In 605 B.C., Daniel wrote about dreams and visions he either heard about or saw. Much of what he described is taking place today. God showed Daniel things he couldn’t fully comprehend at the time, but we are beginning to understand in our time. What are the prophecies in the book of Daniel? There are a number of them. However, below we will look at…
- Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great and splendid statue
- Daniel’s vision and dream of the four world empires
- Daniel’s vision of a ram and goat
In short, the prophecies in the book of Daniel describe the rise and fall of four world empires. The theme of the book of Daniel is about God's absolute sovereignty. While worldly empires and kingdoms rise and fall, the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ will last forever.
The key takeaway from the prophecies of the book of Daniel: Sin delays the plan of God, which is a complete restoration and covenant relationship with Him, but it cannot destroy the plan of God.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream | A Great and Splendid Statue
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is the starting point for Daniel’s prophecies. It gives a high-level view of what is later revealed in more detail.
King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream.
- “Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, ‘I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.’”—Daniel 2:1-3 (emphasis added)
No wise men in the land could interpret the dream.
- “The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, ‘There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.’”—Daniel 2:10-11 (emphasis added)
Daniel, with God’s supernatural knowledge, was able to interpret the dream.
- “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”—Daniel 1:19 (emphasis added)
Daniel told the interpretation of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel explained the “great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome” to Nebuchadnezzar.
- “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. You watched while 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 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 2:32-35 (emphasis added)
Daniel told the king the great image represented four empires, which a stone would crush. We later discover the four empires represent…
1. Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire
2. Medo-Persian Empire
3. Greek Empire
4. Roman Empire
These empires would rise in succession. The head of gold was Babylon. The other kingdoms were represented by the chest and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet that were a mixture of iron and clay. The crushing stone represents the Kingdom of God.
Daniel’s Vision | The Four Beasts and the Ancient of Days
In chapters 7 and 8, God reveals the other empires from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to Daniel in a vision. At this point in history, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, had taken the throne, but Babylon was still the major world power.
Kingdom 1 | Babylon and the Gold Head
Daniel’s vision was a prophecy of Babylon followed by three successive empires.
- “Daniel spoke, saying, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.’”—Daniel 7:2-3
The Ancient of Days—God—explains Daniel’s vision.
The Ancient of Days, which describes God’s eternal nature, means God existed “before days were.”
Daniel is told…
- “‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.”—Daniel 7:17-18
In chapter 8, we learn more about these four beasts.
Remember, the beasts in chapters 7 and 8 relate to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the “great and splendid statue.” Over time, God revealed more details to Daniel about this statue, representing empires and kingdoms.
Kingdom 2 | The Ram, the Medes and Persians, and the Chest and Arms of Silver
Daniel’s vision of a ram with two horns (chapter 8) represents the Medes and the Persians.
How do we know?
They were the next world empire to come on the scene and destroy the Babylonian Empire. The two horns represent the two people groups that came together in a joint conquest and made a political and military alliance.
Kingdom 3 | The Goat, the Greek Empire, and the Belly and Thighs of Bronze
Alexander the Great
Daniel’s vision of a goat with a horn between his eyes (chapter 8) represents Alexander the Great of the Greek Empire. This goat took over “without touching the ground.” Alexander conquered with speed and agility as if his army’s feet never touched the ground. His army was small, and as a result, they could move quickly. Alexander conquered the entire known world in less than 12 years, which was militarily remarkable for that day and age.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus says, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand)…” This is prophetically stated in Daniel 12:11.
Antiochus Epiphanes, the Greek ruler who attempted to assimilate the Jews into Hellenistic culture, reigned from 175 to 164 B.C. He was a partial fulfillment of the prophecy.
Antiochus (in Greek, his name means “God Manifest”) foreshadows the anti-Christ, who will commit the ultimate abomination of desolation. He desecrated the Jewish temple by slaughtering pigs on the altar after persecuting the Jews—an abomination of desolation.
Kingdom 4 | The Roman Empire, Ten Horns, Legs of Iron, and Ten Toes
In chapter 7, the fourth beast is described as different, “exceedingly dreadful.” It devoured the whole earth and trampled it.
The beast in Daniel 7 had iron teeth and legs. Iron is associated with Rome. The ten toes represent a revival of the Roman Empire. With a ten-nation confederation, the fourth beast represents the last world empire that will emerge just before Christ sets up His earthly Kingdom.
We know a fulfillment historically is not the only fulfillment. Much prophecy is also dual in nature. In other words, there's a historical and partial fulfillment, a foreshadow of a future, final fulfillment. We know the fourth beast has not been completely fulfilled, for there has yet to be a ten-nation confederation. However, we can see how the backdrop for this final fulfillment is forming.
A future revived Roman Empire in some way will be a confederation of ten nations seen through these ten horns.
How do we know the ten horns represent kings and nations?
- “Thus he said: ‘the fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces.’”—Daniel 7:23 (emphasis added)
These ten nations, or ten kings, will become the power base for the coming anti-Christ in the end times.
The Hope We Have in The Prophecies of Daniel
“… until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.”—Daniel 7:22
Everything God has done and will do through the scope of humanity for all of eternity is about establishing His Kingdom.
In the Lord's prayer, Jesus prayed, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” This has always been the goal—bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. The prophecies in the book of Daniel reveal to us four kingdoms that emerge before the final Kingdom comes, the Kingdom that will last forever and that Jesus invites us to be a part of.
This Kingdom will last forever, and Jesus invites us to be a part of it.
Remember, the key takeaway from the prophecies of the book of Daniel is this: Sin delays the plan of God, which is a complete restoration and covenant relationship with Him, but it cannot destroy the plan of God.
Let us welcome His Kingdom and train up our children to live without comprise in a Babylonian culture! Want to discover more about how the book of Daniel applies to today? Click HERE and listen to our sermon on the book of Daniel.