December 12, 1999

A DREAM COME TRUE

The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy. Daniel 2:45

There once was a king who had a dream—a strange, scary dream. Most dreams lose their power once a person wakes up and are soon forgotten. But this was a dream the king couldn’t forget. The dream stuck with the king even when he was awake. The dream seemed so real and so overwhelming that the king could think of nothing else. The dream troubled the king so much that it kept him awake night after night. Finally, the king decided to do something. He called together his wise men—psychics, shamans, fortune tellers, and horoscope experts—and told them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”

The psychics, shamans, fortune tellers, and horoscope experts smiled confidently. They had a dream job. They were accustomed to making big money listening to dreams and then explaining the deeper meaning. “O king, live forever!” they said, “Tell us the dream, and we will interpret it.”

The king had told them about his dreams many times before, but this time he thought, “Why should I tell my dream? Aren’t these men supposed to be mind readers? If they can’t read my mind and tell me what I dreamed, why should I believe anything they say about the meaning of the dream?” So the king declared, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”

The psychics, shamans, fortune tellers, and horoscope experts stopped smiling. They looked at each other nervously and cleared their throats. They had no idea what the king had dreamed. They had no way to find out. Finally, they stammered, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any psychic, shaman, fortune teller, or horoscope expert. What the king asks is too hard. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.”

The king exploded in rage. He ordered that all the wise men in his kingdom be rounded up and killed.

The Dream Revealed

Now, not quite all of the king’s wise men were psychics, shamans, fortune tellers, or horoscope experts. There were four men among them who had never claimed to have magical powers for reading minds or predicting the future. They believed in one God. They believed that only this God controlled the future; only this God knew every thought and dream. They had not made false claims and had never been phonies like the other wise men, but they were still to be executed like the rest.

The leader of the four honest men was named Daniel. When the king’s commander came to take them in for the mass execution, Daniel asked gently, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” After the commander explained the matter, Daniel went to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. The king agreed to give Daniel a chance.

Daniel went home and explained the problem to his three friends. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that they would not be killed. That very night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.

When Daniel found out the dream and understood its meaning, he didn’t pat himself on the back for figuring things out. He praised God for his wisdom and power. Then Daniel went to the commander and told him not to execute anybody. “Take me to the king,” Daniel said, “and I will interpret his dream for him.”  So the commander took him to the king at once.

The king asked Daniel, “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

Daniel emphasized that no human could read minds or predict the future. Daniel did not have any power in himself to solve the mystery of the king’s dream. “But,” Daniel said, “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” What no human could figure out on his own, God knew perfectly well. “This mystery has been revealed to me,” said Daniel, “not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.” The king listened with amazement as Daniel told him the dream exactly as the king had dreamed it:

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. When 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. (Daniel 2:31-35)

Daniel then explained the meaning of the dream. The king’s dream was God’s way of giving a glimpse of the future of the world and its kingdoms. The king himself, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, was the head of gold. God had given him power, and his empire of Babylon was the greatest on earth. Eventually, though, Babylon would give way to another great empire. This was the chest and arms of silver. Following that would come another empire, the bronze belly and thighs. Then would come the iron empire, the strongest in many ways, but with divisions and weaknesses, like iron mixed with clay.

But what about the rock that broke those empires in pieces? What did the rock mean? Daniel explained,

“The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands–a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.

A Dream Come True

The story of the king’s dream is a true story. About 600 years before Christ, there really was a King Nebuchadnezzar who was the most powerful ruler on earth, and there really was a man named Daniel who explained his dream to him. It’s fascinating to read the Bible’s account of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2. And here’s the most important thing: the dream really came true.

Babylon’s empire of gold was replaced by the silver empire of the Medo-Persians. That empire was later conquered by Alexander the Great, who established the bronze empire of Greece. Finally came the iron strength of Rome and its empire. Rome tried to unite its iron with the clay of its conquered territories but never succeeded fully. These four empires rose and fell just as God had told Daniel they would.

Meanwhile, the rock not made by human hands was being prepared and formed by God himself. By the power of the Holy Spirit, a child was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary. Baby Jesus was born during the time of the iron rulers of Rome. Jesus started as just one tiny child. He appeared to be small and unimportant compared to the great powers and empires. But what appeared to be little more than a tiny pebble has become a mighty mountain that fills the earth.

Two millennia after Jesus’ birth and 26 centuries after the king’s dream, the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome are nothing but memories, but the kingdom of Christ remains and includes people in every nation. Great empires have crumbled to dust, but the rock of Christ and his church fill the earth. Rulers come and go, empires rise and fall, but Christ the Rock fills the earth and remains forever. Centuries and millennia pass away, but Christ the Rock remains in every age. Jesus is the Rock of Ages. Jesus is a dream come true. As the king’s dream foreshadowed, the Lord “set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.” “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever… Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns” (Revelation 11:15, 19:6).

There’s a story about Queen Victoria when she had just become monarch of the British Empire. She went to hear Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah, and the young queen was told that when all the people stood up as the Hallelujah Chorus was sung, she should remain seated. It would not be proper for the ruler of the world’s greatest empire to stand in reverence as the common people did. As the singers cried, “Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,” all the people stood, but the queen forced herself to stay seated in order not to violate the custom of kings and queens. But when the chorus thundered Christ’s praises as King of kings and Lord of lords, Queen Victoria suddenly rose to her feet and stood with bowed head.

That’s the only fitting response to Jesus: submit to him as King of kings, and join in praising him. Mighty monarchs are weak compared to Christ. Enormous empires are puny compared to his kingdom. Centuries and millennia are too short to measure his unending reign.

Six hundred years before Christ, when the Lord showed Daniel the king’s dream and the future of the world’s kingdoms, Daniel worshiped God as the reader of minds and the ruler of history: “Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:20-22). When Daniel explained the dream to King Nebuchadnezzar, the king fell on his face and blurted out, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries” (2:47). Daniel and the king were awestruck by what they could only see coming in the distance. Shouldn’t we, who have seen these things fulfilled, marvel and praise the Lord with even greater awe?

Rock of Ages

In the king’s dream, the statue representing the various empires looked “enormous, dazzling … awesome in appearance,” while the rock at first looked small and unimpressive. When Jesus came to earth, what was one poor son of a carpenter compared to the enormous might of the Caesars?  What was his little band of followers compared to the vast power of the Roman Empire? It seemed an impossible dream for Jesus and his followers to make a permanent impact on the world.

But the small rock became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth, while the great and glittering powers of this world were crushed and blown away like chaff in the wind. Through every passing age, the Rock of Ages looms larger and larger. The Christ who seemed so small as he lay in a manger and so helpless as he hung on a cross has greater power over humanity than all the tyrants of history combined.

A Roman governor ordered Jesus execution, but Jesus rose from the dead, and long after Governor Pilate was gone, Jesus continued to advance his kingdom.

The emperor Nero tried to wipe out the early Christians, and later emperors tried to do the same, but the number of Christians kept growing. The emperor Diocletian launched such a ferocious and bloody campaign and murdered so many Christians that he had medals and monuments made, honoring himself “for having extinguished the name of Christians.”  However, it was not the name of Christ but the name of Diocletian that vanished.

The Roman emperors eventually gave up trying to stamp out the Christian religion, but in the fourth century one last emperor, Julian the Apostate, tried to revive paganism and destroy Christianity. He despised Jesus and spoke of him as “the Galilean.” But Julian’s efforts to defeat Christ ended in Julian’s own destruction. He was mortally wounded on a military campaign, and as he was dying, Julian flung a handful of his own blood at the sky and cried, “Thou has conquered, Galilean.” Eventually, the Roman Empire collapsed completely, while the church of Jesus became a huge mountain that filled the earth.

In the past two millennia, other empires have risen and fallen, and other conquerors like Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan have come and gone, but Christ and his kingdom remain. Various tyrants and political systems have tried to crush Christianity, but they’ve been shattered and blown away, while the mountain of Christ’s kingdom keeps growing.

In the past century, Jesus showed his supremacy yet again. In the early 1900s, the Turkish Ottoman Empire tried to snuff out Armenia and its Christians in a vicious genocide. But now the Ottoman Empire is gone, while Christ remains and Armenian people loyal to Christ remain.

Adolph Hitler tried to turn the German church away from Christ. He tried to wipe out the Jews, the ancient people through whom God gave the Bible and the Messiah. Hitler said his Third Reich would last a thousand years. It lasted twelve. Today Hitler’s name is remembered only with disgust. Meanwhile, the Jewish people he wanted to destroy have again become established in their ancient homeland of Israel, and the church worships Christ, not Nazi ideology.

The Soviet Empire spent seventy years trying to destroy Christianity, but propaganda, atheistic schools, prison, torture, and mass murder could not wipe out the Christian faith. In the end, it was the Soviet Empire that lay in ruins, while the church gained new strength.

Other communist nations, such as China, also tried to destroy belief in God and Christ. China’s Chairman Mao declared that power comes from the barrel of a gun, but all the guns of Mao and his cronies could not match the power of Christ. Today there are more Christians in China than ever, and almost nobody believes the hollow claims of the communist party. Almost nobody wants to base their life on the writings of Marx or Mao, but millions want to base their life on the Bible and the Christ revealed in the Bible. Isn’t it amazing? It took only a few decades for communist ideology to grow stale and weak, while the life of Christ among his people remains fresh and vigorous after two thousand year.

Still today there is ferocious persecution of Christians in some parts of the world, such as the Sudan. Christians there are tortured, sold into slavery, or slaughtered. But these attacks on Christ’s kingdom are doomed to fail like all the others. The early Christians used to say, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

The Lord Most High has seen and planned everything long in advance. In a sense, everything that happens is a dream come true, because God has envisioned it all and planned it all long before it happened. Nothing can stop God’s purposes and plans from being carried out. Already six hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Daniel spoke God’s message about four empires leading up to the time of Christ, and it happened just as God said. Over the past two millennia, right up to the present time, Daniel’s words about Christ’s indestructible kingdom have also come true. Daniel said, “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” That, in a nutshell, is the story of history: God bringing one empire after another to an end but building an unconquerable kingdom founded on the Rock of Ages.

Truly Great

God spoke of these things through Daniel and other prophets long before Jesus’ birth. When the time of Christ arrived, God repeated his promises as the angel Gabriel spoke to the blessed virgin Mary. “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,” Gabriel told Mary. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High… his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:31-33). Why will Christ’s kingdom never end? For the simple reason that Jesus is great, truly great. He is the Son of the Most High God!  What else can explain the mighty and mysterious power of Jesus Christ in human affairs over the past two thousand years?

The angel told Mary, “He will be great,” Jesus is indeed truly great. As someone has written, “He is the centerpiece of the human race… All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”

Or, as historian Philip Schaff put it, “Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light upon things human and divine than all the philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of the school, He spoke words of life such as never were spoken before, nor since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, works of art, learned volumes, and sweet songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. Born in a manger and crucified as a malefactor, He now controls the destinies of the civilized world, and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe.”

Of all the famous and mighty people who have ever lived, whose birth is celebrated by countless millions around the world and throughout the centuries? Jesus Christ. Of all the events that have happened in the history of the world, which event has determined the calendar itself and become the standard by which the years and centuries are measured? The birth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is indeed the Rock of Ages, a dream come true. Jesus is the only person worthy of your ultimate trust. Don’t put your trust in psychics, shamans, fortune tellers, and horoscope experts. They can’t read minds or see the future any more than the phonies in the time of Daniel. Don’t put your trust in political rulers or empires or ideologies. They may look “enormous, dazzling and awesome in appearance,” like the statue in the king’s dream, but they are destined to disappear.

The vast wealth and military power of the United States, though it seems overwhelming right now, will someday be only a faint memory, but the kingdom of God remains forever. The name of every president and prime minister, every king and emperor, will fade away, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4). Don’t let this year come to an end without putting your faith in Jesus as your Savior and King. Only Jesus can forgive this sins you’ve committed this year and throughout your life. Only Jesus can take away the guilt and give you peace. Only Jesus is the Rock, the Mountain, on which you be secure in the coming year, and only he can give you a permanent place in God’s eternal kingdom.

If you dream of a life that is different from the one you’ve been living, if you dream of making your life count for something, if you dream of being forever happy, Jesus is a dream come true. Put your faith in him. Trust the Lord who read all minds, rules all events, foresees and directs the flow of history through all the ages, and rules “a kingdom that will never be destroyed.” Trust the Rock that smashes every political idol, the Rock that has become a mighty mountain filling the earth, the Rock of Ages, the King of kings, the Lord of Lords, the dream come true–Jesus Christ.

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, as we have celebrated your birth in this season and as another year comes to an end, we bow before your wisdom, power, and love. As we see two thousand years of victory over your enemies, we pray that you will treat us as your friends and that you will have mercy on us sinners. Make us citizens of your kingdom and children of God. Amen.

By David Feddes. Originally broadcasted on the Back to God Hour and published in The Radio Pulpit.