Daniel 2’s Proof for Jesus Christ and His Church

One of the great Christological prophesies is found in Daniel 2, and it involves the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar’s recurring nightmare. The back-story is worth reading, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll cut to the chase. Daniel, the Jewish Prophet, is able to not only interpret the dream, but tell him what he dreamed in the first place — the king’s false prophets were quite willing to “explain” the dream to him if he’d tell them about it first, but Daniel was an actual prophet.

Here’s the dream (Daniel 2:31-35),

“You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”

And the interpretation (Daniel 2:37-45),

You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.”

Daniel nails it (obviously).

I. The Timetable of the Dream

Here’s what’s so incredible about that. This prophesy of Daniel is ancient — centuries older than Christ. Yet look at the timeline it spells out:

  • First Kingdom, Babylon. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. He’s the dreamer, and Daniel identifies the Babylonian Empire as the head of gold.
  • Second Kingdom, Persia. In 538 B.C., Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Bablyon, and allowed the Jews to return to Judea. The Persian Empire is the second kingdom, the chest of silver.
  • Third Kingdom, Greece. In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great of Greece conquered Persia (including Judea) . That’s the belly of bronze, the third kingdom.
  • Fourth Kingdom, Rome. After a brief breath of freedom, the Jews are conquered a fourth time, this time by the Romans. This begins in 64 B.C., results in the diaspora in 70 A.D., before disintegrating by 476 A.D.

So the timeline suggests that this is the Roman Empire. And indeed, the way that Daniel describes the Fourth Kingdom supports this interpretation perfectly:

Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

A lot of dispensationalists (both Evangelicals and Seventh Day Adventists) try and turn the iron/clay toes into another Kingdom, to turn it into a prophesy about the Second Coming, instead of about Christ and the Catholic Church. The only problem with this interpretation is that it’s wrong, and goes directly against what Daniel says. Note how Daniel begins this explanation as “finally,” because the legs/toes are one Kingdom — the Roman Empire.

So what’s up with the toes? Easy. What makes the Roman Empire different was that it wasn’t conquered by some yet-larger kingdom, the way that the Persians ate up the Babylonian Empire, and the Greeks ate up the Persian Empire, and the Romans ate up the Greek Empire. The Roman Empire wasn’t even subsumed into some larger empire. It split up, instead, and well before its decline, it was already caving from within. So the Fourth Kindom starts out strong as iron, but overextended, suffered from ethnic and political infighting, and petered out like clay — which is exactly what happened to the Roman Empire (unlike all the other Empires preceding it).

So the Fourth Kingdom, including the toes, is the Roman Empire.

II. The Fourth Kingdom Prophesy

Given that, look at this prophesy:

While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”

This prophesy is of both Christ and His Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, the Catholic Church. This is supported by Daniel’s interpretation:

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.”

So Daniel is prophesying that during the age of the Roman Empire, the God of Heaven is going to personally set up an everlasting Kingdom that won’t ever “be left to another people.” It’s an eternal fixture.

There are a lot of points which can be made here:

  • It’s incredible evidence for the authenticity of the Old Testament. It accurately predicted the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman Empire.
  • It refutes modern Judaism. The Roman Empire came and went. So if the Messiah didn’t come then, He’s not coming. But given how accurate the prophesy was at predicting the rise and fall of empires centuries into the future, it would be insane to think that the important part of the prophesy, the part about God’s own Kingdom, was wrong.
  • It’s an amazing amount of support for Christianity. Christ was born during the Fourth Kingdom. If He were just a charlatan, He was certainly an astoundingly lucky one, falling into the tiny window of history (from 64 B.C. to 70 A.D.) where Judah was under Roman rule.
  • It’s great support for Catholicism specifically. I’ll address this in more depth in a moment. For now, just note that “Kingdom” has very structural connotations: it’s the same people (the Jews) living under each Kingdom. Kingdom doesn’t mean “body of people.”
  • It refutes the Protestant and Mormon notion of a “Great Apostasy.” Believers in a Great Apostasy believe that at some point, either Catholicism replaced the True Church, or overran it. Yet Daniel 2’s prophesy says that during the days of the Roman Empire, Christ will set up a Kingdom, and it’ll never “be left to another people.” There’s no room for a New Church or New Kingdom in a post-Roman age (in either sense of “Roman,” there). No need to hypothesize about who the first pope was, or when the Church was formed. Daniel 2 lays the foundation you need, and the New Testament clears up the gray areas.

Now read the New Testament prophesies with an eye towards Daniel 2:

  1. Check out Jesus’ opening words in Mark’s Gospel. This is from Mark 1:14-15, “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” It’s a clear fulfillment of the prophesy.
  2. Christ Himself is compared to a Rock unformed by human hands. 1 Corinthians 10:4 calls Him a “spiritual Rock.” Romans 9:33 calls Him the Rock of Zion, and Peter compares Him to the Cornerstone of the Church in 1 Peter 2:6-8. Jesus compares His believers to those who build a house upon Rock (Luke 6:48).
  3. Look at how fitting the creation of the Church is in Matthew 16:17-19. After Peter declares Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, “Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter [“Rock”], and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

So Jesus Christ, the Rock unformed by human hands, and the God of Heaven, built the Kingdom of Heaven upon someone He re-named Peter, or “Rock,” a name which didn’t exist prior to Jesus creating it. And this institution, this Kingdom, has existed from the time of Christ until the modern day. And just as promised, the once-tiny Church “became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

[P.S. A lot of Protestants see a contradiction between Christ-as-Rock and Peter-as-Rock, since Peter isn’t Christ. But there’s not a contradiction. Peter operates by the power of Christ, and with His Authority. After all, both Peter and Christ are referred to as Shepherds, and both are referred to as having the Keys (see Matthew 16:19; Rev. 1:18). Just as we refer to our biological fathers and priests as “father” because they proceed from the Fatherhood of God (Ephesians 3:14-19, CCC#2214), so too does Jesus the Rock refer to Peter as “the Rock,” since his authority flows from Christ’s own.]

9 Comments

  1. Good article, stuff I haven’t looked into enough but need to.

    One follow-up post suggestion, or addition, is something I recently learned about, and this is speaking of Daniel 9:24-27 SEVENTY WEEKS prophecy. I’m new to it, but apparently traditionally Catholics have seen it as a clear prophecy for Christ, even pointing out the precise dates.

  2. Unfortunately, Daniel is not quite as ancient as you are led to believe. It was one of the manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and only dates back to c. 167 BCE and the prophesies are beleived to have been written at an even later date. All Hebrew manuscripts were normally written at later dates, by the priests, about their ancient heroes.

    One of these Daniel prophesies, the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem is even more revealing, the Romans and Josephus were all too aware of these prophesies by Daniel and made Jesus Christ repeat them in both Mark and Matthew. The Romans were also aware of the Balaam Prophesy which the Jews in particular the Essene interrpreted to foretell the coming of the Messiah. The Romans had their own interpretation; “There had spread over all the Orient an old an established belief that it was fated at that time for a man coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as it turned out, the Jews took to themselves, and they revolted accordingly.”–Suetonius, Vespasian 4.5

    While in Mark, Jesus is made to talk about fishers of men, Josephus tells of a battle on the Seas of Galolee between Titus’ army and the Jewish forces. The Jewish boats are capsized and the Roman soldiers spear them like fish. Hence they become fishers of men.

    In ‘Caesar’s Messiah,’ Dead Sea Scrolls archivist Joseph Atwill found 12 such parallels, in consecutive order, between the so-called ministry of Jesus and the military campaign of the Roman Emperor Titus.

    The interpretation that there would be 4 great empires with Rome being the last is undoubtedly of Roman origin. What you seem totally unaware of, is that there are no original Jewish scriptures. They were all destroyed by the Romans and the Christians. What you read today is a translation from the Greek Septuagint. You are not giving the Romans enough credit. They were not only great militarily, they were also devious snakes. To learn more about how the Romans subverted the teachings of Yeshu and the Nazoreans and proclaimed them the revelations of their godman Jesus Christ visit: http://www.nazoreans.com

  3. Kevin,

    I did my best responding to what I think your criticisms might be here, but you weren’t very specific about what exactly you felt I misunderstood. If you still think I’m misunderstanding the Adventist position, please let me know. Thanks!

  4. The Kingdom of God can not possibly begin at the incarnation of the Christ.

    It is promised in the future to the little flock (Luke 12:32) It is a matter of promise to the apostles, and to all those who love God.(James 2:5), Through much tribulation the saints are to enter the coming kingdom.(Acts 14:22) It is to be set up when Christ shall judge the living and the dead.(2 Timothy 4:1), It is to be when He shall come in His glory with all His holy angles. (Matthew 25:31-34),
    The Bible plainly declares that the kingdom of God was still future at the time of our Lord’s last Passover. (Matthew 26:29)
    It would be good for you to read Hippolytus exposition of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. It shows that the earliest Christians knew that the ten toes were the future ten divisions of the Roman Empire that would be destroyed at the event of the Second coming.
    Are you familiar with Hippolytus, who lived A.D. 160-236? He wrote an exposition on Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 ; “ Treatise on the Chirst and Antichrist” Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V, p. 210, par 28 says the toes part of iron and part clay and the ten horns were emblems of kingdoms yet to rise. This is true. Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 are exactly parallel.

    Get a copy of “Daniel and the Revelation” by Uriah Smith. Just for a reference of verifiable sources if for nothing else.
    The Bibliography is among the most useful tools you will ever find for the study of Bible prophecy.
    And for your information, Seventh-Day Adventists are not dispensationalists.

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