In the second year (604 b.c.) of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams which troubled and disturbed his spirit and [interfered with] his ability to sleep. Then the king gave a command to call the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the[a]Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. The king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled and anxious to know the [content and meaning of the] dream.” – Daniel 2:1-3
Dreams were regarded in the ancient world as having significance and as portents of events yet to come. This dream, because of its content and vividness, greatly upset the spirit of the king. Perhaps, because it was no ordinary dream, but one which the Spirit of God caused the king to see, its vividness was particularly intense. So that the king’s spirit was constantly smitten with terror and was unable to sleep.
A prophet will not gather what he has to say from fixed reasonings, but will explain God’s oracles, so also he who will interpret dreams correctly, will not follow certain disthief rules; but if God has explained the meaning of the dream, he will then undertake the office of interpreting it according to his endowment with this gift. Properly speaking, these two flyings are opposite to each other and do not mutually agree, general and perpetual science, and special revelation. Since God claims this power of opening by means of a dream, what he has engraven on the minds of men, hence art and science cannot obtain it, but a revelation from the spirit must be waited for. When the Chaldeans thus boldly promise to become good interpreters of the dream, they not only betray their rashness, but become mere impostors, who pretend to be proficients in a science of which they know nothing, as if they could predict by their conjectures the meaning of the king’s dream. – Calvin
Apocalypse (or “revelation”) signifies a divine, prophecy a human, activity. Compare 1 Corinthians 14:6 , where the two are distinguished. The prophet is connected with the outer world, addressing to the congregation the words with which the Spirit of God supplies him; he speaks in the Spirit, but the apocalyptic seer is in the Spirit in his whole person ( Revelation 1:10 , 4:2 ). The form of the apocalyptic revelation (the very term meaning that the veil that hides the invisible world is taken off) is subjectively either the dream, or, higher, the vision. The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was a preparatory education to Daniel himself. By gradual steps, each revelation preparing him for the succeeding one, God fitted him for disclosures becoming more and more special. In the second and fourth chapters he is but an interpreter of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams; then he has a dream himself, but it is only a vision in a dream of the night ( Daniel 7:1-2 ); then follows a vision in a waking state (Daniel 8:1-3 ); lastly, in the two final revelations ( Daniel 9:20 , Daniel 10:4 Daniel 10:5 ) the ecstatic state is no longer needed. The progression in the form answers to the progression in the contents of his prophecy; at first general outlines, and these afterwards filled up with minute chronological and historical details, such as are not found in the Revelation of John, though, as became the New Testament, the form of revelation is the highest, namely, clear waking visions [AUBERLEN].