The End-Times Prophecies of the Prophet Daniel
Many people think that biblical prophecies about the end of the world and the Battle of Armageddon are "a Christian thing." You know, for religious fanatics and other societal oddballs. But end-times prophecy is not just a Christian thing. It's a Jewish thing because many of the most well-known New Testament prophecies were foreshadowed by the Old Testament prophets centuries before the birth of Christ.
Many of today's best known prophecies, including the rise of the Antichrist and the Battle of Armageddon, were recorded by the prophet Daniel in the sixth century B.C. Daniel wrote his prophecies during the 70 years that the people of Israel were held captive in the land of Babylon.
Daniel served as part of the royal court of King Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned in Babylon from 605 - 562 B.C. The prophecies came in the form of dreams, both the king's dreams and Daniel's dreams. For most of the details, Daniel was given the interpretation, but not all. Fortunately, we can look back with the benefit of history, and the clarification of later scriptures, and can often see clearly what Daniel could not. Ironically, this, in itself, was one of the prophecies Daniel recorded (Daniel 12:4,9).
In this article, we will look at several of the key dreams and what their prophecies mean for Israel and the rest of the world in the years before Armageddon. Keep in mind that each of these prophecies is not meant to stand alone. It is only once we have looked at all of the prophecies that a clear picture of the Bible's account of the end of world history begins to form.
The Dream of King Nebuchadnezzar
The first prophecy, which is recounted in Daniel chapter two, sets the broad framework for the rest of the prophecies. In this chapter, Daniel is called to reveal the interpretation of a dream that has been troubling King Nebuchadnezzar. As the king slept, he saw a great statue (Daniel 2:31-35) with a head of fine gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
But then, as King Nebuchadnezzar watched, a stone was cut out of a mountain "without hands" and struck the image on its feet, breaking the statue in pieces:
Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:35)
What to make of such a strange dream? Daniel is not left to wonder. He is given the following interpretation: The four parts of the statue - the gold head, the silver bust, the bronze belly and thighs, and the iron legs - are four kingdoms. Those kingdoms are as follows:
1. The first kingdom is King Nebuchadnezzar's own kingdom of Babylon for, Daniel is told, "the God of heaven has given [Nebuchadnezzar] a kingdom, power, strength, and glory" (v. 38).
The Babylonian kingdom reached its peak during Daniel's time.
2. After Babylon "shall arise another kingdom, inferior to yours..." (v. 39).
This was Medo-Persia, which conquered Babylon in the fifth century B.C. The story of the conquest is told in the fifth chapter of Daniel, in which King Nebuchadnezzar's successor, King Belshazzar, sees mysterious fingers writing on the wall. Daniel is called to read the writing, in which God rebukes King Belshazzar for his pride and commits the kingdom of Babylon into the hands of his enemies, the Medes (Daniel 5:1-26). It is from this story that we get the phrase "the handwriting is on the wall."
3. After the second kingdom, Daniel is told shall arise "...another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth" (v. 39).
This prophecy was fulfilled approximately three centuries after Daniel's death. At this time, Medo-Persia was conquered by Greece, which rose to worldwide power in the third century B.C. Just as Daniel foretold, this third kingdom was known for its extensive use of bronze.
The fourth kingdom is somewhat different from the previous three:
4. "And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others."
While not specifically identified, there is little question that this kingdom is Rome, which conquered Greece sometime between 250 – 30 B.C. At its height, the Roman Empire comprised almost all of the Western world known at the time, including most of Europe, the Middle East, Egypt, and North Africa. In addition to its size, Rome was notorious for its cruelty.1
Portions of Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Yet to Come
Now we turn our attention to the portions of this prophecy that have not yet been fulfilled. It is important to keep in mind that, because the early parts of this prophecy were fulfilled so precisely, we can expect the latter portions to be fulfilled just as precisely.2
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