Dream Times Then And Now

by George F Spall

The royal despot, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, had reached the peak of his empire-building ambitions. As he drifted into sleep he may have wondered, "What next? What will happen to my Babylon if I go? Will Assyria make a bigger come-back than this my Babylon has done?"

He fell asleep, the blank screen of his imagination prepared for the image that the Spirit of the Lord who is the Spirit of prophecy would project on to it.

He had a dream, and the dream began in his own times, but also took into account " what will be in the latter days" (Daniel 2:28), which takes in the days since the great wars and included the final days of this civilization. Almost half the Book of Daniel is concerned with the future, and there are about sixty separate events recorded, many of them already past. We can be confident therefore that the remaining events will as surely come to pass.

The king dreamed of an image of gargantuan proportions-thirty metres high-with its "head of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay."

The image began with Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, as the Scripture states: "You are this head of gold." Then it pictured a successor, Medio-Persia: "But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.

"And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters all things; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.

"Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron ... they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay."

We know from history that Medio-Persia was surely followed by Greece-the bronze, and later by Rome-the iron. And whereas the feet were mixed, iron with clay, so Rome-iron, mixed with clay must mean Rome with others.

The dream predicted that Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian empire, in these days encompassed by Iraq, would succumb to that of Persia-today's Iran. And Iran in due course would fall before Greece, which would in turn phase out to let Rome extend its borders, build its roads, ravage its neighbours, waste its slaves, until at long last its life-style would change and its political garb be identified as democracy.

Rome was an iron monster that would rust and corrode and need to be repaired, and the gaps filled in with clay. It would eventually, like the statue with its ten toes, be a coalition of ten powers, all tough and heavy with authority, though adjusting to each other to express the will of one man of iron in the future.

But the statue in the dream was crushed by a Stone that fell on its feet! So to fulfil the imagery, those four which had once stood in succession, and had fallen each after the other, must rise again and stand together. Though they once declined as shadows that lengthen as they fade into the dark, only to become shadows again when the sun rises, so must they all-Babylon (Iraq), Persia (Iran), Greece and Rome be again standing together when the Stone falls in the final catastrophe.

And here they are in these days. Here they are and very much alive in the world's news from day to day. There is little doubt that Daniel's dream time is here again. Iran, Iraq and Greece are reviving their history, gilding again the relics of the past that link them to their forebears. They are indeed the same peoples, and Israel is back again in the land to confirm our understanding of prophecy's clock.

Each of these four had much to do with Israel when they were in power before. Iraq took Israel into exile; Iran permitted her return; Greece exploited her and Rome destroyed her. And all four are again involved with her in some way or another, and not with winsome smiles!

As for the Stone that is to fall, Daniel says it represents a kingdom. And just as the other parts of the image in the dream represented kingdoms, so the kingdom, the Stone kingdom will be the Messiah's kingdom and His rule on earth.

The Stone is mentioned a number of times in the Bible. Jacob and Isaiah knew who the Stone was to be. When he was dying Jacob said of his son Joseph: "But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (from there is the shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you... " (Genesis 49:24,25).

Isaiah also knew: "The LORD of hosts, him you shall hallow; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel..." (8:13,14).

In the New Testament also, Paul writing to the Romans and quoting from Isaiah (8:14; 28:16) said: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence, and whoever believes on him will not be put to shame" (9:33).

Even the Messiah quoted this of Himself: "Jesus said to them, 'Did you never read in the Scriptures: "The Stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner-stone? This was the LORD's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes"'" (Matthew 21:42).

He also applied this Scripture to Himself as the stone of stumbling. "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whoever it falls, it will grind him to powder" (Matthew 21:44).

In Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the image this was foretold in grim and succinct terms. The Stone which was "cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing-floors;

"the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:34,35).

The most important thing to note is that at a time when the dream image in its fulfilled reality is to be found as a coalition of then nations, a cataclysmic event when "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44) will occur. This Divinely ordered final 'stone' kingdom will cause all the others to crash at once.

It is a strange conclusion, for all the first four kingdoms were brought to defeat by their successors and departed into the mists of history for centuries. However, when the STONE kingdom falls on the feet of the image "in the latter days" they all come tumbling down together, so they must exist together again in those latter times.

In fact they are now with us; the times Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about are here again, and the Divine principle that "the Most High rules in the kingdom of men" (Daniel 4:17,25,32) is proven. At the national and international levels, woe betide the nations of the world that stand in statuesque pose against Israel or Israel's God. For in God's Word, Jacob has said that Israel's Shepherd is the Stone!