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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, September 07 2023

The Bible’s prophetic puzzle: can you put it together?

One of the Bible’s most well known prophetic puzzles is Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, recorded in the second chapter of Daniel, in which he saw an image representing a series of four successive empires—Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.

Gary Petty

The Babylonians invaded Judah in 605 B.C. and took the best and brightest of Judah’s youth back to Babylon to be indoctrinated in their way of life. The prophet, Daniel, was among these young people.

When Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, had a strange dream he demanded his sorcerers and astrologers not only tell him the meaning of the dream, but also what he had dreamt. When they couldn’t do this, the king threatened to have them all killed.

Daniel beseeched God asking that the dream and its meaning be revealed to him. God answered his prayer and Daniel described the dream to King Nebuchadnezzar as follows: “... behold, a great image…This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay… a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff …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 2:31-35).

The statue’s head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire, which existed from 605-539 B.C.Then in 539, it was suddenly taken over by the Persian Empire, which was symbolized by the chest and arms of silver. The Greek Empire followed the Persian Empire, represented by the belly and thighs of bronze, and lasted from 332 B.C. to 63 B.C. (Daniel 2:38-39).

These three kingdoms—Babylon, Persia and Greece—are all mentioned by name in the book of Daniel. The fourth kingdom is not mentioned by name, but we know the Greek Empire was supplanted by Rome. Daniel described the fourth empire as being, “as strong as iron…and…that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others… And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile… they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay” (Daniel 2:40-43).

This fourth empire of Daniel 2, representing the Roman Empire, leads into the next major prophesied event – the return of Jesus Christ: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this… and its interpretation is sure” (Daniel 2:44-45).

This prophecy tells us the 10 toes represent 10 rulers, and it is in the days of these 10 rulers Christ will return to set up God’s Kingdom on earth. Before the second coming of Jesus Christ there will be an attempt to establish a form of government this prophecy describes as a modern day type of the Roman Empire. The union will involve 10 rulers, and it will have the strength and power of the Roman Empire, but its weakness will be that it will not be a complete union. There will be disharmony over national identities and cultures.The prophecy in Daniel 2 then describes a stone that destroys the fourth empire. This stone is none other than Jesus Christ!

In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John also records prophecies of the events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ, and supplies details of the time foretold in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Christ’s return is described as follows: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war... and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven… followed Him on white horses. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:11-16).

When Jesus Christ returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He will gather those who have submitted to Him. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ paid the death penalty we deserve, but following God involves more than accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. We must repent of our sins, and live by every word of God. It is vital we make sure our assumptions about the teachings of Jesus Christ are accurate and in line with what He taught. We should begin each day by asking God to guide our steps, and study the Bible to learn about His way of life.