I would like to look at the Biblical book of Daniel. Many people have many different ideas about the account of Daniel. As with any prophecy the reader must understand a few very important rules to keep in mind while studying Daniel. This will not be exhaustive but I would like to share a few. First of all, the reader must realize that the writer of the prophecy can either be talking about 3 major groups of people; the Jews, the Gentiles, or the Church (made up of Jews and Gentiles). Sometimes the author can speak of the 3 different groups all in the same chapter so you must pay close attention to the words that are used along with the context to determine which group is being spoken of. In Daniel there are 2 of the major groups mentioned; the Jews and the Gentiles. Another key rule to remember is the time that is spoken of. Sometimes the writer refers to his own time, while at other times he speaks of the immediate future or the distant future. Sometimes he mentions the first coming of the Messiah (Jesus Christ) or the second coming of the Messiah (when He sets His feet on the earth for the second time and not to be confused with the rapture, when He will return to take the Church but not set foot on the earth). Keeping these rules in mind let’s take a look at the major prophecies mentioned in Daniel.
I. Daniel finds himself a slave in the Babylonian empire in the service of King Nebuchadnezzar and he (Daniel) trusts in the Lord through this difficult time.
Many people seem to think that if God allows something negative to happen to them that they have license to turn their back on God and do whatever that they want to do. Daniel was a boy/man of principle and even when his life was turned upside down he remained faithful to God and served Him diligently. During Daniel’s time in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that neither he nor his wise men of Babylon can interpret. Daniel is called upon to give the answer or lose his life. Daniel runs to the Lord in prayer and once he receives the answer he gives God all of the credit. Let’s look at Daniel’s answer.
“However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed. “As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. “But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind. (Daniel 2:28-30)
II. The interpretation of the dream lays out the flow of human history revealing what the future held for Daniel and even for us, modern man in the 21st Century.
Many people pay a great deal of money to try and “discover” what the future holds yet more times than not they are deceived and left feeling used. If you want to know how the future will unfold then you need to go to the One who unfolds the future. There is only One who knows the beginning from the end. In Babylon none of the famous wise men, conjurers, magicians, and diviners could tell the future when it came down to life or death. They were experts at deceiving people and telling them what they wanted to hear but when their (the wise men) lives were on the line they could not predict the future. Daniel is brought in as one of the wise men who must explain the dream and the future. Daniel goes to the Lord, receives the dream (the king would not tell anyone the dream, they had to know the dream and its meaning) and its interpretation, explaining the future of the world (which history has unfolded exactly as Daniel said it would). Here is the dream and then we will see the interpretation. Be aware that God does not use dates or names but He describes the empires that are to come.
“You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. “The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:31-35)
III. The statue is a representation of all of human history and how things have unfolded, are unfolding, and will unfold until the end of time.
Let’s look at the parts of the stature one at a time and see how they compare with the nations that dominated Israel from the time of Daniel up until now and the future domination that will take place. The statue has four major parts and the dream has three major players; the statue, the stone, and the mountain.
- Head of fine gold
- Breasts and arms of silver
- Belly and thighs of bronze
- Legs of iron and Feet – partly iron and partly clay (the feet extend from the legs)
IV. The beauty of the Word of God is that It does not leave us to guess what in the world is being spoken of but instead right there in the text we have the interpretation.
Let’s take a look once again at the Scriptures and see the interpretation that God gives us.
“This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king. “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold. “After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. “In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. “As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery. “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Daniel 2:36-45)
1. Head of fine gold (37-38)
King Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold, he and his kingdom, the Babylonians
2. Breasts and arms of silver (39)
After the Babylonians will come and inferior kingdom that will rule.
3. Belly and thighs of bronze (39)
After the second empire there will come a third.
4. Legs of iron (40)
After the third empire there will arise a fourth, strong as iron, that crushes and shatters all things (the other kingdoms) into pieces.
Feet – partly iron and partly clay (41-42)
this empire comes out of the fourth empire
it is a mixture of iron and clay
it will be a divided kingdom
it will have the toughness of iron but mixed with common clay
V. All of the kingdoms will ultimately be destroyed by the stone and then the stone will set up a kingdom that will never pass away.
The time of the final kingdom is very important. Many people who analyze Daniel and history claim that when Jesus Christ came during the time of the Roman Empire that during that time the stone came and crushed all the other empires and has reigned ever since in the hearts of men. That sounds nice but it is not according to the passage. The passage says that this takes place during the time of those kings (the time of the feet and toes). There has not been a time when 10 different kings ruled over the Roman Empire at the same time. This especially was not true when Jesus first came to this earth. Plus the Roman Empire did not cease to exist with the first coming of Christ. The text says that the physical kingdoms (statue) will be crushed and the stone that crushes them will become a real, visible kingdom that will rule the earth and never pass away. This has definitely not happened as of yet.
From the text we see that there are five kingdoms yet only two of them are defined, the Babylonian Empire and God’s Empire. One of them has come and gone and the other is yet to come. What about the other kingdoms, are they further defined in the rest of the book? Are they ever mentioned by name? Yes they are and in future articles I will explain how they all tie together. Just remember the words that Daniel left with the king and also leaves with us today.
so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy. (Daniel 2:45)