On 10-4-2006, I posted a clip titled "The Colossus is Back!". This post highlighted some views by Marvin Rosenthal on Daniel chapter 2 and other passages. I was sort of pondering his views, but now I am going to post my views and point out how they differ from Marv’s. These are tangential differences, that is, quite minor.
When we read Daniel 2 and envision the Colossus that Nebuchadnezzar saw, it is obvious that Daniel chapter 7, the vision that Daniel had, is a parallel passage and actually helps us interpret Daniel 2. First, let’s summarize Daniel 2 and the Colossus. I prefer the term Colossus to image or statue because of the X-Man, Colossus.
The Head of Gold ~ The Babylonian Empire
The Chest and Arms of Silver ~ The Medo-Persian Empire
The Belly and Thighs of Brass ~ The Grecian Empire
The Legs of Iron ~ The Roman Empire
The Feet and Toes of Clay and Iron ~ ????
The entire Colossus embodies the period in time known as "The Times of the Gentiles". This began with Gentile dominion over the nation of Israel by a series of empires, the first of which is the Babylonian Empire. Daniel chapter 1 begins this theme with Daniel and friends going into captivity to Babylon. The theme continues to the end of the book with the promise that Daniel will "stand in his lot at the end of his days" (Daniel 12:13), meaning either he will return to Israel as they are regathered to Jerusalem as decreed by Cyrus, (Isaiah 45:1, II Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-4), or that Daniel will ultimately participate in the resurrection (Daniel 12:1-3) allowing him to claim an inheritance in the heavenly Jerusalem,
The Colossus spans this period in time from beginning to end. We know the beginning, but what about the end? And what about the development of the Colossus as we approach the end of the age? Let us turn to the vision of the four beasts to obtain some more information. Here are the basic facts of this vision.
The Lion with Eagle’s Wings ~ The Babylonian Empire
The Bear on one side with Three Ribs between teeth ~ The Medo-Persian Empire
The Leopard with Four Wings and Four Heads ~ The Grecian Empire
The Ten Horned Beast with Iron Teeth ~ The Roman Empire
If you remember in Marv’s view, each of the empires remains [after its demotion from empire status] as an individual territory or country. I agree that the gold, silver, and brass are not truly destroyed until the very end of the entire Colossus. This is when the rock cut out of a mountain without hands smashes the entire Colossus at once. This is when Christ comes and smashes the Gentiles world powers and sets up His kindgom.
But, the vision in Daniel 7 gives us more details as to how the first three empires fit in with the fourth empire. Note what the fourth beast does to the first three beasts:
Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
Note the phrase "it devoured and brake in pieces and stamped the residue". The residue means the rest of the beasts. This visions tells us that the fourth empire will break into pieces the first three empires and sort of digest them all into its very being by chewing them up with his great iron teeth. Let’s look at the interpretation of the vision that the angel gives us.
Daniel 7:23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
Here we have an interpretation that tells us the same thing; an empire will arise after the first three that will sort of encompass all the parts of the first three into its being. Two points of information before going on. #1- The Greek Empire was never officially defeated by the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire, true to this vision, just sort of began enveloping the characteristics of each territory into its very identity. Hence, the Greek gods were simply adopted by the Roman gods and given new Roman names. There was no attempt to wipe out the schooling, religion, highway structure, and progress that the Greek Empire had made, only to absorb it. #2- The snapshot of these empires as seen in the beasts are the final snapshots of these empires. The Greek Empire did not have four divisions at its beginning. The four heads came up later after the death of Alexander the Great. Even though we see the leopard with four heads, the vision is accurate because it is the final condition of the Greek Empire immediately before its demise. You see where this is going?
Even though the Roman Empire never had ten divisions, the vision is still accurate because this is how the Roman Empire will exist in its final form. There will be an empire with ten divisions or kingdoms. Now here is where the difference is. In my view, the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, and the Greek Empire need not exist as separate territories outside the ten nations since the Roman Empire incorporated them into its very being. They may very well be represented in the final ten nations as a part of the ten nation alliance that will unite against Christ Himself, but since the Roman Empire digested them, they will not exist outside of this. The book of Revelation should be our final word since it is the latest in the progressive revelation. Let’s see what Revelation has for us.
Historical Note: Revelation was written during the time of the Roman Empire. The fourth empire was already in existence, but no division of ten nations ever formed within its boundaries. But John did have this vision. Just after Revelation 12 [which depicts the devil coming down to the earth with only a little time left] we have the rise of a beast from the sea. Just the word "beast" reminds us of Daniel’s vision of four beasts. Lo and Behold! What do we see coming up out of the sea?
Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Note the ten horns and one other fact. This beast has the characteristics of a leopard, a bear, and a lion all within its very being. What does that tell us? The fourth beast has digested the first three beasts within its very being. The fourth beast that will arise out of the sea is an amalgamation of the first three beasts. What Daniel saw happening at some point in time in the future, John saw as an already developed reality. So, in a departure from Marv’s interpretation, I believe that the identity of the three nations that now embody the first three empires is irrelevant. I would entertain the slight possibility that both interpretations (Marv’s and mine) may be correct since these ideas are not mutually exclusive.
What are we waiting for? We are waiting for the formation of a ten nation confederacy within the limits of the old Roman Empire. Ten kings will give their authority to the beast, Revelation 17:12-14. The beast, by way of one leader, will make war with the saints and prevail against them, Daniel 7:21, will make war with those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ, Revelation 12:17.
Now on to why I titled this, "The Colossus Never Left". There is a transition from gold to silver to brass to iron to iron/clay that must not be overlooked. There is a distinct depreciation in the metals as we approach the end of the age. There is also a strengthening in the metals. Gold is softer than iron, but more valuable. We see that the governmental structures of the earth, from Nebuchadnezzar to Ceasar, became increasingly devalued, but tougher. The Babylonian Empire was a true monarchy. When we arrive at the Medo-Persian Empire, we see the king consulting his counselors before taking action, Esther 1:13-15 in an Aristocratic Monarchy. The Greek Empire introduced the idea of democracy while still retaining the military might of the government ruling as a Military Oligarchy. The Roman Empire further drifted introducing an "Emperor" who would be the chief magistrate of a Republic, not a hereditary occupier of a throne. Clay has further been introduced across the globe especially since the American Revolution in the name of democracy with absolutely no monarch or emperor whatsoever.
Where are we now? We are at the place in the Colossus where clay and iron are being co-mingled but don’t really cling to each other. Just look at the governmental structures across the earth today. They are either some form of iron, like the Roman Empire was, or some form of clay (like our good old United States of America). We also see that the Colossus is still standing right on Israel’s chest. The nations of the world are in a position of dominion over Israel. The stage is set for the ten kings to come out. Like I wrote, The Colossus Never Left.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman