IN DANIEL’S PROPHECY chapters 2 and 7 we have an outline of history from the time of the Babylonian Empire right down to the end of the age and the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Background to the Prophecy
Daniel was taken captive to Babylon in the first Babylonian invasion of Judah in 606 BC. Nebuchadnezzar selected many bright intelligent Jews who were “well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science” and took them to Babylon. It was a “brain drain” that enabled Nebuchadnezzar to take advantage of higher learning from conquered countries.
Daniel and his three friends were not only intellectuals with the best education but they were also Godly. They were in touch with the God of heaven and God gave them special “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Dan.1:17).
So when Nebuchadnezzar had his dream of a great image with a head of gold, shoulders of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet, part iron and part clay, he wanted to know what it all meant. Especially when in his dream, he saw a stone come down from heaven and smite the image on the feet destroying the entire image; that stone then “filled the whole earth” (Dan.2:35).
In answer to prayer God revealed the dream and the meaning of the dream to Daniel so that he was able to tell Nebuchadnezzar both the dream and its interpretation.
The interpretation of the dream was clear. The head of Gold represented Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian kingdom. “Thou art this head of gold!” (Dan.2:38).
The shoulders of silver represented the Persian Empire that would succeed Babylon.
The belly and thighs of brass represented a third kingdom that would bear rule over “all the earth”. The Grecian Empire would succeed the Persian Empire. Greece was a part of Europe and was never conquered by Persia.
The legs of iron and feet of iron and clay represented a fourth kingdom on earth, Rome, that would finally have ten kings represented by the ten toes of the image and in the days of these ten kings the stone from heaven would crush the image and become a mountain (kingdom) that filled the entire earth.
There can be absolutely no doubt that each part of this image represents a sequential stage of human government from Nebuchadnezzar right down to the time when Christ will come from heaven to smite the kingdom of Antichrist and establish the kingdom of God on earth.
Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, “Thou art the head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom…and another third kingdom of brass…and the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron” (Dan.2:38-41).
Finally in the days when 10 kings rule, represented by the ten toes of the image, the stone from heaven will destroy the entire image and set up the kingdom of God on earth. This stone is Jesus Christ who is the “Rock of Ages” and the smiting stone (Matt.21:44).
The Parallel Prophecy in Ch.7
In chapter 7 of Daniel’s prophecy the same outline of Gentile world history is given in the figure of four beasts. Daniel saw in his dream four beasts coming up from the sea one after another. First a Lion with eagle’s wings, then a bear with three ribs in its mouth, then a leopard with four wings and finally a terrible beast that combined all the features of the three beasts before it. This fourth beast is described in Revelation chapter 13 in reverse order like a leopard, a bear, and a lion; obviously the accumulation of all that went before it.
These four beasts aptly describe the four stages of Gentile world dominion from the time of the first attempt at global government to the final global government that will exist when Christ returns to establish the kingdom of God on earth.
Jesus described the dispersion of Israel that took place in AD70 when the Jews were scattered out of the land and said that
“Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, UNTIL the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke21:24).
Daniel’s prophecies in chapters 2 and 7 describe this “times of the Gentiles”. It is the time of Gentile occupation of Jerusalem that began when Nebuchadnezzar first came in 606BC and will conclude when Christ returns to reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem.
Strangely some who claim to be Bible teachers interpret this dream differently and instead of seeing each part of the image as a sequential stage of history from Nebuchadnezzar to Christ, they teach that the four stages represent four kingdoms that will exist in the last days just before Jesus returns. One of these teachers suggests that the four kingdoms represented are Britain/USA, Russia, Germany (EU) and China. The strange interpretation is based on the fact that Britain has used the symbol of a lion and America an eagle therefore they claim a lion with eagles wings must be UK and USA!
Next, since we often speak of the Russian bear, they say the second beast must be Russia.
Thirdly, since Germany manufactures the leopard tanks she must be the third beast likened to a leopard. When they come to the fourth beast they have difficulty finding a symbol because the symbol for China is the dragon. Nevertheless they opt for China as the fourth beast!
It is reasoned that since the whole image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is destroyed by the smiting stone therefore the four beasts must also be existing when Christ returns.
They conveniently ignore the fact that Daniel stated the first kingdom was Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon; that his kingdom would be followed by another; then another, and finally a fourth kingdom! Nothing could be clearer. The kingdoms are sequential and are the kingdoms that occupied Jerusalem after the throne of David ceased (Ezek.21:25-27). They ignore the fact that the final stage of the image prophecy is ten toes and the fourth beast has ten horns representing ten kings which we learn from the New Testament give power to Antichrist during the Tribulation (Rev.17:13).
The four beasts represent the “times of the Gentiles” that will continue till Christ reigns. Even today Jerusalem is “trodden down of the Gentiles”. Most nations still refuse to establish their embassies in Jerusalem and the Old City is divided into Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian Quarters. The fact is that the final fourth kingdom is an accumulation of all the Gentile powers that preceeded it. The symbol in Rev.13 indicates it and the period of Gentile occupation of Jerusalem clearly confirms it. Nebuchanezzar’s image therefore defines the “times of the Gentiles” when Jerusalem would be occupied by Gentiles and the throne of David would cease to function. This will continue till Christ returns and will
“build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down” (Acts15:16).
It is worthy of note that the Babylonians did not have unchallenged control of the whole world. Babylon was overthrown by the Persians.
The Persians were overthrown by the Greeks. They never conquered Greece or Rome.
The Greeks never occupied Rome and were defeated by Scipio the Roman General, in the battle of Magnesia in 190BC. After Alexander died (323BC) the Grecian Empire divided into four kingdoms represented by four wings on the leopard, often at war with each other.
The Roman Empire covered the greater part of the civilized world but only when the final “little horn”; Antichrist, comes to power will it achieve Global Government. Finally the accumulation of Gentile world power will crumble before the Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming.
The fourth kingdom on earth will be the first to achieve global control with all the kings of the earth subservient to it. (Joel 3:2; Zech.12:3,14:2; Rev.16:14; 19:19; Isa.24:21). Antichrist will bring “all nations” against Jerusalem in the final battle of Armageddon (Rev.16:14; Zech.14:2).
Remember that Russia and Islam will be destroyed in the land of Israel during the first half of the Tribulation (Ezek.39:2). At the same time that the land of Russia is burned, the isles of the Gentiles (USA and UK) will also be burned (Ezek.39:6). The “kings of the east” in Asia will be destroyed in the Great Asian War (Rev.9:13-19) soon after. This leaves the Revived Roman Empire as the only super power to control the world at the mid-point of the Tribulation. So when Antichrist is destroyed the entire world of Gentile power, the accumulation of centuries of development, will crumble before the Lord Jesus Christ!
Finally every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!