The Kingdom of God is Present: A Study of Daniel 2 (Part 2)

In our first article, we gave an overview of Daniel 2, and
we set forth the timing of the fulfillment of the vision. In this article, we
will take a closer look at the legs and feet of the image and ask ourselves if
the “fall of Rome[1]
in AD 476 has anything to do with the fulfillment of the statue vision in Daniel
2. First, take a look at this chart and think about the implications of it.


                Before
we break down this chart, we need to recognize that those utilize this chart
believe that the kingdom came with power and great glory on Pentecost (cf. Mark
9:1; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4). I don’t agree with that now, but I do believe that
the kingdom did begin in that time frame (specifically when Jesus was risen to
sit on His throne; Ephesians 1:20); however, I believe that the kingdom came
with power and great glory when the King came in His kingdom to judge every man
according to His works (Matthew 16:27-28; cf. Revelation 11). Going back to the
point I was making, those who say that the kingdom came with power and glory on
Pentecost while placing the fulfillment of the vision in Daniel 2 at the fall
of Rome have an issue: the timing of the
fall of the first four sections of the statue coincides with the time that the
stone struck the fifth section of the statue.
In order to demonstrate this,
let’s evaluate Daniel 2 once more.

Daniel 2:32-35  “This
image’s head was of fine gold [Kingdom One – DR], its chest and arms of silver
[Kingdom Two – DR], its belly and thighs of bronze [Kingdom Three – DR],  (33) 
its legs of iron [Kingdom Four – DR], its feet partly of iron and partly
of clay [Kingdom Five – DR].  (34)  You watched while a stone was cut out without
hands, which struck the image on its
feet of iron and clay
[Kingdom Five – DR], and broke them in pieces.  (35) 
Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were
crushed together [when the iron/ clay alliance was broken – DR], 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 [during the
days of the Fifth Kingdom Alliance – DR] became a great mountain and filled the
whole earth.”

Daniel 2:37-44  “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 [Kingdom
One – DR].  (39)  But after you [Kingdom Two – DR] shall arise
another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze [Kingdom
Three – DR], which shall rule over all the earth.  (40) 
And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron [Kingdom Four – DR],
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 [Kingdom Five – DR].  (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 [by striking the feet of the image and growing into a mountain –
DR], and it shall stand forever.

THE QUESTIONS

                Here
are some important questions about this vision:
1.      
Didn’t Babylon, the Medes and Persians, and
Greece all fall before Rome and Jerusalem worked together to crucify Christ?
2.      
Why is it that they are said to have been
destroyed when they had been gone for centuries?
3.      
If the kingdom came in the first century [per
the usual view in the church of Christ], then why would the breaking of all of
the kingdoms into pieces be delayed by 400+ years?
               
THE
ANSWERS

                Now, let’s answer these
questions in a clear, biblical way. As noted in the first article, the kingdom
of God was being received during the first century and would come in fullness
at the fall of Jerusalem.  It is true
that Babylon fell in 539 BC, but we see that it isn’t until the coming of the
everlasting kingdom that God would consider them broken in pieces and consumed.
Why is that? Was their physical destruction not enough? The issue does not lie
with whether or not the physical kingdom of Babylon was destroyed, but with
whether or not it was “left to other people.” The destruction of the image in Daniel
2 is not concerned with the fall of physical empires, but with a transition
from the people of God being handed off from one kingdom to another before
finally possessing an everlasting kingdom “not made with hands.” We can witness
a transformation in Paul’s life from him being a Hebrew of the Hebrews to
seeing his citizenship belonging to the Jerusalem above. This is what Daniel 2
is all about.

Ephesians
1:20-21  “which He worked in Christ when
He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly
places,  (21)  far above all principality and power and
might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also
in that which is to come.”

                How could this be said of Jesus?
No kingships in the world transferred because of the Lord’s position of being
far above every name that is named, so how do we reconcile these ideas? What we
see in the resurrection of Jesus is a transfer from the focus on the earthly
kingdoms to a focus on the heavenly, everlasting kingdom not made with hands. At
the fall of Jerusalem, however, God would demonstrate that the kingdoms of the
earth belong to Him and His Son (Revelation 11:15-18). It would be at this time
that God would “manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only
Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). In this way,
through the fall of Jerusalem, all of the kingdoms of the earth could be described
as crumbled and consumed. Just like the fall of Babylon in 539BC was not considered
the time when the kingdom crumbled and was destroyed, the fall of Rome in AD476
does not change the time when God stripped them of their power.
                In what way, then, did the
kingdom of God prevail over all of these kingdoms? Unlike the five sections of
the image in Daniel 2, the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom. Notice the following
passages that demonstrate that reality.

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.”

John 18:36 
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom
were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered
to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5  “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not
war according to the flesh.  (4)  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal
but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 
(5)  casting down arguments and
every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing
every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

NOT MADE WITH HANDS

                One
interesting part of Daniel 2 that can be missed if we don’t pay attention is
the nature of the kingdom of God.
Daniel 2:45 
“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.”
                As
others have pointed out in the past, this vision contains the first mention of
this idea of a kingdom made without hands (v. 34). Read the following texts to
see this idea carried throughout the Bible.

Mark 14:58  “We heard Him say,
‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build
another made without hands.’ “

Colossians 2:11  “In Him you were
also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the
body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 5:1  “For we know
that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from
God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Hebrews 9:11  “But Christ came as
High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect
tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.”

                The spiritual things of the new
creation (spiritual Israel; 2 Corinthians 5:17) are things not made with hands.
This is a description fitting of the kingdom of God. The nature of the warfare
of the kingdom of God is no different than the nature of the kingdom of God
itself. This is why the prophet Isaiah was able to say, “He shall judge between
the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into
plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword
against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). Thus, the
physical fall of Rome is not the focus of the vision in Daniel 2. God was
painting a greater, more important picture.
CONCLUSION

                From this second essay, we have
learned that the transition of earthly kingdoms did not correspond with the crushing
and consuming of the kingdoms. Instead, the crushing and consuming of the
kingdom had to do with the last-days’ work of God and Jesus through the gospel.
Though the western empire of Rome fell in AD 476, their power was stripped away
far before then. Thus, the quibble concerning the fall of Rome in Daniel 2 is
nothing but a grasp for air. I hope these two articles have been beneficial to
you.   



[1]
See notes on “Kingdom Four” under “The Four(?) Kingdoms” section in part one of
this two-part series for information regarding the fall of Rome. 

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