A young Jewish captive is summoned by the great king Nebuchadnezzar. “I have had a dream,” the king says. “Tell me what it was, and then tell me what it means!”
“You saw, … a great image. … The head … was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it smote the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.”
The golden head came first:
“You 0 king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, … you are the head of gold.”
So Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, was not going to go on for ever. Daniel got it right: the Medes and Persians overthrew Babylon about 70 years later, and took over.
“After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you,” and that happened too. The empire of the Medes and Persians, whose kings never had quite the authority that Nebuchadnezzar had, was brought to an end by Alexander the Great about 200 years later again, around 330 B.C.
“and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.”
This empire, the Greek Empire, stretched to India in the east, and Ethiopia in the south.
But it did not last long. It split in pieces after Alexander’s early death, and was gradually taken over by Rome. Everybody knows about Julius Caesar, around 55 B.C.
“There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, … like iron which crushes, it shall break and crush all these (kingdoms).”
Those words splendidly describe the Roman Empire. It was more powerful than any of the others, and longer-lasting too. The end came when the Turks took Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453 and the Eastern half was destroyed.
Since the fall of Daniel’s fourth empire the world political scene has been in turmoil. Or, as Daniel puts it,
“As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom … the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle.”
So far it has gone as God prophesied it through Daniel.
We need to be ready for the last phase, and no one who believes in the mission of Jesus Christ can be in any doubt what it means:
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, … It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end and it shall stand for ever.
The Bible will get this part right too!