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The Old Testament is full of prophecies about the first coming of Jesus, his life on earth, his death, resurrection, and second coming to rule the earth. While these issues are not clearly and fully explained in most of the books of the Old Testament, the book of Daniel is the exception. Daniel’s teachings about Jesus the Messiah (Daniel’s Christology) is very clear and powerfully inspiring. In the next 4 weeks we will study the visions of Daniel to draw strength from them in these troubled times.
Daniel Chapter 1 is how he got to Babylon, and settled in, after the destruction of Israel by King Nebuchadnezzar. Chapter 2 is about his interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the end of history and the coming kingdom of God, which started as a little stone and became a mighty mountain!
Chapter 3 is about God rescuing Daniel’s friends from the fire; Chapter 4 shows God’s mercy and the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar, while Chapter 5 tells about God’s judgement on King Belshazzar (grandson of Nebuchadnezzar). Chapter 6 is about how rescued Daniel from the Lion’s den and punished those determined to destroy Daniel. Chapters 7-12 are about Daniel’s visions about the end of history and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth with Jesus as the indisputable King.
In Daniel 2:44-45 (NIV) we are told: “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed… 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 its interpretation is trustworthy.”
This first vision of Daniel is the result of his interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, in which the King saw a great statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. The King then saw a stone strike the statue on its feet and smashed them to dust, but the stone that struck the statue became a huge mountain that filled the earth.
Bible teachers agree that the gold is Babylon (capital Iraq), which was ruling the world at that time; the silver is kingdom of Persia (capital Iran) which came after Babylon; followed by kingdom of Greece (bronze) ruled by Alexander the Great; followed by the Roman empire, which was partly strong and partly weak (legs of iron with feet partly of clay); followed by the stone that crushed the statue.
That stone is Jesus, born during the Roman empire, and since then his kingdom, the Church, has grown to fill the earth. There have been other empires since Rome, but the Bible is not primarily about human empires, it is about God’s plans. This vision is about when to expect the Messiah and how his ministry will grow. The other visions of Daniel repeats this message but add more and more details to it.
Lord, show us Jesus, more clearly from the book of Daniel, Amen!