“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold.” Daniel 2:36-38
The image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream represented five different types of materials, which represented five great world empires. We will look at each of these kingdoms in detail. Babylon is routinely characterized as a city of sin and evil and Nebuchadnezzar II appears in the Book of Daniel as a stubborn tyrant who recognizes the power of Daniel’s god but will not submit to him until he is literally driven insane and is then restored. We will look at this in later lessons.
The head of gold was Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian kingdom. It lasted from 636 BC to 539 BC. It was a kingdom that was rich with much gold in the kingdom. “Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged.” (Jeremiah 51:7) Drinking a cup of judgment is a familiar picture in the Hebrew prophets. Here, Babylon is represented as God’s instrument of judgment against the nations, many of which are described in Jeremiah 46-49. The cup is depicted as a golden cup because of Babylon’s great wealth. God used Nebuchadnezzar in His judgement again Israel.
This dream reveals that God is in control of history. He knows the future because He plans the future. This doesn’t mean that God is to blame for the evil things that leaders and nations do, but that He can overrule even their wickedness to accomplish His divine purposes. The God of heaven gave Nebuchadnezzar his throne and enabled him to defeat his enemies and expand his empire Jeremiah 27. But the God who gave him his authority could also take it away, and He did Jeremiah 50—51. The king didn’t know how long his empire would last, but he knew it would end someday. In fact, Babylon was conquered by what Daniel called an “inferior” kingdom which we will look at next.