Giuseppe Verdi, the celebrated Italian composer wrote the opera Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar) that opened to great and continued success in the spring of 1842. Verdi’s life was changed by that wonderful piece of art. His opus became a symbol of Italian national risorgimento and his very name became an acronym for a political slogan: “Viva Verdi” was the prudent way Italian royalists expressed his sympathies for “Vittorio Emmanuelle Re d’Italia” V.E.R.D.I. for those in the know who did not want to be arrested and accused of sedition.
Curiously enough, Verdi received a libretto that started by mentioning dreams.
Go, thoughts of mine, on golden wings
Cross the mountains and fly
Over the oceans.
Reach the land, find the place
Where all the children go
Every night after hearing this lullaby, you will find their heroes alive
Who protect their innocence
Bless them all because their soul is simple, so pure and wonderful.
Go, my thoughts, on golden wings
Make this beautiful dream go on and on …
All night long.
The world of dreams often comes up in the Bible: Jacob dreamed in Bethel about a way to reach the throne of God. Joseph’s dream awakened his brothers’ envy and changed the destiny of Israel. Dreams alerted Joseph, the putative father of the Messiah, to flee to Egypt. The wife of Pontius Pilate suffered much when she had a dream about the death of Jesus. Dreams appear very often in Scripture and in the life of the Saints. Many of us are given the grace of a meaningful dream thus fulfilling the promise of prophet Joel, the same promise that Saint Peter quoted in his discourse of the first Pentecost.
Today we are visiting perhaps one of the most famous dreams of all times: one that was revealed in the most spectacular manner only 26 centuries ago: the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed such dreams that his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. So the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, ‘I have had such a dream that my spirit is troubled by the desire to understand it.’ Daniel 2:1-3
Worry not, I am not going to go over the prophetic characteristics of that dream. For a fairly decent and brief exposition of the dream and its most common interpretation, a recent video will suffice. I recommend investing less than 30 minutes to watch it very carefully: Kingdom Come – The History of Tomorrow.
About fifteen years ago I was visited by someone who shared some of Daniel’s DNA, a Jewish atheist fairly full of himself who, after treating me to a cup of coffee at one of Charlottesville’s fine tea houses admonished me this way: “How could any intelligent person think that Jesus is God?” It is a fair question but the tone clearly revealed a good dose of contempt. At the time, the matter of prophecy came to my lips but the man knew zero about Jewish prophecy. His parents were German secular Jews and he was never given the love of the Torah that so many young Jewish men and women often receive. My arguments barely elicited a smirk. The man was thick as a brick, incapable of understanding the astonishing reality of the prophetic gift that the Jews received and treasured for so many centuries. I never saw him again and I am not about to complain about it.
The elements of my question, because this post is a question, hinge on these points:
- Dreams that cross time almost like a form of television.
- The apparent descending order of Daniel’s dream as a representation of time.
- The possibility that the prophetic phenomena allows us to see a part of reality that is near to us but we cannot easily understand.
I dealt with my personal dreams in other posts. I am sure my critics rolled their eyes until they could see the back of their brains when reading those. But dreams I dream. Some of them are much too personal. For instance: I wake up in the morning and I have a brief dream just before I open my eyes. I see the face of a person that I haven’t even thought of in many months. Just the face, nothing else. Two hours later, I am painting a bookcase and I run out of paint, so I take a walk to the hardware store to buy some paint. For some reason I decide to take an unusual route to the store, perhaps because it was already too hot to walk the sunnier streets, I opted for a more shady path. Half a block before reaching the store that person is standing there waiting for a cab by the curbside. How did that happen? I do not have any satisfactory answer.
King Nebuchadnezzar had a much more important dream. He was given a preview of human history. And not only a preview in time but a sort of critical evaluation, a summation of what is going to become of all the human plans after the fall of Adam. With the help of Daniel, he sees four ages of mankind. A golden age, that of his own dynasty. Then a silver age, a period symbolized by the torso of the image and its two arms. Those represent the Medes and the Persians under Cyrus the Great.
The Persian troops entered the formidably built fortress of Babylon by diverting the waters of the river Euphrates. We know that they came in at night and the doors of the city were inexplicably opened. In the royal palace, the Babylonian king had asked for the sacred vessels of the Temple of Solomon to have some wine with their guests. Apparently it was the last call. The king, his family and all the princes of Babylon died that night. Profanation is never a good idea but before leaving this world, the king was given the famous sentence: mene mene, tekel, uparsim: you have been weighed and found wanting, your kingdom is given to the Medes and the Persians. The silver age of history began that night. The king of Babylon was not invited to the premiere.
I understand those who believe this prophecy is a hoax because they see it in their ignorance. They do not know that it is possible to ascertain, through various means, that the prophecy of Daniel harks back to the 6th century B.C. It was not written after the fact. Josephus the 1st century historian declares that Alexander the Great was shown the prophecies of Daniel –where he appears twice– when he entered Jerusalem. One of the prophecies identifies him as a ram of the goats. That may be the reason why so many historians of his age called him Iskander Baikonur (literally ‘two horned Alexander’) but it may be a false etymology.
Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar are presented with a view of history in advance and they are told that they are seeing the future all the way to the end of human self-rule on Earth.
The implications of this dream are many but I would like to know what those seriously studying quantum physics would say when confronted with the facts of Daniel’s prophecies. I am only qualified to ask, and I repeat this post is mainly a question, if Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar had a brief contact with the roots of the reality we inhabit.
Time in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream
I imagine time as a long road, or a plain that extends in the many directions of probability. That is only my way of imagining it. I cannot offer a definition of time here but as pertains to the dream we are considering, one of the most peculiar aspects of it is the flow of time. The statue represents a vertical descending progression of time that is very appropriate to picture the idea of the Adamic fall. The metals degrade with the passing of every empire or age until finally, when we reach the feet, we are presented with a form of impure iron or perhaps an ancient depiction of iron-reinforced concrete. Since the legs and feet have iron in common, it is easy to conclude that the feet (the modern nations) are sort of a continuation of the Roman Empire. For example, France, Italy, Britain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, etc. are in a way inheritors of the idea that Romans had of civil order. Sometimes some of the Roman symbols endure: the fasces (see the Lincoln Memorial) and the omnipresent eagle, the use of Latin phrases like “E Pluribus Unum” and such.
The reality of history shown in the king’s dream intrigues me in this way. Forgive me if this is too complicated: today, physicists are puzzled for the apparent disconnection between the laws that rule the very small (the quantum realm) and the very large (the visible universe) and they are looking for a unified way to understand both the small and the large components of our reality. From my considerable ignorance, I dare to propose that there is no such way. Perhaps the deep quantum mysteries are simply the natural realm of probability as opposed to the reality we experience, a reality we can understand by the various laws of physics, Newtonian Mechanics, Einstein’s Relativity, etc.
Since God is the Creator of everything, the Divine Will is able to navigate the realm of probability to produce an approximate picture of what shape history will take without violating our free will. I am getting into deep waters here, waters I can’t navigate at all but again: this post is a question and perhaps someone out there has serious answers or at least some clues.
My very rough intuition that the descending order presented by Daniel 2 is not merely an indication that one kingdom will be always followed by and inferior version of civil order but and perhaps it is a clue that the fall of man has caused a profound disorder in part of the structure of our universe that condemns all human efforts to futility when it comes to achieve a lasting civil order. My suspicion is that the divine phrase: “see now the ground is cursed because of what you have done” (Genesis 3:17) implies that man has caused enormous damage that he can’t possibly fix by himself. The diabolical deviation introduced in the Garden of Eden requires outside-non-human intervention: a stone cut not by human hands but by Divine Will. Compare with Psalm 118:22, Acts 4:11, Isaiah 28:26, Matthew 21:42-45, Ephesians 2:20-22.
See reality as it is
It does not take a genius to see that we are living in the last age presented to us in the vision. Iron represents the remains of the Roman order, clay represents the unstable tendencies of humanity that not even iron can make straight and strong. In the days of the ten kings, the ones that “rule for one hour with the Beast” (Apocalypse of St. John 17:12-13) symbolized by the ten toes, degradation has reached the point of no return. At that point the “stone cut not by human hands” hits the feet of the statue and reduces all of it to fine dust that the wind disperses: history, our reality becomes a non reality. It is as if history never was. We must think of the implications of that.
for creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)
Shakespeare put the words in Hamlet’s monologue: “To be or not to be …” God is presented to us in Scripture as the “I AM” the One that truly is. By simple opposition those who oppose God are not. The wicked are like grass: “in the morning it springs up new, but by evening it fades and withers.” In our present reality God is the only thing that remains. When the Divine Reset comes, the wicked will be cut and our reality will be changed in ways we cannot even imagine. The original serpent, the devil will become “I am not” or the very negation of being. All the human efforts to create an order without God will dissolve in the inferior realm of possibility. It will not be seen or imagined again. It will be as it had never existed.
For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
It is happening
There is every indication that the time has come for a divine intervention. The things written long ago are about to be fulfilled. Expect not a political fix, or a miracle. Expect to be transported to another reality. You cannot even imagine all the good things that God has in store for us.