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Lowell Brueckner

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The Fourfold Image


The Book of the Prophet Daniel

“… some stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire!” 
Hebrews 11:33, 34

Chapter 2:24-49  The Fourfold Image

24.  Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: "Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation." 
25.  Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: "I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation." 
26.  The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, "Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?" 
27.  Daniel answered the king and said, "No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 
28.  but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 
29.  To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 
30.  But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind. 

Who, but God himself, could single out exceptional prayer warriors, among all the great men of the Old Testament, who particularly had power before His throne in prayer? Through Ezekiel, He mentioned only three… Noah, Job and Daniel (Ezek.14:14,20). We have already learned of some of the amazing spiritual qualities of this young man, Daniel. In the last lesson, we read of his prudence and discretion.

In prayer, the Lord shared with Daniel the dream that He had given to Nebuchadnezzar and, equipped with this astounding revelation, he is ready to appear before the most powerful man on the face of the earth. How can I explain what God has placed before us in this portion of holy Scripture? How can I possibly write about the supernatural anointing upon this Hebrew, who will now stand in the presence of the Babylonian monarch? God, the Holy Spirit, is upon him and, I trust, He will impress upon our spirits, if not our minds, divine reality.

We need also to be able to see the tremendous significance of this dream. It is a key to understanding the world and its system, a basic factor in prophecy. Therefore, it is revealed, as the first prophecy in the book, showing the meaning of the Babylon Empire in history, as far as God is concerned. It goes on to speak of three future political powers and then stretches throughout the ages to the end of time. Beyond what is taking place on that day in Babylon, Daniel is the mouthpiece of God with a message to all those, who are concerned with His plan.

Daniel speaks to the captain of the guard and chief executioner, pleading for the life of all the spiritual men, who have miserably failed the emperor. He asks an audience with the king, assuring him that he carries with him Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and interpretation. Arioch wastes no time in rushing him into the royal throne room. Through this amazing revelation in the Word of God, we are able to join him there.

Arioch makes the formal presentation: "I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation." The captain is willing to put his life on the line, so convinced that Daniel will not disappoint the king nor endanger himself, after bringing him in so abruptly, thereby interrupting the royal schedule. Nebuchadnezzar addresses the man that he knows as Belteshazzar, named after his god.

Notice that the king is concerned, as he was with the other wise men, that Daniel give both the dream and the interpretation. That will be the proof of his supernatural ability. This servant of God will begin by exalting his Lord, presenting His incomparable virtues, and speaking of His interests in the affairs of men. That is the priority, above the details of the dream… first, the God of the dream, and then the dream itself.

Daniel’s God is unique and He stands alone in awesome solitude and omniscience: "No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked,” he begins. He is speaking of the eternal God of heaven, who knows the future, as if it were history. He not only is aware of it, He sovereignly plans it and brings it to pass.

Daniel, besides seeing the dream, has looked inside the king’s bedroom, as he sleeps, and saw inside his head. Nebuchadnezzar is to know of the God, who reveals secrets to men. He has done exactly that in giving the emperor this dream, choosing him as the channel, through whom He will make known the future of world history. Daniel uses a term, which especially refers to the days of the Messiah, the “latter days”, which is certainly included in the dream.

Before he continues, Daniel must make one more explanation, to assure that he will get none of the glory for his part in the matter. That is essential for every man or woman of God to make absolutely clear, in Daniel’s time, as well as under the New Covenant. Peter said, "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” Daniel declares his common ground with the finiteness of all humankind. God will not and should not share His glory.

31.  "You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 
32.  The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 
33.  its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 
34.  As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 
35.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. 
36.  "This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation.” 

This is the dream, given to Nebuchadnezzar, and revealed to Daniel, in answer to prayer. It is a vision of a mighty image, fearsome and glowing brightly. The sight of it evoked fear in the beholder.

The statue is molded with various metals; its head is of fine gold. The chest and arms are of silver and the middle and thighs are bronze. Its legs are of iron and the feet are partly of iron and, mixed with the iron is the only element, which is not metal. It is clay and in the clay is shown the inherent weakness of the image. Almost literally, it is the ‘Achilles’ heel’.

I repeat that God, not only showed Daniel the image, but also he sees the king, as he observed it. He sets the last segment apart and emphasizes it: “As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand…” The image has been forged, as metals are, by human instrumentality, but no man puts a hand on the Stone. This is the providential intervention, solely by the Almighty, against the image. According to divine principle, in the eyes of men, the Stone is small compared to the great image, but power is compacted within it.

It strikes the image in the feet and breaks them. The effect of the blow rises from the feet into the body… the legs, the middle, the chest, arms and the head and at once, it disintegrates minutely, to the degree that it becomes as fine and light as chaff. The wind blows it into oblivion, “so that not a trace of them could be found.”

“But the stone…” This is one of the earth-changing ‘buts’ of the Word of God, and it revolutionizes and transforms history. The concentrated essence of the Stone grows into an immense mountain that stretches over the entire globe. We can only imagine the rapt attention and the reaction of the emperor, as Daniel accurately and in vivid detail, lays his dream before him again. Daniel concludes, “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation.”

37.  You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 
38.  and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 
39.  Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 
40.  And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 
41.  And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 
42.  And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 
43.  As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage (by means of human alliances, Spanish BTX), but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 

“We…” Because his three companions prayed with him, Daniel shares the credit for the inter-pretation of the dream with them. We see not only his humility, but his generous spirit. Now, he unfolds the interpretation that Ne-buchadnezzar so long-ed to know. It begins with a disclosure of the head of gold.

God has placed the emperor in a unique position. In the book of Revelation, there are seven powerful world empires men-tioned, beginning with Egypt, followed by Assyria, and then these that we have before us now (Rev.17:10). They are called kings there, because generally the kingdoms are repre-sented by one prominent head, as Nebuchadnezzar in the case of Babylon. He is a king of kings, having tributary kings under him, but he reigns as a supreme monarch, with governmental power beyond any, who will follow. At least, this will be his standing, until the final world dictator.

God showed to Nebuchadnezzar the final five kingdoms, beginning with the present Babylonian Empire. We must learn, as this emperor must, that he is under the sovereign rule of the Almighty; he has nothing beyond divine permission. He rules over men and, as designated to Adam in the beginning, he is also responsible for the kingdom of animals and birds. He will answer to the Creator for his treatment of nature. Jeremiah confirms his appointment (Jer.27:4-8).  

The Babylonian Kingdom is the highest of all the following in its dictatorial purity, with Nebuchadnezzar at its head, and also because of the magnificence of the city. The Medio-Persian Empire follows, a step down from the Babylonians, in the sense that its central government was weakened by the independence of its provinces. Alexander the Great conquered mightily as the Greek emperor, but his life itself was short and the conquered nations were divided into the hands of four successors.

Finally, the Roman Empire was formed by a powerful army, but a weak culture. Greek culture and religion continued to dominate throughout the Roman world. Please notice carefully that no fifth kingdom is mentioned, but the feet and toes are seen as part of the legs. Perhaps we can say that the Roman Empire lives on in European society, and will revive into world dominance in the end times.

The feet and toes are made of a mixture of iron with clay and not a chemical reaction between two metals. They are not fused, but weakly joined without a common bond. The text makes it quite clear that they are an alliance of nations, some strong and some weak, essentially divided, but existing together loosely.

God showed these world powers as one and He sees them as one. It is important that we understand this, because we will learn that, at least in one incident, two different heads of government will be treated as though they were only one. This will come much later in our study. Chapter two is very important in the prophetic word because of this oneness.

The great empires of men are united in one world system, which might be termed, The Antichrist Kingdom.  They are unified in one world view with one principle negative goal and one great positive purpose… they stand in unified opposition to the Kingdom of God: The rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us’” (Ps.2:2,3). There purpose in doing so is the deification of man… the creation of supermen. “You will be like God” (Ge.3:5). Many rulers have assumed this position, led by the fallen angel, Lucifer.  

44.  And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 
45.  just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure." 
46.  Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 
47.  The king answered and said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery." 
48.  Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 
49.  Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king's court. 

Much more will be learned concerning the formation of this image and the final phase, represented by the feet, as we continue to study Daniel. We will certainly bring in some further enlightenment from the book of Revelation. Today, the final stage is not yet fully in place, although we may very well be witnessing its beginning. This is a last-day kingdom, or in modern terms, a government, to which the Lord from heaven will respond with the formation of His kingdom upon earth.

God’s kingdom on earth will be an indestructible, unconquerable reign, ruled by an undying King. No one will take His place. He will sweep down from heaven with indescribable power, in answer to the prayers of His people, and He will strike the existing iron/clay government, ruled by antichrist and the false prophet, and hurl them into the Lake of Fire. Man’s entire system will disintegrate and Christ will take the throne. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ. He will reign on earth for a thousand years and on into eternity. All these events are clearly marked in the prophetic Scriptures. “The dream is certain, and the interpretation sure.”

God saw King Nebuchadnezzar as the appropriate one, with whom to share the future of empires. He has been listening with rapt attention, but as Daniel’s account reaches its climax, he falls prostrate on the floor, smitten and overwhelmed by the reality of eternal truth. The only man of God besides Daniel, who had ever come to his knowledge, was the prophet Jeremiah, whom he treated with kindness (Jer.39:11-14). With his pagan mentality, he honors the person of Daniel, as the representative of his God but, as never before in his life, he recognizes the reality of the sovereign Lord over all:  "Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery." 

Daniel is promoted to the place, which God had prepared for him, that is over the whole Babylonian province, the central province of the empire. He also becomes the “secretary” of the “Department of Religious Affairs”. The king showers gifts and honor upon him and Daniel asked that these honors be also shared with those that the king had named Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego. Daniel’s seat, however, was in the throne room, as part of the royal cabinet.


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