Dreams are a part of life. Nearly every night we fall asleep, we dream. We rarely remember our dreams, but our minds are very active during our sleep. The average person dreams about one to two hours every night. Some dreams are pleasant; others are scary. Some are about people we love; others are about places we have been. For the most part, our dreams are very similar to each other’s. We dream that we are falling off a cliff, or that we forgot to study for a math test, or that we got the exact gift we wanted for our birthday. None of us, however, has had a prophetic dream like the one Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had more than 2,500 years ago.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream came from God, and had to do with the most important thing on Earth—the Lord’s church. According to Daniel, the king dreamed of a great image that had a head of fine gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. In the dream, a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands, and struck the image. The clay, iron, bronze, silver, and gold were crushed, and became like dust, which was carried away by the wind. But, “the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:31-36).
Daniel revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that the image he saw represented various earthly kingdoms. Babylon was the head of gold, while the other elements of the image stood for future empires that would rise up after Babylon. History has shown that the chest and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire. The belly and thighs of bronze were for the Grecian Empire. And the legs of iron and feet of both iron and clay stood for the Roman Empire.
Daniel informed Nebuchadnezzar that it would be during the days of the fourth kingdom (the Roman Empire), that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed;...it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). Its beginning would be small, like the stone that was cut out of the mountain “without hands.” But it would consume all other kingdoms, and become a great mountain filling the whole Earth.
What is this kingdom of which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed and Daniel spoke? What is this great kingdom that would start out small and eventually fill the whole Earth? It is the spiritual kingdom of Christ—the church. More than 500 years before the church was established, God revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar through a dream, which the prophet Daniel interpreted, that a kingdom made “without hands”—a spiritual kingdom of divine origin—would be established during the days of the Roman Empire. Today we can know that this spiritual empire is the kingdom of Christ. In this kingdom, Jesus is the King, and His followers, called Christians, are His servants.
According to this prophecy, the Babylonians would be followed by three kingdoms (the Medo-Persians, the Grecians, and the Romans), each of which eventually would come to an end. But the spiritual kingdom that would be established by the God of heaven in the days of the Roman Empire would be everlasting. Unlike all worldly empires, which are at risk of being destroyed, nothing would ever have the power to overthrow God’s spiritual kingdom. Army tanks, guided missiles, and nuclear bombs would not (and will not) bring down the kingdom of Christ. Simply put, it “shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).
Years after Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream (and only about thirty years before the establishment of God’s kingdom), the angel Gabriel visited Mary, the mother of Jesus, and said: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).
The kingdom of which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, and of which Daniel and many other prophets spoke, and the one that Gabriel foretold to Mary, was soon to become a reality. It is this kingdom, the church, which you will study throughout this issue of Discovery Magazine.