According to Daniel 2:1, this vision occurs “in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar” (603 BC). In this chapter, Daniel interprets a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s important to note that Daniel had the same dream or vision, because he first tells the king the contents of the dream.
31. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Daniel then interprets the dream.
36. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
Another kingdom inferior to thee — This refers to the Medes and the Persians.
Another third kingdom of brass — This refers to the conquest of the world by Alexander the Great. The successors of Alexander, the kings of Syria and Egypt, arose after Alexander’s untimely death. This includes the entire Seleucid period up to 64 BC.
40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
The fourth kingdom — This refers to the Roman Empire. Up until the time of the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire was plagued by numerous civil wars. The Fourth Kingdom includes the entire era of the Roman Caesars, who brought Pax Romana (“Roman peace”) to the empire, which ironically was a time of great internal strife among the nations Rome subjugated.
41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
Iron mixed with miry clay — This refers to the military might of the Roman Empire which brought a forced union of all the nations of the world including Judea and Samaria.
The seed of men — The Jews at the time of the Roman Empire were mixed with the iron military might of the Empire, but did not come fully under the dominion of Caesar.
44. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
And in the days of these kings — Simply put, in the days of the Roman Empire. At that time, the Gospel of the kingdom of God would be preached to the nations of the world by Jesus Christ and His Church. This Kingdom shall never be destroyed, but it shall war against the kingdoms of this world and they shall become part of the kingdom of God and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15).
The question answered by this verse is when God will set up a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He will set up His kingdom “in the days of these kings.” Luke begins his Gospel with an account of Jesus birth: “And it came to pass that in those days … [of] Caesar Augustus” (Luke 2:1). The beginning of Christ’s ministry began “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1).
When will Christ and the kingdom of God come on earth as it is in heaven? It will be “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44).
45. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
A stone made without hands — This refers to the kingdom of God. This does not refer to the Second Coming of Jesus as some have imagined. The text plainly states that the stone is the kingdom of God. This kingdom appeared in the days of the Roman Empire at the coming of Christ.
Nebuchadnezzar rewarded Daniel for correctly telling the dream and giving the interpretation. Like Joseph in captivity in Egypt, Daniel’s gifts made room for him. The king made Daniel the ruler over Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego became rulers over the provinces of Babylon.