THE BACKBONE OF PROPHECY
VISION OF THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES
God’s chosen nation Israel began to rebel long before they even saw the Promised land. In the wilderness they made idols and worshipped them. After Israel entered the Promised Land they continued to disobey and it went progressively worse, until God allowed His nation to be taken captive out of the land into Babylon.
In Chapter 2, the prophet Daniel writes a framework of history and explains the “Times of the Gentiles” or the course of gentile domination over the nation that will follow, due to their disobedience. He uses the imagery of a giant colossus or statue, which depicts four powerful empires that would arise from the earth. Daniel’s vision focuses on these empires that will dominate Israel (and Jerusalem) from Daniel’s time until the Messiah sets up an everlasting kingdom.
THE PROBLEM – A FORGOTTEN DREAM
Daniel 2:1 In the second year of his reign (Daniel is still very young ~16-18 years old), Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. (Dreams were considered to be messages from the gods, and the wise men, the magi, were expected to interpret them.) When they came in and stood before the king, 3he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means." (It was a dream about the future and things to come but he had forgotten the dream.)
4Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic (This begins the Aramaic portion of the book of Daniel, the language of this gentile nation. No more Hebrew is significant as there is no longer a divinely appointed Jewish king, of the tribe of Judah, ruling over Israel, indicating the Times of the Gentiles have begun. Chapters 2-7 are written in the dominant gentile language of the day, relating it to the times of the Gentile nations.), "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it." (They were fakes and they knew they could not meet his challenge).
5The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it (reproduce it and interpret it!), I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. (Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful monarch of the world, totally dictatorial, sometimes unreasonable and often cruel. This is not a man you want to make angry.) 6But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me."
7Once more they replied, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it." (They are exposed and again the wise men ask for the king to tell then his dream first).
8Then the king answered, "I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me." (Nebuchadnezzar, the man you do not want to make angry, is angry. He knows their motives and he will not back down.)
10The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. (Do you think they are right? How right they were! No human being has the wisdom and power to tell a man his thoughts as well as to interpret those thoughts. See 1 Cor. 2:11-12)
11What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men." (Do you think they are right this time? They were half-right this time. It was true that God alone could reveal the mystery, but what the sages did not know is that his Spirit does live among men.)
1 Cor. 2:9-12
However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"--
 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (But the wise men of Babylon did not have the Spirit of God living in them; so they could not know the dream or the interpretation. Lesson taken from Rodney Stortz in his book, Daniel – The Triumph of God’s Kingdom.)
12This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. (This decree of execution includes Daniel and his three friends who are in the service of the King, even though they are only third string advisors and 18 years old.) 13So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
14When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard (the one charged with the task of carrying out the decree of execution), had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. (Daniel was an exceptional young man who had the wisdom of God. When he was told he would be executed, he did not respond with defensiveness and anger, but spoke to the commander with wisdom and tact. With discretion and good taste in conversation, you can even make your enemies be at peace with you.)
15He asked the king's officer, "Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?" Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. (Daniel speaks with his potential executioner.)
16At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. (Daniel was also courageous.)
ISRAEL’S EXPECTATION: THE MOUNTAIN PEAKS OF PROPHECY
The nation is now dispersed. The Shekinah glory has departed from the temple. There is no Jewish King on David’s throne. And if you were in Israel’s shoes you would want to know, “How long O Lord?” How long until the Messiah comes? How long until the nation Israel is restored? How long until the time of Gentile suppression and domination ends? The answer to those questions are about to be revealed in a mysterious dream. It seems God loves revealing divine mysteries to his people. He has revealed many to us, but he has not yet revealed all. There are some great mysteries yet to be revealed.
Romans 16:25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past.
1 Cor. 2:7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
1 Peter 1:10-12 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,  trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
17Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. (Daniel knew immediately what he had to do, but he wasn’t going to do it alone. We are not told what was prayed, but we learn great benefit can come to us when we share our fervent prayer requests with others.)
19During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. (The prayer was speedily answered and God revealed both the dream which Nebuchadnezzar had and its interpretation). Then Daniel praised the God of heaven (Daniel had the opportunity to glorify himself but gives all the glory to God.) 20and said:
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his. (First, Daniel praises and thanks God!)
21He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them. (Daniel now knows what the dream is about.)
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22He reveals deep and hidden things; (God is the revealer of mysteries.)
he knows what lies in darkness, (Knowing God’s plan for the future allows us to approach life without fear. We know what’s going to happen and how all this is going to turn out!)
and light dwells with him.
23I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: (Daniel has not yielded to the gods of Babylon.)
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king."
THE DREAM REVEALED TO NEBUCHADNEZZAR
24Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, "Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him."
25Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, "I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means." (Arioch was trying to exalt himself.)
26The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), "Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?"
27Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. (God alone is the revealer of mysteries.) He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. (Daniel’s prophecy forms the backbone of Biblical prophecy concerning the rise and fall of the Gentile kingdoms, also known as “The times of the Gentiles.” See Luke 21:24.) Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these: (The dream is a vision of the future, both near and distant. It is a great outline of the course of history to the time of the First Coming, and beyond.)
29"As you were lying there (on your bed), O king, your mind turned to things to come (what would take place in the future), and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen (from Nebuchadnezzar’s time on. His vision omitted the first two gentile empires that dominated Israel, Egypt and Assyria). 30As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.
DANIEL’S VISION OF THE STATUE REPRESENTING THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES
Daniel’s vision of the statue describes “The Times of the Gentiles.” This period of time begins with the Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C. and encompasses the 70 weeks (490 years) of Daniel, to the end of the age. The dream depicts a period of time when no divinely appointed Jewish king from the tribe of Judah and family of King David would be ruling over Israel. Instead, the holy city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the place of God’s home on earth, would be under Gentile control. (This vision also includes an unspecified period of time between the 69th and 70th week. This period of time between the first coming and the second coming during the church age is called the “Diaspora” or the dispersion.) Daniel’s vision of “the times of the Gentiles” is pictured in a statue, a Colossus, which focuses on four world empires, which would dominate and persecute Israel, from Daniel’s time on. All these empires will be pagan and worship false gods. God tells us that there will be four future world empires; Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome! But a fifth will arise from the fourth (Rome), which will be the final empire of the Antichrist. Daniel’s vision focuses on the “Times of the Gentiles” which will end when Daniel’s 70th week is complete, and not before (Luke 21:24).
Daniel 2:31-35 "You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue--an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. (The colossus statue was brilliant, hanging above his bed, causing Nebuchadnezzar to respond with fear.) 32The head of the statue was made of pure gold (representing Nebuchadnezzar and Babylonian Empire), its chest and arms of silver (representing Medo- Persia Empire), its belly and thighs of bronze (representing Grecian Empire), 33its legs of iron (representing Roman Empire – Western Division and Eastern Division, Constantinople), its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay (The Final Empire of Antichrist which will arise from the Roman Empire.)
SEE JOEL RICHARDSON’S MIDEAST BEAST. FINAL BEAST NOT ROME, RATHER ISLAMIC EMPIRE CALIPHATE. Rome did not utterly destroy, it assimilated. Caliphate annihilated its enemies, total geographical, culture, language etc. destruction. The final Beast Empire will be a multinational coalition of nations whose goal is to destroy Israel.
Note that the image diminishes in value and purity and absolute authority; Gold is more valuable than silver, which is more valuable than brass, which is more valuable than iron, which is more valuable than iron mixed with clay. Nebuchadnezzar was an absolute single monarch; Medo-Persia was made up of two entities. Greece was divided among Alexander’s four generals. Rome was a form of democracy, and ultimately, Antichrist’s final kingdom will be made up of ten nations. But each of these four empires appears to increase in strength. It seems each empire is willing to decrease their values in order to increase their strength. In Daniel 7 we will learn that each of these empires become more “beastly” in nature than the previous empire.
THE STATUE (FINAL BEAST EMPIRE) WILL BE DESTROYED - MILLENNIAL KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST
34While 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. (The rock or stone will strike the image on its feet and the entire colossus will collapse destroying the statue and the gentile empires.) 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff (like fine dust that will be blown away) on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock (King Jesus, in this case the smiting stone, also called the stumbling stone, the corner stone, which will smite this image representing gentile world power.) that struck the statue became a huge mountain (Jesus the stone will become a great mountain, the kingdom of God, a reference to the future Millennial kingdom.) and filled the whole earth. (Daniel prophesies the ultimate triumph and reign of Christ over the whole earth.)
THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DREAM – 4 CONSECUTIVE KINGDOMS…
BABYLON THE HEAD OF GOLD
Daniel 2:36 –38 "This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. (The dream depicts events that will occur during a period of time called by the Lord “the times of the Gentiles.” See Luke 21:24) 37You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. (Nebuchadnezzar reigned over Babylon 606 – 562 B.C. ~43 years. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel, destroyed the Temple, killed and plundered the people and took back captives to Babylon. But more than that, his soldiers captured King Zedekiah as he fled the city by a secret passage. See Jer. 39:4-5. They forced the King to watch as his two sons were slain before his eyes. It would be the last image the king would see, for then his eyes were plucked out, and he was taken to Babylon in chains. See Jer. 39:7. Zedekiah, to this very hour, is the last Davidic king to have ruled over Israel. His sons were slain but descendents of King David still remained. Thus began “the times of the Gentiles” when no Jewish kings from the lineage of King David were on the throne.)
MEDO-PERSIA THE CHEST AND ARMS OF SILVER
Daniel 2:39 "After you (These kingdoms will come in sequence), another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours, (Medo-Persia is the second empire that ruled over the earth during the times of the Gentiles from 538 – 333 B.C. Their army surrounded the city of Babylon, and by diverting the waters of the Euphrates river which ran under the walls of the city, the Persians gained entrance to the city on the dry riverbed and defeated the Babylonians in one night. The Book of Esther finds it setting during this empire when wicked Haman, the prime minister sought to annihilate all the Jews within the vast 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. See Esther 3:12-14.)
GREECE THE BELLY AND THIGHS OF BRASS
Daniel 2:39 Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth (Greece and Alexander the Great is the third empire ruled during the Times of the Gentiles from 336 – 333 B.C. In the fourth century B.C., in one of the greatest military campaigns in history, the Greeks defeated the Persians and they, in turn, ruled over Israel. Following Alexander’s death at 33, his empire was divided among four of his generals. Two of these generals, and the dynasties they established, are prophetically important. Ptolemy controlled the area of Egypt, and Seleucid, the area of greater Syria. In the year 168 B.C., Antiochus Epiphanes of the Seleucid dynasty marched his army against Israel. Antiochus Epiphanes ruled over Syria and he was a great persecutor of Israel. He was responsible for sacrificing a pig on the altar, desecrating the rebuilt temple and murdering a large numbers of Jews (Dan 11:31). He attempted to outlaw the observance of the Mosaic covenant with all its practices. And he substituted worship of the true God for the worship of the Grecian god Zeus/Jupiter. Syria represents the Grecian empire of the Colossus.)
ROME REPRESENTS THE LEGS OF IRON
Daniel 2:40-41 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom (Rome is the fourth and final beast empire that will rule over Israel during the period of the Times of the Gentiles. Around 27 B.C. they emerged as the new superpower and reigned through 476 A.D. They were represented by the legs of iron on the Colossus. Rome was ruling over Israel when Christ was born. Herod the Great, a Roman puppet, was placed in power and it was Herod who killed all the male children in Bethlehem two years of age and under in an attempt to slay the Son of God at birth. Because Israel rejected Christ at His first coming, the times of the Gentiles continued.), strong as iron--for iron breaks and smashes everything--and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. (The Roman empire would be very powerful and aggressive. In 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome. Israel was dispersed and not to be restored again as a nation until 1948.) 41Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron (it will be a mixture of empires that are not totally united), so this will be a divided kingdom (2 legs = West-Rome and East-Constantinople occurred in 395 A.D.) yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.
ANTICHRIST’S FINAL EMPIRE IS THE FEET AND 10 TOES OF IRON AND CLAY
Daniel 2:42-44 As the toes were partly iron (strong) and partly clay (fragile), so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. (A separate explanation is given is given of the feet and toes. These 10 toes are 10 kings of the future reconstituted Beast empire. Daniel 7:23-25 makes is clear that this is a future extension of the Roman empire (Or the Caliphate?) which was in power at Christ’s first coming. Rome (Islamic caliphate?) will be revived under Antichrist to rule over Israel at the end of the age leading up to Christ’s second coming, during the 70th week of Daniel. The times of the Gentiles will draw to an end under the reign of the 10 kings of Antichrist.) 43And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. (Iron and clay do not mix well. This represents of mixture of people who will not be united. There will be a common element, that they are part of the revived Roman empire, or they may share a common Islamic faith, but there will be tremendous disunity in Antichrist’s kingdom. see Dan 11:40)
THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM IS THE STONE THE STRIKES THE STATUE
44"In the time of those kings (The final 10 kings represented by the 10 toes will exist when God sets up His Millennial Kingdom.), the God of heaven will set up a kingdom (the Millennial Kingdom will be set up by Jesus at His Second Coming and it will mark the end of the times of the Gentiles.) 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. (Some believe this is a reference, not to a future kingdom, but to the Kingdom of God Jesus Christ established during Roman rule. It is true the Kingdom of God now is the rule of Christ in our hearts. It is true the Mystery of the Holy Spirit dwells in His people because of faith in Jesus Christ. “But the prophetic revelation makes clear that the kingdom from heaven is not a spiritual kingdom which by spiritual processes will gradually conquer the earth, but rather a catastrophic judgment from heaven destroying the political kingdoms of the Gentiles… The destruction of the Gentile world powers is an event, not a process and will be fulfilled by Christ in the Second Coming.”) Taken from John Walvoord.
Daniel 2:45-49 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 rock is Jesus, at the second coming He will smite the image on its feet and the entire colossus, the Beast empire, will come tumbling down, very quickly, immediately, to be replaced immediately by the Messiah’s kingdom). Interestingly, when the image falls, all 4 empires will fall at the same time [see Dan 7:12] and the Son of God will establish His kingdom).
"The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy."
THE REWARD GIVEN TO DANIEL
46Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel (Neb is overwhelmed and treats Daniel as a god!) and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods (Father) and the Lord of kings (Son) and a revealer of mysteries (H.S.), for you were able to reveal this mystery." (A remarkable confession from this worshipper of false gods.) 48Then the king placed Daniel (he is only 18 yrs old.) in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. 49Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court. (Daniel and his friends are promoted and Daniel is appointed as the chief of the Wise Men, the Magi.)
Many of the notes on Daniel 2 were taken from “The Colossus is Back!” by Marvin Rosenthal, Zion’s Fire.