Thursday, February 07, 2008

History of Human Government (16) - Nebuchadnezzars Dream

When Daniel the prophet was living in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. Daniel told him the dream before he gave the interpretation.

You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure 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 baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth (Dan 2:31-35).
Daniel explained the meaning of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar.
You are that head of gold. After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others (Dan 2:39,40).

Christians have put a lot of effort into working out who these kingdoms represent. They are generally though to represent the kingdoms of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome.

In many ways, it does not matter who the different parts of the statue represent. The really important point is that they are all part of the same statue. The statue represents human government in opposition to God. The various kingdoms are different attempts at human government, but they are all united in a common purpose. They all attempt to establish order in the world, without reference to God. They all follow their predecessor Nimrod in standing against God.

God worked out his purposes through these empires. He used Babylon to bring judgement against Israel. He then used the Medes to bring judgment against Babylon. God called Cyrus to accomplish his purposes.
This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut (Is 45:1).
God uses human empires to execute judgement on evil nations, but they are not the optimal form of Government.

We always face a choice between the government of God and the government of man. When we reject God, we end up with the government of man. Some human governments are weak and pathetic, but all human government has a tendency towards accumulation of power. Under human government, state power grows and eventually swamps everything.

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