31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image [world empires]. 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 [kingdom of God], 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 [wars and strife] carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain [the kingdom of God], and filled the whole earth.
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37 Thou, O king [Nebuchadnezzar], art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom [Babylonian Empire], 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 [Medo Persian Empire] to thee,
and another third kingdom of brass [Grecian Empire], which shall bear rule over all the earth.
40 And the fourth kingdom [Roman Empire] 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 [divided Europe]; 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 [intermarriage]: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
44 And in the days of these kings [European nations] 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 [kingdom of God] 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.
|a 605 -538 BCl
b 605 – 562 BCl
c 538 – 331 BCl
d 538 BCl
e 550 – 529 BC
f 331 – 168 BCl
g 334 – 323 BC
h 331 BCl
i 168 BC – 476lAD
a 168 BCl
b 351 – 476 ADl
|The World Empires
The ‘great image’ represents the world empires that have risen and fallen through the ages from the time of Daniel until the close of time.
Nebuchadnezzar was an idolater, thus God showed him an image that would command his attention and respect. The image represented the kingdoms of the earth, which were in Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes objects of great value. However, God sought to give him a true estimate of their worth. Nebuchadnezzar was shown that each earthly kingdom would fall, the last to be broken in pieces by the eternal kingdom of God.
Each earthly empire was represented by a part of the image. The head of gold was the Babylonian Empire. The breast and arms of silver was the Medo Persian Empire. The belly and thighs of brass was the Grecian Empire. The legs of iron was the Roman Empire and the feet part clay and part iron were the divided kingdoms of Europe.
The Kingdom of the God of Heaven
The stone cut out without hands shows that the Lord works by His own divine power, without any human agency. The stone cut out without hands is itself the kingdom of the God of heaven (verse 44). This is the kingdom of glory that Christ will receive when He has finished His mediatorial work. It will strike the feet of iron and clay bringing destruction to the nations of Europe. Together with the other world empires that have been carried away with the winds of war and strife, the nations of Europe will meet their end in the terrible calamities of war and strife that occur during the time of trouble
a Babylonia – The Head of Gold
The golden head represents the magnificence of the Babylonian Empire. In its day Babylon was the largest and most glorious city in the world. Babylon reached the height of its glory during the reign of b Nebuchadnezzar, who ascended the throne of Babylon in 605 BC.
c Medo Persia – The Breast and Arms of Silver
As silver is of less value than gold, so the Medo Persian kingdom was inferior in splendour and magnificence to the kingdom of Babylon.
In 538 BC d Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians.
f Grecia – The Belly and Thighs of Brass
As each successive metal is stronger and yet of less value, so each successive world kingdom had greater strength while it decreased in splendour. The Macedonian armies were stronger, better disciplined and more organised than were the Persian armies.
In 331 BC g Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in the great h battle of Arbela (Gaugamela) on the plains of Mesopotamia. Thereafter, the Persian Empire collapsed and the capital Persipolis was plundered and burned.
i Rome – The Legs of Iron
Rome was the strongest of all the empires. It conquered more territory than all the preceding kingdoms and its armies (as strong as iron) brought many peoples and nations to their knees.
In 168 BC the Roman General (Lucius Aemilius Paullus) defeated Macedonia and its Greek allies in the
Divided Europe – The Feet of Iron and Clay
The ten toes of the image denote the ten parts into which the Roman Empire was divided. The b break up of its empire was accomplished over a period of 125 years. At the end of this period in 476 AD when the last vestige of the Western Roman Empire had vanished, its territory stood partitioned in ten parts, occupied by ten independent nations. These ten nations can be enumerated as follows:- Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Alemanni, Burgundians, Visigoths, Suevi, Ostrogoths, Lombards, Heruli, Vandals. Derived from these tribes are the modern nations of Europe which include Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
In the vision, the divided kingdom was illustrated as being partly strong (shown by the iron) and partly weak (shown by the clay). Hence, some of the European nations were strong (Britain, France, Germany) and others were weak (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland).
The European monarchies intermarried in an effort to ensure peace and unity. Instead there was division and war as each European nation strove for the ascendancy.
The nations of modern Europe will never be unified, just as iron cannot mix with clay. Great men such as Charlemagne, Charles V, Louis XIV, Napoleon and Hitler have all tried to unify Europe without success.
The European nations will exist until the end of time when at last they will be destroyed by the kingdom that God sets up. When Christ takes His kingdom, He will then reign as King of kings, ruling the nations with a rod of iron and dashing them to pieces like a potters vessel (Ps 2:9; Rev 19:15). This is the “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation” (Dan 12:1).
By looking back through history, we can see the gradual fulfilment of this prophecy and know that “the interpretation thereof [is] sure”.