BOOK OF DANIEL- The 4th Kingdom

Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL- The 4th Kingdom

The 4th Kingdom

Daniel now explains the fourth kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:40-41, “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.” (NASB)

Given the nature of the description, one could imagine that this portion of the statue was the most confusing to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel doesn’t really discuss the second or third kingdoms in any detail. In fact, he doesn’t even mention the second kingdom represented by the silver portion of the image. We only see that clue when he mentions the third kingdom being bronze. Iron would not have been unknown to Nebuchadnezzar. Close to 1000 years before, the Hittites bartered iron for silver with Assyria. The strength of iron is well known. The Roman Empire, indeed, broke and crushed all of its enemies during the time of its ancient existence. Some commentators have tried to insert the argument questioning how this fourth kingdom could crush all the pieces prior to itself becoming the fourth kingdom. By being the fourth kingdom, naturally, the first three (Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece) had already reigned and been conquered themselves by each resulting kingdom. A clear answer to this conundrum is simple. Daniel is explaining each kingdom represented by the image that was seen in a dream. There is no ambiguity in the text and to suggest otherwise insults Daniel’s or, rather, God’s interpretation. Despite this attempt to ignore the text by circumnavigating its true meaning, for the most part most conservative commentaries agree that it is, indeed, Rome who is identified as the fourth kingdom. Despite this general consensus however, there are many disagreements as to what is meant by the feet and, in particular, the toes of the image. Some of those arguments can be dispelled by the advent of time in understanding the Biblical text. One example of older thoughts held was that the toes [which obviously amounts to ten] represented the condition of the Roman Empire in the fifth and six centuries AD. However, here is where these older commentaries fail. When we look at the “Roman Empire” we will notice that being an “Empire” did not occur until Octavius appointed himself Augustus, which means ‘the first emperor’. Tradition says that the founding of Rome [then known as Roma] actually occurred in 753 BC by Romulus [the twin brother of Remus] who was the first of seven Roman kings whose monarchical rule lasted for 244 years. In 509 BC the last king was expelled and Rome became an oligarchic republic [power structure in which power rests with a small number of people]. In Rome’s case it was now ruled by senators]. By the third and second century BC Rome established hegemony [leadership or dominance] over the Mediterranean and the East. In 146 BC it made Greece into a province of its empire. Between 59 – 53 BC the first triumvirate was established. This was a political alliance between three prominent men – namely, Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great, and Marcus Crassus. Ultimately, Julius Caesar became the first dictator of Rome in 45 BC and was subsequently assassinated a year later.  It was hoped that this assassination would reestablish the republic but, instead, civil war broke out. Eventually, Octavius became the first emperor by self-appointment in 27 BC, which is when Rome officially became “The Roman Empire”. During 27 BC – 395 AD many things occurred. The most important event for us as Christians was the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. In 306 AD Constantine was declared emperor and in 380 AD Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Christianity as the sole religion of the Roman Empire. He was the last emperor of a unified empire. In 395 AD his sons divided the empire into a West and Eastern rule. The Western Empire fell in 476 AD and the Eastern (or Byzantine Empire) eventually fell in 1453 AD. Rome experienced being sacked [plundered] a total of six times (390 BC by the Gauls), (410 AD by the Visigoths), (455 AD by the Vandals), (546 AD by the Ostrogoths), (1084 AD by the Normans) and (1527 AD by mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V). It is the many of these sacks which commentators suggest are representative of the ten toes. While the untrained eye could fall into accepting these alternative thoughts, there is one major flaw that destroys such a belief system. You will recall in Daniel 2:34 we read, “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.” (NASB) For the argument that the toes represented ten kingdoms during the fifth and sixth centuries it would mean that all ten kingdoms would have to existed at one time and not through a period of several centuries.

We will continue this discussion into the next blog and as our study progresses in the weeks and months ahead we will, in fact, see ten kings who will reign at one time as a confederacy but here is the point. They haven’t appeared yet!