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Bible verses about Nebuchadnezzar's Vision
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Daniel 2:32-35

Several important details surface immediately. First, it is an image. The second commandment (Exodus 20:4-6) describes God's revulsion of images of any kind used in worship. Although no one is seen worshipping this image, the idea that what this image represents is contrary to God is definitely present.

Second, the image's body parts are formed from different materials in descending value (Daniel 2:39). Gold is more valuable than silver, which is more valuable than bronze, etc. Finally, it ends in iron mixed with clay, an amalgam that is practically worthless and useless. However, the order of these materials increases in hardness with the exception of the iron-clay mixture (verses 40-43). This symbolizes two aspects of the same idea: While the spiritual, moral, or cultural qualities of these empires decline, their military or political power increases as one empire overthrows another.

Third, the progression from head to toes conveys the movement of time. Though these empires overlap to a small degree as one rises and another falls, their dominance in world affairs is successive. This is clearly shown in Daniel's explanation: "But after you shall arise another kingdom . . . then another" (verse 39). Thus, we should expect to be able to follow this prophecy on a historical time-line except where it continues into the future.

Fourth, the body parts themselves describe traits of the empires they symbolize. The head of the image shows a monolithic structure of government which determines the course of the body, just as in the symbolism of Christ being the Head of the body, the church (Colossians 1:18). The two arms and two legs indicate divisions of government or bases of power. Ten toes of inconsistent materials symbolize a weak-strong and possibly short confederation.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part One): 'Head of Gold'


 

Daniel 2:32

Not much is written in Daniel 2 in explanation of the third world-ruling empire represented in Nebuchadnezzar's image. Other than its position on the image and its bronze appearance, the only interpretation of the "belly and thighs of bronze" (verse 32) within this chapter is found in verse 39: ". . . then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth."

Such paucity of detail suggests the relative unimportance of this third empire in the march of prophetic events. Falling "between the Testaments," this kingdom played a lesser role in the history of God's people than Babylon or Persia, although it did indeed "rule over all the earth." From this one detail, as well as from its position between the "chest and arms of silver" (already identified as Medo-Persia) and the fourth kingdom of iron (generally accepted as Rome), we can safely name it as Greece.

Another factor that assists in its identification is the parts of the body by which it is represented. The belly, a single body part, represents a monolithic government, and the thighs, two body parts, represent a division of power. The Greek Empire, built upon the remains of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great, began with a single leader. But after Alexander's death in 323 BC, his generals carved out kingdoms of their own. From the resultant wars among them, two major powers emerged: Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Three): 'Belly and Thighs of Bronze'


 

Daniel 2:32-35

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)


 

Daniel 2:33

The body parts as well as the quality of the metals offer help in understanding the identity and characteristics of each empire. Like previous empires, this one is divided into two parts, represented by the two legs and two feet (verse 33). Later, it is further divided into ten toes, indicating a separation of powers into ten parts.

The iron legs suggest strength far superior to the previous empires—just as iron is far stronger than bronze—although it also shows diminished quality of its culture. With the addition of clay, a material that will not bond to iron, its power further declines to the point that is only "partly strong and partly fragile [brittle, margin]" (verse 42). The clay also takes its toll on the qualitative aspects. Verse 43 indicates the empire's internal unity will be very unstable in its final form, though it will retain its toughness to some degree.

The phrase "mingle with the seed of men" (verse 43) has spurred much debate. In one sense, it serves to explain why the iron and clay will not bond: The cultural and political components of this empire are too diverse to unify for long. Otherwise, the phrase suggests a mongrelized people who no longer uphold the values and goals of the original nation that founded the empire. However one understands it, cohesion within the final stages of this kingdom will be fragile.

Generally, biblical commentators agree that the legs, feet, and toes represent the Roman Empire. Iron indeed describes the toughness and brutality by which Rome subjugated the nations, reaching its greatest domination under Trajan (AD 98-117). The Romans had little sympathy for the populace of the nations they conquered, sending millions of men, women, and children into slavery. As one commentator, John F. Walvoord, put it, "The glory of Rome was built on the misery of its conquered peoples."

When Rome finally defeated Carthage in 146 BC, Scipio Africanus Minor, the Roman general, razed the city, enslaved or dispersed its citizens, and forbade anyone to live there again. Similar actions were taken against other cities. The Romans made crucifixion of the enemies of the state a standard practice. When Galilee revolted in AD 6, the legions hammered the region's untrained army and crucified two thousand men along the roads to Sepphoris, which they leveled.

Even Cicero (106-43 BC), a Roman statesman and author, wrote:

It is difficult to convey to you, gentlemen, the bitter hatred felt for us among foreign nations because of the unbridled and outrageous behavior of the men whom we have sent to govern them during these past years. What temple in those lands do you think has had its sanctity respected by our magistrates? What state has been free from their aggression? What home has been adequately closed and protected against them? They actually look around for wealthy and flourishing cities in order to find an occasion of waging war against them and thus gratify their lust for plunder.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay


 

Daniel 2:36-45

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.

Staff
Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?


 

Daniel 2:37-38

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'


 

Daniel 7:1-7

This is a further explanation of the world-ruling empires, showing national characteristics, but this time designed into animals of the same four kingdoms that appear in Daniel 2. Instead of being metals—gold, silver, brass, iron—now we have animals, indicating national characteristics of those four kingdoms, symbolized by the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the beast that was diverse from all the others.

The important thing to note here is that this illustration in Daniel 7 is a parallel of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. This illustration in Daniel 7 confirms that the legs of iron of the Daniel 2 image and the fourth beast of Daniel 7 both exist at Christ's return, fight against Him, and are defeated. So even as the feet and toes of the Daniel 2 image will be at the time of the end, so will this diverse beast. They are one and the same.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)


 

Daniel 7:4

In this prophecy, which many believe parallels Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Daniel 2:31-35, the prophet saw four beasts, the first of which represents Babylon. The symbolism of the beasts matches that of the image. The lion is the king of the beasts, but it is a vicious and formidable beast. With wings, it is also very swift. This imagery describes the early years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, marked by war, captivity of defeated nations, and destruction.

The lion imagery does not end with Babylon, however. When the apostle John "saw a beast rising up out of the sea," it possessed a "mouth like the mouth of a lion" (Revelation 13:1-2). Like the empires that followed, qualities of Babylon will be found in the end-time Beast power. All of the empires symbolized in this image spring from one common way of life that is thoroughly contrary to the way of God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part One): 'Head of Gold'


 

Daniel 7:7-8

This prophecy expands and fills in details of the image in Daniel 2. The "huge iron teeth" and the beast's actions link it inextricably to the legs and feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Whereas the legs, feet, and toes suggest a continuous progression and dominance on the world scene, Daniel 7 shows that Rome would rise and fall in successive kingdoms and empires, represented by the horns, until the last days.

Of course, the little horn introduces a new entity to this empire. Suffice it to say that it represents the false church guiding and controlling this brutal beast (cf. Revelation 13:11-18). The Bible shows this false church, among other things, speaking against God, persecuting the saints, being given power "for a time and times and half a time" and being destroyed forever by the power of God.

"The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom," writes Daniel (7:24), or as Herbert W. Armstrong said, they are ten successive resurrections of the Roman Empire. The little horn, the false church, supplants the first three of these, the Vandals, the Heruli and the Ostrogoths, Germanic invaders who successfully overthrew Rome and established their own short-lived empires between AD 429 and 554.

The final seven horns (called "seven mountains," in reference to kingdoms, and "seven heads," in reference to kings, in Revelation 17:9-10) are controlled by the false Roman church. In AD 554 Emperor Justinian, ruling the eastern half of the empire from Constantinople, restored the Empire in the west and recognized the supremacy of the Pope. Justinian fulfills the fourth horn and the first of the seven heads of the beast upon which "the Mother of Harlots" rides (verses 3-5). Later, Charlemagne, king of the Franks (800); Otto the Great (962); Charles V of the Hapsburg dynasty (1520) and Napoleon (1805) were all crowned emperors of Rome by the Pope, and fulfill the fifth through eighth horns and second through fifth heads. Garibaldi and Mussolini, dictators of Italy between 1870 and 1945, received papal approval to re-establish the Roman Empire, and were later joined by Adolf Hitler in this pursuit. They combine to represent the ninth horn and sixth head.

The last horn, the last head and the ten toes are yet future, the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, the terrifying and brutal Beast power soon to arise upon the earth. Some of the details of this final revival are found in Revelation 17.

1) It will be brief (Revelation 17:10, 12), not much longer than the three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:2; 12:14).

2) This last revival is made up of another ten horns, or ten kings, who give their power to a dictator known as the Beast (Revelation 17:12-13).

3) The ten kings and the Beast use the Woman as long as she is necessary to their plans, then they destroy her in their brutal hate (Revelation 17:16).

4) One of their main purposes is to "make war with the Lamb [Christ]," but they will be destroyed in His wrath at His Second Coming (Revelation 17:14; 19:11-21).

As the colossal image of Daniel 2 had two legs and two feet, the Roman Empire had two divisions, whether they were Rome and her provinces in its earlier period or a Western Empire with its capital in Rome and an Eastern Empire governed from Constantinople. The final resurrection, we assume, will have its ten toes split between the latter division, west and east. We do not know, however, if these are ten presently recognizable nations, or if they are ten major ethnic groups that cross national boundaries yet will have some autonomy.

Nevertheless, it is most likely that the ten nations will inhabit the areas formerly ruled by the Roman Empire and its subsequent revivals. It is a vast region. At its height Rome ruled from England and Spain in the west to northern Mesopotamia in the east to North Africa in the south. However, because of Daniel's prophecies regarding the King of the North, the "last gasp" of Rome will probably be centered in Europe, the bastion of Roman culture, law, and heritage.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay


 

Daniel 7:7-8

Horns and Heads

Horn
(Daniel 7:7-8)

Head
(Revelation 17:9-10)

Historical
Fulfillment

1st Horn "Plucked out by the roots" by the Little Horn, the False Church Vandals (AD 429-533)
2nd Horn Heruli (AD 476-493)
3rd Horn Ostrogoths (AD 493-554)
4th Horn 1st Head Justinian (AD 554)
5th Horn 2nd Head Charlemagne (AD 800)
6th Horn 3rd Head Otto the Great (AD 962)
7th Horn 4th Head Charles V (AD 1520)
8th Horn 5th Head Napoleon (AD 1805)
9th Horn 6th Head Garibaldi/Mussolini/
(AD 1870-1945)
10th Horn 7th Head Final Beast Power (AD ????)

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay


 

Daniel 7:23

This fourth beast—the one that struck the most terror in Daniel's heart—is described as devouring the whole earth, trampling it, and breaking it into pieces. The Aramaic phrase translated as "the whole earth" is comprised of two words: kol (Strong's #3606) and 'ara' (Strong's #772). Considering the basic meaning of these two Aramaic words, "the whole earth" is a correct literal translation. However, this same word-combination appears in a number of other places, and it does not consistently mean the entirety of the globe or even the entirety of the civilized world.

We can see this in Daniel's explanation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream: "But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth" (Daniel 2:39, emphasis ours throughout). We understand this third kingdom to be the empire of Greece under Alexander the Great. His empire stretched from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas, and included Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Some would say that Alexander conquered the "known world," but this is a misnomer. Every part of the world is known to those living in it, and there were peoples living in essentially every part of the world at this time.

During Alexander's time, substantial civilizations existed in the rest of Europe, and in particular, the descendants of Israel had settled there. Unconquered tribes lived throughout Africa, Arabia, Tibet, Mongolia, not to mention the civilizations in the Americas—all were completely untroubled by Alexander. Also, ancient cultures inhabited India, the South Pacific, and the Far East. The third kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar's vision encompassed the Middle East and the Near East, but it did not rule over "all the earth," as most English-speakers would interpret the phrase. It was a "world-ruling" kingdom only for a specifically defined "world."

Therefore, if we are on the lookout for a kingdom that can devour "the whole earth," we have to understand that the scope of that Aramaic phrase can be significantly limited, and in most cases, it is. This phrase is also found in Daniel 4:1, 11, 20, where it describes the scope of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom (which was also not truly global), and in Daniel 6:25, where King Darius writes "to all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth"—yet Darius did not have a global audience.

The one place where the phrase "the whole earth" actually does imply the entire planet is Daniel 2:35, where "the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." This great mountain represents Jesus Christ's rule on earth, which will certainly be a world-ruling Kingdom in the fullest and truest sense of the word (see Revelation 11:15).

David C. Grabbe
The Whole Earth


 

Daniel 8:7

The entire Persian Empire collapsed in six years (336-330 BC) under the relentless onslaught of Alexander's troops, who never lost a battle against the larger Persian forces. It was certainly "cast down . . . and trampled" in remarkable fashion.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Two): Chest and Arms of Silver


 

Revelation 18:4

Revelation 18:4 is God's exhortation to the churches to shun the treacherous beauty and charm of this theological and political prostitute, Babylon. God uses very specific wording in His description of her in Revelation 17, calling her a harlot or prostitute. A prostitute can have beauty and charm. Any number of a harlot's attributes can snare a man's attention and divert him from his purpose. Because the world had already ensnared him before conversion, a Christian must be spiritually watchful that he does not return to it. Unfortunately, the world too easily reclaims the unwary, so the apostle counsels God's people to flee from it—to avoid the edge of the cliff.

But what must we flee? In Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Daniel 2, Babylon is the head of gold. Gold is attractive. People give their lives to the power and attractiveness of gold. The head of gold has a beauty that stimulates the eyes, the feelings, the desire for the good things of life. In addition, gold represents quality. In the prophetic image, the quality of metal degenerates or declines as time moves toward the end. Babylon represents a tolerable system, but through the ages, the system degenerates from gold to silver to brass to iron to a final mixture of iron and miry clay.

At its beginning, the system, represented by the whole image, is attractive. As in Paul's analogy of the body in I Corinthians 12, the head guides and directs the other parts of the body. In effect, this means that Babylon, the head of gold, has impressed its system, its ideas, its style, its qualities on all of civilization. Though the system is not acceptable to God, it nevertheless has stamped its mark on the whole world.

Everyone has participated in it. American culture is an Israelite adaptation of the head of gold. All other nations have absorbed its qualities, putting their own particular twists on them. The same basic system pervades the world—and as it is practiced, it is anti-Christ. Because of its attractiveness, its magnetism, and because all are defenseless before conversion, it has impressed itself upon God's people. Babylon is the world Christians must flee.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

 




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