Daniel 2 sets the stage to identify the Antichrist.

Abstract: The Book of Revelation symbolizes the Antichrist as a Beast coming out from the Sea. That Beast cannot be identified from Revelation alone. It must be identified from the Book of Daniel. This Beast has been identified as the 11th horn of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7. This article discusses the prophecy in Daniel 2, which provides a broad outline of the history of mankind that serves as the framework for the interpretation of Daniel’s other prophecies. Using a statue of a man, it divides world history into six ages, beginning with the Babylonian Empire (626-539 BC), followed by three other world empires, followed by a period of many different kingdoms, and ending with God’s eternal kingdom on earth, ruled by the Son of Man, which will vaporize all previous kingdoms.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this series of articles is to identify the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation, symbolized as a Beast coming out from the Sea (Rev 13:1-2). That Beast cannot be identified from Revelation alone: It must be identified from Daniel’s prophecies. 1Another article shows that Revelation’s Beast is the same as the 11th horn of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7.

The current article discusses the prophecy in Daniel 2, which forms the foundation of Daniel’s later prophecies. Daniel 2 does not mention the Antichrist but provides a broad outline of history from the time of Daniel until God’s eternal kingdom. Daniel’s later prophecies say less about that outline and much more about the Antichrist. The outline in Daniel 2, therefore, serves as the framework for the interpretation of Daniel’s later prophecies. 2The vision in Daniel 9 is an exception, for while the other prophecies in Daniel deal with all nations and all time, Daniel 9 deals only with the nation of Israel and the 490 years allocated to her. (See – Does Daniel 9 describe the same crisis?) The timeline in Daniel 9, therefore, cannot be aligned with the other prophecies in Daniel.

KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD

In Daniel 2, in a dream, God gave Nebuchadnezzar a vision of the statue of a man consisting of metal parts (Dan 2:32-33). That statue divides history into six ages:

The First Four Kingdoms

1. Head of Gold – Daniel identifies this first kingdom with King Nebuchadnezzar but, since it will be followed by “another kingdom” (Dan 2:37-39), it symbolizes the entire Babylonian Empire. The Neo-Babylonian empire was founded by Nabopolassar in 626 BC, inherited by Nebuchadnezzar the Great in 605 BC, and ended when the Persians captured Babylon in 539 BC.

The gold symbolizes the quality of that empire, perhaps something like the quality of rulership or human rights.

2. Breast and Arms of Silver – After the Babylonian Empire will follow another but inferior kingdom (Dan 2:39).

3. Belly and Thighs of Bronze – “Another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth” (Dan 2:32, 39).

4. Legs of Iron – “A fourth kingdom as strong as iron … will crush and break all these in pieces” (Dan 2:40).

The Divided Kingdom

The statue’s iron legs are followed by its feet, partly of iron and partly of clay, symbolizing “a divided kingdom” (Dan 2:33, 41). In other words, during the first four kingdoms, there will be one supreme ruler, but, during the “divided kingdom,” different kings will rule different parts of the known world. They will attempt to “combine with one another” through intermarriage, but will fail (Dan 2:43).

Clay symbolizes weakness.

It is proposed by some that the clay represents a spiritual authority. But the prophecy says: “Some of the (divided) kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle” (Dan 2:42). Presumably, the iron parts will be strong. Iron symbolizes “toughness” (Dan 2:41), just like the fourth kingdom will be as “strong as iron” (Dan 2:40). The clay parts will be brittle, symbolizing weakness.

The ten toes are fragments of the fourth kingdom.

When Daniel recited Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he said nothing about toes. But he added the toes when he explained the dream (Dan 2:33, 41-42). He did not say how many toes there are, but we assume that the statue had ten toes, just like it had one head, two arms, and two legs.

Daniel did not explain what the toes represent but, since they are explicitly mentioned, while Daniel did not mention the image’s fingers, it is assumed that the toes have a specific meaning.

Daniel said that “the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery” (Dan 2:42). That seems to make the toes equivalent to the feet.

Since the statue symbolizes a series of kingdoms, beginning with the head, the emphasis on the toes points to the end of those kingdoms.

In Daniel 7 we also find a series of four kingdoms followed by a divided kingdom. In Daniel, they are symbolized by four animals and ten horns growing out of the fourth. The divided kingdom, symbolized by the feet and toes of the statue in Daniel 2, is parallel to the ten horns in Daniel 7. (See – Daniel 7) That article argues that the ten horns or toes are a continuation of the fourth kingdom, but in fragmented form.

The identity of these kingdoms

Daniel 2 explicitly identifies the first kingdom as the Babylonian Empire (Dan 2:37-38) but none of the others. Daniel 7 also does not identify any of the kingdoms by name. Daniel 8, on the other hand, uses two animals (a ram and a goat) to symbolize only two empires and names them explicitly as “the kings of Media and Persia’ and “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:20-21). By comparing the animals in Daniel 7 with the ram and goat, another article identifies the four kingdoms.

THE ETERNAL KINGDOM

Vaporizes the kingdoms of this world.

Then “a stone was cut out without hands” (Dan 2:34; cf. Dan 2:45), meaning supernaturally. Similarly, in Daniel 8, the evil horn “will be broken without human agency” (Dan 8:25).

It “struck the statue on its feet” (Dan 2:34). The feet symbolize the very last part of the kingdoms of this world.

It “crushed” “the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold … all at the same time” (Dan 2:34-35). The different kingdoms continued to exist in their influence and in other ways but are to be destroyed all at once. This will not be a gradual conquest.

“Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold … became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found” (Dan 2:35). In other words, nothing remains of those kingdoms. As God promised: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5).

Establishes God’s eternal kingdom on Earth.

The stone “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan 2:35). It is often thought that the stone symbolizes Jesus Christ, but it represents the eternal kingdom:

“The God of heaven will set up a kingdom … it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms” (Dan 2:44).

The stone is Christ only indirectly in the sense that Daniel frequently uses the terms “king” and “kingdom” interchangeably. 3For example: 1. The head of gold is identified as Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:37) but “after” Nebuchadnezzar “there will arise another kingdom” (Dan 2:39). So, Nebuchadnezzar represents the Babylonian empire. 2. The four beasts in Daniel 7 are explained as four “kings” (Dan 7:17) but the fourth is explained as “a fourth kingdom on the earth” (Dan 7:23).

This kingdom “will never be destroyed” (Dan 2:44). The parallel vision in Daniel 7 refers to it as the “everlasting kingdom” (Dan 7:27). 4“The saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever” (Dan 7:18). 5“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

God will establish this kingdom on earth (Dan 2:35), and He will it rule through the Son of Man:

“The Ancient of Days” gave to “One like a Son of Man” “dominion, glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him” (Dan 7:13-14).

God’s kingdom has come.

The stone was cut out of a mountain (Dan 2:45) and itself “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan 2:35). There are, therefore, two mountains in Daniel 2, both symbolizing kingdoms (compare Dan 2:34, 44). The mountain from which the stone was cut off then seems to refer to the always-existing “kingdom of God;” a phrase that Jesus used. See – The kingdom of God. It is the fulfillment of the prayer “Your kingdom come” (Mt 6:10).

SUMMARY

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Daniel’s Explanation
1. Head of gold Babylonian Empire
2. Breast and arms of silver Another but an inferior kingdom
3. Belly and thighs of bronze A third kingdom will rule over all the earth
4. Legs of iron A fourth kingdom, as strong as iron, will crush everything.
5 Feet partly of iron and partly of clay A divided kingdom
6. A great mountain filled the whole earth. This kingdom will never be destroyed.

Was this stone Christ’s first coming?

Some argue that this stone, which becomes a great mountain, describes the kingdom of God that Jesus brought in the first century. They argue that the “kingdom” that God will set up (Dan 2:44) does not refer to a physical kingdom but to “the kingdom of God” that Jesus often mentioned and which refers to a spiritual reality that always exists. For example:

Jesus said: “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt 12:18; cf Luke 17:20-21).

In contrast, for the following reasons, it is proposed here that the stone that crushes the statue symbolizes Christ’s return:

(a) The text reads, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom” (Dan 2:44), meaning, one specific kingdom; not the general “kingdom of God.” The general “kingdom of God” cannot be set up because it always exists.

(b) Once the stone has crushed the statue, “not a trace … was found” of “the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold” (Dan 2:35; cf. Dan 2:44). But remnants of these kingdoms still remain today.

(c) Daniel 7 elaborates on the vision in Daniel 2 and adds that the main power of the divided kingdom will be an evil 11th horn. Therefore, the stone will vaporize that evil horn as well (cf. Dan 7:26). But that evil horn most certainly still exists today (see – The Beast).

(d) Once the stone kingdom has crushed all previous kingdoms, all people will serve Jesus (Dan 2:35; Dan 7:14, 27). But people still reject and insult Jesus today.

(e) The stone will crush the statue at “the end of time” and “the end of the age” (Dan 12:4, 13). Then, the dead in Christ will be raised to life (e.g., Dan 12:13). Since the dead will be resurrected when Christ returns (e.g., John 5:25), “the end” in Daniel 2 is Christ’s return.

The stone that becomes a great mountain, therefore, describes God taking full control of the earth, including judging the dead and rewarding His bond-servants (Rev 11:18).

PRINCIPLES FROM DANIEL 2

The following are some of the principles we derive from Daniel 2 that must be applied to Daniel’s other prophecies:

The prophecies deal with the whole world.

The kingdoms in Daniel 2 and the related visions are always described as worldwide. However, I propose that we interpret this as relative to God’s people. In the Old Testament, these kingdoms dominated the world of the nation of Israel. In the New Testament, the Book of Revelation also seems to describe the whole world but I propose that we understand those prophecies as describing the Christian world specifically. In other words, when Revelation says that the whole world will worship the beast (Rev 13:4, 8), that excludes the Moslem world.

Kingdoms continue to exist.

Although the first four kingdoms dominate one after the other, each of them also continues to exist until the eternal kingdom is set up. Only then do they all simultaneously disappear without a trace (Dan 2:35). 6That is consistent with the description of the Beast in Revelation which inherits characteristics from all four of these empires (Rev 13:2) but is only destroyed when Christ returns (Rev 19:20).

Visions are Parallel.

The same event is described with different words and symbols in the parallel visions in Daniel 7, 8, and 12. For example, both Daniel 2 and 7 describe the kingdom that “will never be destroyed” (Dan 2:44; 7:14). This implies that the visions in the Book of Revelation are also parallel.

REAL PROPHECY

In academic circles, which do not accept the possibility of miracles, such as knowledge of the future, it is argued that Daniel was written after the historical events it foretells and that the predictions that have not yet come true are pure fiction. See, for example, the Wikipedia article on Daniel 2. Specifically, critical scholars say that Daniel was composed during the second century BC. For that reason, a number of articles on this and other sites show that Daniel is real prophecy. For example, Daniel 9 predicts the first coming of the Messiah.

OTHER ARTICLES

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Another article shows that Revelation’s Beast is the same as the 11th horn of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7.
  • 2
    The vision in Daniel 9 is an exception, for while the other prophecies in Daniel deal with all nations and all time, Daniel 9 deals only with the nation of Israel and the 490 years allocated to her. (See – Does Daniel 9 describe the same crisis?) The timeline in Daniel 9, therefore, cannot be aligned with the other prophecies in Daniel.
  • 3
    For example: 1. The head of gold is identified as Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:37) but “after” Nebuchadnezzar “there will arise another kingdom” (Dan 2:39). So, Nebuchadnezzar represents the Babylonian empire. 2. The four beasts in Daniel 7 are explained as four “kings” (Dan 7:17) but the fourth is explained as “a fourth kingdom on the earth” (Dan 7:23).
  • 4
    “The saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever” (Dan 7:18).
  • 5
    “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).
  • 6
    That is consistent with the description of the Beast in Revelation which inherits characteristics from all four of these empires (Rev 13:2) but is only destroyed when Christ returns (Rev 19:20).