I’ve had lots of dreams this week. This is what happens when you’re sick for five days and spend inordinate amounts of time napping. But none of my dreams merits a blog posting. So, let’s get to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, finally.
The dream, as recounted by Daniel, involved “a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance” (2:31, NIV). Get the idea? It was impressive. Large. Enormous. Dazzling. Awesome. You should be wowed by its magnificence. This statue, we learn, was multi-layered, and each layer was a different material: gold head, silver torso, bronze midsection, iron legs, and iron-clay feet. As you move from head to shoulders to knees to toes, you find that the materials decrease in value, but they increase in strength (if you stop at the ankles).
Once Nebuchadnezzar had gotten a handle on the details of the statue’s appearance, he saw a rock – a plain old ordinary, non-impressive rock, whose only noteworthy feature was that it “was cut out, but not by human hands” (v. 34 NIV). It was this rock that struck the statue at its most vulnerable place – the iron-clay feet – and smashed them. Unexpectedly, given the magnificence of the statue, the whole thing fell to pieces and then disintegrated into dust that blew away on the breeze. It was history, so to speak. Then the plain old ordinary rock became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth – all the space and more that the enormous, dazzling statue had occupied.
And the king woke up. And he stayed up because the dream troubled him so much. The text doesn’t tell us why he was so troubled by it. Did he sense its importance? Did he know it was a message from a god (God) he hadn’t met yet? Was he disturbed by the demise of such a magnificent statue? Did the rock unnerve him? Speculate to your heart’s content. All we really know is that it bothered him immensely.
Actually, the dream has bothered people in a variety of ways ever since – though maybe we’re bothered for the wrong reasons. Daniel interprets the dream for the king (vv. 36–45), who is then no longer bothered. Maybe we keep being bothered by it because we try to fill in the interpretative details that Daniel didn’t give.