The Kingdom of God is Present! A Study of Daniel 2

I hope you enjoy this article. On March 5th, 2017, I will begin a radio program called Face to Face. Join me at 8:00AM Central for a lesson that follows very closely to this article! You can find the announcement tomorrow morning on my Facebook page or simply subscribe to Fulfilled Radio at this address: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fulfilledradio/2017/03/05/daniel-2-and-the-destruction-of-rome. I hope to see you then!
     
INTRODUCTION
     Many
student athletes huddle together before or after a sporting event to pray the
model prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 6. Contained within
that prayer is the phrase “thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). While a lot of
high school students who recite this prayer may not ever consider the meaning
of those words, there is the prevalent theory within a large portion of the
Christian world that the kingdom has yet to arrive[1].  If you’ve spent any amount of time on my
website at all, you will see that I emphatically disagree with that position,
and I believe that the kingdom of God arrived within the lifetime of the first
century audience (Matthew 16:27-28). To postpone the kingdom of God past the
first century, as many try to do, is in my opinion a position that stands at
odds with a multiplicity of Bible passages (e.g. Colossians 1:13). While this
essay will dispel some dispensational theories, the point of this essay is to
ask ourselves when the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had was fulfilled in its
entirety. We will establish that the coming of the kingdom and the destruction
of the image seen in Daniel 2 found its fulfillment no later than the fall of
Jerusalem in AD70. While it is not required to understand this essay, it will
greatly benefit you to read the first two articles in Researching Revelation[2]
because I will be referencing passages in Revelation towards the end of the
essay, and I won’t be going to as much detail as may be required if you’ve not
had the opportunity to study Revelation much.

THE TEXT

Daniel 2:25-47  “Then
Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, “I
have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the
interpretation.”  (26)  The king answered and said to Daniel, whose
name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I
have seen, and its interpretation?” 
(27)  Daniel answered in the
presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded,
the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot
declare to the king.  (28)  But there is a God in heaven who reveals
secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the
latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were
these:  (29)  As for you, O king, thoughts came to your
mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who
reveals secrets has made known to you what will be.  (30) 
But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have
more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the
interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your
heart.  (31)  “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.  (36) 
“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it
before the king.  (37)  You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God
of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory;  (38) 
and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and
the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you
ruler over them all – you are this head of gold.  (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.” 
(46)  Then King Nebuchadnezzar
fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should
present an offering and incense to him. 
(47)  The king answered Daniel,
and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a
revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”

OVERVIEW OF THE TEXT

     The
purpose of this vision was to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar, and to those who would
gain hope and comfort from reading this text as Daniel gained comfort from
reading Jeremiah (Romans 15:4; Daniel 9:2), what would take place in the latter
days (Daniel 2:28). The latter days under consideration are not the so-called
last days of the unending Christian age, but the last days concerning Judah,
Jerusalem, and Daniel’s people (Isaiah 2:1-2; Daniel 10:14). What was revealed
to Nebuchadnezzar was something that God had planned since the foundation of
the earth: the arrival of the kingdom of God (Matthew 25:34; Mark 1:15). God,
through the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, traces human history beginning with the
Babylonian empire to the time when the kingdom of God would be established. The
kingdom would be a kingdom that was “not made with hands” and would be greater
than any other kingdom. Concerning the promises of God, Paul said, “For the
gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
     When
God sets up a timeline, attempted human interference or rejection of that
timeline does not affect the timeline itself for Paul said, “For what if some
did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without
effect?” (Romans 3:3). If we, therefore, can firmly establish through scripture
the divine timeline for the arrival of the kingdom, then we can be sure that it
would arrive on time and in the exact manner that God intended it to arrive in.
Some who oppose Covenant Eschatology seek to discredit it by placing the
fulfillment of Daniel 2 past AD70 and into the time of the destruction of the
Roman empire. This line of reasoning is speculative at best and is based off of
a key misunderstanding of the nature and the scope of the kingdom of God –
despite of what its proponents might say. We will address this argument
specifically in the next essay. Without any further introductory remarks, let
us proceed into the text with caution and with an open mind.
THE FOUR(?) KINGDOMS

Daniel 2:36-45 “This is the dream. Now we will tell the
interpretation of it before the king. 
(37)  You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given
you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 
(38)  and wherever the children of
men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given
them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all – you are this head of gold.  (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.”

Below is an outline of this text.
KINGDOM ONE: “You, O king” = Gold = Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian
Empire. They were in control of Judah from 606BC – 539BC with the captives
returning at the 70-year mark in 536BC. It was within this time that synagogue
worship became popular. This was helpful for the cause of Christ because Jesus
and His followers could be found teaching in the synagogue on a regular basis.
KINGDOM TWO: “After you” = Silver = Medo-Persian empire.
They were in power over God’s people from the time of the fall of Rome until
330BC. The law of the Medes and the Persians was unalterable once a ruling had
been made. This respect for written law is still influential to us today.
Imagine the shock if a child had to miss PE for chewing gum if no rule
concerning gum had ever been announced. Cyrus, the king who destroyed Babylon,
was also very important in God’s scheme of redemption as seen in passages such
as Isaiah 44:28.
KINGDOM THREE: “Then Another” = Bronze = Grecian Empire.
They were in charge from the fall of the Medo-Persian empire until 63BC when
the Seleucids were destroyed at the hands of the Romans. The Greek language is
the language God selected for His New Testament writers to use in penning the
New Testament.
KINGDOM FOUR: “The fourth kingdom” = Iron = Roman Empire. The
Roman empire was in control of Jerusalem in from 63BC to AD70; however, they
continued to exist for several hundred years. While the Western Empire fell in
AD476, the Empire of Trebizond existed until the Fall of Constantinople on May 29,
1453[3].
The Roman empire provided roads and peace which helped the church tremendously
in its worldwide gospel mission.
KINGDOM FIVE: “The Kingdom Shall be Divided = Iron and Clay
= The Roman (iron) and Jewish (clay) cooperative effort to destroy Jesus and
His followers. We will labor to establish this below. Consider, for a moment,
that this divided kingdom could not be Eastern Rome versus Western Rome. For
one, the empire did not split until AD285. The kingdom of God (which was to be
established in the days of “these kings”) was established within the lifetime
of Jesus’ first century followers (Matthew 16:27-28).
IRON AND CLAY

     Before
we leave Daniel 2, read this passage one more time: “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” (Daniel 2:43). How could
such a statement be made about Rome? After all, what did it matter if the
Gentile world married among themselves? On the other hand, for God’s people to
mingle with the nations was a violation of the Law (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). In the
eyes of a faithful Jew, the Gentiles were unclean (Acts 10:28). It makes perfect
sense then that this description of the Roman empire is highlighting her
relationship with Jerusalem. To further emphasize this idea, when we survey the
book of Daniel, we see that the pattern laid out in Daniel 2 is used consistently
throughout the book. It is no surprise, then, that in Daniel 7 we see the same
Roman-Jewish relationship between the fourth beast and the little horn which
was the High Priest that led the persecution against the church as seen in 2
Thessalonians 2[4].
     The
connection between Rome and the Jewish persecuting force is brought out time
and time again in the New Testament. The Jews used the Romans as a tool to do
their dirty work concerning the persecution of Jesus and the first century
church. This relationship is explained beautifully in Revelation, but there is
one passage we will read before proceeding to Revelation: “But they cried out,
“Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We
have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). The Jews hated Christ so much that
they chose their oppressor over their maker. This truly demonstrates how the
clay (Jeremiah 18:6) was dependent upon the Romans, but that relationship would
never last because “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city;  (21) 
and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to
receive or observe” (Acts 16:20-21). Paul was preaching Jesus in Philippi, but
we see in this text an understanding that the Romans had concerning the Jews:
the two just couldn’t mix.
     Moving
on to Revelation now, we will see further the relationship between Rome and the
city where the Lord was slain (Revelation 11:8). This is where having read my
articles on Revelation will be helpful. Read the passages from Revelation that
I have listed below.

Revelation 17:1-4  “Then
one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying
to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on
many waters,  (2)  with whom the kings of the earth committed
fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of
her fornication.”  (3)  So he carried me away in the Spirit into the
wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of
names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  (4) 
The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and
precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of
abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.”

Revelation 17:14-18  “These
will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of
lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and
faithful.”  (15)  Then he said to me, “The waters which
you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and
tongues.  (16)  And the ten horns which you saw on the beast,
these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn
her with fire.  (17)  For God has put it into their hearts to
fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast,
until the words of God are fulfilled. 
(18)  And the woman whom you saw
is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.””

      From
reading these two passages, and having some background knowledge on Revelation,
we see that the relationship between the Harlot (Jerusalem) and the beast (Rome)
was for the purpose of persecuting the saints. Iron and clay, however, cannot
mix, so after the iniquity of the harlot was full (Romans 18:5-6; Matthew
23:32ff), the beast destroyed in harlot by trampling over the city for 42
months (Revelation 11:1-2). We see then how the description of iron mixed with
clay fits biblically with the Roman-Jewish alliance in their fight against
Christianity.
IN THE DAYS OF THESE KINGS

“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” (Daniel 2:44).

     In
the days of the iron mixed with clay period of the Roman Empire, the kingdom of
God would arrive. Within the days of the iron mixed with clay period of the
Roman Empire, the kingdom of God would break in pieces and consume all other
kingdoms. While we will dedicate an entire article to the second sentence in
this paragraph, we will spend a few words demonstrating when the kingdom
arrived and consumed all other kingdoms. First, notice the statements from
Jesus.

Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of
God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Matthew 16:27-28  “For
the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then
He will reward each according to his works. 
(28)  Assuredly, I say to you,
there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of
Man coming in His kingdom.”

Luke 21:31-32  “So you
also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is
near.  (32)  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will
by no means pass away till all things take place.”

Matthew 25:34  “Then
the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”

Luke 17:20-21  “Now
when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He
answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  (21) 
nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom
of God is within you.”

     There
is no doubt, after reading these passages, that the timeline we established
above for the arrival of the kingdom of God is sound. Regardless if one agrees
with our conclusions concerning the clay, the arrival of the kingdom in the
time of the Roman-Jewish allegiance in the first century is biblically unquestionable.
The Hebrews writer said concerning the kingdom, “Therefore, since we are
receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may
serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). In this,
he set forth the progressive nature of the kingdom of God – something that is
seen in the imagery of the growing mountain in Daniel 2. Furthermore, in
Revelation 11, the vision that John saw posited the arrival of the kingdom, as
Daniel did in Daniel 7, at the time of the destruction of the city where the
Lord was slain (Revelation 11:8). “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there
were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have
become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever
and ever!” (Revelation 11:15). Despite what the critics may say, God
conquered all through Jesus by the fall of Jerusalem.
CONCLUSION

     The
kingdom of God is here! Daniel’s prophecy came true, and we can find great
confidence in that. There is no way that man on his own can determine the
future in the manner that Daniel did consistently throughout his book. Truly “The
secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the
magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king.  (28) 
But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known
to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:27-28).
 



[1] Stam,
C.R. Things That Differ: The Fundamentals
of Dispensationalism
. 2015. Pages 49-53.
[2]
You can download it for free from http://www.labornotinvain.com/p/store.html
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Empire
[4]
For more information on the little horn, watch these excellent videos by Don K.
Preston: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhTk2RamIg8uXPch7earHYXJfwjCGhxD7

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