An Image for Our Time
Early in his reign, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream. By divine intervention, he could not remember any details. It was given in 605 B.C., shortly after his first of three attacks on Judea and Jerusalem.
- Daniel and his companions were not only captives then, but they were perceived by the king as unusually wise.
- The other royal wise men were unable to reveal the forgotten dream. The king was infuriated. Amazingly, he called for their execution, which by then would include Daniel and his three Jewish friends (Daniel 2:18).
The king’s “chief executioner” was in a favorable relationship with Daniel and revealed to him the decree of death. Daniel’s response was filled with wisdom. “Why is the decree so harsh” (Daniel 2:15)? He was given permission to talk with King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel’s request to delay the execution was granted on the promise that he would reveal what the dream was and its meaning. This became a supreme example of faith!
- The prophet assured the king that his God would provide the answers. Undoubtedly, young Daniel was under great pressure but appeared calm before the king.
- Daniel and his companions then entered into a season of earnest prayer, pleading with the God of heaven for mercy and wisdom. They also wanted to show the king that He was greater than the pagan gods of the sun, moon and stars.,
Daniel calls this unknown dream and its interpretation a “mystery” (raz – H). In his prayer for wisdom he acknowledges that God reveals hidden things, or mysteries (Daniel 2:21-22; cf. Job 12:22).
The prayer is answered, and Daniel tells Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, to not kill the wise men because he knows the meaning of the dream and wants to talk with the king (2:24). Daniel’s request: “Present me before the king.” He had already gone to him – but now, somehow, he is petitioning to see Nebuchadnezzar again.
- Arioch plays down Daniel’s credentials and claims credit for himself by saying that he found someone to meet the king’s request.
- Daniel is urgently ushered into Nebuchadnezzar. The king first questions him as to whether he can reveal the dream. Daniel’s immediate response gave God the credit for revealing the mystery.
The Era of the Dream
“There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these” (Daniel 2:28).
“In vv. 27–28 Daniel in a respectful manner was actually [implying to] … the king that the paganism of Babylon and of all such religions were worthless. Only Yahweh exists and is able to help.”
“Here is a comforting message for believers today. There is a God in heaven, and this God may be called upon to supply sustenance and wisdom far beyond what is available from human resources. Although circumstances sometimes may look impossible from an earthly standpoint, there is a God in heaven who can do all things. He can solve seemingly insoluble problems, supply needs, and provide strength for impossible tasks. He is a God who is there and who is able.”
The greater meaning is far in the future.
- Daniel said that even before revealing any details, the dream relates to “latter days” (acharith – A). This time orientation became his first interpretive priority.
- This word nearly always has a Messianic or eschatological connotation! It alludes mainly to the era of Christ’s Second Coming.
The assumption has been that this prophecy relates only to a historical sequence of kingdoms, which dramatically culminates at the end of history into God’s kingdom. That would cover both advents of Christ. But – there is another issue that is introduced in verse 45. In a summation statement, Daniel implies that the stone cut out of the mountain destroys all those metallic image parts at the same time.
- A correct historical view reveals that each of those metallic empires ended one after the other.
- The destruction of the whole image at once suggests that those “kingdoms” will be revisited at the end of time in another application (perhaps implied in Daniel 7:12).
The Dream – Its Meaning
The king saw a human-like image made up of metallic elements of progressively less value from head to feet/toes. Daniel said that Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s empire, was the head of gold.
- The translations of Daniel 2:31-45 differ because of the difficult Hebrew syntax. The image was apparently massive in size and extremely bright, which caused the king to be alarmed (NET Bible)!
- When he awoke, he had dream amnesia, but the fearful emotion was retained.
Daniel explains all:
The head of gold represented the king’s own kingdom:
- Though this king would later be humbled because of his pride (Daniel 4:24-28), this encounter is the first lesson that this king will receive that his reign was subservient to the God of heaven (2:37-38).
- The head of gold, the Babylon Empire, lasted from 605 to 539 B.C.
There is a symbolic reapplication of Babylon in Revelation. It has many parallels to Belshazzar’s (Babylon’s last king) defiance of God. A global warning message that Babylon, the great city, is fallen, is to be heralded to the world (Revelation 14:8). This “city empire” represents major Christian apostasy at the end of time. Explicit language of God’s final reaction of wrath to this “city” is noted in Revelation 18:1-8.
- That symbolic Babylon will become “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Revelation 18:2b).
- God’s people are to recognize this powerful agency and escape from its influence. “Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4).
Who/what this end-time Babylon represents is further elucidated in Revelation 17:
- A harlot (apostate church named Babylon) is riding on (ruling over) a beast (a kingdom/nation) associated with seven hills (vvs 1, 5, 9). At the time of John, Emperor Vespasian began an annual celebration honoring Rome, the city of seven hills. Therefore, that location for Babylon is suggested.
- She is also sitting (ruling) over waters (the people of this world – Revelation 17:15).
It applies to the time when this end-time Roman Church power rules the world.
“Babylon” is the mother of harlots (other apostate churches) (vs 5). Most interesting,
she is holding a golden cup “full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications” – which earth’s kings and inhabitants drink. Her religious influence goes beyond her borders and is accepted by the world.
Most important, John the Revelator reveals that it will come to an end.
- “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:19). That occurs during the seventh vial plague (Revelation 16:17-21).
- There, we discover it has been made up of three parts: (1) Satan – dragon, (2) apostate Protestantism – false prophet and (3) Roman Catholicism – beast.
In the Apocalypse, Babylon or Babylon the Great appears, representing all the wicked religious systems of the world, especially, however, apostate Christianity. Through this last-day symbolism, we can see that the prophecies of God’s judgment on historical Babylon apply to this end-time Babylon. It will be destroyed and become “desolate forever.” It will “not rise again” (Jeremiah 28:39 LXX; Jeremiah 50:39-40, 51:24-26, 62-64; Isaiah 13:19-22).
- The “wine” she gives the world at the end is called her fornication (Revelation 17:2).
- That relates to the abominations in her golden cup (vs 4) and what Christ said was referenced in Daniel (Matthew 24:15). The world is forced to drink these false doctrines from that cup.
Another key end-time reference to Babylon is how the material security of the global nations (cf. 2:9, 13; 13:16-17) is dependent on this power! This submission to her wine/abomination helps them to live “luxuriously” (Revelation 18:3, 9 together). When she falls, fear grips the world and they “weep and lament.” (Revelation 18:9-10, 15, 19). That suggests this agency has assumed economic control of the world (cf. Daniel 11:43).
- In summary, Babylon represents a global wicked coalition that will rule the world at the end.
- It is led by the harlot antichrist – but it will come to its end after reigning a short time (Revelation 13:5, 16:19).
The chest and arms of silver were historically the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. It lasted from 539 B.C. (the fall of Babylon) to 331 B.C., with the defeat of the last Persian king, Darius III, by the Greco Macedonian armies.
- Silver was a major commodity of the Medo-Persian Empire.
- The satraps had to pay their tribute in silver (Herodotus 3.89-95).
- It was the standard monetary item for the Persians and its riches gave power to King Xerxes, or Ahasuerus, at the time of Esther (Daniel 11:2).
In 539 B.C., Cyrus, the conquering general, became the deliverer of the Jewish people. By
a decree in 536 to 535 B.C. God’s people were permitted to return to Judea. Under his decree, Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt (Isaiah 44:28).
Cyrus became a symbol of Christ in a unique prophecy, God gave Isaiah nearly one hundred years before Cyrus was born. We note:
My shepherd Good shepherd
(Isaiah 44:28) (John 10:11,
His anointed God anointed Him
(Isaiah 45:1) (Acts 10:38)
Came from the east Comes as lightning
(Isaiah 46:11) from the east
Set captives free Deliverance of
(Isaiah 45:13) captives
Called righteous The Righteous
(Isaiah 45:13) (I John 2:1)
Medo-Persia has, once again, an end-time symbolic deliverance reapplication for us today.
In Daniel 8:1-8 is a vision in which the prophet sees a ram by the little eastern Medo-Persian Ulai River, (Daniel 8:20). The Ram represents Christ in the last-day “great controversy” era. The seer observes three issues that apply to the end of time.
- The small Ulai River (far to the east) represents the 144,000, His final witnesses, by the palace of Shushan, the Medo-Persian capital (cf. Revelation 17:15).
- The two growing horns symbolize, first, the smaller group (the 144,000), and then, later, the larger group (the great multitude).
- The Ram’s mission originates from the north (where God’s throne is located – Psalm 48:2) and moves throughout the world to conquer (cf. the white horse – Revelation 6:1-2). Its influence is global. Its final purpose will be successful (cf. Revelation 11:5-7a).
This depicts the final successful spread of the gospel message. Though the Ram and its horns are broken and stomped on by a “rough he-goat” (Satan – Daniel 8:7), its mission will have been completed (Revelation 11:7a).
Then God’s people will be delivered after Michael (Christ) stands up for His people.
- “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1).
- This is just like what Cyrus did in restoring a God-centered theocracy.
The bronze waist to the thigh area represented Greece. Little Biblical attention is given to this kingdom in Daniel 2. More is added in Daniel 7, where it is noted to be like a leopard with four heads and four wings like a bird (vs 6).
- This conquering power came from the powerful military leader, Alexander the Great.
- His widespread kingdom lasted from 331 to 168 B.C. and stretched as far as India.
Its bronze metal was a specialty of the ancient Greeks. Ezekiel refers to bronze as the principal means of exchange among them (Ezekiel 27:13). Military armor was heavy with bronze and was associated with conquest.[15a]
Alexander the Great’s name extends beyond his military accomplishments and might. In 331 B.C. he freed the Egyptian people from Persian rule. Identifying with their gods, Ammon (human-like with horns) and Ra (Re) (the sun), he set out westward from Egypt to visit a fifty-mile-long oasis called Siwa, with many troops and followers.
- At Siwa was a temple housing the Oracle of Ammon.
- Alexander wanted to consult this oracle and the temple’s chief priest.
The record suggests that he was allowed into the deeper areas of that temple where the oracle was kept. He asked the priest: “Am I the son of Phillip (his biological father) or of Ammon?”
- The priest responded with the latter.
- Therefore, Alexander was declared the son of a god! Not long afterward he sent word to Greece that he wanted all coins with his relief to show Ammon-like horns coming out of his head. [15b]
Alexander the Great wanted to become a god. He was recognized as a god by Greece. This leader became a symbolic reapplication of a “leader” who wants to be like “god.”
That association goes into the recesses of Luciferian thought:
““How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:12-14 – NKJV).
End-Time Symbolic Reapplication
We saw the Medo-Persian Ram Jesus with His supporters going out to finish the work in the previous illustration. Then, a demonic opposition, represented by Greece, wars against Him.
- “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power” (Daniel 8:5-6).
- This aggressive opposition is noted in many prophecies (e.g., Daniel 7:21, 25; 11:33, 35).
“And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very great” (Daniel 8:7-8a).
- The success of Satan and his minions appear to be lethal. Contextually, its aggression silences the Ram’s mission.
- In Revelation 11:7-11b, in a parallel prophecy, there is intriguing information. The gospel witnesses appear “dead” – but after a symbolic three and a half days, they are “raised,” and fear comes to those who saw them.
That “hairy he-goat” referenced in Daniel 8 symbolizes Greece (vs 21). In Hebrew tradition, it represents a demon! We are introduced there to the final battle between Christ and Satan.
There is an intriguing association with the ancient Greek god Pan (half man and half goat). This came into Greek mythology shortly before Daniel received this vision (another study).
Questions have been raised regarding the timing of the Ram and he-goat prophecies. Daniel was puzzled also (Daniel 8:15). Then a voice from between the banks of the Ulai River (clearly, superior to Gabriel) ordered Gabriel to help explain the vision to Daniel (8:16). Gabriel then came to where Daniel was (not defined) and said:
“As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate.
‘Son of man,’ he said to me, ‘understand that the vision concerns the time of the end’ (Daniel 8:17 – NIV).
- “He said: ‘I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end” (Daniel 8:19 – NIV).
The vision is for the “time of the end,” called an “appointed time” (clarified in Daniel 11 and 12) at the time of wrath (the Hebrew word “zaam,” relates to God’s wrath – Revelation 8–11, 16).
- This “time of the end” refers to the final eschatological events preceding the return of Christ (cf. Daniel 11:35, 46; 12:4, 9).
- It is also the time of God’s wrath (Revelation 15:7-8 and chapter 16).
The legs of iron represented the Roman Empire.
- In 168 B.C. Rome fought the Hellenistic (Greek) forces at the third battle of Macedon at Pydna. The Roman forces prevailed. That began the ascendance of this Empire.
- When Augustus Caesar proclaimed himself the first Roman Emperor in 31 B.C., the Roman Empire was formally set up. Later, when Constantine became the emperor in 312 A.D., he established Christianity as its official religion. He moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium (later named Constantinople, or the City of Constantine).
- This would eventually lead to a “split” in this Empire.
- Theodosius reigned from 379 to 395 A.D. He was the last emperor to rule over the two Empire regions: The Western Roman Empire finally fell in 476 A.D. The Eastern Roman Empire survived until 1453.
- Much of the Christian world sees the two legs as symbolizing those two Roman Empire divisions. However, this is not accepted by most Biblical scholars. These legs are best seen together as a unit because of the vast differences of their timing periods and the influence of the papacy under King Pepin of France.
The feet and toes of iron and clay represent a weakened Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western division in 476 A.D., the reach of the Eastern Empire extended westward into Italy with vacillating power.
- King Pepin of France led an invasion into parts of Italy at the request of Pope Stephen II because of Lombard aggression. In 754 and 756 Pepin gave to the church part of the conquered land, later known as the “Papal States.”
- When Charlemagne became king of France, he codified those regions in 781 and made the pope sovereign over them. That rule would remain firm until 1798. From then on Catholic civil power vacillated. Those states ceased to belong to the papal administration in 1806. Its last land stronghold, Rome, fell to the new Italian government in 1870. It was then that the historic church–state power ceased, and the papal power became only an ecclesiastical administration.
Though the “headquarters” of the Catholic Church varied geographically, some historians see this (781–1870) as the main era of Papal Rome with these feet and toes of mixed elements. Rome, per se, did not become the permanent home of the popes, however, until 1420.
The meaning of the ten toes has been an area of speculation. Many conclude that it is parallel to the ten horns of Daniel 7:7. Historically, an attempt to address ten powers or ten kings or nations during the era of the Roman Empire has met with conflicting opinions. However, in an end-time application, it becomes clear. This will be discussed shortly.
The stone that became a mountain and filled the earth is seen as a Messianic kingdom, affirmed in Daniel 2:44-45. It is yet in the future. That kingdom will be everlasting (2:44). The meaning of the image, especially the iron and clay feet/toes and the stone beckons a deeper eschatological review. Here is why:
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44 – NIV).
It’s fascinating to note:
- The “crushing” involves more than the feet.
- The word “kingdoms” is plural.
- God’s kingdom will destroy, collectively, all these kingdoms.
- The outcome: God’s eternal kingdom will stand forever – it is the end.
This issue deepens when looking at Daniel’s prior description of the king’s vision:
“While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34-35 – NIV).
- In rehearsing what Nebuchadnezzar saw in his “dream,” Daniel says that the stone which struck the feet (made up of iron and clay) brought the rest of the image down
all at the same time.
There is growing contextual evidence that the main focus of the prophecy is for the time-of-the-end era. We have gone over the eschatological meaning to the head (gold), breast (silver), waist (brass). When the stone strikes the feet, the whole image is destroyed. This suggests that there is also an eschatological reapplication of the legs and feet.
Additional weight to this apocalyptic view comes when Daniel further explains the meaning of the king’s vision.
“This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands – a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. ‘The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy’” (Daniel 2:45 – NIV).
The destruction noted in this verse reminds us that each segment making up that image is being removed simultaneously.
- The stone is cut out of the mountain “without hands” – suggesting that it is a divine act.
- “Daniel also adds some explanation that does not rest upon any specific symbolism in his preceding summary of the dream: the kingdom of God ‘will never be destroyed, nor will the kingdom be left to another people’ (2:44). This kingdom will not be superseded by any other, and it will never be conquered and its members excluded. The crushing of the statue symbolizes that the messianic kingdom will supersede all other ‘worldwide’ kingdoms. It will be the first and last truly universal or catholic kingdom.”
End-Time Understanding of the Legs of Iron and Feet of Iron–Clay
With Papal Rome formally ending in 1870, the vast power of the Roman Catholic Church ceased. It, however, appealed to Italy with an unsettled legal issue called “the Roman Question.” This related to claims for their historic loss of land/nation assets.
- Through the leadership of Pope Pius XI, it came to a resolution in 1929 under the Lateran Accords.
- Under its treaties, the Roman Church was given the Vatican City State (108.6 acres).
It became a true international country.
That is when the end-time application of the legs, feet and toes began! That nation remains small but has 1.2+ billion adherents.
The rise of perhaps the greatest power ever comes within the harlot prophecy in Revelation 17. There, her last work, influence and authority are described. That era will lead into the seventh vial plague when she comes to an end (16:19). In that 17th chapter, it notes:
- She is named “Babylon the Great” – a “great city” (Revelation 17:5, 18).
- She sits (rules) on “waters” (the people of the world) (17:1, 15).
- She sits on (rules) the “beast” (17:3), meaning she rules some nation (Vatican City State).
- She sits on (rules) its seven heads (leaders) (17:9), called “mountains,” related to the seven hills of Rome.
This era applies to when this apostate church (harlot) is ruling the world from the Vatican City State in Rome.
- This is a final representation of an iron power, as a church and state.
In 1929, when the church was given the Vatican City State, it was given to the “Holy See” (Catholic administrative power over its church and state). That “entity” is governed by the Catholic Roman Curia, a select body of cardinals.
- The Holy See began to exchange ambassadors and nuncios quickly after that year. It currently (2021) has 183 formal diplomats exchanged with other countries.
- In 1964 the Holy See (technically, the Church) became a Permanent Observer of the United Nations. They chose to not become a formal member. In 2004 this position was reaffirmed with new and stunning powers within that body.
The Holy See, as a geopolitical power, has been functioning internationally and independently, and has been serving the United Nation’s!
- This end-time portrayal explains why, after a Medo-Persia and Greece illustration in Daniel 8, there is an instant jump, not to another beast, but to the “little horn” power that “became great” (Daniel 8:9-12).
- Later, this “little horn” is referenced as a king by Gabriel, as he explains the vision further to Daniel.
“And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (Daniel 8:23-25).
The identity of this Roman power with these characteristics is shortly to be fulfilled. Lest this be minimized, its power base is already in place. The plans for a centralized world administration have been openly discussed. Pope Francis has expressed interest in this “concept” but needs/wants tyrannical controlling power.
How might this move forward?
In Revelation 17 there are additional statements that reveal the leaders of the world will be so enamored with this harlot (church), they will accept her false doctrine(s) (e.g., 17:2) and give her an unprecedented power base.
- How that will come about is revealed in these verses:
- “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (Revelation 17:12).
- “These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Revelation 17:13).
- The world was divided into ten regions in 1942 and the map was refined in 1973. Here, those ten horns, representing those regions, do not have a kingdom yet – but they are a global entity that gives power to the beast, which the harlot rides or rules over.
This will soon complete a church–state coalition with the world, seen as the feet/toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
The ten horns later are seen with crowns (Revelation 13:1-2). That is when Revelation 13 is activated and the little horn of Daniel 8:9-12 fully applies.
These final phases lie just ahead, then these prophecies will be completed! The end of world history comes shortly thereafter.
Franklin S. Fowler, Jr., M.D.
Prophecy Research Initiative – non-profit 501(c)3 © 2021
EndTime Issues…, Number 246, February 4, 2021
 Steinmann, Andrew E.; Daniel (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 2008), p. 123 (emphasis added).
 Baldwin, Joyce G.; Daniel (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL), p. p. 89.
 Miller, Stephen R.; The New American Commentary, Daniel, vol. 18 (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994),
p. 85 (emphasis added).
 Collins, John J.; Daniel (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN – 1993), p. 159.
 Baldwin, op. cit., p. 91.
 Miller, op. cit., p. 89.
 Ibid. (emphasis added).
 Steinmann, op. cit., p.
 Hartman, Louis F. and Di Lella, Alexander A.; The Book of Daniel (Doubleday, New York, 1977), p. 140.
 Doukhan, Jacques B.; Secrets of Daniel (The Review and Herald Publishing Association; Hagerstown, MD 21740; 2000), p. 29.
 Ibid., pp. 756-757.
 Doukhan, Jacques B.; Daniel (Andrews University Press, Southerland House, Berrien Springs, MI 49104-1700; 1987), pp. 30-31, 2000.
 Robertson, Patricia; “Cyrus – A Great Biblical Exemplar,” EndTime Issues, February 2003.
[15a] Doukhan, op. cit., p. 32, 2000.
[15b] https://www.bing.com/search?q=alexander%20the%20great%20original%20coins%20with%20horns&qs= n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=alexander%20the%20great%20original%20coins%20with%20horns&sc=0-45&sk=&cvid=8A7B645F210B4156A87A3018CAD37FD6
 Steinmann, op. cit., p. 409.
 Steinmann, op. cit., pp. 137-138.
 Steinmann, op. cit., p. 141.
 Fowler, Franklin S., Jr., M.D.; EndTime Issues, #246, January 7, 2021.