Sunday, August 13, 2006

Daniel's prophecy of the five kingdoms (Dan 2:31-45)

With all the "nations in anguish and perplexity" and "Men faint[ing] from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world" (Luke 21:25-26. my emphasis), with "Nation[s] ris[ing] against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Mat 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:10), I am comforted by my understanding of Daniel's prophecy of the five (four human and one God's) kingdoms (or world-empires) in Daniel 2:31-45 and Daniel's complementary prophecy of the four beasts in Daniel 7:1-27.

Graphic: The dream of the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar (translated from French)]

I regard these prophecies as the key to world history, including where we are right now.

Here are my comments (following each passage) on the former prophecy, and I hope to in a future post comment on the latter:

Daniel 2:31-45 (NIV) "31'You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue-an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.

The prophet Daniel is in Babylon in ~604 BC when king Nebuchadnezzar's has a dream, and not only demands that his wise men (which included Daniel) interpret the dream for him, but tell him what the dream was (2:1-7)! God makes known to Daniel what the dream was and its interpretation (2:19-23,27-28). The first point is that what the king saw was one "large enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance." That is, this is one world history from then, ~604 BC down through our present day, and on to the end of this present world (see below).

32The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.

As Daniel interprets this in 2:37-38, this "head of the statue made of pure gold" is the first of four human kingdoms, starting with the then current Neo-Babylonian Empire (~626-539 BC). See below for my comments on the other kingdoms.

34While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands.

This "rock cut out not by human hands," is of supernatural origin, i.e. is Christ (Mat 7:24-25; 16:18; Rom 9:33; 1 Cor 10:4; 1 Pet 2:8).

It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.

Christ at His second coming will destroy the last kingdom (Ps 2:9; 1 Cor 15:25; 2 Thess 2:8; Rev 2:26-27; 11:15; 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2) and therefore all of them. See below my comments on Daniel's interpretation in 2:44-45.

35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace.

Not even a "trace" will remain of these human kingdoms.

But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

By contrast, the fifth kingdom, Christ's kingdom, which is "not of this world" (John 18:36), will keep growing and replace those human kingdoms (Rev 11:15).

36`This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.

See above, God had revealed toDaniel not only the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, but even the dream itself!

37You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

So the first of the four human world-empires represented by the statue's "head of gold" (2:32) is Nebuchadnezzar's Neo-Babylonian Empire (~626-539 BC). It corresponds with the first beast in Dan 7:4, "like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle".

39`After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours.

Each kingdom is made of inferior metal to the previous one, signifying degeneration from God's perspective. The second of the four human empires represented by the statue's "chest and arms of silver" (2:32) is Cyrus the Great's Medo-Persian Empire (~539-330 BC), which replaced the Neo-Babylonian Empire in ~539 BC. It corresponds with the second beast, in Dan 7:5, "like a bear. ... raised up on one of its sides [with] ... three ribs in its mouth between its teeth".

Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.

This third world-empire which in turn replaced the Medo-Persian Empire, was Alexander the Great's Greek Empire (330 - 63 BC), represented by the statue's "belly and thighs of bronze" (2:32). It corresponds with the third beast, in Dan 7:6, "like a leopard [with] four wings like those of a bird [and] four heads."

40Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron-for iron breaks and smashes everything-and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.

This is the fourth and final human world-empire, the Roman Empire (~63 BC-) which succeeded the Greek Empire when the Roman general Pompey defeated the Seleucid Empire in 63 BC. This fourth and final world-empire is represented in Dan 7:7 by a "fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful ... [which] had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left" but "was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns." What is different about this fourth and final world-Empire, the Roman Empire, is that it never was succeeded by another world-empire but instead spawned many lesser kingdoms, represented by "ten horns" ("ten" being a symbolic number for many, and "horns" a symbol of ruling power-see Dan 7:7,20,24 & Rev 12:3; 13:2; 17:3,7; 17:12).

41Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.

The Roman Empire was weakened by internecine wars between rival military leaders, emperors and powerful families in the senate.

42As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

This part-iron/part clay disunity in unity is a feature of the many kingdoms ("ten horns") that were the offshoots of the Roman Empire. It is those "ten" (i.e. many) divided ("iron mixed with baked clay") human kingdoms that we are living in and under today.

44`In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

This fifth kingdom, the kingdom of God will be established "In the time of those kings," i.e. while the four world empires considered as a unit in the statue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream was still in existence. And in fact, Jesus established His kingdom in 26-30 AD (Mark 1:14-15; John 19:30) during the reign of Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37 AD), and He is still increasing it (Acts 1:3; 8:12; 19:8; 28:23) during the time of the "ten horns" and up to the time of Jesus' return (Dan 7:23-27; Mat 24:14; Rev 7:9; 12:10).

45This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands-a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

This supernatural rock, i.e. Christ (see 2:34), will break the fourth and last kingdom "the iron," including its "ten horns" many offshoots, and thereby will also break "to pieces" the entire "statue" of "the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold" representing His crushing defeat of all human kingdoms and their works. Because only this fifth kingdom that "God set up will never be destroyed but will itself endure forever," only work towards building that kingdom of God has lasting value (Mat 6:19-20).

`The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.'"

Because it is "God" who "has shown" it, therefore it "will take place"!

As an illustration, I was watching a delayed telecast on TV my favourite Australian Rules Football team, the West Coast Eagles, in the 1994 qualifying final. They were doing poorly and I turned off the TV. Then my sister-in-law rang from the country town she was living in, and she exclaimed, "wasn't it great about the Eagles' winning!" She had been watching a real-time telecast available only to rural viewers, and had seen the Eagles fight back and win. So I turned the TV back on and it was an eerie feeling to see the Eagles inevitably pegging back their opponent's lead until they just won in the dying seconds of the game by two points! The Eagles then went on to win the grand final that year.

That is what Jesus `grand final' victory is going to be like. It might look like He is losing, and the opposition are feeling supremely confident that they already have won, but in fact they have inevitably lost, like the opposing team in that delayed telecast!

Allis, O.T., "Prophecy and the Church," [1945], Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co: Philadelphia PA, 1964, Third printing, pp.123-125.
Archer, G.L., "Daniel," in Gaebelein F.E., ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, Vol. 7, pp.44-49.
Barker, K., ed., "The NIV Study Bible," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, p.1311.
Pusey, E.B., "Daniel the Prophet," Funk & Wagnalls: New York NY, 1885, pp.115-183.
Young, E.J., "A Commentary on Daniel," [1949], Banner of Truth: Edinburgh, 1972, Reprinted, 1978, pp.69-82.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'


Anonymous said...

An interesting alterative view of Daniel the second chapter (the Image) is at
in the article Cracking the bible Code (the first "Cracking" article)

There is also a unique approach to Evolution at that same website

Stephen E. Jones said...


Thanks, but I disagree with that interpretation "that there are in fact five kingdoms, and not four."

That is, temporary worldy kingdoms, not counting the everlasting kingdom that "the God of heaven will set up" (Dan 2:44), given by God to "one like a son of man" (Dan 2:13), i.e. Messiah's kingdom.

It nowhere says in Daniel (or indeed in the entire Bible") that there were to arise, or had arisen, "five kingdoms."

In fact "five" or "fifth" does not appear in Daniel at all.

Dan 2:40 says the *final* kingdom will be "a fourth kingdom":

"*Finally*, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others" (my emphasis).

And it says in two places in the complementary prophecy of the four beasts in Daniel 7:1-27, that there were to arise only "four kingdoms":

"The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth." (Dan 7:17)

"He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth.'" (Dan 7:23)

The fourth beast (kingdom) with "iron teeth" in Dan 7:7:

"After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left."

is clearly the same as the final "fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others" in Dan 2:40.

While in Dan 2:45 the order is: "a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces" in Dan 2:35 the order is "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces *at the same time*" (my emphasis).

There is therefore no significance to their order of destruction, since is *one* "large statue" (Dan 2:31), with each successive kingdom incoroprating the features of the preceeding ones, and they "were broken to pieces *at the same time*" (my emphasis),

Also, while "in Daniel chapter two ...the vision of the image was given to Nebucadnezzar in his second year" and "the vision of the four beasts was given to Daniel in Belshazzar's first year, many years after Nebucadnezzar had died" the fact is that the first (Babylonian) kingdom was still in existence, since King Belshazzar was the son (or grandson) of King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 5:11,22).

However, thanks for indirectly reminding me that I have not yet commented on Daniel's complementary prophecy of the four beasts in Daniel 7:1-27.

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

The "mixed" empire (the feet and toes) must be understood to correspond with the proper translation of the text, which (in the case of the book of Daniel) was Aramaic. The word for "mixed" is ARAB. This final empire is the Islamic Empire. The Islamic Empire is also the "head" that received the fatal head wound (1924 when the Caliphate was dismantled). Islam is where our attention need be directed...


Stephen E. Jones said...


Thanks for your comment.

>... The word for "mixed" is ARAB.

No. The actual Aramaic `words translated "mixed" in Dn 2:41,43 is not the root 'ARAB but the derivatives ME`ARUB in v41 and ME`ARAB in v43.

>This final empire is the Islamic Empire.

Since the word for "mixed" is not 'ARAB, your "Islamic Empire" identification of Daniel's fourth world-empire, does not have even the flimsy support it would have had if the word was 'ARAB.

I therefore see no reason to change from the interpretation that the fourth world-empire is the Roman Empire.

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

rev 17:10 speaks of this same image. your interpretation is almost dead on. when revelation was written five of the seven kings, including the ones pictured by the image, had come and gone. egypt, assyria, babylon, medo-persia, and greece. Rome was the current world power (6th) when revelation was written.
the "one that had not yet arrived" the (7th) turned out to be the america/brittan alliance.
this alliance is pictured by the feet of the image. rev 17:11 introduces an (8th) "king" born of the 7th. this has proven to be the united nations. this amalgam of political rulers is the final before as Daniel 2:44 states "gods kingdom crushes the entire image".

exciting times since there are no more world powers to come between now and god's kingdom.