Daniel 2: kingdoms in advance
In Daniel chapter 2 God gives a prophetic overview of the history of the Bible lands, and their modern successors. Daniel 2 is one of the best known prophecies in the Bible - it is simple, yet profound.
Daniel 2 lays the foundation for an understanding of the later prophecies contained in the book of Daniel, and as such it is a very important study.
2. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which he could not remember. His wise men were unable to tell him the dream and were consequently not able to interpret it. Nebuchadnezzar became angry and threatened to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
Daniel and his Hebrew companions prayed that the Lord would reveal the dream and its meaning - their prayer was answered.
2.1 The dream revealed
Daniel declared to Nebuchadnezzar that God had made known the dream and its interpretation, thereby taking no credit to himself.
Da 2:31-36 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
2.2 The interpretation
Da 2: 37-45 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Each portion of the image represents, in historical succession, the kingdoms (powers) that would be predominant. The historical record has identified these kingdoms:
Gold head: represents Babylon (given in Da 2:38), 605BC - 539BC;
Silver breast and arms: represents Medo-Persia, 539BC - 331BC;
Brass belly and thighs: represents Greece, 331BC - 168BC;
Iron legs: represent Pagan Rome, 168BC - 476AD;
Feet of part iron and part clay: represents modern Europe; the toes of the feet are the ten main European divisions which grew from the ancient tribes that conquered the western Roman empire. As iron and clay do not mix, these nations exist alongside one another, but remain diverse.
Stone cut out without hands: struck the feet and broke the image, representing the end of Earth’s history in the time of pagan Rome's successors.
The stone is God’s Kingdom set up (Da 2:44) at the second advent of Christ.
The sequence of kingdoms and powers match history accurately. Thus the final event, the second advent of Christ, can be regarded as certain.
Each succeeding kingdom is represented by a metal that is inferior to the preceding kingdom. This represents that mankind, because of sin, is deteriorating. Indeed, if Christ does not return soon, the world will destroy itself.
Nebuchadnezzar saw that it was God who revealed his dream, and that Daniel and his companions were God’s faithful servants. They were consequently promoted to ruling positions in the Kingdom of Babylon. By means of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream God made Himself known in Babylon.
By revealing history from Daniel’s time to the present day in advance, Daniel 2 gives us confidence in Bible prophecy, at a time when confidence in God’s Word is most needed.
We may then have confidence in the more detailed prophecies in the book of Daniel, and also in its companion book: Revelation.