Bible Study with Jairus- Daniel 2
The Relationship Between the “Great Image” in the Book of Daniel and the “Kingdom of Christ” in the Book of Revelation
The book of Daniel discusses a great image that was crushed by a large stone. The stone was cut out of a mountain without human hands. It then became a great mountain that filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:35). Each of these objects is symbolic. The idol represents the rise and fall of the empires in human history. Specifically, it depicts Babylon the Great and its fall (Revelation 18:2). The stone that becomes a great mountain represents the moment when “the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” The great image and the great mountain are both symbolic images.
The church is the body of Christ, a very real representation and image of Christ. But the false image mentioned in the book of Daniel is created by evil spirits and sin. It is a fake imitation of the body of Christ. It represents Babylon, which is the mother of harlots, and the Tower of Babel, which is the symbol of rebellion against God. God wants to build up the Body of Christ, but the enemy wants to build a false imitation. The Bible says, “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
In the wisdom of God, God allows the growth of human kingdoms. The Bible says, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27). These kingdoms exist in temporary space and time. Whether Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom or Pharoah’s, Babylon or Egypt, these kingdoms are all tools in the hands of God. God uses them to help people seek him. But neither Nebuchadnezzar nor Pharaoh could overstep God’s authority, thinking the kingdom was their own. When God’s time came, God tore down their kingdoms and gave them to others. In the same way, when God’s time for mankind comes, all the kingdoms on earth will be smashed to pieces and the kingdom of our Lord and Christ will be ushered in. Right now, God allows Satan and evil spirits to deceive people. But when God’s time comes, he will judge them permanently. The Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation are closely related.
The Body of Christ is an Image of Christ
I once heard a Christian brother testifying about a vision he saw. He saw a vision of the body of Christ, which looked like a huge image of Jesus. The great image looked like a giant human, but every part of the body contained many believers living and dwelling in it. The Bible reveals that we are members of the body of Christ. “For behold, the kingdom of Christ is in the midst of us.” (Luke 17:21). When the life of Christ works within us, then we become a part of the kingdom of Christ. In a sense, the body of Christ is the kingdom of Christ. This is the kingdom that God wants to build, and Christ will rule as king within this realm.
This is God’s ultimate purpose. This plan existed even before God created the world, even though it was hidden from humankind for a while. That is why Ephesians 3:9-10 says, “and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
God intends to help his children grow and mature until they become the mature Body of Christ, which will manifest all the riches of God and reveal His wisdom to all angels and demons in the heavenly places. Since Satan is a created being, he did not know about this plan. When God’s plan was revealed, Satan was filled with jealousy. Satan had been an archangel whose job was to lead all things to worship God. But when God chose mankind to represent His image, share his authority, and receive His glory and fullness, Satan became jealous. Satan was upset because this plan did not involve Satan at all! Satan began to rebel against God. He hated mankind extremely much. Satan decided to create a counterfeit Body of Christ. He wanted to defy God’s plan, counterfeit God’s works, mock God, and try to lure people toward the same eternal punishment that he was destined for.
The Image in the Book of Daniel is a Counterfeit Body of Christ
This great image that Nebuchadnezzar saw had a golden head, which represents Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar himself. The Bible doesn’t tell us which empires are represented by the arms and chest made of silver, the belly and thighs made of bronze, the legs made of iron, and the feet made of iron and clay. Some biblical interpreters believe that they represent the Medo-Persian Empire, the Macedonian empire, the Grecian empire, and the Roman empire, respectively. The Medo-Persian empire began in 539 B.C. in Babylon; King Cyrus let the Jews return to Jerusalem in 537 B.C. The Roman empire started ruling Israel in 63 B.C. and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This interpretation says that even though the Roman Empire has perished, the Anglo-American empire is now the continuation of the Roman Empire. Other biblical interpreters believe that the image represents Medo-Persia, Greece (Alexander conquered the Persian Empire in 331 B.C.), Rome, and the Anglo-American empire. These scholars point to the Anglo-American empire because of the Rise of the Anglo-American world dominance during the First World War from 1914 to 1918. The Macedonian Empire is not mentioned in this interpretation. I was taught the first interpretation. It divided the Persian Empire into the Macedonian Empire established by Alexander the Great and the Grecian Empire formed by the division after his death.
When I think about these two interpretations, I have a question. How do we know the Anglo-American empire is the last great modern empire? What happens if China, Russia, or a prominent country in Africa arises as a world ruler in the future? We can’t deny the possibility. China has already risen to power, and it will soon become the most influential country in the world. But China is not part of the Roman Empire, nor is it part of the Anglo-American Empire. In addition to China’s political, military, and economic rise, I also believe that China’s future revival will bring great spiritual growth, which will influence great changes in Chinese society and politics. China may become a powerful Christian country that could be counted among the influential empires in eschatological history. Even a so-called Christian country (like the United States) does not always act in accordance with God’s will, so China could qualify as one of the empires represented by the image. In addition, it’s dangerous to assume that the Anglo-American empire is the only modern empire. What about the Portuguese Empire and the Spanish Empire that colonized the world, through which Catholicism spread? The British and American empires do not represent all modern empires.
Therefore, I think the two interpretations mentioned above are too linear and too constrained by time and the current course of human history. If the second coming of the Lord is delayed, there may be many more changes in human history. In other words, if we interpret scriptures based on the things that have already happened in human history, we may not get a complete picture. A lot of things haven’t happened yet, and even the things that have happened can be interpreted from different angles.
The great image that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream was a symbolic, prophetic picture that has not yet been completely fulfilled. At that time the only kingdom that existed was Babylon, the head. The other empires had not yet risen to power. If we interpret the last empire as the Roman Empire or the Anglo-American Empire, then why have we not seen an eternal kingdom ushered in during the reign of the fifth king (Daniel 2:45)? Although this verse mentions crushing the image’s feet, another verse references striking the entire great image (2:34-35). We know that historically, during the reign of the fifth king of the Roman empire, the Babylonian Empire and Nebuchadnezzar were long gone. Yet in the vision, the golden head still exists when the entire image is destroyed. I believe this word picture is describing the spiritual reality of the five kingdoms rather than their physical reality. Physically, Babylon no longer existed; but spiritually, it was still the head.
What exactly does this head of gold represent? And what about the silver, bronze, iron, and clay mentioned in this verse? These precious metals are a picture of the continuous degeneration of human regimes and their separation from God. Gold represents God’s disposition. Because God had direct contact with Nebuchadnezzar, he publicly extolled the God of heaven. But his descendant Belshazzar completely forgot about God and offended Him. The human regimes were already beginning to deteriorate. The next empire was likened to silver, the next to bronze, the next to iron, and the next to clay. In each of these substances, the value was getting lower and lower as the substances contained less and less precious metal. This shows that the human regimes were becoming less and less obedient to God.
Despite their disobedience, human regimes have a measure of God-given authority. God uses human governments as tools to perfect His chosen people. He uses them like a rider uses a mounting block to mount the horse. God uses the nations like scaffolding to support his purposes until his work is complete. For example, King Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant to discipline Israel. After the seventy years of Israel’s captivity were over, God raised up Cyrus to lead the Israelites back to Jerusalem. All this happened in God’s timing. Just like God had designated a specific length of time for Israel’s captivity, God has designated a specific length of time for the entire history of mankind. Again, these human governments serve as scaffolding for God’s purposes. During the construction process, the scaffolding takes on the general shape of the building and assists in the construction process. But it is not part of the building itself. After the construction work is completed, the scaffolding will be dismantled. Similarly, to a certain extent, Satan can build imitation kingdoms that imitate God’s work. He builds the kingdom of Babylon around the kingdom of God to tempt people to worship Satan. God may allow these kingdoms to exist for a time to serve his purposes, like scaffolding serves the purposes of the builders. But he will eventually tear them down.
The Work of God is to Build the Body of Christ
Human empires are a hybrid between God’s will and Satan’s infiltration. Paul said, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1); On the one hand, these rulers are used by God to maintain justice; but on the other hand, Satan infiltrates human governments and uses human greed to do evil things. I believe that the further down you move on the image (gold, silver, bronze, iron, and mud), the more Satan has infiltrated the good purposes of that human kingdom. I have been taught that feet of iron mixed with clay represent an end-time empire that is half democracy (clay) and half autocracy (iron). There may be some truth to this explanation, but I am more inclined to think that the half-iron and half-clay empire represents an end-time empire that has rejected God even more fully.
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24:12, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” This was His reply to His disciples when they asked when the end of the world would come. He then said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (13). Jesus continued, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (14). What is the gospel of the kingdom? It is the stone cut out without human hands which struck the great image into pieces. In other words, it is Christ. In Matthew 24:15, Jesus made a very meaningful statement referencing “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (let the reader understand).” Then Jesus spoke about the Great Tribulation.
Why did Jesus ask his readers to understand the prophecies of the book of Daniel? Because the prophecies in the book of Revelation and the visions of Daniel were all connected. Jesus wanted them to fully comprehend the essence of the imagery, dreams, and visions in Daniel, not just their literal meaning. We must fully understand the essence of what the image of Daniel represents. What is this essence? The essence is that behind human government lies human pride, and behind human pride lies the work of Satan—just like when the ancient people built the Tower of Babel to make a name for themselves. Behind their human pride lay Satan’s influence, as he tried to get them to build a tower to worship him. When humans work in pride, they are actually worshipping Satan. The Lord destroyed the Tower of Babel, and he also destroyed the great image mentioned in Daniel. These two stories depict the same theme: destroying idolatry. The big question is: Who is receiving worship? Satan wants to seize people’s worship, and God wants to receive humans’ worship. The issue of worship lies at the heart of the reason this great image was destroyed.
Satan used human regimes and human pride to garner worship for himself. Even though the nation of Babylon was destroyed long ago, the pride and arrogance of Babylon live on. It is as if the golden head of this great image still exists. The human regimes of the ages have built a great spiritual Babylon. They are a counterfeit version of the body of Christ, and they worship Satan instead of God. However, the great stone that fell from the sky is Christ and His true body, which will completely smash Babylon to pieces. The worship of Satan will be destroyed, and the true body of Christ will be built, ushering in the true worship of God.
As Revelation 18:21 says, “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more.’” This is why Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready.” This is the greatest mystery in the universe, which is why Paul said, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness! and without controversy He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, and taken up in glory (1 Timothy 3:16).” Christ was manifested in the flesh, not only to save us from the hold of sin, but also to take us as His Bride and bring us together with Him into glory. This is God’s ultimate plan.
Although the fall of Babylon the Great occurred in Revelation 18, the birth of the man-child in Revelation 11 had already laid the foundation for this event. Revelation 18:2 says, “Babylon the Great is fallen!” Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
Conclusion: The Great Image is a Furnace
The great image mentioned in Daniel, the apostasy mentioned in Matthew 25, and Babylon the Great mentioned in Revelation all represent one thing: the reign of Satan. Jesus says that in the end times, lawlessness will abound, and the love of many will grow cold. Through this lawlessness, Satan steals the glory and worship that God deserves. On the one hand, our human regime is being infiltrated by Satan in an attempt to seize man’s worship of God. But on the other hand, God is using those same human regimes to work all things together for the good of His chosen ones. God uses those regimes to bring salvation to his people and maturity to his bride.
When Daniel’s friends were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to the golden image, Christ was with them and saved them. In the last days, when the Antichrist creates a time of unprecedented distress, the Lord will save those who do not bow to the Antichrist. God uses these human regimes and human suffering to refine his people like a fiery furnace. When God’s precious vessels of God are completely forged, the furnace will no longer be necessary. That is why the image representing the kingdoms of this world was eventually crushed, giving way to God’s eternal kingdom. Just like Nebuchadnezzar tried God’s chosen people in his fiery furnace, God is testing our faith like gold.