>> Library >> "Bible Readings" contents ..

Bible Readings
for the Home

Bible Readings for the Home cover

Chapter 41

Prophetic History of the World

Among the captives taken at Jerusalem and carried to Babylon, who were the most prominent?
"Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah." Dan. 1:6.

Who was Nebuchadnezzar?
"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it." Dan. 1:1.

What caused sleep to depart from Nebuchadnezzar?
"And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him." Dan. 2:1.

When he applied to his magicians for an interpretation of his dream, what did they say?
"The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said. There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter... And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. " Dan. 2:10, 11.

In his anger, what decree did the king make?
"For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon." Dan. 2:12.

To avoid suffering the consequences of the decree, what did Daniel do?
"Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation." Dan. 2:16.

After he and his three companions had prayed to God about the matter, how was the interpretation made known?
"Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision." Dan. 2:19.

Afterward, when Daniel was brought in before the king, what question was asked him?
"Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?" Dan. 2:26.

What humble and impressive answer did Daniel return?
"There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days." Dan. 1:28.

What had the king seen in his dream?
"Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible." Dan. 2:31.

Of what were the different parts of the image composed?
"This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay." Dan. 2:32, 33.

What did the king see happen to the image?
"Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces." Dan. 2:34.

What then took place?
"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors;... and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." Dan. 2:35.

Having told the dream, how did Daniel proceed to explain the head of gold?
"Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou are this head of gold." Dan. 2:37, 38.
NOTE: "Now opens one of the sublimest chapters of human history. Eight short verses of the inpired record tell the whole story; yet that story embraces the history of this world's pomp and power. A few moments will suffice to commit it to memory; yet the period which it covers, commencing more than twenty-five centuries ago, reaches on from that far-distant point past the rise and fall of kingdoms, past the setting up and overthrow of empires, past cycles and ages, past our own day, over into the eternal state. It is so comprehensive that it embraces all this; yet it is so minute that it gives us all the great outlines of earthly kingdoms from that time to this. Human wisdom never devised so brief a record which embraces so much. Human language never set forth in so few words, as great a volume of historical truth. The finger of God is here. . . . It is a manifest rule of interpretation that we may look for nations to be noticed in prophecy when they become so far connected with the people of God that mention of them becomes necessary to make the records of sacred history complete. When this was the case with Babylon, it was, from the standpoint of the prophet, the great and overtowering object in the political world. . . . So far as history informs us, all countries or provinces against which Babylon did move in the height of its power, were subdued by its arms." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, p. 43, 46.

In the year 606 B.C., Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, and the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. The Babylonian kingdom, therefore, come at this point into the field of porophecy.

"The character of this empire is indicated by the nature of the material composing that portion of the image by which it was symbolized -- the head of gold. It was the golden kingdom of a golden age. Babylon, its metropolis, towered to a height never reached by any of its later rivals. Situated in the garden of the East; laid out in a perfect square sixty miles in circumference, fifteen miles on each side; surrouned by a wall three hundred and fifty feet high and eighty-seven feet thick, with a moat, or ditch, around this, of equal cubic capacity with the wall itself; divided into six hundred and seventh-six squares, each two and a quarter miles in circumference, by its fifty streets, each one hundred and fifty feet in width, crossing each other at right angels, twenty-five running each way, every one of them straight and level and fifteen miles in length; its two hundres and twenty-five square miles of inclosed surface, divided as just described, laid out in luxuriant pleasure-grounds and gardens, interspersed with magnificent dwellings,-- . . . this city, containing in itself many things which were themselves wonders of the world, was itself another and still mightier wonder. Never before saw the earth a city like that; never since has it seen its equal. And there, with the whole earth prostrate at her feet, a queen in peerless grandeur, drawing from the pen of inspiration itself this glowing title, 'The glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency,' sat this city, fit capital of that kingdom which constituted the golden head of this great historic image. Such was Babylon, with Nebuchadneazzar, youthful, bold, vigorous, and accomplished, seated upon its throne." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 45, 46.

What was to be the nature of the next kingdom after Babylon?
"After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee." Dan. 2:39, first part.

Who was the last Babylonian king?
"In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, bring about threescore and two years old." Dan. 5:30, 31; see verses 1,2.

To whom was Belshazzar's kingdom given?
"Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. " Dan. 5:28.
NOTE: "Cyaxares, King of the Medes, who is called Darius in Dan. 5:31, summoned to his aid his nephew Cyrus, of the Persian line, in his efforts against the Babylonians. The war was prosecuted with uninterrupted success on the part of the Medes and Persians, until, the the eighteenth year of Nabonadius, the father of Belshazzar, Chrus laid seige to Babylon, the only city in all the East which then held out against him. The Babylonians, gathered within their impregnable walls, with provisions on hand for twenty years, and land within the limits of their broad city sufficient to furnish food for the inhabitants and garrision for an indefinte period, scoffed at Cyrus from their lofty walls, and derided his seemingly useless efforts to bring them into subjection. . . . In their very feelings of security lay the source of their danter. Cyrus resolved to accomplish by strategem what he could not effect by force; and learning of the approach of an annual festival, in which the whole city would be given up to mirth and revelry, he fixed upon that day as the time to carry his purpose into execution. There was no entrance for him into that city except where the river Euphrates entered and emerged, passing under its walls. He resolved to make the channel of the river his own highway into the stronghold of his enemy. To do this, the water must be turned aside from its channel through the city. . . . On the evening of the feast-day above referred to, he detailed three bodies of soldiers, the first, to turn the river at a given hour into a large artificial lake a short distance above the city; the second, to take their station at the point where the river entered the city; the third, to take a position fifteen miles below, where the river emerged from the city; and these two latter parties were instructed to enter the channel, just as soon as they found the river fordable, and in the darkness of the night explore their way beneath the walls, and press on to the palace of the king, where they were to meet, surprise the palace, slay the guards, and capture or slay the king. . . . In the drunken revelry of that fatal night, the river gates were all left open, and the entrance of the Persian soldiers was not perceived. . . . [They] first made known their presence in the city by falling upon the royal guards in the very vestibule of the palace of the king. Belshazzar soon became aware of the cause of the disturbance, and died vainly fighting for his worthless life. This feast of Belshazzar is described in the fifth chapter of Daniel; and the scene closes with the simple record, 'In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom [B.C. 538], being about threeescore and two years old.'" --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 48-50. Nabonadius, who shared the kingdom with his son Belshazzar, was away from Babylon at the time of its capture by Cyrus, hence the Scriptures refer only to Belshazzar as king.

By what symbol is the Medo-Persian empire elsewhere represented?
"The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia." Dan. 8:20.

What beast was seen to come against him?
"An he-goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth... And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power." Dan. 8:5-6.

What was the result of this contest?
"And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns... Therefore the he-goat waxed very great." Dan.8:7-8.

What did the goat represent?
"And the rough goat is the king of Grecia." Dan. 8:21.
NOTE: Grecia succeeded Medo-Persia.

By what is Grecia represented in the image?
"And another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth." Dan.2:39.
NOTE: It is not necessary to the fulfillment of the prophecy that any one of these empires should have every class of people, and every isolated country under its absolute sway. Babylon never conquered Grecia nor Rome. The idea of universality in the case of these kingdoms may be understood in this way: When one of them came to the front, it became the great and overtowering object in the political world, and in this sense was spoken of as having universal power. All nations stood in awe of it, as was the case with the tribes in and around Palestine when they heard of the successful passage of the Red Sea by the Israelites, and of their great victory over Pharaoh. Thus Rahab said to the spies of Isreal: "I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you." --Joshua 2:9. Such expressions are still common. We say of a custom, that it is universal; but we do not mean that every person in the world adopts it: it has simply gained prominence enough to command respect everywhere without opposition. In this sense it carries a power that is universal. So with these prophetic empires. None could successfully uwithstand them; hence they were said to be universal.

What is said of the fourth kingdom?
"And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise." Dan. 2:40.
NOTE: If the first three kingdoms were universal, and the fourth stronger than all the others, that, too, must have been universal. Two universal empires cannot exist simultaneously; hence if we find a fourth universal empire, it must be the one denoted by the legs of iron.

Where is such a power brought to view?
"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed." Luke 2:1.
NOTE: The fact that the Roman emperor here mentioned had power to tax (enroll for taxation) the whole world, shows that his jurisdiction extended thus far.

What was indicated by the mixture of clay and iron in the feet and toes?
"And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided." Dan 2:41.
NOTE: The presence of clay with the iron indicates the weakness that came into the empire through the growing luxury and effeminacy of its people. This made the kingdom an easy prey to the various tribes of barbarians who inhabited those vast regious lying north and east of Western Rome. By these the Western empire of Rome was broken up into ten division. The era of this dissolution covered over a hundred years (381 A.D. to 483 A.D.). The preceise times that each of the ten kingdoms arose, varies with the historians, and this is not strange considering that these times were of great confusion. But all historians agree in this, that out of the territory of Western Rome, ten separate kingdoms were ultimately establish , and we may safely assign them to the time between these dates -- 381 A.D. to 483 A.D.

The ten nations most instrumental in breaking up the Roman empire are: The Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Suevi, Bergundians, Heruli, Anglo-Saxons, and Lombards. These names are still traceable to the names of several modern countries of Europe. Even though there have been many territorial changes of the countries, it is affirmed that they shall continue to the end.

What is to take place in the days of these kings?
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Dan. 2:44.
NOTE: It will be readily seen that this everlasting kingdom to be set up on the ruins of the ten kingdoms, could not have been established in the days of Christ, as at that thime the ten kingdoms were not in existence. We know that God's kingdom is still in the future, because the ten kingdoms are yet in existence; and this could not be if God's kingdom here spoken of had been set up, or that is to destroy and take the place of the ten.

"'In the days of these kings, the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom.' This shows that at the time the kingdom of God is set up, there will be several kings existing at the same time. It cannot refer to the four preceding kingdoms; for it would be absurd to use such language in reference to a line of successive kings, since it would be in the days of the last king only, not in the days of any of the preceding, that the kingdom of God would be set up." --Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation, page 63.

Can there be any doubt regarding the fulfillment of this prophecy?
"The great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure." Dan. 2:45.
NOTE: History corroborates the predictions of this prophecy up to the very last specification, and we can readily believe that this, too, will be fulfilled as certainly as all the others. How fully the inspiration of the Bible is vindicated, can be known only by the study of the prophetic word.

Copyright © 1988 Research Institute for Better Reading, Inc., used by permission by Project Restore, Inc. at www.projectrestore.com
Created: 07/15/02 Updated: 12/17/04