Daniel 2 contains one of the foundational prophecies vital to understanding end-time events. It is arguably the first lesson one needs to learn in comprehending the closing scenes of earth’s history. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, gets a troubling dream one night and the following morning fails to remember this seemingly portentous and ominous dream. As the custom was with monarchs in ancient history, he rounds up his wisemen and magicians and demands to be told the dream itself and its interpretation. This however, is a peculiar and not an easy request and the magicians have to admit “it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh” Daniel 2:11. As the time-serving tactics from the Babylonian magicians fail to deliver the requested solution, the king becomes enraged and issues a death decree for the magicians. While the king’s orders are being executed, Daniel, an Israelite captive is found and offers to answer the king’s request.
As Daniel is brought before Nebuchadnezzar, he assures the king that there is a“God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” Daniel 2:28. Nebuchadnezzar listens with avid interest as the Jewish captive traces the minute details of the dream and delivers the interpretation. “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 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 2:31-34.
The Head of Gold
The head of gold represented the kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 2:38). It was well known for its magnificence and is well remembered for its hanging gardens, which make one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Bible describes it as “the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ excellency,” Isaiah 13:19 In religious terms Babylon was very superstitious. Marduk was their “creator” and Ea was the “Spirit of the Water”. The Babylonian priests worshiped 4,000 separate gods, each with a specialized function. Babylon was also a city of rank paganism. One commentator noted that within the walls of Babylon stood 53 temples and 1,327 shrines to various deities.
The Chest and Arms of Silver
Gold is more valuable than silver, which is more valuable than bronze, going on like that. It is interesting to note that, while the order of these materials increases in hardness, except of the iron-clay mixture of course (verses 40-43), they were decreasing in value. What this possibly symbolizes is that while the spiritual, moral or cultural qualities of these empires as well as wealth, luxury, and magnificence, decline, their military and political power increases. This is true especially if we consider that the later kingdoms had to overthrow the previous ones to come to power, only a more powerful kingdom can overthrow another kingdom. They were inferior in wealth, luxury, and magnificence. “But after you shall arise another kingdom…then another” (verse 39) After the kingdom of Babylon came the kingdom of Medo-Persia represented by the chest and arms of silver. History tells us that the kingdom which conquered Babylon in 539 BC was the Medo-Persian Empire. It is interesting to note that the part of the body image representing this kingdom has two arms, possibly representing the two nations, the Medes and the Persians. The Persians, who came later were more powerful than the Medes. In Isaiah 8.20, and 5:28-31, we are told that it was the Medes and Persians that took over the Babylonian kingdom in 538 B.C. under the rulership of Darius the Mede. The Persians are especially remembered for having decrees that could not be easily changed (see Daniel 5).
Thighs and Belly of Brass
The next kingdom after Medo-Persia was Greece whose first leader in the form of Alexandra the Great managed to conquer a great territory within a short space of time and died at a very tender age.
Legs of Iron
The next kingdom, represented by the legs of iron was Rome which ruled from 168BC-476 AD. It was Rome that was ruling during the time of Christ, that’s the reason why the Jews expected a Messiah who would deliver them from Roman rule. “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.” That’s how Rome is introduced, and history confirms that it is indeed known for its ruthlessness. Iron was widely used in the armor and weapons of the Roman Empire. As we progress down the image, the metals become less ‘glorious’, but stronger. And we end up with the ‘iron’ kingdom of Rome. Probably the least ‘glorious’ kingdom, but certainly the strongest, as Rome was known for its so called ‘iron grip’ during its reign.
Feet of Iron and Clay
For many years, the clay in the feet has not been interpreted till recently. Clearly, every other metal in the statue was symbolic and therefore the clay in the feet should be symbolic. What does clay represent in the Scriptures? What is the Biblical meaning of iron and clay? Read Jeremiah 18.1-6, we will quote verse 6, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” – Jeremiah 18:6. In this text it is clear that the clay is a representation of Israel, the people of God. “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” – Isaiah 64:8.
The clay in the feet should there be interpreted as representing the people of God or simply put, the church of God. There is something to note, the clay was represented as miry clay, or rather dirty clay. The church at this stage was surely a dirty church, an apostate church. The iron in the feet symbolizes the continuation of Rome, which was represented by iron. Later visions, in Chapter 7, 8 and 12 agree with this interpretation, Papal Rome- which is precisely church and state mingled, took over from Pagan Rome.
The Stone Cut from the Mountain
Finally, we will talk about the stone that was cut without human hands. Before that, it is prudent to note that the stone struck the image in the feet and not the head. To be cut without hands means that the setting up of the stone kingdom is done without human power, it is the doing of Lord (see Heb 11.9). Notice the following text: “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner, this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” – Matthew 21:42,44.
So Christ the chief cornerstone shall fall on the image of human kingdoms and they shall be broken and become like chaff; those who in their life time make a choice to fall on the stone and be broken- meaning they have given their life to Christ- will not make part of these kingdoms and will therefore make part of the new kingdom which Christ shall set up. “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” – 1 Peter 2.6. The mountain from which the stone is cut is Mount Zion, which represents the kingdom of God. For example in Revelation 14, Christ is seen standing with the redeemed on Mount Zion.
What we do not get from Daniel 2 is that the clay/iron mingled kingdom received a deadly wound at the same time only to resurrect again at a later time. This points out that the stone will strike the image at the feet at the time when such a church-state kingdom is ruling. It is also key to note that the kingdom of stone came from a completely different origin, it came from outside of the world systems.