Daniel spent most all of his life in Babylon living throughout Judah’s period of captivity. If someone had asked him if he was a premillennialist, he, of course, would have no idea what was being asked. This term would not come into existence until many centuries later, but nevertheless, Daniel would be a champion of a premillennial point of view because he understood God’s covenant promises to his people Israel must be fulfilled.
Premillennialism, as most of our readers know, holds firmly to certain points. First, it believes that the return of Jesus Messiah to the earth will be prior to the start of His messianic (millennial) kingdom. Second, He will rule on this present earth (not on the new earth) for a literal period of 1,000 years. David’s throne is an earthly throne, not one in heaven. Third, at the beginning of His reign the resurrection of believers (the “first resurrection”) takes place and at the end of His thousand year rule, there will be the resurrection of the unsaved dead. Fourth, this period of time is necessary because God has made, on oath, promises to Israel which have not yet been fulfilled.
The Great Statue Vision (Daniel 2). When Daniel was taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, along with others he was educated so that he could more effectively serve the Babylonian king. When the King had a dream (more like a nightmare), he wanted to know the meaning of the dream, and so, he summoned a group who were allegedly able to interpret the dream for him. They were unable to do so. The result of this failure on the part of these who were on the King’s payroll was that they would be put to death. Daniel, who unfortunately was a member in good standing of this elite group, told the King that he could interpret the dream if given just a little time. After cooling down a little, the King recognized that killing off all these scholars of his would bring him no closer to getting what he wanted, which was to know the meaning of his dream. He decided to give Daniel a little time. After prayer with his friends, Daniel received from God all the needed information about the dream as well as its interpretation.
The Content of the King’s Dream. Daniel 2:31-35 records the basic substance of the dream. The dream centered on an immense statue made of a variety of metals. The head was of gold; the chest and arms of silver; the thighs of bronze; the legs of iron; and the feet and toes were of iron combined with clay. But strategic to the dream was the next part; the appearance of a stone. There was a stone which came crashing into the statue, hitting it on its feet. The stone was a “raw” stone in that no human hand had sculpted it. The stone hit the statue with such incredible force that it knocked it over and pulverized each and every part of the statue. After that, a strong wind came and blew away everything, so that not one grain, one flake or bit of residue of the statue remained. It was then that the stone grew and grew until it became a great mountain, dominating the world. Nebuchadnezzar was deeply impressed with Daniel’s ability to relate back to him his dream, and so, was quite open to the interpretation that Daniel would give.
The Interpretation of the King’s Dream. Daniel 2:36-45 is Daniel’s interpretation of the dream. Basically, the various metals represented the next human kingdoms that would rule the world, beginning with Babylon itself. After Babylon would come Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome and then Rome in another form that will appear at the end of human history. The focal point of Daniel’s interpretation was on the feet and toes of the statue where the stone hit. The toes are said to represent “kings” which will reign at the end of times. (Later in Daniel 7, we learn that these kings exist at the same time as one another and will be dominated by someone known as the “little horn”. This “little horn” is the first discussion in the Bible of the man we commonly refer to as “the Antichrist”). It is in the days of those 10 kings that God will establish His kingdom.
The uncut stone forcefully strikes the statue on its feet (not in the head or on the knees) which means that God’s kingdom (the stone) will be established at the end of human history. Now, it is very important to note that the kingdom of God that is going to be established is done so only after the total and complete removal of all of man’s kingdoms. There are no traces of the statue to be found anywhere. The sequence of events in the dream is absolutely clear and is fundamental to the interpretation of this dream.
Important Applications of the Statue Vision. There are a number of key facts which point to God’s kingdom (the messianic/millennial kingdom) being established in connection with the Second Coming of Christ and not in connection with His first coming (which is the position of amillennialism). First, the destruction of the statue is sudden and violent, and is, neither tranquil nor gradual. A quiet, imperceptible victory of a spiritual kingdom is not in view (the position of post-millennialism). The world is not going to be cleaned up, reformed or “Christianized” by the activities of the church. The kingdoms of this world will never be changed by the efforts of man, whether believer or unbeliever. These kingdoms will be suddenly terminated by the Stone. Second, the “stone kingdom” only comes into existence after the total destruction of the kingdoms of man. It is after the statue is totally pulverized and blown away that the stone kingdom fills the whole earth. There is simply no allowance of a parallel existence or a co-existence of man’s kingdoms with the Messianic kingdom. The viewpoint of amillennialism is that the kingdom of Jesus Messiah began at the first coming, exists today and will end at His Second coming. It is obvious that man’s kingdoms not only exist, but dominate the world today. But this is NOT allowed by what is seen in Daniel’s vision.
Third, the kingdom of iron was not destroyed at the Jesus’ first coming. When Jesus came into the world the Roman Empire dominated. When Jesus returned to heaven after His resurrection, the Roman Empire dominated. He did not destroy or remove it which is what is required in this vision. Fourth, the kingdoms of iron and clay did not exist at the first coming. There was no such ten-fold division of the Roman Empire when Jesus was here on earth which would also be required in this vision. He could not have commenced His kingdom at His first coming because this ten-fold division did not exist. Fifth, all of the kingdoms in the vision are political/physical kingdoms. In interpreting the vision, it would be highly questionable to have all the kingdoms be political/physical kingdoms and then to have God’s kingdom not to be of the same kind. The text ought to let us know that we are looking at an entirely different kingdom form if that were the case. Now to be clear, the rule of Christ will be the most “spiritual” of all kingdoms anywhere and at any time. It will be a time where the glorious Christ is present on the earth; where true righteousness dominates all of life on the earth; and where peace, justice and joy are everywhere. But it is still a physical/political kingdom in that a king rules from Jerusalem over all the nations and peoples of the earth.
It is safe to say that Daniel is indeed a premillennialist. His interpretation of the King’s dream makes it abundantly clear that the facts about God’s coming kingdom fits exactly the premillennial pattern but simply does not align itself with either amillennialism or postmillennialism.