(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)
FOCUS: Daniel’s Insight Concerning Future Kings
BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Daniel 9:20-23
Daniel lived in Babylon during the full seventy years of Judah’s captivity. And he was commended by the archangel Gabriel . . .
“While I [Daniel] was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for His holy hill – while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding… for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision . . .’”
PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Daniel 2:1-45 (Four ancient kingdoms)
An unusual dream provided an avenue for God’s servant Daniel to enter into a close relationship with pagan King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The king dreamt of a huge statue divided into four distinct parts – a gold head, silver chest and arms, bronze belly and thighs, and legs of iron — and the Lord God revealed to Daniel that each section represented a future kingdom that would rule over the entire, known world . . .
[Daniel speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon] “You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands He has placed all 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.
“After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours.
“Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.
“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. Just 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 strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. . . . this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And 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.
“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. . . .
“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.” (NIV)
FULFILLED PROPHECY: World history shows that the four kingdoms represented in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream have risen and fallen, just as Daniel’s interpretation foretold.
Kingdom #1: THE HEAD OF GOLD was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (king over all the known world).
Kingdom #2: THE CHEST AND ARMS OF SILVER symbolized the Medes and Persians, a combined empire which was considered “inferior” to that of the Babylonians.
Kingdom #3: THE BELLY AND THIGHS OF BRONZE represented the Greek Empire, established by Alexander the Great. And when Alexander died, the kingdom was divided (the statue’s thighs).
Kingdom #4: THE LEGS OF IRON and FEET OF IRON AND CLAY, the Roman Empire was strong and brutal. And unlike the three kingdoms that preceded it, the Romans were never “conquered.” That leads scholars to believe that modern-day global society (with a mixture of people that “will not remain united”) could be considered an extension of the fourth kingdom – the Roman Empire.
PROPHECY TO BE FULFILLED: The fifth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream will be set up by God and will never be destroyed. It will crush all the other kingdoms, represented by the statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay, and some believe that the current gathering of nations against Israel could be setting the stage for complete fulfillment of this ancient prophecy!
PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: Daniel 7:1-18 (Four kingdoms within the Roman Empire)
Another prophecy came to Daniel in a dream and involved four great beasts – the first looked like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, and the fourth was terrifying . . .
“In the first year of King Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
“Daniel said: ‘In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. FOUR GREAT BEASTS, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
“’The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. . . .
“’And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. . . .
“’After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. . . .
“’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. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully. . . .
[The interpretation:] “’The four great beasts are FOUR GREAT KINGDOMS that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever . . .’”
FULFILLED PROPHECY: Though prophecy experts debate the meaning of the symbols in this prophecy, world history shows that after Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 A.D., three “great kingdoms” became separate entities over the course of time. Those formidable world powers were:
Kingdom #1: Great Britain (possibly symbolized by the lion) and the United States of America (the eagle’s wings attached to the lion)
Kingdom #2: Russia (the bear)
Kingdom #3: Germany (the leopard or “panther”).
PROPHECY TO BE FULFILLED: The last two kingdoms – “the fourth beast” and God’s eternal kingdom – have not clearly arrived on the world scene.
PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Daniel 7:19-27 (The fourth kingdom and THE GLOBAL RULER)
The “four beasts prophecy” revealed to Daniel gave specific details about the fourth kingdom and the king who will rule the world until God’s everlasting kingdom is established!
“Then I [Daniel] wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws – the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled under foot whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the TEN HORNS on its head and about THE OTHER HORN that came up, before which three of them fell – the horn that looked more imposing that the others.
[The interpretation:] “’The fourth beast is a FOURTH KINGDOM that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are TEN KINGS who will come from this kingdom. After them ANOTHER KING will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time [3 ½ years].
“’But the court will sit and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the rulers will worship and obey Him.’”
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Many of the prophecies given to Daniel have proved 100% accurate, and there is historical data to back them up. (Of course, the interpretations of symbolic language will differ depending on which book or blog you read.)
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?
God gave Daniel a glimpse into the future history of planet earth, beginning with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon – the time in which Daniel was living – and ending with the reign of a global dictator who will ultimately be “destroyed forever.” Though it may not seem like it these days, GOD IS IN CONTROL of world events. And we can trust Him with the events that shape our individual lives!
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
When we compare the “enormous, dazzling statue” dream and its interpretation with Daniel’s four beasts vision, the following facts appear concerning the final kingdom in world history: (1) The kingdom will be divided; partly strong and partly brittle. And (2) the people will NOT be united “any more than iron mixes with clay.” (Daniel 2:40-43)
The statue had ten toes, representing ten kings. “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed,” and it will crush all the other kingdoms. (Daniel 2:44)
The fourth beast also represents the final kingdom in world history. It had ten horns, representing ten kings. In the time of those kings, another powerful king will arise and will “subdue” three of the ten ruling kings. That dominant king “will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints for 3 ½ years. But God will prevail and “the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High God. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him!” (Daniel 7:23-27).
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him . . . don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed . . .” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, NIV).