The Daniel 2 Vision
See the big picture!

One of the most important visual aids God gives us in the Bible is found in Daniel 2. As Gerald Flurry writes in Daniel Unlocks Revelation, “It gives us a picture of Bible prophecy.”

The Daniel 2 image is also important because it gives us a prophetic overview. “Without this overview, it is easy to get obsessed with a certain area of prophecy and not see the big picture. What does prophecy really mean if you don’t have this image in mind? You must always have context! You must be able to see where a specific prophecy fits into the overview, or you’ll get lost in prophecy” (ibid).

One third of the Bible is prophecy. That’s a lot. Yet to understand it, we have to always keep the big picture in mind. Daniel 2 gives us that big picture.

“We all need to etch this image into our minds. It is extremely important, and I believe we haven’t put enough emphasis on it in the past” (Ibid). So let’s spend some time examining this fantastic prophetic overview. Get out your Bible, turn to Daniel 2, and let’s delve into this inspiring vision.

The Dream

1. To whom did God show the image first? Daniel 2:1. What did he see? Verses 31-35.

2. What did the king tell his religious advisers about the dream? Verse 6. What was their response? Verse 10.

The king’s pagan advisers were right about one thing: No one could do what the king was asking. It was humanly impossible.

3. What was the king’s response to their protest? Verse 12-13. What did Daniel and his friends do upon hearing the news? Verse 16-18.

Daniel and his friends would have been executed too (verse 13). They went to God together, asking for His help in this life-or-death situation.

4. What did God do, and what was Daniel’s response? Verses 19-23.

Again, Daniel’s life, along with the lives of his friends and many other royal advisers, was on the line. This was an urgent matter, especially considering how rash and hasty the king’s decree was. But Daniel made sure he took the time to thank God and praise Him for revealing the dream before going to the king.

5. Did Daniel agree with the pagan magicians that Nebuchadnezzar had asked for something humanly impossible? Verse 27. But what did Daniel say next? Verses 28-30.

The furious king would obviously have wanted Daniel to get on with it (verse 25 shows the executioner brought Daniel into the king’s court hastily). But Daniel first wanted to make sure everyone knew where this revelation was coming from.

“He wanted to make sure everyone knew who revealed the secrets!” Mr. Flurry explained. “Don’t give me any credit, he said. Don’t think I’m somebody special—GOD reveals secrets, and nobody else!” (ibid).He continues, “Daniel and his friends brought God into the spotlight. That is why God could use them so powerfully.”

Understanding where prophecy comes from is even more important than understanding what it actually means. Of course, God has to reveal it through His prophets (see Amos 3:7; Ephesians 3:5), but revelation always comes from God.

In Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about this passage: “This, then, is God’s interpretation … Men ought never to interpret the Bible. The Bible gives us God’s own interpretation!”

The Interpretation Thereof

1. Who was the head of gold? Daniel 2:37-38.

The Bible tells us directly what the head of gold represents: King Nebuchadnezzar’s Chaldean Empire, ruled from Babylon. It was founded by his father in 625 b.c. and lasted all the way to the fall of Babylon in 539 b.c.

In Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Ancient Israel had been tried through the generations and centuries. They had disobeyed. Now they had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, who had raised up the world’s first empire. But as God revealed through Daniel in chapter 2, it was God who had turned world dominion over to the succession of Gentile empires.”

Israel had gone into captivity. Now an age of Gentile kingdoms had come, and God was announcing it in this prophecy.

2. What about the rest of the image? Verses 39-40.

The Chaldean empire was conquered by the Medo-Persian Empire, which lasted from 558–330 b.c. The Medo-Persian Empire had two “arms”—Media and Persia. The latter was the dominant arm. Persia was conquered by the belly and thighs of brass: Alexander the Great’s Greco-Macedonian Empire, which began in 333 b.c. They were then replaced by the Roman Empire, which seized the region in 31 b.c. and lasted until the fall of Rome in a.d. 476 (though, as other prophecies explain, this deadly wound would be healed and the Roman Empire would continue to live on in various European resurrections). The Roman Empire, like the image, had two “legs”—a western and an eastern half—first split in a.d. 286.

Remember, the head of the image is Babylon. That tells us something about the rest of the image: “[I]t is Babylonian all the way through” (Daniel Unlocks Revelation). Persia became dominant after conquering Babylon. Alexander the Great died in Babylon. And during the Roman Empire, the Babylonian religion had moved to Rome itself.

Also, notice how the metals transition from gold to iron: “As these empires progress, the metals get stronger but degenerate in quality. History proves this true: The earlier Gentile empires had more culture and dignity than the succeeding ones. This shows the reverse of evolution” (ibid).

As they were degenerating morally, each conquering kingdom was strengthening militarily. Persia was known for its massive military force. Alexander was famous for his mighty military victories and the Greek combat formation known as the phalanx. The Romans then perfected war, famously improving on the best military innovations from various kingdoms they fought.

3. How are the feet of the image different from the rest of the legs of iron? Verses 41-42.

Remember, Daniel said in verse 28 that this prophecy was for the “latter days,” which we are living in right now. The image had 10 toes, representing 10 kings to rule the final resurrection of the Roman Empire in Europe today. These feet are also mixed with miry clay. In Jeremiah 18:6, God says that Israel is like clay to Him. This shows that there will be some lost tribes of Israel mixed with Gentiles in this end-time united Europe.

4. Do iron and clay mix? Daniel 2:43.

This united Europe won’t be united for long: “They are able to come together in an emergency, but the unity won’t last. It is a divided empire” (ibid).

5. How many kingdoms are part of this vision? Reread verses 32-35. What does the stone cut without hands symbolize? Verse 44.

“There are five world-ruling kingdoms. The fifth one will be ruled by God” (ibid). The Bible even calls Jesus Christ a Stone (see Acts 4:10-11; Ephesians 2:20).

Mr. Flurry writes, “You cannot deeply understand the four world-ruling kingdoms, unless you understand the fifth world-ruling Kingdom, but that Kingdom is virtually invisible to most people.”

It can be easy to stop at the legs of iron and only count four kingdoms. But there are clearly five mentioned here. If we fail to see the fifth Kingdom, we are missing the whole point.

What happens to the gold, silver and brass when the stone smashes the 10 toes? Daniel 2:35.

Not just the toes are destroyed—everything is carried away with the wind! Remember, the image is Babylonian all the way through. The entire system is destroyed. Then, the Kingdom of God becomes a great mountain, filling the whole Earth.

“We are living during the time of the toes—and the Stone that shatters them is about the fill the whole Earth! Jesus Christ is going to smash the great image—break it into pieces. Then the image becomes as chaff left from the wheat and is blown away. Everything not a part of God’s Family has this deplorable end. It’s all about establishing the God Family on this Earth. This is what we live for” (ibid).

The All-Important Purpose of Prophecy

1. Why did God reveal this image? Was it just so we could know what to expect ahead of time? Read again Daniel 2:28.

Yes, God did reveal the prophecy so we could know what to expect in the future. But that purpose was only secondary.

In Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “This Chaldean king knew only about the many pagan demon gods. He knew nothing of the true living Almighty God. Like people and rulers, even today, he did not know God is the living, real, active, ruling and governing Personage who actually and literally governs not only what is on Earth, but the universe entirely!” This was written by someone who had interacted with many rulers and diplomats himself.

“The whole purpose of this dream was to reveal God’s government—the fact that God rules—the truth of the Kingdom of God—the very thing that is the one and only true gospel of Jesus Christ! And secondly, to reveal—preserved in writing for us today—what is to happen ‘in the latter days’” (ibid).

The primary purpose of prophecy is not just to know what is going to happen. Prophecy is a powerful proof of God. It is given because it shows that God rules (see Daniel 4:17).

“If you don’t see the Creator of the image, then you can get titillated by prophecy and lose sight of the God who rules in the kingdom of men!” Mr. Flurry wrote. “We must get beyond seeing mere human beings. Of course God uses human beings. … But the image came from God! He revealed it, and shaped and molded it, and if we don’t see that, we don’t really see” (op cit).

2. How did Nebuchadnezzar get his power in the first place? Daniel 2:37. What was the king’s reaction after Daniel had finished explaining the prophecy to him? Verses 46-47.

“The beautiful thing is that Daniel always brought God into the picture. We need to do the same, because we are nothing without God!” (ibid).

Then Daniel reminded Nebuchadnezzar where his power came from (see verse 21; Job 12:23; Romans 13:1). The king’s other advisers with their many pagan gods were useless to him. But, by the end of this ordeal, Daniel’s God had revealed the secret! It was a display of God’s power. This is why Daniel took so much time beforehand pointing to the God who revealed the dream.

“God was revealing Himself to this human world-dictator as the most high Ruler over all” (Mystery of the Ages).

3. Where does the Daniel 2 vision lead? Verses 44-45.

This is why it’s paramount we keep the fifth world-ruling Empire in mind. Mr. Flurry writes, “[E]ven when you have studied this image from head to toe, if you don’t see what came before it, and what comes after it, you’re missing the point!” (op cit).

Mr. Armstrong taught that the gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God. The Daniel 2 vision points to that Kingdom. It’s all about the gospel. The reason for our calling is to be part of that fifth Empire. That is what motivates our growth and overcoming.

“The whole purpose of the image is to try to bring people into the Family of God! If we don’t understand and pursue that goal, everything we do is in vain” (ibid). As Mr. Flurry writes earlier in the book, “We must see how all prophecy fits into the God Family concept.”

This prophetic overview is about so much more than just four Gentile empires. It’s about God’s government, the God Family, and how He is going to set up His Kingdom forever.

“The days of the kings of this world are almost over,” Mr. Flurry writes. “The God of heaven is about to set up His Kingdom! It’s getting so close! Get this vivid picture of prophecy into your mind. It is more real than anything out there in the world! It is certain—it is sure—every word will be fulfilled! The 10 toes are almost here! The Daniel 2 image shows us where we are in prophecy. A new and wonderful civilization is about to burst upon the world scene. The time for God to return and begin to rid the world of suffering is here.”