At least, it has up to now. Thinking about the Bible as History, it is much more than that. It presents the reader with an interventionist God who plays his part in our world. In Daniel chapter 2 there is this strange Babylonian dream that turns out to be a prediction come true. The 25 year-old Nebuchadnezzar had succeeded his father, Nabopolassar, as king of Babylon. It was the beginning of the 70-year captivity of the Israelites in Babylon from the Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion in 605 BC. Two others followed, 597 and then the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple in 586 BC.
In the second year of his reign Nebuchadnezzar had a very strange dream that needed interpreting (Daniel 2:1). It becomes a life and death issue but the dream and its interpretation and commentary are recorded in Daniel 2: 1- 49. The dream was an outline of the world’s political structure from Daniel’s day down to the end of the world, as we know it (Daniel 2: 27, 28). I’m more than a skeptic when it comes to claims of foretelling, but this story shows, along with many other evidences, why the Bible is very different. Said Daniel to the king,”You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue – an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay (Dan 2:31-33).
“While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on the summer threshing floor. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34-35).
This great metallic man was built of five different minerals – gold, silver, brass, iron and clay. The image was finally destroyed when struck by a great stone.
The Head of Gold represented the Kingdom of Babylon, of which Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler (Daniel 2:38). This kingdom was at that very time the world dominating power. But it was not to last forever – just a portion of human history – from 605-538 BC. The chest and arms of silver indicated a second world-dominating power would arise. Babylon would give way to Persia. Daniel 2:39 says, “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours.” An unearthed clay cylinder, the Cyrus Cylinder, can be seen at the British Museum. It includes a record of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 538 BC.
The Persian Empire endured a little longer than Babylon – 538-331 BC. It also extended its empire a little further, but in due time, it too would run its course, as Daniel went on to say, “Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the earth (Daniel 2:39).
The next world dominating empire was Greece. Under Alexander the Great, the Greeks overthrew the Persians in 331 BC, but the Greeks too would eventually surrender their world supremacy to yet another mighty power. Daniel 2:40, says the fourth kingdom was to be an iron kingdom. The next great world-conquering empire that arose was the iron monarchy of Rome. It arose to power in 168 BC, and was still ruling the world in the days of Jesus.
The prediction indicated that after Rome there would NOT come a fifth world-empire, but a division, gradually breaking up into a number of parts, which is what happened. An excerpt from Gibbon’s six volume History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, gives information on Rome’s fall and fragmentation under the invasion of Barbarian Tribes. These Teutonic Tribes from Northern Europe swarmed across the Rhine and the Danube, appropriating to themselves the rich territories of the empire – they laid the foundations of the modern nations of Europe – we in the UK trace ourselves to the Anglo-Saxons. Wiki provides a map of divisions within the Roman Empire in 476 AD, the generally accepted date of the demise of Rome.
What is then very remarkable is to read in Daniel 2: 41-42. It says that the divided kingdoms of the broken Roman Empire were to be PARTLY STRONG AND PARTLY BROKEN (or weak). This prediction made 2,500 years ago has been accurately fulfilled – despite such as Hitler and others before him who have tried to overrule it. Since the demise of Rome in 476 AD the prediction has been going strong, up to now at least (will Brussels be its downfall?).
But according to this prediction in Daniel 2, there is to be a fifth world Empire to follow this break-up of Rome. The prophet Daniel said 2500 years ago, “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, . . .”(Dan 2:44). Looking at where we are in the scheme of time according to that prediction in Daniel 2 – the believer has every reason to be excited about the soon coming of Jesus? His is the kingdom this prediction pointed to (Hebrews 9:27,28). He promised his disciples he would return (John 14:1-3). In John 6:40, Jesus said to his disciples, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him, shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” In his kingdom, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,” (Revelation 21:4).
This will all be realized when Jesus comes again as we are promised (Hebrews 9:27,28). The incredible accuracy of this 2,500-year prophecy leaves us with no doubts about what the Bible has to say about the future.
For those who accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, death is not the end. There is much more to say another time on the subject the of the Second Advent of Jesus so a good place to end this blog would be with most the well-known verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that he his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). There is God’s invitation – to all who will.