“This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 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, 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. Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 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. 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. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 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, 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.” Daniel:2:36-45 ESV
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign. Revelation 11:15-17 ESV
Many ancient peoples had stories about ages that were long past–ages of gold and silver and bronze and iron. The Greeks believed that long ago there had been an age of gold, when there was no war and it was always spring, rivers flowed with milk and wine, and the oak trees dripped with honey. Then came a silver age when there were two seasons in the year, and people started planting crops for their food. After that was the age of bronze, when people started making weapons and fighting with each other. Then came the iron age, a time of crime and violence and war. All of these ages were in the long past, and would never come again.
The meaning Daniel told for Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was different from this in two important ways. First of all, the age of gold wasn’t in the long past, but it was happening at that time. The Babylonian empire was a time of gold, but it wouldn’t last. There would be three empires that would come after it, and each would be inferior to the last in some way. After Babylon would come the Persians, and then the Greek empire under Alexander the Great, and finally the Roman empire. But a much more important difference in the meaning Daniel told was that there was hope for the future. In the future a kingdom of stone, set up by God himself, would come about, and this kingdom would have no end. Unlike all the old stories of the ancient peoples, there was hope for a glorious future.
Everything happened the way Daniel said it would, and at the time of the Roman empire God sent Jesus, our Savior. Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could become part of his kingdom. Jesus rules his people right now, and a day is coming when he will bring our world and all its nations and rulers to an end. He will bring about a glorious new heaven and a wonderful new earth. When that happens we will see his final kingdom come for us, and we will know the wonderful rule of our Lord Jesus forever and ever.
Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing us into your kingdom, the kingdom that will last forever. Amen.