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Particulars of Christianity:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)


Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 2

Prophetic Symbols: Introduction
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 2
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 7 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 7 (Part 2)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 8 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 8 (Part 2)

Articles 7-12
Articles 13-18
Articles 19-25
Articles 26-29



Before we move into Daniel itself, let's take a few seconds to look at Daniel's situation so that we can understand his place in both Biblical and human history.

Until approximately 721 BC God's people were living as two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. In 721 BC, Israel, the northern kingdom, was conquered and exiled by the Assyrians. In approximately 586 BC Judah, the southern kingdom, was conquered and exiled by the Babylonians.

During this second exile of God's people, many of the youth of Judah were taken away to Babylon. Among these youth was a young man name Daniel who was taken to serve in the king's palace. Through a miraculous series of events Daniel eventually rose to a place of prominence in Babylon beginning with his ability to interpret a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. It is this dream and its interpretation that will serve as the start of our study.

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, which he cannot remember. So, Nebuchadnezzar calls for the astrologers, wisemen, and magicians of Babylon, but they cannot interpret the dream for him. The wisemen explain that since the king cannot tell them the dream, not only is it impossible for anyone to interpret the dream but it is also even more impossible for anyone to tell the king what the dream itself was.

The finer details of this exchange between the king and the wisemen of Babylon are quite significant to a later portion of our study. But for now, what is significant to note is that in anger, Nebuchadnezzar orders the death of all the wisemen in the kingdom. But before that can occur, Daniel prays that God would reveal to him both the dream and the interpretation of it. God answers Daniel's prayer and Daniel goes before Nebuchadnezzar to tell him the dream and its interpretation.

Daniel 2:31 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. 37 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.

As Daniel explains to the king, the dream was of a great statue and the statue was in the image of a man. The head of the statue was of gold. The arms and chest were of silver. The belly and thighs were of brass. The legs were of iron. And the feet and toes were made of iron and clay.

Of fundamental importance is that this statue is divided into 5 sections of the anatomy and likewise, is comprised of 5 substances. The five divisions of the anatomy are 1) the head 2) the chest and arms 3) the belly and thighs 4) the legs, and 5) the feet and toes. As we shall see, each division in the anatomy represents a different era in an unfolding timeline. They are not contemporaries.

The 5 substances are 1) gold 2) silver 3) brass 4) iron, and 5) clay. Each substance represents some characteristic of the national governments to whom the imperial dominion passes, starting first with the Babylonians. The gold represents the "superiority" of the Babylonians, just as verses 38-39 state of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian kingdom "Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee." Just as silver is inferior to gold, the second kingdom will be inferior in some respect to the Babylonians. Likewise, the third kingdom is brass, which is inferior to silver. So, we know that the third kingdom will be inferior both to the Babylonians and their successors. The fourth kingdom is represented by iron, which Daniel 2:40 tells us represents the strength and brutality of that kingdom. Lastly, there is the clay. What exactly the clay represents is not stated, other than it does not mix well with the iron. It is possible that the phrase "potter's clay" (verse 41) may refer to the common people in some respect and that conversely the precious metals could represent the royalty of the first three kingdoms. However, this is just speculation, because the text itself does not tell us exactly what these substances represent about these governments and peoples.

Let's now establish both of those two points using the text of Daniel. First, how do we know that each division of the statue represents a further progression forward in time (rather than contemporary kingdoms)? And how do we know that the anatomy of the statue is divided into 5 sections?

How do we know that these kingdoms are not contemporaries? Well, first, Daniel 2:34 states, "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." The fact that the stone strikes just the feet and not the entire statue denotes that the sections of the anatomy are not contemporary in time, but as we move down the anatomy from head to toe, we move forward in time, until the time when finally the stone strikes the statue on its feet, at its end. As is evidenced by verse 44, this represents the end of human dominion over the earth, particularly dominion by Gentile nations (such as those represented by this statue) and the passing of their imperial reign to Jesus Christ.

Daniel 2:44 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.

Notice two things from Daniel 2. First, the phrase "the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom" is the origin of the two phrases "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" as they appear in the Gospels and throughout the New Testament. This is important because it tells us that when Jesus or the New Testament authors spoke of the "kingdom of God" and the "kingdom of heaven" they were referring back to what is described here by Daniel.

Second, it is said that the kingdom of the God of heaven "shall not be left to other people." This is in direct contrast to what was formerly the case with the ruling Gentile nations as depicted by the statue, in which, the imperial dominion did, in fact, pass from one people to another people. Additionally, the kingdom of the God of heaven "shall stand forever." This description by Daniel is why some place in the New Testament the kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven is also known as the "everlasting kingdom" or "eternal kingdom."

All these phrases (kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, everlasting kingdom, eternal kingdom) refer to the same thing, a concept that Daniel describes very clearly here in this vision. The kingdoms of the earth, formerly ruled by Gentile peoples such as Babylon, will pass to Jesus Christ, just as Revelation 11:15 states, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." The kingdom of God is the time in which Jesus Christ replaces the Gentile powers as the ruling kingdom over the earth, just as Daniel depicts here.

Furthermore, verse 39 also substantiates that the divisions between the sections of the anatomy depict a moving forward in time.

Daniel 2:37 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.

First, notice that Daniel plainly states that the Babylonian kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold. Second, Daniel states that the other kingdoms will arise "after" the Babylonians. This also indicates that the divisions of the anatomy represent progressive eras of time and not contemporaries.

And lastly, we have the preliminary statements of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel in verse 8 and 9 and verse 22. In his angry response to the magicians, Nebuchadnezzar makes this statement to them in verses 8 and 9.

Daniel 2:8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. 9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.

First, in verse 8, Nebuchadnezzar accuses his wisemen of withholding the information about the dream from him. The phrase "that you would gain the time" means that Nebuchadnezzar believes the wisemen are stalling. But stalling for what? In verse 9, Nebuchadnezzar tells us. He believes they are stalling "till the time be changed." So, right from the outset, we know that even though Nebuchadnezzar does not remember the details of his dream, he has the lingering suspicion that it had something to do with the changing of times. But what does that phrase mean?

Having received from God the revelation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream and it's interpretation, Daniel begins his address to Nebuchadnezzar with the following introduction, which confirms Nebuchadnezzar's apparent lingering suspicions about the dream's content.

Daniel 2:20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

Daniel begins by declaring to the king that God alone changes the times. And what does he mean by that? He means the "removing of kings and the setting up of kings." This is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar feared for he believed that his wisemen were withholding information and stalling until his kingdom was removed and passed to another kingdom after him, just as verse 44 states that eventually the kingdom (or dominion) would pass to Jesus Christ and would no longer pass to another people after that point. So, the entire dream is about this changing of times and the progression of dominion from one kingdom or kingship to another, one people or nation to another.

From all this we can say with certainty that time moves forward as we pass from one section of the anatomy to another, from the head to the toes.

Our second question was "how do we know that the anatomy of the statue is divided into 5 sections?"

Most people agree upon dividing the head from the chest and arms, the chest and arms from the belly and thighs, and the belly and thighs from the legs. That gives us four sections of the anatomy. However, the key is whether or not the legs should be divided from the feet and toes. If they should be divided, that would give us 5 divisions in the anatomy, and consequently, 5 eras of time depicted by the statue.

So, should we distinguish between the legs and the feet? Verse 34 tells us.

Daniel 2:34 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.

Verse 34 plainly tells us that the stone that becomes the Messianic kingdom of Jesus Christ strikes the statue upon the feet, or at the time of the feet. If the legs and feet were meant to be a single time period then we would expect that the stone would strike the legs and the feet. However, since Daniel describes the stone striking only the feet, we must conclude that the feet are to be distinguished from the legs.

But perhaps the clearest and most obvious support for the notion that the feet represent a fifth time period distinct from the legs comes from Daniel description of the layout of the statue itself.

Daniel 2:31Thou, 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.

Notice that the clay is not in the legs. The legs are of iron. It is not until the feet that we find the substance of clay in the statue. What this plainly indicates is that there is a duration of time of this unfolding history where there is only iron and at some point after that duration of only iron, clay is introduced into the statue. Therefore, we can clearly distinguish between a period of time before there is clay and a period of time after there is clay. Before the clay, there is the period of the legs in which there is only iron. After the clay there is a period of time in which the iron and the clay exist simultaneously depicted in the statue as the timeframe of the feet. Thus, we know that while the legs represent the fourth timeframe depicted by the anatomy, the feet represent a new timeframe distinct from the legs.

Therefore, as we have shown, there are five time periods depicted in the dream and not four. The time 1) of the head, 2) the time of the arms and chest, 3) the time of the belly and thighs, 4) the time of the legs, and 5) the time of the feet and toes.

Other reasons for dividing between the fourth and fifth time periods will be provided as we compare this and other passages from Daniel with those of Revelation in construct our composite map legend.

Before we move on we will address a possible objection to this interpretation that there are 5 divisions of time represented by this statue. Some might argue that since the text refers to a "fourth" kingdom, if there were indeed five kingdoms or five time periods, then we should see the word "fifth" somewhere in the text. Since we do not see the word "fifth" in the text, they would argue that there are only four kingdoms and four time periods.

However, we should note that there is also no appearance of the word "first" or "second" in the text. The second kingdom is simply described as "another" kingdom while there is no such ordinal adjective given to the Babylonian kingdom. The fact is, Daniel is not using the ordinal adjectives such as "first, second, third, fourth, or fifth" consistently in this passage. He uses them only on the third and fourth but not for the first, second, or fifth. So, the absence of the ordinal adjective "fifth" does not in any way negate that there are five kingdoms or five time periods. Rather, the consistency of the dual symbolism here (the sections of the anatomy and the substances) indicates that there are both five substances as well as five eras or "changes" of time (changes of dominion) depicted by the statue, just as Daniel began by announcing that God alone "changes the times" and "sets up and removes kings."

So far, Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 has shown us the following, which will be important as we continue to build our prophetic map legend and develop our understanding of human history as foretold in God's Word:

1. A single, symbolic entity (the statue) represents a collection of unfolding historic empires. Or in other words, these individual Gentile empires are represented collectively by a single symbol.
2. This empire system is destroyed by the coming of the kingdom of God.
3. These empires or kingdoms are not contemporaries, but a succession of kingdoms, as dominion passes from one to another.
4. There are five time periods that are depicted by the statue, which will precede the Messianic kingdom.
5. Given that Babylon is identified as the head of gold we can identify the subsequent anatomical parts of the statue by the kingdoms that followed Babylon in human history. So, the following succession of historic empires are depicted by the first four of five parts of the statue: Babylon, (the head of gold), Media-Persia (the arms and chest of silver), Greece (the belly and thighs of brass), Rome (the legs of iron). As we will see, the historic identity of these kingdoms is corroborated by later visions in Daniel.
6. A fifth and final time period takes place after the Roman Empire.
7. This fifth and final time period will be divided between two simultaneously existing national powers, Rome (the iron) and another national power (the clay).
8. These two powers, which exist simultaneously in the end times will attempt to combine, but will have difficulty.
9. During this last time period when Rome (iron) exists again, but alongside another national power (clay), God will set up the Messianic kingdom (the kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven/everlasting kingdom), which will last forever, and power will not pass from it to another kingdom.
10. The Messianic kingdom will consume and destroy all of these other kingdoms. (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45)


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