Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was given a dream but had forgotten it. He was troubled by it and said that he was going to kill all his wise men if they couldn’t tell him not only the dream’s interpretation, but also the dream itself so he would know they weren’t deceiving him.
God’s prophet Daniel was a slave in Babylon at the time (about 600 B.C.), and was serving with some fellow Jews as one of the king’s wise men. So, of course, they started praying about the matter and God revealed the whole thing to Daniel, both dream and interpretation.
The result was the prophecy of Daniel chapter two, which is probably the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. This prophetic dream describes five of the great empires of man from ancient Babylon to the final world empire of the Antichrist, which is destroyed by the kingdom of God.
The dream does not include the first two world governments of Egypt and Assyria because they had already passed on at the time of this dream. However, later in God’s Word He makes it very clear that there is a total of seven great world empires. These are depicted as the seven-headed beast of Revelation 13 and 17.
The dream was both given to Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted for him by Daniel during his reign; therefore the prophecy starts with the king of Babylon and with the great world government of Babylon itself.
The actual dream as Daniel told it to Nebuchadnezzar is covered in verses 31–35, and the interpretation in verses 37–44.
The dream’s interpretation is right in the same chapter, and to make it as clear as possible, each time a section of the dream is described, it will be immediately followed with its interpretation.
Dream: “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image … whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold …” (Daniel 2:31–32a).
Interpretation: “Thou, O king (Nebuchadnezzar) … the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom … Thou art this head of gold” (Daniel 2:37–38).
So according to God’s Word, the great kingdom of Babylon, the “golden city” of ancient times (Isaiah 14:4), with its great King Nebuchadnezzar, was undeniably the head of gold, or the beginning of this great image.
Dream: “His breast and his arms of silver” (Daniel 2:32b).
Interpretation: “After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee” (Daniel 2:39a).
Since the head is definitely pinpointed as Babylon, all we have to do in order to find out what this next kingdom was is to look at history for the kingdom that arose after Babylon. According to world history, the dual kingdom of Medo-Persia followed Babylon; therefore we know what the kingdom of silver was without its even being named in the interpretation here. It is named, however, in a later chapter, the “Mene Mene” handwriting-on-the-wall vision of Daniel 5:18–31, as being the kingdom that did conquer Babylon.
Notice also the remarkable symbolism in the image. The dual kingdom of Medo-Persia is depicted here by two arms. Persia was the stronger of the two, just as in the body one arm is stronger than the other!
Dream: “His belly and thighs of brass” (Daniel 2:32b).
Interpretation: “Another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth” (Daniel 2:39b).
We know from history that this third kingdom, the one to follow Persia, was the Grecian Empire. In a later chapter Daniel specifically prophesies that Greece will be the conqueror of Medo-Persia. This was fulfilled nearly three hundred years after the prophecy was given!
The empire of Alexander the Great was not necessarily the most powerful, but it was the most extensive. It extended almost to Italy, all the way to India, and all the way from Ukraine down into Africa, bearing rule over or dominating the world of his day. The ultimate fulfillment of bearing rule over all the earth will be in the Antichrist, who will arise from a certain section of Alexander’s Empire “in the latter days” and will rule the entire earth!
How does the symbolism bear out here? Well, the Greeks, if you remember, were interested in philosophy and religion or spiritual things. And it is held by the Greeks and by almost all religions that the seat of the spirit is in the belly. As Jesus said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit)” (John 7:38–39).
Dream: “His legs of iron” (Daniel 2:33).
Interpretation: “The fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things … shall it break in pieces and bruise” (Daniel 2:40).
Since we already have the fulfillment of actual history, we know that this fourth kingdom was Rome. Rome, the tough, iron-fisted kingdom which clamped down with iron military rule over the entire known world in the days before Christ, was one of the longest-reigning empires the world has ever known. It so “subdued all things” that for nearly one hundred years there were no major wars, no one being able to muster a force against the Roman rule.
Here again, it is very interesting to note how similar this particular part of the image is to the actual fulfillment of the Roman Empire. Two legs of iron: Was Rome ever divided into two parts? Yes! In its decline it was divided into an eastern and western empire. The western empire was ruled by Rome, and the eastern empire, ruled by Constantinople, was called the Byzantine Empire. So even the parts of the image itself symbolize the kingdoms of man, and this becomes extremely significant as we go on to the feet.
Dream: “His feet part of iron and part of clay” (Daniel 2:33).
This last part of the image is interpreted in three entire verses, showing that the vision is mainly for the kingdoms of the “latter days,” as Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:28.
Interpretation: “Whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay” (Daniel 2:41).
The iron and clay of the feet represent the two types of governments the world has known since the fall of Rome: democracies and dictatorships.
How are these governments like iron and clay? Clay in God’s Word always symbolized the people; democracy is clay government, or government of the people. It does not have the “strength of the iron,” which represents the strong-man totalitarian military dictatorships and their iron rule.
It says “the kingdom shall be divided.” Since the fall of Rome this is the way it’s been: a division of the kingdom of men with no one power completely dominant. Equally great empires have existed simultaneously, such as the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Moorish, American, Russian, etc. So you might say nobody had a majority; no one power was as dominant as Rome and the other powers in the image had been. So again, the various parts of the image symbolize exactly the course of history.
Also, there is an extraordinary interrelationship between the course of world governments and God’s people. Each of these six empires, from Egypt to Rome, ruled over God’s people, who were then the Jews, and each of them completely dominated and ruled the world of their day.
However, since Rome’s rule no one power has dominated God’s people, because they are scattered in every nation on earth ( His spiritual children of today, the Christians), and neither has any one power dominated the earth. However, that is soon to change with the coming government of the Antichrist, which will rule over (at least physically) God’s children, because it will rule the entire world. This is the last and final government of the toes!
What we have here in the toes, the last part of the image, is a symbolic picture showing the great governments of man ending with a combined government, a kind of “United Nations” government, a combination of various governments, kingdoms, or kings represented by these ten toes.
You can take it literally as ten, or you can say it’s a general number of nations ruling the world in a forum like the United Nations,. However it will be, the symbolism will be borne out here also, as in the other parts of the image.
I believe that today we are living near the division between the feet and toes, but not yet in the toes because the Antichrist kingdom has not yet actually risen. As John said, the ten kings receive their “power as kings one hour (a short time) with the beast (Antichrist). These have one mind (united), and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Revelation 17:12–13).
We know from other scriptures that the Antichrist government will rule the world for only three-and-a-half years. “And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months (three-and-a-half years) … and power was given him over all kindreds (races), and tongues (languages), and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him …”—except God’s children (Revelation 13:5,7–8).
From the symbolism of the feet, we know that this final Antichrist empire will be a very strange type of government. It will be a mixture of all these iron and clay nations, these dictatorships and so-called democracies, ruling the world in some kind of United Nations.
Dream: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” (Daniel 2:34). “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 carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).
Interpretation: “And in the days of these kings (the days of this final ten-toed kingdom of this earth) 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 forever” (Daniel 2:44).
“Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces (the image); 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” (Daniel 2:45).
We know exactly what’s going to happen! We may not like it and it may look pretty bad, but praise God, we know the happy ending, and all is well that ends well.
This image represents all the governments of man. The stone was cut out of another mountain completely separate from the image. It has nothing to do with the image except to crush and destroy it completely. This stone is, of course, Jesus, “the cornerstone” (Matthew 21:42–44; 1 Peter 2:6), and His Second Coming to rescue His own children from the Antichrist’s cruel clutches, by the supernatural miracle of the Rapture and Resurrection!
It doesn’t say He melts them in love, but he breaks and destroys them. This world is not going to voluntarily give itself up to the Prince of Peace. It has to be done with force.
Jesus is then going to set up His own kingdom on the earth and will reign with his resurrected saints, His true followers, over those who remain, creating a world of peace and plenty for all. There will be no more kingdoms rising and failing; no longer shall one nation inherit the remains of another, but His kingdom “shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).
Copyright © March 1981 by the Family International