THE "HOPE" PEOPLE

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NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM: PROPHECY CONCERNING THE EARTH'S HISTORY (DANIEL 2)

By Elena & Enrico B.  /  August 5, 2014

 

In the Book of Daniel, the first apocalyptic vision was given to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon ~601 B.C. for his personal benefit. God gave Nebuchadnezzar an overview of future world history in a context which would be important to him. It is also important to note that this vision is the framework for all the other visions in the book of Daniel. These visions are intertwined with each other providing different aspects of the same prophecy concerning world History – the past, the present and, the future.


The prophet Daniel was brought in to reveal the interpretation of a dream that had been troubling King Nebuchadnezzar. In his dream, the king saw a great statue (Daniel 2:31-35) where the head was made of fine gold, the chest and arms made of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay.


In the dream, as King Nebuchadnezzar watched, a stone was cut out of a mountain "without hands" and struck the statue on its feet and broke it into pieces:

"Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:35).


First Kingdom: Babylon

"This image's head was fine gold..." (Daniel 2:32)

The first kingdom is King Nebuchadnezzar's own kingdom of Babylon for, Daniel was told, "the God of heaven" had given Nebuchadnezzar "a kingdom, power, strength, and glory" (Daniel 2:38).


Babylon: 605-539 B.C. (66 years)

(Jastrow, 1915; Babylonian Empire (605 - 539 BC): The Last "Native-Ruled" Mesopotamian Nation Until the 20th Century, 2009; Dougherty, 2008)


Babylon is located in modern-day Iraq about sixty miles south of Baghdad. It was the center of the most powerful nation in the Middle East in antiquity. Gold was the symbol for Babylon. Its chief god, Bel-Marduk, was crafted of solid gold sitting on a golden throne next to a golden candlestick before a golden table in a golden-domed temple. The prophet Isaiah also calls Babylon “the golden city” (Isaiah 14:4). This neo-Babylonian kingdom is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean dynasty. The Chaldeans were a semitic speaking people.

Image credit: http://www.signs-of-end-times.com/image/head-of-gold.jpg

Second Kingdom: Medo-Persia

"...its chest and arms of silver..." (Daniel 2:32)

After Babylon "shall arise another kingdom, inferior to yours..."

(Daniel 2:39). We learn from the book of Daniel as well as through history that this second kingdom would be Medo-Persia.


Medo-Persia: 539-331 B.C. (208 years)

(Persian Empire (539 - 330 BC): Babylonia Becomes Part of the Massive Achaemenid Empire, 2009; Gascoigne, From 2001, ongoing; Brosius, 2006)


The Medes and Persians overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C. Cyrus, the general who led the Medo-Persian armies, is predicted not only by name 150 years in advance but also the method by which he'd conquer Babylon in Isaiah 44:28 and Isaiah 45:1-3. Just as silver is inferior to gold, Medo-Persia did not have the splendor of Babylon. During their reign, all taxes had to be paid in silver.  This kingdom is also known conventionally by historians as Achaemenid Empire or Persian Empire.

Image credit: http://www.sdakodeso.org/assets/images/silverArms.png

Third Kingdom: Greece

"...its belly and thighs of bronze," (Daniel 2:32)

Following Medo-Persia, "...another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth" (Daniel 2:39). This third kingdom was Greece (Macedonia). Just as Daniel foretold, this third kingdom was known for its extensive use of bronze.

Greece: 331-168 B.C. (163 years)

(Briant, 2012; Rhodes, 2011; Green, 2008)


The kingdom of Greece came into power when Alexander the Great conquered the Medo-Persian Empire at the battle of Arbela in 331 B.C. Greece is symbolized by brass. Greek soldiers were called "brazen coated" because their armor was all bronze. This kingdom is also known as the Hellenistic period spanning up to the rise of the Roman Empire. 
Image credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/6e/09/df/6e09dfa0b27e444406c0490dbd25aae7.jpg

Fourth Kingdom: Roman Empire

"its legs of iron..." (Daniel 2:33)

The fourth kingdom is somewhat different from the previous three: "And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others." (Daniel 2:40) The iron monarchy of Rome conquered the Greeks.


Rome: 168 B.C.-476 A.D. (645 years) 

(Baker, 2010; Kelly, 2006; Plutarch, 1999)


Rome under Lucius Aemilius Paulus conquered the Greeks in 168 B.C. at the Third Macedonian War with a crushing defeat of King Perseus and his Macedonian forces. As a result, the Macedonian kingdom was broken up into smaller states by the Romans. Rome enjoyed world supremacy until it was conquered by the Ostrogoths in 476 A.D. Rome was a warrior state that came into existence with fiercely fought campaigns and complex network of alliances. Rome was also the kingdom that dominated the world when Jesus Christ was born.

Image credit: http://www.signs-of-end-times.com/image/legs-of-iron.jpg

End of the Roman Empire & Emergence of Modern Europe

"...its feet partly of iron and partly of clay." (Daniel 2:33)

There was no fifth world empire that followed the Roman Empire. Instead, the barbarian tribes from the north invaded the Roman Empire. This resulted in Rome being divided into separate, distinct states exactly as the prophet Daniel predicted.


Modern Europe emerged from the disintegration of the Roman Empire which occurred from 351 to 476 A.D.

(Heather, 2005; Lee, 2013)


The Roman Empire crumbled in 476 A.D. (the break-up of the empire occurred from 351 to 476 A.D.). There was no world empire that conquered it. Instead, the barbarian tribes of the north namely, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Alemannians, Sueves, Anglo-Saxons, Heruls, Lombards, and Burgundians invaded Rome and divided it just as Daniel prophesied. Seven of these tribes still exist today in Modern Europe: the Anglo-Saxons are the English, the Franks are the French, the Alemannians are the Germans, the Lombards are the Italians, the Burgundians are the Swiss, Visigoths are the Spaniards and, the Svevi are Portuguese. Many attempts were made to unite Modern Europe through marriage, alliances, and treaties. Even political leaders such as Charlemagne, Charles V, louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin attempted to rule the world by trying to unite Europe. Each and every attempt has failed just as predicted.  "As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay." (Daniel 2:43). Also, Revelation 13 tells us there will be another attempt to establish a universal religion, but Daniel's prophecy clearly states that the world will remain politically divided for the rest of Earth's history.

Image credit: http://emp.byui.edu/ANDERSONR/itc/Images/Neb%20Dream/Feet.jpg

The Next Great Universal Kingdom: At the end of Time

"You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that stuck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:34-35)


The rock that was "cut out without hands" represents the coming kingdom of God. Christ is the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). Soon all wickedness, evil, and rebellion will be eradicated forever and God will establish His righteous and everlasting kingdom forever (Daniel 2:44). What exciting news! Jesus Christ is coming again! The climactic conclusion of our world history will be the return of the Son of God in all glory and majesty bringing the kingdom of everlasting righteousness where there will be no more tears, pain, and suffering.

Image credit: http://dedication.www3.50megs.com/jpg/foot.jpg

This image, then, is a picture of world history. You can see that the materials in it decrease in weight (from gold to clay) so that the statue is top-heavy and easily pushed over. Men and women think that human civilization is so strong and enduring; really it is resting on brittle feet of clay. Note too that the value decreases: from gold to silver to bronze to iron to clay. Is mankind getting "better and better" as time goes on? No! Human civilization is actually getting cheaper and weaker. There is also a decrease in beauty and glory (gold is certainly more beautiful than iron mixed with clay); and there is a decrease in strength (from gold to clay) as we approach the end of human history. Each of the successive kingdoms had its own strengths, of course, and Rome exercised a tremendous military power, but through history civilization will become weaker and weaker. This explains why the Antichrist will be able to organize a worldwide dictatorship: nations will be so weak they will demand a dictator just to be able to survive.

Warren Wiersbe writing about Nebuchadnezzar's dream in

Expository Outlines of the Old Testament

Seeing that God has complete control of world events, even Nebuchadnezzar readily acknowledged that Daniel’s God was above all the heathen gods of Babylon. Because of their faithfulness to God, Daniel, and his friends were given positions of prominent leadership in Babylon in sharp contrast to their initial captivity (Daniel 2:48-49). God always honors those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30). And more so, we have the assurance that God is in control.

Unless otherwise stated, KJV is used for Bible texts

References

Babylonian Empire (605 - 539 BC): The Last "Native-Ruled" Mesopotamian Nation Until the 20th Century. (2009). Retrieved August 03, 2014, from

www.worldology.com: http://www.worldology.com/Iraq/babylonian_empire.htm

Baker, S. (2010). Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. New York: Random House.
Briant, P. (2012). Alexander the Great and His Empire: A Short Introduction. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Brosius, M. (2006). The Persians. New York: Routledge.
Dougherty, R. P. (2008). Nabonidus and Belshazzar: A Study of the Closing Events of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock.
Gascoigne, B. (From 2001, ongoing). HISTORY OF IRAN (PERSIA). Retrieved August 12, 2016, from www.historyworld.net:
http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?groupid=629&HistoryID=aa65&gtrack=pthc
Green, P. (2008). The Hellenistic Age. New York: Modern Library.
Heather, P. (2005). The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jastrow, M. (1915). The civilization of Babylonia and Assyria : its remains, language, history, religion, commerce, law, art, and literature. Retrieved 

August 12, 2016, from www.archive.org: https://archive.org/details/civilizationofba00jastuoft

Kelly, C. (2006). The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lee, A. D. (2013). From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565: The Transformation of Ancient Rome. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Persian 

Empire (539 - 330 BC): Babylonia Becomes Part of the Massive Achaemenid Empire. (2009). Retrieved August 3, 2014, from http://www.worldology.com/: http://www.worldology.com/Iraq/persian_empire.htm

Plutarch. (1999). Roman Lives: A Selection of Eight Lives. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rhodes, P. J. (2011). A History of the Classical Greek World: 478 - 323 BC (2 ed.). Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.
Valcin, S. (2011). God's Final Plan for the World: Eschatological Events. Xlibris Corporation.
White, E. G. (2000). Prophets And Kings. Coldwater, Michigan: Remnant Publications.