The God who Controls History
Daniel 2 and Daniel 7
“It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; he gives wisdom to. Wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.”
When the winds of politics blow, it seems arbitrary and haphazard. Our country continually vacillates between the Republican and Democratic parties, forever searching for answers confronting our society but being disappointed by the next elected official. The problem is that we are looking for political solutions to spiritual problems.
Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream in Daniel 2 (which parallels Daniel 7). It is so disconcerting that he refuses to reveal the dream to his magicians, for he wants genuine answers, not fanciful interpretations. Finally, after they fail to tell of his plan, Daniel arrives. But Daniel was not like the other magicians who relied upon sorcery and trickery; he relied upon the living God. After praying about the matter with his three friends, God reveals the dream to Daniel. In the dream, he sees a giant statue of four different metals, each representing four world powers. The Head is made of fine gold. This represents the nation of Babylon, one of the most powerful and influential nations on earth.
The chest is made of silver. After the collapse of Babylon, another nation would arise; this refers to the Medo-Persian. In chapter 7:5, it is described as a bear that is heavily weighted on one side. The Medes and the Persians would form an alliance; however, it would be dominated by the Persians. Furthermore, it had three ribs in its mouth, representing the three major military campaigns in which it would be victorious (Babylon in 539 b.c., Lydian in 546 b.c, and Egypt in 525 b.c.).
The next nation to arise (represented by bronze) would be Greece. The speed by which it would conquer the middle east is described in chapter 7 by the leopard with wings. With lightning speed, Alexander the Great swept across the rest of the nations. However, at the apex of his conquest, he would die suddenly, leaving his kingdom to be divided among his four generals. In the vision of chapter 7, this is described as four heads.
The last kingdom to arise, represented by iron mixed with clay, pictured the Roman Empire. This kingdom would be a divided kingdom that would be both strong and brittle. It would also have ten toes (chapter 7 refers to 10 horns) representing ten nations that will arise from the Roman empire. Finally, in chapter 7, we find that this federation of 10 nations will come at the end of the age, and one leader will arise to take over the world.
In the description of the movements of nations, Daniel describes in perfect detail the movement of the nations in the middle east from the rise of Babylon to the Roman Empire that would dominate the world during the time of Christ. In vivid detail, he describes not only the history but also the characteristics of each nation. However, the remarkable aspect of this prophecy is that he describes all these nations before they came into existence. Daniel, who wrote these words around 540 b.c. outlines the rest of history until the coming of Christ.
However, he does not just stop with the Roman Empire, for he speaks of another kingdom that will arise. That is the final kingdom that God himself will establish. This nation, governed by the Christ, the messianic kingdom, will be established forever and will rule the whole earth. The fulfillment of this prophecy is further described in the book of revelation.
As we read through Daniel’s depiction of the history of nations, we are reminded that God is the one who controls history. He is the one who controls the movement of nations. History is not cyclical but linear, moving towards an end God has pre-ordained. God controls the events of history as he moves the world toward this end. Our hope is not found in the movements of politicians today but in the direction of God throughout history. He is sovereign, and he is in control even of the events today, and for that reason, we no longer need to fear no matter who is in power or how the political winds blow.