophecy is telling us quite clearly is that God’s Kingdom is to be set up on the earth. We do not go to heaven to be with Jesus. He is to return to us. This is what we see taught in other areas of the Bible:

“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit
the earth.” Matthew 5:5

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

“All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10

So what we can see in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is amazing. In the “latter days” when the Jews have returned to their land, in our time, Jesus is to return and set up God’s Kingdom. He is going to destroy the thinking of men and man’s kingdoms and establish God’s upon their ruins. Consider these verses:

“A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 25:31

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11: 15

Judgement is Coming

“…he (God) hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness…” Acts 17:31

This world and its thinking is to be destroyed and in its place a wonderful time of peace will be ushered in and God’s Kingdom will be established. For more details about God’s Kingdom visit: Bible teaching about The Kingdom of God »

Consider the logic: If part of this prophecy has been proved to come to pass, so will the rest.

However the message of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is not one of doom and gloom but one of hope. The Bible holds within its pages an invitation to be part of this future Kingdom. Not to be destroyed with the thinking of men but to be involved in God’s plan and purpose. We read in Mark:

“And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15-16

To be part of the future Kingdom you need to:


By examining Daniel 2 we have seen:

  • World history prophesied before it had happened
  • The accuracy of the Bible (historical and prophetical)

Both of these things prove the Divine authorship of the Bible.

  • God is going to set up a Kingdom in our time
  • Consume the kingdoms of men and be ruled by Jesus

This proves that the hope of a true Christian is for Jesus to return to the literal earth and to establish God’s literal Kingdom upon the territories of the kingdoms of men.

The main message you can take away from this is that: 

Author: M. Davies, Nottingham, May 2009