When Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold, it shows us a biblical principle that a king in prophecy represents the entire kingdom. In verses 39-40, "after you" indicates four successive world-ruling empires from the time of the Chaldean empire of Nebuchadnezzar until the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. We see in overview an outline of world history from a Gentile perspective, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar and coming all the way down through the various kingdoms until the image is struck on the foot by the Stone, representing the Kingdom of God, or Christ.
This prophecy brings us right into our present time—the time of the end—the time when can expect that the Stone, sometime in the not-too-distant future, will strike this image on the feet. We can look for that last empire, represented by the feet and toes, to exist today, or either be coming together, or will shortly be coming together. History has shown that these four empires, beginning with the head of gold, to be the Chaldean (the head of gold), the Medo-Persian (the chest and arms of silver), the Greco-Macedonian (the belly and thighs of brass), and the Roman (the legs and feet of iron) empires. The Roman Empire existed from 31 BC to AD 476. Secular history shows that the Vandals defeated Rome, but Rome was revived and re-established as "the Holy Roman Empire" under Emperor Justinian in AD 554.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)
The Bible gives us the interpretation of the head of gold in these verses. Babylon had existed for centuries before this time, but only under Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BC) had she reached her height. In a flurry of activity, he had conquered from Persia to Egypt, picking up the reins of power left unheld by the decline of Assyria. During this time he conquered Judah, taking its citizens into captivity to Babylon.
Not only did he rise quickly to world supremacy, but he also played a major role in beautifying and strengthening the city of Babylon. Covering 200 square miles, the city boasted 250 watchtowers and walls 87 feet thick. He laid out the city in rectangular blocks. Built of brick and faced with enameled tiles of blue, yellow, and white, houses rose up to four stories and lined broad avenues, interspersed with parks and gardens. One 30-foot wide bridge over the Euphrates ran 660 feet. According to Diodorus Siculus, a 15-foot wide and 12-foot high tunnel under the river also connected its two banks. It was the largest and most magnificent city of the ancient world.
But Babylon was also a city of rank paganism. Within its walls stood 53 temples and 1,327 shrines to various deities. Dominating the skyline in every direction, Babylon's famous ziggurat rose in seven stages to 650 feet, crowned with a shrine. Some think this structure, taller than the Great Pyramid of Egypt, is the Tower of Babel.
The city streets were named after the gods of Babylon. Cults to dozens of different deities flourished. In all, the Babylonian priests worshiped 4,000 separate gods, each with a specialized function. In the ninth century BC, an official census of the gods tallied 65,000. Even taxation was done in the name of their gods. Also a center of astrology and the occult, Babylon was the seat and prime example of this world's religious confusion (Revelation 17:5).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part One): 'Head of Gold'
Each of the other portions of this image represent powerful kingdoms that, in terms of time, would follow Babylon in dominating the Western world through the centuries: Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. They did not dominate the entire world—perhaps they could have—but there is no doubt they dominated the part of the world that the Bible is concerned with, the one that the Israelitish descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived in.
But because the head represents Babylon—and the head directs the entire body—the image in Daniel 2 also shows the continuation of the same general Babylonish system right to the end of the kingdom represented by the feet and the toes. In other words, that image shows that the pattern established under Nimrod continues right on down until today.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 2)
These verses show God's supremacy over the nations. Twice God states through Daniel that He, the supreme Creator and Ruler, gave Nebuchadnezzar his dominion over men.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part 2): War! (1997)
Daniel 2:36-43 describes four major kingdoms, empires, or governmental systems that have ruled over the greater part of the civilized world:
1. The Chaldean-Babylonian Empire (625 to 538 BC)
2. The Medo-Persian Empire (538 to 330 BC)
3. The Greco-Macedonian Empire (333 to 31 BC)
4. The Roman Empire (Established 31 BC. The imagery suggests that it will exist in some form until the end of the age.)
Clearly, these physical empires existed on earth. Verses 44-45 then say that God's Kingdom will encompass all of these previous kingdoms—on earth! Daniel 7:17-18 says much the same.
Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Daniel 2:38:
1 Thessalonians 4:17