The Prophet Daniel
The prophet Daniel was one of four men taken from among Jewish captives to serve in king Nebuchadnezzar's staff of intellectuals whom he used to advise him in various matters. On one occasion, the king had a troubling dream that he could not remember; therefore, Daniel, whom God had given the ability to interpret dreams and visions was called upon to recall and interpret the king's dream.
This first dream that Daniel interpreted for king Nebuchadnezzar is a major key to unlocking the meaning of the Beast which is both the ten-nation alliance and its leader. Understanding the meaning of this dream is crucial because Nebuchadnezzar and his empire are symbolic of the beast system and its leader that will exist near the end of human rule on earth.
Daniel 2:27-44 Paraphrased
"Daniel spoke before the king and said, The secret which the king has demanded cannot be shown to the king by the wise men, the magicians, the horoscopists, or the fortune-tellers. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and makes known to king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. . ." (vs.27-28).
The first thing that we learn from the king's dream is that it was given to him by God in order to reveal events that would transpire in a time called the latter days (i.e., last or final days). The only latter, last, or final days that have any significance concerning humanity in biblical prophecy are the days just before Jesus Christ's return to establish his Father's kingdom over the earth. Therefore, this is the context in which the king's dream must be viewed in order to fully comprehend its significance in understanding the Beast.
The Great Image
"Behold a certain great image! That image stood before you with a brilliant brightness; and its form was dreadful. The head of this image was of fine gold; its breasts and its arms were of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze; its legs of iron, its feet were partly of iron and partly of clay" (vs.31-33).
The image that the king saw was extraordinarily bright and terrifying to look upon and was composed of metals of decreasing value, from a head that is very valuable to feet of less value, and from the weakness of malleable gold to the brittle strength of iron mixed with clay.
The 'You' and the Stone
"You continued until a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and the gold were broken to pieces; and became like chaff on the summer threshing floors. And the wind carried them away, so no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain [government] and filled the whole earth" (vs.34-35).
There are several interesting and important things to understand in verses 34 and 35:
Who or whatever is referred to as you in verse 34 could not be King Nebuchadnezzar, because by the time this prophecy takes place, the king would have long since died. Because the you is to exist until the stone comes to destroy the image, the implication is that whoever or whatever the you is or was will exist during the last days.
The stone cut out without hands is a clear reference to Jesus Christ; therefore, the you and the image will both exist when Christ returns to conquer this entity symbolized by the image.
The you will continue until the stone strikes the image's feet (i.e., that which supports and moves it about). This Babylonian system of government will be completely erased from the face of the earth and be replaced with the Stone's government—the Kingdom of the true God.
The King of Kings
"This is the dream, we will tell the meaning of it before the king. You, O king, are the king of kings. For the God of heaven and earth has given you the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the honor. And wherever the sons of men, the animals of the field, and the birds of the sky dwell, he has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold" (vs.36-38).
Although it is clear that Daniel is speaking to the king, it is also clear that Nebuchadnezzar never ruled the entire earth nor all the life forms that inhabit it. Therefore, this king of kings to which Daniel refers is someone else. Although Jesus Christ is called the King of kings, this prophecy is not speaking of him because he only becomes king of kings at his return and this king of kings was ruling the earth at the time of king Nebuchadnezzar.
The only king of kings who has authority over all the earth until Christ returns to depose him is the present god of this earth, Satan the Devil, who is in authority over all the physical rulers of earth and millions of evil spirits. (Matt.4:8-9; 2.Cor.4:4; Eph.2:2). This is important to keep in mind as we progress through this study, because it is this powerful spirit-being who is the primary motivating force behind all who oppose God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the proclaimers of the gospel message.
The Second and Third Kingdoms
"And in your place shall arise another kingdom [the silver Kingdom] lower than yours, and another third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule in all the earth" (v39).
Here, we see two subsequent kingdoms that rule on the earth, which are both substantially weaker than and inferior to the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar.
The Fourth Kingdom
"And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron: inasmuch as iron crushes and smashes all things: and as the iron that shatters all these, it will crush and shatter. And as for the feet and toes that you saw, these shall be partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it the strength of iron, because you saw the iron mixed with potters clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron, and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly fragile" (vs.40-42).
The fourth kingdom that will exist during the end of this age is of iron and is supported by a strange mixture of dissimilar materials that reduce its structural/organizational strength. The symbolism of the mixture of iron and brittle fired clay seems to imply that this powerful kingdom is divided in its aims and goals and has a very fragile balance between its weak and strong components.
"And as you saw this iron mixed with the clay of the clay, they shall be mixed with the seed of men: but they shall not adhere to one another, even as iron does not mix with clay" (v43).
The strange statement about the clay of clay not adhering with the seed of men seems to make no sense in the context of a purely physical world. However, these prophecies are not in this pure context; they are in the context of both the physical and spiritual dimensions of existence. When we view verse 43 in this context, an interesting piece of information can be extracted concerning why there is both great strength and great weakness in this kingdom.
Things to Note
It is the feet that support the image that the stone (Christ) strikes; therefore, the feet symbolize both the strength and weakness of the image.
As we will see in verse 44, the feet represent an evil empire/ alliance of nations that Christ totally destroys upon his return to establish his Father's government on earth.
The primary thing that made Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon strong was the evil spirit who is referred to as 'you' and 'king' in verses 34 and 37. This evil spirit made Babylon strong by using its tremendous power to influence and manipulate humans and their physical dimension of existence through other evil spirits under its control. This evil being did this in order to further his own aims and goals for the Babylonian empire.
As we will see in the Book of Revelation, the same spirit-being that ruled the world during the days of the Babylonian empire also rules the alliance of nations called the Beast and its leader called the Beast.
The prophecies clearly show that there is a spirit of partisanship between this alliance of nations portrayed as the feet of clay and iron, and that there are also evil spirits who are pursuing their own agendas through this unsuspecting physical alliance of nations.
Given this information, a logical conclusion to draw is that the feet are composed of some mixture of spirit-beings (the clay of clay) and humans (the seed of men) that cannot stay together because of a conflict that exists between their individual needs and goals.
The Coming Kingdom of God
"And in the days of these kings, the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. And the kingdom shall not be left to other people. It shall break in pieces and destroy all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Because you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and it broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold in pieces; the great God has made known to the king what shall occur after this. . ." (vs.44-45).
Notice that it is in the days of this evil alliance of nations that the God of Heaven (Jesus Christ) will set up a government on earth that will be governed by spirit-beings forever. However, prior to establishing his world-ruling government, he will destroy this alliance.
Although Nebuchadnezzar's dream has had a progressive historical fulfillment, his dream also has prophetic duality. Its central focus is on the people and events during a time when a powerful alliance of nations that has a powerful evil spirit leading it will exist. It is during the existence of this evil alliance that Jesus Christ will return to establish his Father's kingdom over the earth.
In the list below are several important pieces of information about the king of Babylon and the Babylonian religious/governmental system. This information will help in understanding subsequent prophecies about the alliance of nations called the Beast and its leader that will exist before Christ returns.
Nebuchadnezzar was the supreme ruler of the vast Babylonian Empire who ruled ruthlessly and without mercy. Because of his arrogance before God, he was sentenced by God to be governed by the mind and emotions of a beast of the field for seven years.
In the biblical record, Babylon is often symbolic of great sinfulness and a religious system that God condemns as being extremely evil and destructive.
Babylon was a religious and political system of government steeped in idolatry. Nebuchadnezzar himself had a huge golden image made and forced all those under his control to bow before it and worship it. Refusal to worship his image was punishable by death.
By B. L. Cocherell and Charles E. Barrett b2w14b