During his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ gave a profound prophecy on the subject of times. He said, in Luke 21:24, “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” This period of gentile dominion began with Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem in the year 606 B.C. It is due to end at Armageddon.
There are two chapters in Daniel that portray this period, chapters 2 and 7. Most prophecy students believe these two chapters are parallel and cover the same time period under different figures’ representation. However, I would like a reappraisal of the interpretation.
In Daniel Chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, is said to have had a very strange dream, and he was anxious to know its meaning. After others had failed, Daniel gave the king not only the substance of the dream, but the interpretation of it as well.
THE FIRST DREAM
In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a great image that was made up of various metals. The head of the monster image was of gold, the chest and arms were of silver, the abdomen and thighs were of iron, and legs were of iron, and the feet were part of iron and part of clay. On the feet of the image, there were 10 toes.
In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a smiting stone cut out of the mountains without hands. The stone struck the image upon the feet and toes and ground them to powder. Then the stone became a great mountain until it had filled the whole earth.
Now please note the interpretation given by Daniel the prophet. He told the King of Babylon that he was that head of gold. Now, the head was of gold, and the chest and arm were made of silver, and inferior metal, representing an inferior kingdom. The second world empire (inferior to the kingdom of Babylon) was to be that of the Medes and the Persians.
Then Daniel said to the king that another kingdom would arise following the Medo-Persian empire. The third kingdom would be of brass. It, in turn, is an inferior metal to silver and was represented in history by the world empire of Greece.
Then Daniel spoke of another kingdom represented by the legs of iron. This, in turn, would be an inferior kingdom to the brass, the silver, and the gold. The kingdom of iron was to be a strong kingdom.
This fourth kingdom was known as Rome. For hundreds of years, Rome ruled the world. She was the strongest and most invincible of all the empires. In fact, Rome was never really conquered. The great nation disintegrated from within and gradually eroded away. It is said that the Rome empire lasted 666 Years.
The Roman Empire eventually disintegrated into a mixture of iron and clay, which we have in the feet and toes of the image. According to Daniel’s prophecy, these 10 toes represent 10 nations that shall eventually arise to become a potential one-world government just before the coming of Christ. He is represented by the Smiting Stone, who will come to destroy that godless government and set up a millennial kingdom.
Out of this mixture of iron and clay, there will come 10 nations that will form some alliance in the time of the end. I believe those 10 nations exist today in the form of the European Common Market. Ah, but they will not last long. The short toes imply that the length of their rule will be very limited, about seven years.
Now, let us turn our attention to Daniel 7. In that chapter, Daniel had a vision. He saw four great beasts rise out of the sea, one after the other. The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings. The second was like a bear with three ribs in its mouth. The third was like a leopard with four heads. And the fourth beast was described as dreadful, terrible and strong exceedingly. The fourth creature had great iron teeth and 10 horns. Out of the midst of those horns, there arose a little horn.
Most of the commentators put chapters 2 and 7 together. They believe the vision of Nebuchadnezzar and the same period of history, “the times of the Gentiles.” The lion would correspond to the head of gold, representing Babylon. The second beast, a bear with three ribs in its mouth, is said to correspond to the chest and arms of silver, representing Medo-Persia. The third beast, a leopard with four heads, is said to correspond to the abdomen and thighs of brass, representing ancient Greece. The fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, corresponded to the legs of iron in the dream.
However, let us take a fresh view of these four beasts and suggest a possible alternative. It may be that these two chapters are not parallel. Let us suggest the possibility that they are continuous, that they represent not the entire image of the monster-man, but rather, the feet and toes of iron and clay.
If the first beast represents Babylon, why did God wait over 60 years (after Nebuchadnezzar died) before giving another vision to Daniel? Daniel had plainly said to Nebuchadnezzar, “Thou art this head of gold.” Why would he wait if the two visions represented the same thing? Furthermore, in the 17th verse of chapter 7, Daniel is told that all four beasts represent the future: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.” If the four of them were all future from that time, they could not possibly embrace Babylon.
If these four beasts do not represent Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, then they may represent those nations that begin in the time of the feet and toes.
What, then, may be the nations they represent? Daniel 7:4 “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.”
May I suggest the possibility that this beast represented Great Britain, for the symbol of the British Empire is a lion? There is something strange about this lion; it had eagle’s wings. Ah, but Daniel said that he saw the wings plucked from the back of the beast, “… and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet of man.” What nation was plucked away from Britain, whose symbol is that of an eagle? Immediately, we think of our own nation.
Now notice Daniel 7:5 “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.”
The symbol of the Soviet Union (Russia) is a bear. The January 15, 1979, issue of Time Magazine graphically corresponded with the prophecy. The cover page portrayed a picture of the Russian bear casting its eyes upon the Middle East.
Note Daniel 7:6 “After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.”
The most feared animal of the jungle is the leopard. The lion kills for food, but the leopard kills for the sheer joy of the killing. The leopard kills when there is no reason to kill. None of the animals of the jungle will trust the leopard.
In my opinion, the leopard in Daniel’s vision represents Germany. The latest German tank is called a “leopard.” It is said the Hitler refused to use the German leopard as a national symbol, but that a leopard’s head adorned the handles of the swords used by his generals.
According to the characteristics of a leopard, the animals does not cooperate with the other creatures of the jungle. Such has been the brief history of Germany. The nation has instigated two world wars.
Notice please, those nations are going to be “plucked up by the roots.” That may mean they will be destroyed. The very surface of the land itself will be disturbed like a plowed fields, like the soil lift around the hole where a weed or plant has been plucked up by the roots. I believe it may be a picture of nuclear war.
The United States has a stockpile of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union has a stockpile of nuclear weapons. The NATO allies of Europe have stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The little nation of Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons. And, alas, the Arabs are developing an atomic bomb.
Well, it won’t be long now. We are marching toward the climax of biblical prophecy.
This classic J.R. Church article first appeared in the Prophecy in the News Magazine in January and February of 1982.
Prophecy in the News Founder
In November of 1979, Prophecy in the News launched its worldwide ministry from Oklahoma City, founded by J.R. Church, a Texas pastor with a heart and a vision for Bible prophecy, as well as reaching the world with the Gospel.
Church’s colleagues in the ministry, Noah Hutchings and Dr. David Webber at Southwest Radio Church, helped introduce J.R. Church to the fans of their far-reaching radio ministry and provided support as he built his prophecy ministry from its Oklahoma City base.