Nebuchadnezzar’s Image

So, we’ve talked about specific cities and people, but what about history on a broader scale?

The book of Daniel, chapter 2, written around 550 BC, contains a pretty amazing story of world history which at that time was still mostly in the future. It was a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had.

He dreamed of a great image of a man. His head was of gold, his chest and arms of silver, his middle and thighs of bronze, his legs of iron, and his feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As he looked, a stone, cut without hands, struck the image on the feet and broke them in pieces. Then the whole image collapsed and was broken into pieces and the wind carried it away. But the stone grew to fill the whole earth.

God sent Daniel to interpret this dream to Nebuchadnezzar, who at the time was worried about the future (v.29). He told Nebuchadnezzar that the image represented the Kingdoms of Men. The head of gold was Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. But it would not last forever: it would be succeeded by an inferior kingdom of silver, followed by a kingdom of bronze, and finally, a kingdom of iron, eventually including clay.

The history of that part of the world followed this course. Babylon was followed by the Medo-Persian Empire (silver), followed by the Greek Empire (bronze) and finally the Roman Empire (iron). All of these kingdoms included the land of Israel in their dominion. Today, the Roman influence continues in Europe and the Catholic church (iron and clay).
The stone cut without hands was a Kingdom that God would set up. It would hit the image on its feet, or in the times of the iron and clay and would break in pieces all the other kingdoms and bring them to an end. God’s kingdom, however, would cover the whole earth and last forever.

The final part of the story has not yet happened, but based on the certainty of the fulfillment of the earlier part, we can expect that, sooner or later, the kingdom of men will be shattered and replaced by the Kingdom of God.

Illustration by Jeremy Park, CCA-4.0

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