Daniel 2:1-4 “And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.”
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.”
INTRODUCTION: The phrase “the times of the gentiles” refers to an extensive period of time, over 2 ½ millennia, in which the gentiles will be the dominant world powers. During this time except for a few periodic occurrences of self rule the land of Israel will be under gentile domination and control or threat.
This phrase occurs only once in the Bible during a discourse by Jesus concerning the fall of Jerusalem and the tribulation period on earth. The phrase covers the long period of time since the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. through to the end of the yet future tribulation time period.
KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR HAS A DREAM (Daniel 2:1-4) The King summons all those he thinks can interpret his dream for him. When they asked the King to tell them the dream he said he did not remember it and then threatened to cut them into pieces if they did not tell him the meaning of his dream.
They answered the King that no man of earth could interpret a dream for him that he did not remember, it was at this point that Daniel walked in “Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” Daniel 2:16-19.
DANIEL RELAYS THE CONTENTS OF THE FORGOTTEN DREAM TO NEBUCHADNEZZAR. (Daniel 2:31-35 – 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. 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. 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. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.)
- The dream consisted of a statue of the image of a human. That was terrifying to look upon because of its size and brilliance. It had a head of gold, arms and breasts of silver, belly and two thighs of bronze, two legs of iron and feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay.
- The stone in the dream had been cut without human hands out of the side of a mountain. Daniel 2:45a – Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands,) This indicated it was not of human origin. The stone struck the feet with such force that they disintegrated and the entire image was turned into chaff and blew away. The stone then became a large mountain that filled the whole earth.
THE DREAM EXPLAINED BY DANIEL TO KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR. (Daniel 2:36-40 – This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 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 art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. 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.)
- The statue that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream had a golden head (32) this represented the Babylonian Empire which came to an end during the reign of King Belshazzar (Daniel 5:31)
- Babylon was conquered by Darius the Mede. It was he who brought the Medo-Persian Empire together. This empire is pictured in this image as the breast and arms of silver. (Daniel 2:32, 39a)
- Many years later the Medes and the Persians were conquered by Alexander the Great who extended the mighty empire of Greece over the entire known world. This empire is represented by the belly and thighs of brass. (Verses 32 and 39b).
- The defeat of the Medes & Persians at the hand of Alexander the Great is prophesied in Daniel 8:5-7 – “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. 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. 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: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.”
- The “he goat” is the Grecian Empire and the “notable horn” is Alexander the Great. The “ram that had two horns” is the Medo-Persian Empire. Notice how it says the “he goat” came from the west. Greece is west of the area of the Medes & Persians. (Daniel 8:20-22 – The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.)
- The death of Alexander the Great is prophesied in Daniel chapter eight as well along with how his empire will be divided at his death. (Daniel 8:8 – Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.) – Alexander the Great died at the height of his power and his empire was divided up between four of his Generals.
- The fourth world empire was the Roman Empire. It remained a united empire until A.D. 364 and then continued on as a divided kingdom with its western part headquartered in Rome and the eastern part headquartered in Constantinople. Western Rome died in A.D. 476 and the eastern empire continued on until A.D. 1453. This world empire is represented by the two legs of iron. Many scholars believe the two legs represent the eastern and western empires of Rome. (Daniel 2:32,40)
- So the image of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represented the four world empires. Babylon the head of Gold, Medo-Persian the arms and breast of silver, Greece the belly and thighs of brass, and Rome the iron legs. Put them all together you have one fearful image and a glance at the “Times of the Gentiles” in which the world and Israel would be under the dominance of the gentiles beginning with the deportation of the Jews from Judah in 605 B.C. and culminating in the end time destruction of the final gentile armies in the Battle of Armageddon.