Daniel 2: Babylon to the Messianic Kingdom
This chapter of Daniel gives us an amazing view of the future of the main Gentile kingdoms who were over Israel at different points in history. It ties in with other visions and prophecies in Daniel 7, Daniel 11 and Daniel 9, as well as other books of the Bible, laying out Israel’s future from that point in time until the end times.
This first prophecy is revealed through a dream God interpreted through Daniel for the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar around 600 years before Christ that covers what we can now see as historical kingdoms from Babylon to the revived Roman Empire over the time from Nebuchadnezzar to an unknown future time.
I’ve excerpted Daniel 2 below without verses as it was originally. If you would like to read it with verse numbers and inline Hebrew definitions, read it at Blue Letter Bible.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, captives from the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Jerusalem, were found to be 10 times wiser than all the magicians and astrologers of the king and so they were among the wise men that Nebuchadnezzar was going to kill for not being able to interpret his dream. They humbly asked God to be shown and Daniel was given a vision of the dream and he blessed God. What Daniel is given in this vision is a view of their future. What we are given is an amazing look at the past, with the benefit of the historical record, and pieces of clues to our future as well.
The dream is presented as a series of kingdoms. God takes credit for Nebuchadnezzar’s power, kingdom, strength, and glory, naming him as the head of fine gold. In this we have both the context of kingdoms and a starting point, Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom of Babylon. An interesting tie in to John’s visions in Revelation of the 7 headed beast, in Daniel 3, we see Nebuchadnezzar make an image of gold and anyone who didn’t bow down to worship it would be cast into the furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused and were cast into the furnace and were not burned. This is also a hint at the future hour of temptation and how we should act when demanded that we bow down and worship the beast at pain of death.
The vision doesn’t give names for future kingdoms, just symbology or order. From history we know that Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire, conquered Babylon on October 12, 539 BC, although he didn’ t arrive himself until October 28/29. This is depicted in Daniel 5 when Belshazzar throws a feast and uses the temple instruments to drink their wine as they praised the gods of wood and stone. He sees writing on the wall and Daniel interprets it that Belshazzar’s kingdom was numbered and finished and that he was weighed in the balances and found wanting and that his kingdom was given to the Medes and Persians and that very night he was killed and Darius the Mede took the kingdom. Jeremiah 25:12-14
Through conquering the Babylonian Empire, Medo-Persia became the second kingdom over the land of Israel. It was this Cyrus who would end the prophesied 70 years of captivity in Babylon, Jeremiah 25:1-11, and allow Israel to return. In one of the rare times prophecy names names, Cyrus is called out by the prophet Isaiah around 150 years before his time. Isaiah 44:28-45:7
We aren’t given much on this third kingdom to follow the Medo-Persian kingdom, but with the benefit of hindsight, we know this to be Greece. In 336 BC, Alexander the Great became king of the Macedonian Empire and through a series of campaigns he conquered the Middle East until his death in Babylon in June of 323 BC.
The fourth kingdom is defined as strong as iron as it breaks in pieces and subdues all things. Similarly this kingdom would break in pieces and bruise. Again, it’s not a whole lot to go on, but from history we know the next empire that arose to dominate the Middle East. From 280 BC to 30 BC, a series of 13 wars between Greece and Rome were fought leading to Roman rule of Europe and the Middle East. At the time the Romans came to power Babylon had fallen, although Emperor Trajan did visit Babylon.
“Trajan learned of this at Babylon; for he had gone there (on his way southward) both because of its fame - though he saw nothing but mounds and stones and ruins to justify this - and because of Alexander, to whose spirit he offered sacrifice in the room where he had died.” | Dio Cassius - Roman History Epitome of Book LXVIII Loeb edition translated by Earnest Cary
In 63 BC, Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem. In spring of 30 AD just before Passover, Yeshua prophesied Jerusalem’s destruction and until 70 AD it would remain under Roman control. Rome would continue for the next couple hundred years, splitting into the Eastern and Western legs, just as the legs of the statue.
Final Fifth Kingdom
The fifth kingdom listed in the statue are the feet and toes that are part iron and part potters clay. They are partly strong and partly broken and the KJV translation is “[they shall]H1934 [mingle themselves]H6151 [with the seed]H2234 [of men]H606, but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” This passage (Daniel 2:43-44) has led to several different ideas about what it means.
The Kingdom of God
This view places the end of the prophecy back in the time just after Christ set up the kingdom of God on the earth. In this view, it is the period of time toward the end of the Roman empire where there was a lot of intermarriage to attempt to keep the empire strong, yet it was actually weak.
Yeshua, at His first coming, was the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. In His ministry, He brought the Gospel of the kingdom of God and through His death and resurrection, He conquered death and through Him mankind was saved. His kingdom is not of the world, but a spiritual kingdom outside the reach of mortal man to destroy and take over. While those who believe in Yeshua live in the world amongst the various kingdoms of men, we are part of that eternal kingdom and, through the promise of the first resurrection and catching away for those who are alive, will live eternally in it.
The interpretation of Daniel 2 says that in the days of these kings the kingdom will be set up and will never be destroyed. It will not be left to other people, but will break in pieces and consume the nations and stand forever. It seems pretty clear that in His ministry, the kingdom of God began and the stone that the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone. While Israel was blinded until the fulness of the Gentiles, the kingdom of God was preached throughout the world and spiritually consumed all the kingdoms through the population of those kingdoms becoming members of an eternal kingdom that will never end.
One view of this places the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream at the end of the Roman empire. While I agree this interpreted dream is speaking of the kingdom of God being established by Christ at His first coming and the statue being destroyed at the time of Yeshua, I believe Yeshua is the King of this eternal kingdom and after He ascended to heaven His kingdom was not left to other people, but continued to grow and spread in His absence, its citizens awaiting the final culmination of that great mountain of a kingdom at His return.
While the kingdom of God came with Christ, it is not yet completely fulfilled and that is for a time yet future. Until then, we grow in faith an relationship with God by His Spirit and His Word until that day of redemption.
While the statue is destroyed historically and the kingdom of God grows until His return, I think we can still see the extension of this iron and clay mixing idea in the kingdoms of the world after Rome being partly strong and partly weak as well. From the Hebrew meaning of the words in question, this seems to be the correct view and would more accurately be written, “it will come to pass that the seed of men will join and mix together.”
How does this make them partly strong and partly weak? If you think about the progression through history, there were less people on the earth in the ancient past. From the time of Noah cultures developed out of families. As time went on they would inevitably grow, but early on even with nations like Babylon, the Medes, Persia, etc. there were cultural connections closer than those of other cultures and politically there were kings and emperors leading whole people who followed them as gods. In this way, like Nebuchadnezzar, he was the head of fine gold, the single ruler of all people. They were strong and single-minded empires.
History is replete with the rise and fall of kingdoms, but throughout time as nations are conquered and cultures assimilated, it’s natural that the bond of family is weakened the larger the kingdoms get and the more they mingle with other cultures. Politically, the influences of Greece and Rome and the ideas of republics and democracies was a natural evolution and from that time to today has grown to where strong governments are governing many people as wars have continued to be fought for dominance through history.
Without the kind of kings or dynastic empires of old, it’s become politics of the people and democracy in much of the West and some trying to hold onto the power old school. While governments have strong control, they have weakened in their dominations over time, leading to a more solidified map of the world that changes less and less nationally. However as we near the end, global governance grows, the cooperation of the various nations driven by political financial agendas, climate, etc. slowly solidify power to the ultimate end of being able to take control of that power and once again have a powerful and global king with power and authority to control the world.
There is another fourth kingdom from Daniel 7 that relates to this period. There are some debates as to whether the final kingdom is evolved from the Western and/or Eastern legs of the Roman Empire since it is comprised partially of iron. This view typically associates the number 10 with this kingdom only because feet usually have 10 toes, although toes aren’t actually mentioned in the scripture. This then is tied to the 10 horns because they are both 10. There are also views of it representing Mediterranean or Islamic nations.
At this time, I tend to view this in light of political changes over time and this kingdom of which the antichrist will rule over will seem strong in it’s might and actions, but underlying it is a cultural disunity that will also make it weak. How exactly that plays out I’m not entirely sure, but given what I’ve found in studying the combined visions of Daniel and John, I get the feeling that modern Israel will make an alliance with 10 nations, possibly it’s neighbors as is coming together with the Abraham Accords, and God will put it in their hearts to agree and give their power to the beast. Yet in the end they will hate Israel and when God has fulfilled His will, they will destroy Jerusalem. Revelation 17:12-17
Globally, we know the kings of the earth will give thier power to the beast and the stone that destroys these feet and toes is stated to consume all these kingdoms. Therefore the feet and toes are less about the antichrist’ s kingdom and more about the ultimate end of all kingdoms while at the same time the timing of that will be during the antichrist’s kingdom. Since he rules over the earth and they give him their power and participate in drinking the wine of the dragon’s wrath from the cup held by the harlot riding the beast in Revelation 17:1-4, then either/both could be accurate.
Yet another more fantastical view is some group, “they,” who mingle themselves with the seed of men and that in order to mingle themselves with the seed of men, they must not be of the seed of men. This is then seen to be pointing to a recurrence of the days of Noah, beyond the rejection of God, to include the Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-9 and the genetic mixing of human and fallen angels once again in the end times. I personally do not hold to this interpretation.
“Be not overcome
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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work herein is archived under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref.