Question / Comment - A different view of Daniel 2. Is it talking about a 'spiritual kingdom'?

I read one of your responses, and I know you are seeking to be true and faithful to scripture, but I have some key problems for you.

 

Please write and tell me your thoughts. Since the "Rock" Christ's kingdom is not of this world, although it will culminate in a literal, glorified kingdom, it could easily be interpreted in Daniel as the continual growth of Christ's kingdom in the hearts of men, beginning in the time of Christ, and in particular, at the time of his death and resurrection. As such, Daniel 2 would be simply a revelation of the time of Nebuchadnezzar until the time of Christ. I want to call to your attention  vs. 39-44 where Daniel interprets the dream. In verse 39, Daniel tells when the second kingdom would arise - after you. "You" is Nebuchadnezzar, not Babylon. All his references to the head of gold clearly point only to Nebuchadnezzar. After Nebuchadnezzar's death, the only kingdom of that known world to have more power than Babylon and yet be inferior to Nebuchadnezzar's was the kingdom of Media. In verse 39, Daniel says, "next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth." The next kingdom was the combined Medo-Persia. Notice that Daniel does not say it was inferior to either of the previous kingdoms. The emphasis is on its strength (Bronze).

Finally, verse 40 speaks of a fourth and last kingdom whose dominon and rule will take us right up to the time of Christ. "Finally" means it's the last kingdom he'll speak of. Its strength will be greater than any of the the three preceeding kingdoms. It will be significantly different from the other three. The next kingdom known in history to have dominion was the kingdom of Greece. This, unlike the other three, was a western kingdom. Alexander the Great fought differently. His comparatively small, well-trained fighting force crushed the eastern armies of the other kingdoms. Also, there is a reference to the feet of partly iron and partly clay. Obviously this is still refering to Greece, but in the latter days of its dominion. Greece was marked by a tradition of Hellenization. The conquered peoples did not mix easily with the Greeks. In particular, the Jews were very resisitant to the idea. The Greecian Kingdom itself was not even united. After Alexander's death, power stuggles were constant. In many ways, this was a divided kingdom, but especially between the iron (Greeks) and the clay (conquered peoples).

"In the time of those kings," that is, in the time of the Greek rulers divided against each other and divided against the conquered peoples, the rock (Christ) would come and smash all of those kingdoms to pieces. Why should we think differently about the book of Daniel? It is simple and relevant. In reference to the Rock cut out "but not with human hands," obviously this is not a worldly kingdom like the rest, but a spiritual kingdom - Christ in the hearts of men, obviously growing and filling the whole earth and culminating in Christ's second coming. But the focus in Daniel is toward the beginning of this kingdom.
 

JPN Reply

Hi, thanks for the email and your thoughts on Daniel 2. It is fair to say that we see the interpretation of this passage quite differently. I have added a few comments to your ‘key problems’ (in blue) below.

 

I read one of your responses, and I know you are seeking to be true and faithful to scripture, but I have some key problems for you. Please write and tell me your thoughts.

 

Sure!

 

Since the "Rock" Christ's kingdom is not of this world, although it will culminate in a literal, glorified kingdom, it could easily be interpreted in Daniel as the continual growth of Christ's kingdom in the hearts of men, beginning in the time of Christ, and in particular, at the time of his death and resurrection. As such, Daniel 2 would be simply a revelation of the time of Nebuchadnezzar until the time of Christ. I want to call to your attention  vs. 39-44 where Daniel interprets the dream.

 

It is true that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world in this present age, but scripture reveals a time when it will be (as I’m sure you are aware of, and agree with – Rev 11:15). There is nothing in the passage in Daniel to indicate that the last kingdom that God sets up is to be taken spiritually as opposed to the other kingdoms which were obviously literal. In fact, as I will go on to try and show, I believe very definitely that a literal earthly Messianic Kingdom is in view.

 

In verse 39, Daniel tells when the second kingdom would arise - after you. "You" is Nebuchadnezzar, not Babylon. All his references to the head of gold clearly point only to Nebuchadnezzar.

 

The entire verse says ‘After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.’

 

Yes, Daniel said that Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold. That Daniel had Nebuchadnezzar’s entire kingdom in view when he said this is indicated by the fact that he said that after you, ANOTHER kingdom will arise. And that kingdom is inferior to yours (ie ‘your kingdom’). In stating that ‘ANOTHER’ kingdom would arise after you, it is clear that Daniel did have Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom in mind for the head of gold. So no, I don't agree that the head of gold ‘clearly points to Nebuchadnezzar’ only. The whole dream is about different kingdoms that will arise. Not individual people even though those people may represent their kingdom. 

 

After Nebuchadnezzar's death, the only kingdom of that known world to have more power than Babylon and yet be inferior to Nebuchadnezzar's was the kingdom of Media.

 

I don’t agree. Scripture does not see Media by itself as the next kingdom. The first kingdom, Babylon, represented by the head of gold, was conquered by the Medo-Persian kingdom as Daniel 5:27 states ‘Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.’

 

That is why Daniel chapter 2 saw the second kingdom represented by the arms and chest region of the body. The two arms represent the Medes and the Persians… not just the Medes. Renald Showers writes ‘two arms coming together to form one breast pictured this kingdom perfectly. Two distinct people, the Medes and the Persians, where united together in 550 BC, under one king to firm one great power.’

 

Further to that, if you needed further clarification, Daniel chapter 7 is linked to chapter 2 and provides more information for us. It represents the different kingdoms as four animals instead of four metals and regions of the body as chapter 2 does. Each animal represents the different sections of the statue of the different kingdoms that Nebuchadnezzar saw. So we don’t have to be in the dark as to what the 2nd kingdom is. Daniel 7:5 says ‘And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!

 

Commenting on this, the Bible Knowledge commentary correctly states:

 

“The second beast was like a bear, an animal of formidable strength (1 Sam. 17:34; Amos 5:19; Hosea 13:8). This represents Medo-Persia, the empire that followed Babylon. The Medo-Persian army was strong and fierce (Isa. 13:15-18). Unlike the grace of the man-like lion, the bear was ponderous and ungainly. It was evidently reclining with one side higher than the other. This suggests that though Persia rose later than Media, Persia soon overshadowed the Medes in their united kingdom. The three ribs in the bear’s mouth may represent the kingdoms of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, which had preceded the empire represented by the bear. Or they may represent Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, three nations conquered by the Medes and Persians. The bear was told to devour flesh. This command suggests that kingdoms operate by divine appointment, not their own authority. In devouring other kingdoms and extending its territory into a vast empire, the bear was fulfilling God’s purpose.”

 

In verse 39, Daniel says, "next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth." The next kingdom was the combined Medo-Persia. Notice that Daniel does not say it was inferior to either of the previous kingdoms. The emphasis is on its strength (Bronze).

 

Now, I believe, you are out by a kingdom! This third kingdom isn’t Medo-Persia (which was the second kingdom previously mentioned), but is the Greek empire that was historically known for its high use of bronze.

 

Finally, verse 40 speaks of a fourth and last kingdom whose dominon and rule will take us right up to the time of Christ. "Finally" means it's the last kingdom he'll speak of. Its strength will be greater than any of the the three preceeding kingdoms. It will be significantly different from the other three. The next kingdom known in history to have dominion was the kingdom of Greece. This, unlike the other three, was a western kingdom. Alexander the Great fought differently. His comparatively small, well-trained fighting force crushed the eastern armies of the other kingdoms. Also, there is a reference to the feet of partly iron and partly clay. Obviously this is still refering to Greece, but in the latter days of its dominion. Greece was marked by a tradition of Hellenization. The conquered peoples did not mix easily with the Greeks. In particular, the Jews were very resisitant to the idea. The Greecian Kingdom itself was not even united. After Alexander's death, power stuggles were constant. In many ways, this was a divided kingdom, but especially between the iron (Greeks) and the clay (conquered peoples).

 

The fourth kingdom in Daniel 2 is represented by iron. You have the fourth kingdom as Greece even though Greece was not known for its use of iron. The Roman Empire, which is the actual fourth kingdom, and is widely known for its use of iron, you don’t even mention because you have already used your four kingdoms! So you are forced to say that ‘finally’ means that God decided not to mention the Roman Empire (even though it was the very kingdom in place when the Messiah came!) for some unknown reason and He just stopped at Greece!    

 

If we look again at Daniel chapter 7, you’ll see that the Greek empire is the third animal, not the fourth. It again ties in perfectly with Daniel chapter 2. How do we know this third animal represents Greece? It says ‘After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.’

 

History records that after the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek Empire was divided into four regions, headed up by four generals. Showers writes ‘these four divisions were represented by the four heads of the leopard.’ (Greek Empire)

 

"In the time of those kings," that is, in the time of the Greek rulers divided against each other and divided against the conquered peoples, the rock (Christ) would come and smash all of those kingdoms to pieces.

 

But He didn’t! Rome conquered Greece by 146 BC. Jesus Christ came not in the time of the ‘Greek rulers’ or the Greek kingdom, but during the Roman Empire. Nor did he smash any of the earthly kingdoms at his first coming.

 

Why should we think differently about the book of Daniel? It is simple and relevant.

 

Why shouldn’t we? Because I don't believe it lines up with scripture. It doesn’t fit the book of Daniel or other scriptures such as those in Revelation. For example, think about this. You said above that the feet and toes of Daniel 2, which were iron and clay, found their fulfillment in the days of the Greek empire. When you look at Daniel 7 you will find that the ten toes of Daniel 2 are represented by a beast with ten horns. These ten horns are said to be ten kings that will arise. See Daniel 7:24. Daniel chapter 7 says that God’s kingdom will not be setup until after this kingdom (and the king that arises after them) are completely destroyed. See Daniel 7:23-27. Now this certainly didn’t happen in the Greek empire, not had it occurred by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We know this from history as well as from Revelation chapter 17 (written well after the death of Jesus) which still speaks of these 10 kings as still to come! See Revelation 17:12

 

In reference to the Rock cut out "but not with human hands," obviously this is not a worldly kingdom like the rest, but a spiritual kingdom - Christ in the hearts of men, obviously growing and filling the whole earth and culminating in Christ's second coming. But the focus in Daniel is toward the beginning of this kingdom.

 

That is not obvious at all. Well, let me put it this way – from reading the text I wouldn’t have come to that assumption. To me, all it means is that in contrast to the other kingdoms that were setup and ruled by man (human hands), this Rock that smashes the earthly kingdoms is of divine origins and rule. The fact that these earthly kingdoms are all destroyed and brought to an end by this last kingdom would actually argue against the fact that it is a spiritual kingdom, and point to a literal, physical, earthly kingdom… which I believe it to be. Jesus' literal kingdom when He rules on Earth.

 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes the following interesting points to show that a ‘spritual kingdom’ is not in view.

 

‘Amillennialists hold that this kingdom was established by Christ at His First Advent and that now the church is that kingdom. They argue that: (a) Christianity, like the growing mountain, began to grow and spread geographically and is still doing so; (b) Christ came in the days of the Roman Empire; (c) the Roman Empire fell into the hands of 10 kingdoms (10 toes); (d) Christ is the chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20).

 

Premillenarians, however, hold that the kingdom to be established by Christ on earth is yet future. At least six points favor that view:

(1) The stone will become a mountain suddenly, not gradually. Christianity did not suddenly fill ”the whole earth“ (Dan. 2:35) at Christ’s First Advent.

(2) Though Christ came in the days of the Roman Empire, He did not destroy it.

(3) During Christ’s time on earth the Roman Empire did not have 10 kings at once. Yet Nebuchadnezzar’s statue suggests that when Christ comes to establish His kingdom, 10 rulers will be in existence and will be destroyed by Him.

(4) Though Christ is now the chief Cornerstone to the church (Eph. 2:20) and ”a stone that causes [unbelievers] to stumble“ (1 Peter 2:8), He is not yet a smiting Stone as He will be when He comes again.

(5) The Stone (Messiah) will crush and end all the kingdoms of the world. But the church has not and will not conquer the world’s kingdoms.

(6) The church is not a kingdom with a political realm, but the future Millennium will be. Thus Nebuchadnezzar’s dream clearly teaches premillennialism, that Christ will return to earth to establish His rule on the earth, thereby subduing all nations. The church is not that kingdom.

 

I know I have disagreed quite a bit with what you have written. I trust that you have not taken offense at what I have written, because that is not my intention, and I certainly do hope that some of it will help you.

 

All the best.