An Introduction to Biblical Prophecy
There is a dramatic historical event recorded in the book of Daniel, chapter 2, written more than five centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. These pages, written by the Jewish prophet Daniel, tell of the great King of the Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar, and about a dream that the king had one night that troubled him greatly. The king ordered his sages to tell him what the dream was, for he had forgotten it, and what it meant. But no one was able to do what the king demanded. Until the God of Israel answered the prayers of his servant, Daniel, and gave him understanding of the dream and of its meaning. So Daniel went and spoke to the king...
"You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome.
"The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
"You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them.
"Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
"This was the dream; now we shall tell its interpretation before the king.
"You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.
"And after you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.
"Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces.
"And in that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle.
"And in that you saw iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.
"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.
"Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy." (NASB)
This remarkable vision foretold the history of the world's major powers from the time of the prophet Daniel (the sixth century, B.C.) until the return of the Lord Jesus to establish a Kingdom, one that "will never be destroyed," sometime in the near future. These various sections of the statue represent the major-powers in the Middle-East, Asia-Minor, North Africa and Europe, over the last 2600+ years.
- Babylon- (King Nebuchadnezzar's vision) 603 B.C.-538 B.C.
- Medo-Persia- 559 B.C.-330 B.C.
- Greece- 333 B.C.-30 B.C.
- Rome- 168 B.C.(although first Emperor in 27 B.C.)-476 A.D.
- Roman Empire divided into ten kingdoms (ten toes)-c. 535 A.D.- present
Even the most skeptical of "experts" estimate the writing of Daniel to be around 400 years before Christ. It is impossible that Daniel could have foretold, by interpreting the vision, these major events in history unless he was divinely inspired. There is no question then whether or not this prophecy was inspired by God.
All prophecy in the Bible has, in effect, the same author: God. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that God's various prophecies in the Bible ultimately fit together, like pieces of a puzzle, to form a harmonious "big-picture." If that is the case then one prophecy can best be understood by knowing its context-- approximately where it fits in the big-picture. This prophecy in Daniel chapter 2 provides a context for all of the following prophecies in the Bible dealing with the Antichrist, and the "last-days."
For more commentary along with Bible prophecy see: