According to the Scripture record, Nimrod was the first human being who attempted to bring people together under his control and in subservience to him. However, since the time of Nimrod, thousands, perhaps millions have followed in Nimrod's footsteps in establishing earthly kingdoms. Among these earthly kingdoms, some stand out because of the fact that in extent, power and grandeur they exceeded all others. Some, in fact, reached the status of empires by subduing other kingdoms and sujecting them to their rule. Among these empires were the Egyptian, the Assyrian, the Babylonian, The Persian, The Greece and the Roman empires.
Great as these empires were, in some cases ruling over the entire known civilized world, the time came when each one passed from the scene of world dominion, its glory faded and it returned to realtive obscurity and unimportance, or was completely removed from existence as a nation. This cycle of the rise and fall of world dominion will not continue forever. The remarkable prophecies of the book of Daniel reveals with great clarity that we are about to have the final overthrow, and the last great empire of the world is about to come to an end.
Part 1: The Golden Kingdom
And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. 2:38
"Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that it might be seen whether it would fulfill the purpose of "the Watcher and the Holy One." Prophecy has traced the rise and fall of the world's great empires--Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with nations of less power, history repeated itself. Each had its period of test, each failed, its glory faded, its power departed, and its place was occupied by another.
"While the nations rejected God's principles, and in this rejection wrought their own ruin, it was still manifest that the divine, overruling purpose was working through all their movements." _ Education, p. 177
How is the Babylonian empire portrayed in the dream of the metallic image? Daniel 2:32, 37,38
Babylon dominated the world scene from 605 to 539 B.C. Gold was an appropriate symbol for the New Babylonian Empire. In wealth and splendor it surpassed all its predecessors. Its capital city, Babylon, was the envy of the ancient world, and today its ruins mutely confirm the Scripture narrative.
"The character of this empire is indicated by the nature of the material composing that portion of the image by which it was symbolized the head of gold. It was the golden kingdom of a golden age. Babylon, its metropolis, towered to a height never reached by any of its successors. . . . Never before saw the earth a city like that; never since has it seen its equal. And there, with the whole earth prostrate at her feet, a queen in peerless grandeur, drawing from the pen of inspiration itself this glowing title, "the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency," sat this city, fit capital of that kingdom which constituted the golden head of this great historic image." _ Daniel and The Revelation by Uriah Smith, p. 42
How is Babylon represented in the vision of the four beasts? Daniel 7:3, 4, 17
The Lion, the Babylonians own favorite decorative motif, was an appropriate symbol for ancient Babylon. Babylonian art often combined the king of beasts and the king of birds into a composite creature, usually a lion with eagle's wings, and sometimes an eagle's claws and beak as well. A lion is noted for its strength and an eagle for its powerful wings and swift flight, a fit allusion, here, to Nebuchadnezzar's brilliant conquests. Various Bible writers refer to him as a "lion."
All the glory of Babylon could not withstand the prophetic word. All the kingdoms of earth stand or fall at
Part 2: The Splendor of Persia
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. (Dan 2:39)
Medo-Persia was represented by the belly of brass. (Daniel 2:32, 39). It appears in four of the five prophetic passages of Daniel (chapters 2, 7, 8 and 11). The fifth (chapter 9) covers the Persian era as well as the eras of Greece and Rome, but without mentioning or alluding to any of them. Persia, which eventually controlled a considerably larger territory that Babylonia, ruled the world from 539 to 331 B.C.
What additional information about Medo-Persia is provided by the vision of the four beasts? Daniel 7:5
The second Beast, the bear, represented Medo-Persia, which followed Babylon. Daniel saw that it "raised up itself on one side." This unusual posture is doubtless a reminder of the historical fact that the Persian Empire was, in truth, a union of Media and Persia, though by the time Babylon fell to Persian arms, Persian influence had become dominant and that of Media gradually vanished. Daniel also saw "three ribs in its mouth between its teeth," which spurred it on to "devour much flesh." It has been suggested, appropriately, that these three ribs represent conquered countries such as Babylon, Lydia and Egypt.
Each new victory naturally spurred the Persians on to ever greater conquests, until eventually their empire extended from central Asia to Egypt and from India into Europe_3,300 miles from east to west and 1,500 from north to south. It is less than 2,500 air miles from New York to San Francisco. Persia certainly did "devour much flesh," far more than any nation that was before it.
How is Persia pictured in the vision of chapter 8? Daniel 8:3, 4, 20
We are left in no doubt as to the identity of the second kingdom in the prophetic lineage. In chapter eight of Daniel the angel Gabriel specifically identifies the ram as representing the kings of Media and Persia. The identity of this second kingdom is further established by thefact that Daniel chapter five tells us that the kingdom of Babylon was taken by "Darius the Median." (Daniel 5:31)
What further facts concerning Persia are given in chapter 11? Daniel 11:2-4
Cambyses, the False Smerdis, and Darius I followed Cyrus on the the throne of Persia. The fourth was Xerxes (the Bible Ahasuerus), who led the great invasion of Greece in 480 B.C.
The striking accuracy and minute details of the symbols representing Medo Persia reveal a knowledge of
Part 3: The Glory of Greece
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. (Dan 2:39)
Greece was represented by the belly and the thighs of brass. (Daniel 2:32, 39). Through Alexander's conquests Greek language and culture spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean world and the ancient East, from about 331 B.C. to 168 B.C. Greek influence constituted the unifying force that bound the kingdoms of his successors together in one great civilization.
"The prophecy represents the kingdom of Greece as following Persia, because Greece never became united into a kingdom until the formation of the Macedonian Empire, which replaced Persia as the leading world power of that time."_SDA Bible Commentary on Daniel 2:39
How is Greece represented in the vision of the four great beasts? Daniel 7:6
Here we find Greece represented as a leopard with four heads and four wings. The four wings represent the rapidity with which Greece conquered the civilized world, Alexander's armies accomplishing this feat in five years, while the four heads represent the later division of Alexander's empire into four parts.
What further information is given about Greece in chapter 8? Daniel 8:5-8, 21,22.
The eighth chapter identifies Greece as the successor of Persia, not the Greece of the classical period, which was contemporary with persia, but the Greece of the time of Alexander the Great and after. The symbols of chapter 8 are altogether different from those of chapter 7, but the correspondence between the ram and the he-goat of the one and the bear and the leopard of the other is so close as to leave no doubt that the same powers are represented in both. Both, for instance present the dual aspect of the Medo-Persian Empire, and the fact that one of the two component nations eventually dominated the other. Both likewise envision a fourfold division of the power identified in chapter 8 as Greece.
What is said of Greece in chapter 11? Daniel 11:2-4
The eleventh chapter presents a detailed outline of the Hellenistic era of Greek history. Like chapter 8, it identifies Greece by name, and mentions its first "mighty king" and a subsequent fourfold division. In verses 5 to 15 the number of contestants for Alexander's dominions is narrowed down to the "king of the north" and the "king of the south," and in verse 16 the former prevails over the latter.
Once again the description of the Greek kingdom is so strikingly accurate, there can be no doubting the divine
Part 4: The Grandeur of Rome
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. (Dan 2:40)
The legs of iron of the great image represented the kingdom of Rome. (Daniel 2:33). While Daniel identifies three of the four great empires of antiquity by name_Babylon, Persia and Greece. Rome is not thus clearly identified; nevertheless in a unique way the Roman Empire fulfilled the prophetic specifications for the fourth power represented as following Greece, and we assume, on the basis of history, that it is the nation here described.
Iron was an appropriate symbol for the Roman Empire. Her famed legions ranged at will over the entire Mediterranean world and over practically all of western Europe and much of western Asia as well. As Daniel had predicted, Rome literally crushed all other nations, to become by all odds the largest and strongest empire the world had ever known.
How is Rome represented in the vision of the four beasts? Daniel 7:7, 19,23
As in the metallic image of Daniel 2 the iron followed the brass, here in Daniel 7 "a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly," with "great iron teeth," follows the leopard. Like iron, thefourth metal of Daniel 2, which is said to break to pieces, shatter, and crush all things, the fourth world power of chapter 7 was to "break and crush" all others. A more fitting figurative description of the invincible Roman legions marching to and fro over Europe and the Mediterranean world could hardly be imagined.
Under what symbol is Rome represented in the eighth chapter? Daniel 8:9, 23-25.
There is no clear counterpart in Daniel 8 for the fourth, fearful beast of Daniel 7. The "little horn" of chapter 8 apparently represents both the fourth beast and the little horn of chapter 7. In chapter 8, for instance, the little horn causes Daniel the same concern which he felt for the fourth beast of chapter 7. Furthermore, the same fearful destruction that chapter 8 attributes exclusively to the little horn, the seventh chapter attributed to the fourth beast instead of to its little horn. The fourth beast of chapter 7 and its little horn exist together to the close of time. They are judged and destroyed together, the fourth beast being punished for the "great words" its little horn speaks. In chapter 8 however, the beast representing Greece disappears before the little horn comes upon the stage of action.
Rome is the last of the great world kingdoms and according to the prophecies of Daniel, will continue to the
Part 5: Divided Rome
His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. (Daniel 2:33)
The last part of the image of Daniel 2, the feet of iron and clay, should not be regarded as being totally separate from the previous kingdom, Rome. In fact, as was stated in yesterday's lesson, according to the prophecies of Daniel, Rome continues in one form or the other until the end of time. The feet of iron and clay should therefore not be described as the divided nations of Europe, but more properly as divisions of Rome.
"From this, its divided state, the first strength of the empire departed; but not as that of the others had done. No other kingdom was to succeed it, as it had the three which went before it. It was to continue in this tenfold division, until the kingdom of stone smote it upon its feet, broke them in pieces, and scattered them as the wind does the chaff of the summer threshing-floor! Yet, through all this time, a portion of its strength was to remain. And so the prophet says, `And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken." _ Daniel and The Revelation, p.60
What was the meaning of the symbolism of the iron mixed with miry clay? Daniel 2:33, 41-43
"With Rome fell the last of the universal empires belonging to the world in its present state. Heretofore the elements of society had been such that it was possible for one nation, rising superior to its neighbors in prowess, bravery, and the science of war, to attach them one after another to its chariot wheels till all were consolidated into one vast empire, and one man seated upon the dominant throne could send forth his will as law to all the nations of the earth. When Rome fell, such possibilities forever passed away. Crushed beneath the weight of its own vast proportions, it crumbled to pieces, never to be united again. The iron was mixed with the clay. Its elements lost the power of cohesion, and no man or combination of men can again consolidate them." _ Daniel and The Revelation, p.60
How is the dividing of the Roman empire represented in Daniel Chapter 7? Daniel 7:7
Daniel chapter 7 gives us an even clearer representation of the latter day state of Rome. Here we see that the ten divisions (the ten horns) actually are on the head of the beast (Rome). They are not separate and distinct from Rome but are actually just an extension of Rome. Just the form in which Rome manifested itself when its world dominion as a single "universal" kingdom was broken.
All the efforts of the great nations of the world cannot change the word of God. Never again will any single
Part 6: The immutable rock
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)
"We here reach the climax of this stupendous prophecy; and when time in his onward flight shall bring us to the sublime scene here predicted, we shall have reached the end of human history. The kingdom of God! Grand provision for a new and glorious dispensation, in which his people shall find a happy terminus of this world's sad, degenerate, and changing career. Transporting change for all the righteous, from gloom to glory, from strife to peace, from a sinful to a holy world, from death to life, from tyranny and oppression to the happy freedom and blessed privileges of a heavenly kingdom! Glorious transition, from weakness to strength, from the changing and decaying to the immutable and eternal!" _ Daniel and The Revelation, p.64
When will another universal kingdom be once again established on the earth? Dan 2:44; Dan. 7:26,27
"But when is this kingdom to be established? May we hope for an answer to an inquiry of such momentous concern to our race? These are the very questions on which the word of God does not leave us in ignorance. . . . We do not say that the exact time is revealed (we emphasize the fact that it is not) either in this or in any other prophecy; but so near an approximation is given that the generation which is to see the establishment of this kingdom may mark its approach unerringly, and make that preparation which will entitle them to share in all its glories." _ Daniel and The Revelation, p.64
The great image of Daniel has stood complete in all its parts for fourteen centuries, today it is still waiting to be smitten upon its feet by the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. We have been in the days of these kings for many centuries and we are still in their days. The very next event in this prophecy is the setting up of God's everlasting kingdom. Other prophecies and innumerable signs show unmistakably that the coming of Christ is near at hand.
By what unusual means will this kingdom be established? Daniel 2:44,45
The setting up of this kingdom will be an event completely independent of human effort. The stone will be cut out "without hands," it is the God of heaven who will set up a kingdom. But praise God, the kingdom will be inhabited by those who have been faithful to God.
All the education and preparations of this life should be with the aim of qualifying us to be a part of the kingdom