In about 600 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon dreamed about a great image. The dream was a prophesy from God. It represented all of the kingdoms of this world from that time, down through the ages until our own day.
God allowed Daniel, his servant, who was in captivity in Babylon, to interpret the king's dream.
The image had a head of gold, which represented Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, the first major universal kingdom.
The breast and arms were of silver. These represented the next kingdom that would rule the earth. History has identified this kingdom as the Medes and the Persians.
The 3rd kingdom that would arise was represented by the belly and thighs of the image, which were brass.
We now know that this portion of the image referred to the kingdom of Greece.
The 4th major portion of the image was its legs of iron. This represented the Roman Empire.
Finally, the feet of the image, were a mixture of iron and clay. This part of the dream indicated that after the fall of Rome, there would never be another universal kingdom that would rule over the entire earth. That is, until the Kingdom of God comes.
The verse quoted above tells the final chapter of the prophesy. A stone would smite the image on the feet, and it would all be broken into pieces.
The stone (which represented Christ) would become a great mountain and fill the earth. Never again would men rule the earth. God's son would be the King over the entire earth and his Kingdom would last forever, as noted in verse 44.
For Daniel, and the children of Judah who were captives in Babylon, the interpretation of the dream provided hope in a very difficult time.
Daniel lived in a time of trouble for his people, and God provided them with this message of hope to help them to endure with faith.
We also live in a difficult time. We have the opportunity to share the same hope in God's Kingdom to rule over the entire earth.
For many of us, the Prophet Daniel is only a Sunday School character. We know him as a young man, who because he served God faithfully, was miraculously delivered from a den of lions in Babylon.
There are some important lessons in this story that is found in the 6th chapter of the Book of Daniel. These lessons are not just useful for children who are learning about the Bible. They are lessons that remain useful to us throughout our lives.
The story would have been uneventful if Daniel were an ordinary man. The King was tricked into making a commandment that contained drastic consequences: "Whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions." ( v. 7).
Daniel could have avoided any trouble by simply changing his daily routine of prayer to God until the ban was finished.
Daniel made a choice. It is better to obey God than men. It is better to ask our petitions of the Creator and Sustainer of all life, than to depend on a worldly king for our needs.
What would our choice be if our own life depended on the outcome? Do we have the courage of our faith? Daniel has provided us with a good example.
We all know that a miracletook place in the lion's den. God closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not harm Daniel. The lesson is obvious. If we remain faithful to God, He will care for us and protect us from harm in accordance with His will.
We are provided with two excellent examples of Gods power and His care for His people. In addition to the story of the lion's den, there is also an account in the 3rd chapter.
In this situation, Daniel's companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are also challenged to dishonor God, when they are commanded to worship an idol.
They remained faithful to God and at the commandment of the king were thrown into a "burning fiery furnace".
These men were saved from the fire when an angel appeared with them in the midst of the furnace. When they were brought out of the fire, we are told: "The princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them." (v. 27)
"Thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." ( Isa 43: 1-2)
These examples of how God protected his servants should provide us with both comfort and hope.
Even today, if His children are faithful, we are assured that God will watch over and care for us.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psa 46:1)
The Book of Daniel is filled with signs and wonders that glorify God in all of His mighty power, both to deliver His servants, and to control the course of history so that His Kingdom will one day fill this earth with the glory of God.
We have considered chapter 2, and the great image that represented the entire outline of history from Daniel's time, even to our own day and beyond.
Chapter 7 contains another vision which runs parallel to Chapter 2. In the 2nd chapter, the king of Babylon dreams about the course of history in terms that were familiar to him. He related well to the gold, the silver and the brass of the image.
The 7th chapter is expressed in terms that were familiar to Daniel. In his vision, the kingdoms of men appear as beasts of the earth. A lion, a bear and a leopard and then a great and dreadful 4th beast.
Daniel is told concerning the vision: "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever."( v. 17-18)
The result of the dream and the conclusion of the matter is described in verse 27 :"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."
The earth will be ruled by kings and men for a time, but it will finally be governed forever, by Christ and his saints.
Christ is most clearly identified in the 9th chapter, in a prophesy that accurately predicted when the Messiah would become the sacrifice for sin. We read in Daniel 9: 24:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy."
Seventy weeks covers a total of 490 days. A principle of Bible prophesy is that one day equals a year. This seventy weeks therefore represented 490 years. The first portion of the prophesy was for 69 weeks or 483 years.
The starting point of the prophesy leading to the time of " Messiah the Prince", is related to the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. (v.25) This commandment of the king of the Persians was given in 457 BC.
A simple calculation indicates that in about 29 AD, the Messiah would be "cut-off" in sacrifice, in the middle of the last week of the prophesy. History has demonstrated the incredible reliability of the Word of God.
The last chapter of Daniel concludes a remarkable chain of prophesies. Events that would find their conclusion in a great "time of trouble", during which the dead would be raised and judged. God's people would be delivered, and receive their reward. ( v. 1-3)
The time periods that finish the Book of Daniel teach us that we are living in the last days, just prior to the time when faithful Daniel and many others, will stand in the lot of their inheritance in God's Kingdom on the earth.
Daniel was a prophet of God. His entire Book is filled with exciting messages of promise concerning the future for this earth.
Some of his writings include only general promises, with no indication of a time period. There are also other prophesies that include clues about the length of time that would be involved.
The 4th Chapter of Daniel provides us with a time period for our consideration.
The prophesy is based on another dream by the king of Babylon. This time, he sees a great tree of which we are told: "The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. ( v. 11-12)
Trees are often used in the Bible torepresent kingdoms. In Daniel 4, the great tree is a picture of Babylon in the height of its glory. All nations dwelled under its branches and were dependent on its authority.
However, the tree was to be cut down. Nebuchadnezzar would be punished for his pride, and 7 times would pass before he was restored to power.
History tells us that Nebuchanezzar was humbled by a rare disease that made him mad He became like the beasts of the field for seven years.
The King was removed from his throne for 7 literal years, but the prophesy had a dual meaning. The kingdom of Babylon was also destined to be cut down like a tree.
History verifies that Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians in 534 BC. The prophesy indicated that the roots of the tree would remain in the earth 7 times.
Prophetic students have determined that a prophetic "time" is a period of 360 years, and that 7 times would be 2520 years.
If this is correct the termination date would be 1987 AD. It is interesting that Sadam Hussein dedicated his intention to rebuild Babylon in 1987. Great Babylon came into remembrance before God as mentioned in Revelation 16:19.
We are now waiting for the fulfillment of Daniel 4:17 so that the "living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."