“One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep. He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, he said, “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means.” Daniel 2:1-3
Daniel 2 tells the story of God speaking to King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream. Although the king was unaware of God’s role in the dream, God was revealing to Nebuchadnezzar His plan for the Gentile nations. Why would God speak to a pagan king like Nebuchadnezzar? The answer is that Nebuchadnezzar was the first ruler of the “times of the Gentiles.” “They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.” (Luke 21:24) The period of human history when Israel’s national life is dominated by Gentile nations, which will end when Christ returns. Nebuchadnezzar’s rule began a time, still ongoing, when Israel was not at the center of world influence.
God gave Nebuchadnezzar a vivid dream that he couldn’t understand, and it distressed him. That the Lord God Almighty would communicate truth to a pagan Gentile king is evidence of the grace of God. The phrase “dreamed dreams” may suggest that this one dream kept recurring. The Lord had given two dreams to Pharaoh (Gen. 41), another Gentile ruler, and Joseph had interpreted them; and He also gave a dream to the magi who came to worship Jesus (Matt. 2:12), and they were Gentiles. When God wanted to give a message to the Gentiles, He usually sent them a Jewish prophet (Amos 3:7)—Jonah to Nineveh, for example, or Amos to the neighboring nations (Amos 1—2). But here the Lord communicated directly to an unbelieving Gentile monarch. The Lord in His wisdom planned to use His faithful servant Daniel to describe and interpret the dream, and in this way, God’s name would be glorified and Daniel and his friends would be honored and rewarded.