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Wed, Aug 15, 2001

13 - The Four Kingdoms

Daniel 2:39-43 by Robert Dean
Series:Daniel (2001)
Duration:56 mins 50 secs

D/Dean Daniel Lesson 13

The Four Kingdoms – Daniel 2:39-43

 

Daniel 2 and we are down to about verse 38.  Daniel is writing this as wisdom literature.  In the Hebrew Bible you had three divisions, you had the Torah, which was the instruction and that revolved around the foundation for the Old Testament, primarily related to Law; Torah is another word for law.  Following the Torah was another division called the Nabiim, the Prophets, and while Daniel contains much prophecy is was never part of that section of the Hebrew Bible which is the prophets.  It is instead in the Kethubim; the Kethubim was that part of the Old Testament that contained the wisdom writings.  Wisdom in the Old Testament, from the Hebrew word chakmah, has to do with skill for living, and it was the application of doctrine.  I think the Hebrew concept of chakmah goes beyond the New Testament Greek concept of epignosis.  Epignosis is usable doctrine; chakmah is applied doctrine, applied in a skillful manner.  It was a word that was used of the skill of artisans so that when an artist, a craftsman, silversmith, goldsmith, a jeweler produced a work of art, that was chakmah, it was something that was beautiful. 

 

And Daniel writes his wisdom literature because he is a believer in a completely pagan society, in fact he's in Babylon, in the city of Babylon, the Neo-Chaldean Empire, one of the most pagan empires of all of human history, and so by reading Daniel we see how a believer operating on doctrine can avoid compromising the truth and still advance in a pagan culture, and still be a person of success, not only spiritually but also in terms of his position within the empire, because Daniel, as we will see at the end of this chapter, advances to the highest levels; not only in this empire but in the empire that follows, the Medo-Persian empire. 

 

Daniel chapter 2 relates the dream of Nebuchadnezzar.  Nebuchadnezzar had his dream; he was given a dream by God that was the outline of human history.  He had is dream one night and it appears from what Daniel says in the explanation that Nebuchadnezzar must have had his thoughts turning to the future because at the time Nebuchadnezzar had conquered much of the known world at that time, he had defeated the Assyrian Empire, he had defeated the Egyptian army and he had established himself at an age that was fairly young, he was probably not much more than 30 years of age.  He was brilliant in many areas, he was an administrative genius, he was a military genius, he was an architectural genius, we know that his Hanging Gardens that he established in Babylon for his wife, who was a Median princess, that that was one of the eight wonders of the ancient world.  So this man was not just your average Ancient Near Eastern monarch but was someone who had a tremendous ability and he worried about the future; what will the future hold, I just got through defeating one empire and overthrowing another empire and what will my future be? 

 

So he's worried about the future and at that point in time God gave him a dream, a vision of the future.  Now Nebuchadnezzar did not know what it meant or what its interpretation was, he challenged all of his leaders, all of his advisors to not only interpret the dream for him but he gave the test, they had to come up with not just the interpretation but they had to come up with the dream itself, they had to tell him exactly what the dream meant.  Now these men protested, they said they couldn't do it, nobody had ever asked them to do such a thing; this was something that had never been heard of before.  So he established the punishment that if they couldn't come up with the dream in a certain amount of time they would be executed and their houses turned into a public latrine to demonstrate exactly what he thought of them and of their religious system.

Well, Daniel heard about that and as the executioners were coming for Daniel and his three friends, Daniel had an audience with the king, knowing that God would give him the meaning, would reveal to Daniel the dream and its interpretation.  And then when we come down to Daniel 2:31 he explains the dream to Nebuchadnezzar.  And here's the dream; he saw an image, and the image looks like what you see on the overhead projector, it had a head of gold, the arms and chest were of silver, the waist of brass, the thighs, upper legs of iron and the feet, and the Hebrew word would include the calves, the feet were of a mix of iron and clay, and that clay is brittle pottery, it's not soft amiable clay but it is brittle, baked potter's clay.

 

Last time as we analyzed the image we saw about five principles that I want to summarize.  First of all, the image must be interpreted as Daniel interpreted it.  There are a lot of things we know about subsequent history but Daniel did not emphasize those as part of the interpretation.  Between verse 31 and verse 35 he explains the dream, that Nebuchadnezzar saw this image and at the end there was a stone that was cut without hands which struck the image on its feet and broke them in pieces, and then it all blew away, all of the dust blew away into the wind like chaff from a summer threshing floor.  So he saw the image and then he explains it.  So Daniel is going to interpret it for us and we must be careful not to go beyond his interpretation.  Now subsequent revelation, for example in Daniel 7, Daniel 8, tells us more information and will identify for us who these empires are beyond the first empire.  And we can go ahead and identify them now so that we can begin to learn a little bit about the flow of ancient history.  But in terms of its strict interpretation we need to interpret it as Daniel interpreted it.

 

Secondly, Daniel emphasizes for us the sequence and the quality of the metals.  That's his emphasis in this dream; it's the sequence of the metals, that which is most valuable to that which is least valuable, moving from the gold to the iron and the clay.  Also the specific gravity decreases as you go from the head to the feet so that this is a top heavy statue.  But Daniel is emphasizing the sequence, that there's a sequence of empires in history and that the quality of these empires will diminish over time.

 

Third, only the head of gold is identified; he says to Nebuchadnezzar, "you are the head of gold," so only the head of gold is identified for certain but we can tell from other passages something about the other empires.

 

Fourth, little is said of the second and third kingdom; that is the silver and the brass, but we know from subsequent history, from Daniel 7 and 8 where they are specifically identified in prophecy, the silver represents the Medo-Persian Empire and the brass represents the Greek Empire.  But Daniel does not make an issue of them here.  As a matter of fact, as we'll see when we get down into these verses, that verse 39 covers these two empires.  In fact, if you look at this thing proportionately, if you look at its interpretation proportionately more is said about the final kingdom, the feet that are made of iron and clay and their destruction than the rest of the image combined.  So we need to realize that the emphasis from the Holy Spirit is on what happens to the final kingdom, and its destruction, not on the previous kingdoms.

 

Now one other thing I need to make clear here is that the image here is a beautiful image made of valuable metal, at least the initial part of it, the gold, the silver, the brass.  It is something of value and it represents the kingdom of man as man thinks of the kingdom of man.  Man is impressed with himself, we think what we accomplish, what we produce is valuable.  When we get to Daniel 7 and when we get there we will come back and do a lot of comparisons between Daniel 7 and Daniel 2; in Daniel 7 these same kingdoms are represented by beasts because when you get to Daniel 7 you are looking at the kingdom of man as God sees the kingdom of man in all of its depravity, its beastial nature, its destructiveness and its rebelliousness toward God.  So that is part of the contrast.

 

We look at the first two verses, Daniel 2:37-38, there Daniel says: "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; [38] 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."  Now just kind of a side note for those of you who have read ahead in Daniel, when we get to Daniel 5 Nebuchadnezzar is going to be reduced to insanity because of his arrogance toward God, and he will be like the "beasts of the field" and "the birds of the sky" and he'll be eating the grass in the field and he'll be drinking the dew off of the ground in the morning.  So here there's a bit of foreshadowing here in verse 38 saying that now he is over the beasts of the fields and the birds of the sky but it won't be long till he is one; so there's a bit of a warning there as you understand the flow of Daniel.

 

This title, you are "the king of kings" is an unusual title.  It is not necessarily a Babylonian title; in fact there's no record from archeology or any ancient artifacts that this was a title that was applied to Babylonian kings.  So it is a distinct title; it is not one that Nebuchadnezzar applied to himself.  There is some indication that Persian kings used this.  There was a Persian king named Aruyaramna (610-580 BC) who used this title and applied it to himself but this is a title that is usually reminiscent for us as believers of the title of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It is a title that has tremendous significance if you are a Jew, but it was applied to Nebuchadnez­zar, not only here in Daniel but it's also applied to Nebuchadnezzar by Ezekiel.

 

As we look at the image, in Ezekiel 26:7 we see, "For thus says the LORD God, Behold, I will bring upon Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, king of kings," so this was a title that was specifically applied to Nebuchadnezzar and that says something important, that something is happening biblically in terms of God's view of history that is unique.  Up to this point God's focus has been through the Jews but there's going to be a shift to the Gentiles; there is something profound happening in this revelation about what God is going to be doing in future history.  We looked at some of the Psalms, for example in Psalm 89:26 we read, "He will cry to Me, Thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation, [27] I also shall make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth." 

 

Now the highest of the kings of the earth is the King of Kings.  Now if we look at the context of Psalm 89 what we will see is that this is a recitation, a repetition, a reinforcement of the Davidic Covenant.  And what God is promising to David is that David's throne will be above all other thrones, so the concept of a king over all other kings is a concept that is related to the Davidic Covenant.  God had made a fantastic promise to David and David's descendants would rule over all the nations, all the kings of the earth.  These Davidic promises have never been fulfilled.  There has never been a Davidic king that has ruled over all the kings of the earth, so that tells us that this is yet to be fulfilled prophecy because if God promised it would happen.

 

It also tells us something else, that the fulfillment of this ultimately was dependent on Israel's obedience.  Now we know that it will be fulfilled in the future when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back and Israel is regenerate at that time, they will call for the Lord to come and deliver them at the end of the period known as the Tribulation, also known as Jacob's Trouble.  But the reason it has been postponed so long in history is because of Israel's disobedience. 

 

Now think about it; we all know from our study of the Scripture that when Jesus came at the First Advent that He offered the kingdom; it was a genuine legitimate offer.  He was the King, but because they rejected it, that offer was postponed.  If Israel had actually accepted the offer of Jesus Christ, if they had accepted Him as the Messiah at the First Advent, then the millennial kingdom would have come at that point.  It seems that it was also true in the Old Testament that the millennial kingdom could have come as part of the blessing promises of God in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, but because of Israel's disobedience… at least the potential was there, that if they had been obedient the kingdom could have come in the Old Testament, but because of their disobedience it was put off.  But ultimately what happens is by 605 BC Israel has been so disobedient that it has been put off indefinitely into the future and will not come about until after the Church Age and in between Israel is going to lose her privileged position in history.  And this period of time, starting in 605 BC, is what is called in the Scripture "the times of the Gentiles."  And God is going to give ascendancy to Gentile nations and Gentile powers throughout this age.

 

This is based, first of all, looking at the doctrine of the times of the Gentiles, point number one: it's based on the Davidic Covenant.  The Davidic kings were to be the kings of kings, but they lost that potential in the ancient world in 605 BC.  God was working primarily through Israel in the Old Testament but because of their idolatry and because of their disobedience the promised blessings were postponed.  The northern kingdom went out in 722 BC and the southern kingdom went out in 586 BC, but starting with Nebuchadnezzar's first assault, invasion of the land and assault on Jerusalem in 605, when he took that first group of captives back to Babylon, of whom Daniel was one, starting then Jerusalem has been under the heel of Gentile powers.  Even when they had a modicum of independence under the Roman Empire and even today they are who they are because of Gentile powers who allow them to exist. 

 

If the United States were to remove their protection from Israel tomorrow, and if we were to become anti-Israel, then that nation would not last very long.  In fact, it's very interesting when we realize how closely Israel came to not being recognized as a nation in 1948.  The United States State Department has been historically and notoriously anti-Semitic.  It took them forever during World War II to admit that the holocaust was going on in Europe and they continuously put up road block after road block after road block for any Jewish refugees coming out of Europe.  And in 1948 when the Jewish state established itself under David Ben Gurion they were appealing to the United States for recognition.  And by then Franklin Roosevelt had died and Harry Truman was President.  Now when Harry Truman was a  young man coming out of World War I he worked for a short time in a haberdashery, and one of his close friends in that haberdashery (they made hats) during that time one of his best friends was a Jewish man.  Well, when he became President, though the pro-Israel forces in the U.S. found this man and managed to get him into the White House and get him to Harry Truman and have a private conference with Truman to encourage Truman to recognize Israel's existence as a nation… now the State Department was recommending not recognizing Israel's independent, not recognizing the Jewish state.  And this guy, based on that old friendship that he had with Truman, got to Truman, convinced Truman to recognize Israel, he marched right out of the White House, called a press conference before the State Department could intervene, and announced the recognition of the Israeli state.  Now it's events like that upon which history turns and which demonstrates that Jesus Christ controls history.  But the Jewish state existed and was able to exist because of the overall protection of the U.S., money that came from the U.S. and the military protection, military arms that we sold to Israel.  Without that they probably would not have survived.  So even though there is an independent Jewish state today, even though Jerusalem has a modicum of independence, it exists only at the will of Gentile nations.  This was lost in 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar invaded the land. 

 

The second point: in 605 BC potential world supremacy was turned over to the Gentiles and this period of Gentile domination of Israel is called the times of the Gentiles, Luke 21:24.  Now if we look at that passage it states, "and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all the nations," and that's referring to the events in 70 AD when the Roman army under Titus came in and destroyed Israel and destroyed the temple, "and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."  Now here's a chart giving an overview of Luke 21:20, so we have up here at the cross, just a timeline here, here's AD 30; here's AD 70 when the temple was destroyed and Israel went out under the fifth cycle of discipline.  Here we have the Tribulation temple when the antichrist establishes himself and the abomination of desolation and then finally we come to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  In Luke 21:20-28 the first five verses, 20-24, speak of the days of vengeance, that is the judgment on Israel for rejecting Jesus as Messiah.  That occurred in the 1st century AD.  Verse 24 speaks of the times of the Gentiles, when Israel is scattered and God continues to give ascendancy to Gentile powers.  Then in verses 25-28 it prophecies the redemption of Israel and the national regathering of Israel.  So we live now during the time of the Gentiles.

 

Now if you take a look and study history, it's fascinating what occurs around the 6th century BC.  If you study history, religion and culture, you realize that within 100-150 years of 605 BC most of the major world religions developed.  For hundreds of years before that, Hinduism had already existed and there were many polytheistic religions of which Hinduism is one, but all of a sudden starting in the 6th century BC you find the beginnings of Zoroastrianism around 628-551 BC, just at the same time as the book of Daniel.  Confucius lived from 551-479 BC so Confucius overlapped the time of Daniel.  Buddha was circa 525 BC so Buddha lived just after the time of Daniel.  The pre-Socratic Greeks, Socrates, Plato and the Greek philosophers of the 5th century BC were about 100 years later so you had the development of Greek philosophy came just after this. 

 

So we ought to ask the question when we see something like that, why all of a sudden this tremendous burst of activity among the Gentiles.  Hundreds of years have gone by with nothing like this and all of a sudden across the board, throughout the world, within a period of about 100-150 years from 605 BC you have all these religions develop, you have the development of your Greek philosophy which becomes the foundation for much of western European thought, all of which takes place.  Why did that happen?  Because God had given ascendancy to the Gentiles; you have to understand Israel is always the focal point of history and whatever God is doing with Israel affects everybody else.  So when God decided to start disciplining Israel then God gave ascendancy to the Gentile nations.

 

The third point: as the first Gentile power, Nebuchadnezzar had fantastic potential.  For example, in Jeremiah 27:5 God states: "I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight.  [6] And now I have given all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him.  [7] And all the nations shall serve him, and his son, and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant."  So it tells us right there that all the nations shall serve him; Nebuchadnezzar potentially could have gone out and conquered more land, more territory and God would have given it to him, but he failed to do that.  Verse 8, "And it will be that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, declares the LORD, until I have destroyed it by his hand." 

 

So Jeremiah 27:5-8 is where God announces the same thing that he announces in Daniel 2:38 and that is that Nebuchadnezzar will be the king of kings.  So from 605 BC onward until the end of the times of the Gentiles, it appears that God's normal activity for controlling human history and bringing any level of peace and stability into the human race is through empires.  You have the Babylonian or Neo-Chaldean Empire and then the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire and it is during the time of the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, the gospel goes out all over the earth, and subsequent to the fall of the western empire there is still a residual effect and there's an attempt to revive it in the Holy Roman Empire but it is in that context of the residual peace that the gospel goes to Scandinavia, it goes to Britain, you have Patrick taking it to Ireland and then Columba and others bringing it back to Scotland and down into England.  You have the gospel going out from the court of Charlemagne into Germany and the Netherlands and all over Europe. 

 

And so there's a tremendous spread of the gospel.  Why?  Because of the peace that was originally established by Rome, and of course under Rome you had the tremendous spread of the gospel by Paul and the other apostles.  In the Holy Roman Empire you had a greater spread, then later on, one of the next major spread or time of the spread of the gospel was during the 19th century under the reign of Britain.  The saying was during the British Empire that the sun never set on the Union Jack.  All over the earth you had British armies going into India, British armies going into South Africa, British armies going to Australia, British navy going to Singapore, everywhere the British military went British missionaries went and the gospel went all over the earth under the Pax Britannica, so it appears that contrary to western thought that democracy is great and all nations ought to be treated equal, God is the One who raises up empires in order to provide a modicum of stability and peace so that in that time of peace the gospel can go all over the earth.  Jesus Christ definitely controls history.

 

The first empire is the Chaldean Empire.  This slide gives a list of the emperors or kings of the Chaldean Empire.  Nabopolassar founded it, and then his son, Nebuchadnezzar, brings it together and establishes it in 605 BC, and then he's succeeded by Emel Marduk, Neriglissar, none of his successors have the glory, have the power, have the prestige of Nebuchadnezzar, until finally they are destroyed by the Persians in 539 BC.  We'll study that when Belteshazzar sees the handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5. 

 

Daniel 2:39, "And after you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth."  So in one verse you have the next two kingdoms mentioned.  Here's a map of the Babylonian Empire, you can see how widespread it was, but if we do a comparison of these empires we'll see that the Babylonian Empire has less land than its successor; the Persians have more land; the Greeks have even more land; the Romans have even more land.  So here we see the Babylonian Empire and we learn at the beginning that the gold represented Babylon, but the silver, the arms and the chest, represent the Medo-Persian Empire.  The Babylonian Empire or Neo-Chaldean Empire only lasted for 66 years.  But yet it was the head of gold, it was the most superior of all these empires.  Its successor is the Medo-Persian Empire, which lasts from 539 BC to 331 BC.  And it is during this time that one family reigns, and its descendants, but only one family.  The Persian Empire was a tremendous empire. 

 

Now as we look at this outline of history from God's perspective, we look at the first two empires as the Babylonian and then the Medo-Persian Empire, but if we do that then we're forced to say that the waist, the hips of brass, that's the Greek Empire, and then the iron is the Roman Empire, and then the iron and clay is the future empire, but that means that Daniel was actually telling the future.  Now conservatives believe that because we believe there's a God who controls history and gives predictive prophecy, but liberals don't like that.  Liberal theologians do not believe that God actually intervenes in human history or controls human history and so they try to reinterpret this and they get into all kinds of problems.  Every now and then I try to point this out just to show how most liberals just reject the Bible, they wave it around as if it has some meaning but it really has no meaning for liberal theologians.  What they do is they try to separate the Median Empire, or the Empire of the Medes from the Empire of the Persians but, first of all, there was never, ever a Median Empire.  There was never a Median Empire! 

 

Secondly, if Daniel was talking about the Medes as an empire, that the silver was the Medes and the brass was the Persian Empire then that would mean that Daniel was not only a historical ignoramus but that he probably wasn't Jewish because you see, the second most important historical event in Jewish history was their return from the Babylonian captivity.  Of course the first would be the Exodus from Egypt and the return from the Babylonian captivity was due to the king of the Persians, Cyrus; Cyrus the great and Cyrus had been predicted by prophecy in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 4:1-4, we're told that it was "Cyrus, the Persian" who sent the Jews home.  So how could Daniel have confused Cyrus the Persian with this empire of the Medes?  He would have to be historically ignorant and give up all of his Jewish ancestry; the Jews have always honored Cyrus because he is the one who decreed for them to go home. 

 

The Medo-Persian Empire originated under the energetic power of Cyrus the Great.  It's symbolized here in the image by the arms and the chest.  Now there are some who would say the arms represent…one arm is the Medes, the other is the Persians, that's pushing the image too far.  We have to be careful with that because as we can tell from Daniel 7:5 and 8:20 where it specifically states that the next empire is the Medo-Persian Empire we discover that the Medes are the weak side the Persians are the strong side, so if we were going to make this accurate, if the arms really represented the two different empires, then one arm would have to be very short and the other arm very long.  So we don't want to push it too far.  It's just that the silver itself represents the Medo-Persian Empire.

 

It's interesting when you look at the ancient world; it's not much different from things that have happened in modern history.  If you got back and look at World War I you have the King of England, the Kaiser of Germany and the Emperor or Russia are all cousins.  And so it was in some sense a family struggle.  The same thing is true in the ancient world.  Cyrus was the great-great nephew of Nebuchadnezzar by marriage.  One of the great kings of the Medes was Cyaxares I; Cyaxares was allied with Nabopolassar; Nabopolassar is Nebuchadnezzar's father.  And in order to seal that alliance against the Assyrians, Cyaxares married his daughter to the son of his ally, so his daughter married Nebuchadnezzar.  That was Nebuchadnezzar's wife for whom he built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  But she had a brother named Astyages, and Astyages had a daughter named Mandane, so that would be their niece, and Mandane was married off to Cambyses I of Anshan, which is another word for Persia.  She and Cambyses had a son, and that's Cyrus the Great of Persia. 

 

So Cyrus the Great is really a nephew by marriage or great-nephew by marriage of Nebuchad­nezzar.  And Persia at that time was very weak, in fact it was under the control of the Medes but Cyrus attacked the Medes and defeated them, and then he forged an alliance with them and that was in 550 BC and then he invaded upper Mesopotamia and conquered Armenia and Cappadocia and Silesia; he attacked across Asia Minor, this is the area we call Turkey, he attacked Lydia and defeated Croesus, the king of Lydia in 547 BC.  This gave him control over Asia Minor and he's come up from the south and he's sort of doing an envelopment around the Babylonians.  And it was in 593 that he sent Gobrius, one of his officials to attack Babylon, and what they did as we'll learn in Daniel 5 is they dammed the Euphrates River which flowed under the walls and through the city of Babylon, when they dammed it they closed off the water flow and they marched the army under the walls in the river bed of the Euphrates, and that night they were having the drunken banquet in the palace when…[tape turns] …writing on the wall, it was at that time that they came in through the dried up waterway, under the walls and defeated the Babylonians. 

 

So that's the second kingdom; the second kingdom is the silver, the Medes and the Persians, and the brass is the third kingdom, from 331BC to 146 BC, the kingdom of the Greeks.  This came to fruition first under Alexander the Great.  Alexander the Great was really not a Greek, he was a Macedonian and he was young, in his early 20s when he conquered the world.  And the Greek Empire was even larger than the Medo-Persian Empire.  Here is a picture of the extant of the Persian Empire and Alexander conquered all of that and even more.  Not only did Alexander conquer all of Greece and unite Greece but then he conquered all of the Persian Empire all of the way to India, so all of that territory was under the control of the Greeks.  And Alexander the Great's territory was much larger than even that of the Persians. 

 

Daniel 2:40 goes on to say, "Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron," now before we get there, Daniel 2:39 states, "And after you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you," I want to say something about this word "inferior," it causes a lot of questions to come up.  The word is 'ara', which is related to the Hebrew word meaning 'erets, meaning earth, and literally it means earthward, the text reads, "after you there will arise another kingdom that is earthward," it's deteriorated, there's a decline in value moving from the gold to the silver to the bronze.  But what exactly does it mean that these kingdoms are inferior to the one preceding them?  There's been a lot of discussion about this.  Some commentators think they are inferior by way of government; others by way of culture; still others inferior by way of moral fiber.  But whatever the inferiority is it is something connected with the inherent nature of the kingdom.  For example, each kingdom here is represented by a type of metal and it indicates something about its purity but when we get to the end we're going to see that there's a mix of metal so maybe it has something to do with the lack of quality that's inherent in each empire. 

 

A couple of things we ought to note; first of all, they're inferior in quality but they are not inferior in every respect.  Some of them had superior ideas; for example the Persians had a higher level of mathematics, astrology and science than did the Babylonians before them.  The Persians had a tremendous system of organization and administration, not that that of Nebuchadnezzar was bad, it was great but the Persians were even better.  It was not inferior in terms of territory because as we've already seen, the territory of the Persians was greater than that of the Babylonians.  The territory of the Greeks was greater than that of the Persians.  The territory of Rome was greater than that of the Greeks.  So it's not inferior in terms of territory.  It's not necessarily inferior in terms of military ability; Rome certainly had a fantastic military ability.  Others have suggested that it's an inferiority or steady decline in terms of moral quality but if you look at the morals of the Greeks, most of the males in the Greek army were homosexual.  If you look at that type of situation, you look at a lot of the morals in Greece, you look at the morals in Rome, that doesn't seem to hold up.  There seems to be something else and we'll have to examine that later in this context when we get there.  Others have argued that it's a degeneration of the human race.  That was even held by secular historians, ancient secular historians like Hesiod and Ovid. 

 

The least thing we can say… at the very least we can say that this pictures a decline in history, that the human race is not getting better and better, we're not improving, we're not moving, like a Darwinist view is, from a more aboriginal state to a superior state.  The Bible represents that even in terms of human history everything is in decline, everything is moving from a superior state to an inferior state.  So that's the least thing that we can say about this and we will answer the question of the meaning of "inferior" as we continue in our study.

 

Now the next empire that we come to is the Roman Empire, Daniel 2:40, "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 I want you to notice several of the words here, the image that is presented by Daniel here, "a fourth kingdom as strong as iron," we have the word "strong," "inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, like iron that breaks in pieces," so you have the picture of strength, the power of destruction here.  And then it repeats those verbs again, "it will crush and break all these in pieces."  Now this is a tremendous picture of the military might of the Roman Empire.  Here's a map how Rome extended their influence from the south of Britain, down through France into part of northern Spain, across the southern middle section of Europe, across the Italian peninsula, the Greek peninsula, into Asia Minor, down along the Levant, along the eastern end of the Mediterranean, they conquered Egypt and controlled North Africa since the time of the defeat of the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars.  So Rome had a tremendous empire that was larger than any of those that had preceded it. 

So we have gold is the Babylonian Empire, silver is the Medo-Persian Empire, brass is the Greece Empire and iron represents the Roman Empire, which lasted from 146 BC until the final collapse of the eastern half of the empire in 1453.  It began with the defeat of Carthage in 146 BC, it was divided into an eastern and western empire in 395 AD, the west ended in 476 but the eastern empire continued until 1453.  So Rome gradually and slowly dies out.  It doesn't end by a military defeat, you can almost point to the day when Babylon was defeated, you know when Cyrus invaded Babylon.  You know when the Greeks, under Alexander, defeated the Persians.  We know when Rome defeated the Greeks, but Rome, unlike these other empires is not defeated militarily by another empire overnight.  Now there were many defeats, there were the invasions of the Huns and various other barbarians from the north but it's a gradual dying out, and it's not till 1453 when the Moslems conquer Constantinople that the eastern empire goes out, but by then it is decadent, it is rotted on the inside, morals are gone, it's given over completely to the mysticism of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  By that time Rome just internally collapsed.  And notice the proximity between 1453 and 1492, the discovery of the western hemisphere, just an interesting coincidence in history—right?  As God prepares a new place that will be a sanctuary for Jews and a place of tremendous influence of the gospel and the spread of the gospel during the Church Age. 

 

So we come to this last empire, "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 in pieces."  And then there seems to be a textual break.  Now notice in Daniel 2:41, "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 this is something subsequent to the kingdom of iron, "but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.  [42] 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."  But if we look at verse 41, "in that you saw" breaks the flow of the narrative.  It's talked about the fact that back in verse 39 there's one empire, "after you," Nebuchadnezzar, "there will arise another kingdom." 

 

And then Daniel 2:40, "Then there will be a fourth kingdom," and then verse 41 we stop, we're no longer talking about the next kingdom; there's a break in the narrative.  That indicates that there is perhaps a break in time between the iron kingdom and this final manifestation of it, which we know will be the Revived Roman Empire.  So in verse 41, "In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay," and remember this is the brittle clay that doesn't adhere, "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."  Notice that it's going to be divided, there is an internal division suggested here and it will have toughness with it, but it's still mixed with this weak clay that gives it an internal weakness.

 

Daniel 2:42 states, "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."  Now this doesn't mean that five of the toes are iron and five of them are clay, it means that all ten of them are made up of a combination of the iron and the clay, so that all of them are equally weak.  That the feet and the toes, actually the lower shin, emanate from the iron legs indicates that it is some sort of an extension of the Old Roman Empire, that this final kingdom is going to be comprised of nations, cultures, ethnic groups, that existed in the Old Roman Empire.  When we get to Daniel 7 we'll see that it's clear that there is a future element to the Roman Empire, that there was the past Roman Empire and there will be a future Roman Empire.  That's covered in Daniel 7:13-14 and verse 27. 

 

And in Daniel 2:43 we read, "And in that you saw the 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."  Now what does that mean that "they will combine with one another in the seed of men?"  This is the key to understanding what it meant earlier by inferior.  What does it mean by combine with one another and the seed of men?  The "they" doesn't refer to the toes, it refers to the people in the kingdom. 

 

But we also find this phrase, "seed of men" in a passage in Ezra 9:2.  There we read, "For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves," that's Gentiles, the problem here was intermarriage between the Jew and the Gentiles, "For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race," that is the Jews, "the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness."  Now it sounds like it's an argument against interracial marriage, but it's not.  If it was wrong per se to have interracial marriage then Boaz could not have married Ruth; Boaz was a Jew, Ruth was a Gentile, she was a Moabitess.  What was prohibited in the Mosaic Law was marriage with an unbeliever, marriage with a pagan, and that's what was happening here is they were intermarrying with unbelievers. 

 

So that's what the mixture is, it's a mix of culture, it's a mix of beliefs, it's not necessarily a racial mix.  So the indication from this is that when we come back to look at what weakens these empires is that they become more and more of cultural mixes, so that by the time you get to the Revived Roman Empire it's a mix of iron and clay, there's such a multicultural mix there that all these different cultures have different agendas and different religious groups that it brings an inherent weakness to the empire.  And so it will never have the kind of unity, of let's say Babylon, where there was a racial homogeneity and there was different ethnic groups there, but there was one predominate group and one predominant unified culture that gave strength to that whole empire. 

 

Now this is not to be taken as some sort of argument for any kind of racial prejudice or ethnic prejudice or anything like that, it's just a historical reality, that if you have different people that have different agendas, different cultures, then it's going to be hard for them to adhere together in one solid group.  And we see an example of that in our own country today where you see all kinds of different subgroups emphasizing one agenda over against another agenda and the whole nation is fragmenting rather than coming together and all being Americans and holding to one culture.  So we all emphasize these different subcultures and the result is a weakness.

 

Next time we'll look at what happens to the Revived Roman Empire and its destruction and how that relates to understanding and solving some of the problems related to premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism.  We did a study where we looked at these three different broad interpretations of history and prophecy among different Christian groups and we're going to take what we studied then and apply it to this passage, or rather take this passage and apply it to what we studied there to see that this passage clearly shows premillennialism, not amillennialism or postmillennialism.  So we'll look at that and wrap up the image next time.