The Bible in Daniel 2 predicted an outline of world kingdoms that would be involved with God’s people till the end of time. It is one of the simplest Bible prophecies to understand because God gives the interpretation directly after the prophecy.
King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream but could not remember it. He felt so compelled to know its meaning that he demanded his wise men to not only interpret the dream, but to first tell him what the dream was. His wise men could not. But, God revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel. And Daniel in turn narrated the dream to the king:
“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 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. 35 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 2:29-35 (NKJV).
The king was astonished. Seeing that Daniel knew the dream, he felt confident the Daniel would also know the interpretation. So, he requested to hear the interpretation. And Daniel answered:
“…you are this head of gold.” Daniel 2:38.
The interpretation goes on to describe how each metal represents a kingdom and defines some of the characteristics of that kingdom:
“39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 42 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. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 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. 45 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. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” Daniel 2:39-45 (NKJV).
The chest of silver represented Medo-Persia, the ruling world empire from 539-331 B.C. Medo-Persia was not as great as Babylon, just as silver is of less value than gold.
The thighs of bronze represented Greece, the dominant world ruler from 331-168 B.C. Again, bronze was less valuable than silver, yet more enduring.
The legs of iron represented Rome, which enjoyed world supremacy from 168 B.C.-A.D. 476. Rome was an extremely strong power, and is often referred to in history books to be “strong as iron”.
The feet that were partly iron and partly clay represented a divided empire which would not cleave together. The Roman kingdom was divided as ten tribes took over it. These tribes later developed into what is now known as modern Europe.
These different European nations have tried to unite but failed. Leaders like Charlemagne (AD 800), Napoleon Bonaparte (1800), Kaiser Wilhelm 1 (1914-1918), and Adolf Hitler (1939-1945) attempted such efforts. The royalty of the different countries inter-married in the hope of creating unity “But they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” It is interesting to add that the European Union does divide the world into ten different districts.
The stone that was cut without hands and broke all the other metals is God’s coming eternal kingdom. This prophecy shows that the next great end time event in world history would be Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven. God will soon restore this world to the original beauty and perfection of Eden, and His people to a life of peace and happiness (Revelation 21, 22).
The king was overwhelmed with the accuracy of Daniel’s exposition of the dream and rewarded Daniel greatly.