Preterism is the belief that Jesus Christ symbolically returned and established the Kingdom of God on the earth in 70 A.D. and that the prophetic Scriptures recorded in the Bible have already been fulfilled in the past. This is a nothing more than a "doctrine of devils" which departs from the Apostolic teachings laid down in Scripture, held by the early Church believers. This article is written in response to this false doctrine, following the command of God to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3)
We have recorded in the second chapter of Daniel a vision of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as well as the interpretation of it by Daniel the prophet. This vision has confounded atheistic historians as to how the Bible could have been so accurate in predicting the political history of the world, but even more importantly, this vision gives us Christians an invaluable prophetic timeline of the plan of God in the redemption of the earth.
GOD WITH US
The chapter begins with Nebuchadnezzar having a dream but then promptly forgetting it, and he summons all his magicians and counselors to him in the hope that they might use their magic and wisdom to both recall and explain the night vision that he had. Of course, the kings request was beyond human capacity. In verse 21, one of the Chaldeans pleads:
"It is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh."
This is a fascinating and revealing statement! Of the Gentile nations around Israel, none of their gods were such that would desire a home or a habitation with man, but remained distant and apart from their earthly proximity. But the God of Israel is just the opposite. You remember that at the creation of the earth, God dwelt with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, walking about in the cool of the day with them. It was God's full intention when He created the world to have a people that He could dwell with; that they would be His people, and He would be their God. This is a fascinating side of our Father in Heaven that we often forget.
Jesus Christ was also named Emmanuel, which means "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14), and though He has ascended to Heaven, it is still in God's plan to return to earth with His glorious Kingdom to rule and dwell among the tabernacles of men. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Revelation 21:3) "The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." (Isaiah 60:19) Even the sun will be unnecessary when Jehovah God is in our midst! Thy Kingdom come, Lord!
THE VISION AND INTERPRETATION
In a rage, Nebuchadnezzer orders the death of all the wise men in his kingdom, but when Daniel hears of this he sets his heart to seek the Lord about the meaning of the vision, and God miraculously answers him in the night. The following is the discourse between Daniel and the king, with the vision and the interpretation of the vision:
Dan 2:25 "Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
Dan 2:26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
Dan 2:27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king;
Dan 2:28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
Dan 2:29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
Dan 2:30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Dan 2:31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
Dan 2:32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
Dan 2:33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
Dan 2:34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces.
Dan 2:35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Dan 2:36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
Dan 2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
Dan 2:38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
Dan 2:39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
Dan 2:40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
Dan 2:41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
Dan 2:42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
Dan 2:43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
Dan 2:45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure."
This vision is possibly one of the most significant revelations given in Scripture as it reveals not only the timeline of the political history of the world, but also the exact time when God shall establish the Kingdom of God in the earth, which fills the fullness thereof and destroys every kingdom of man.
Right away we read that this is a vision of the end of days, for Daniel says to the king, "But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days." (2:28) Latter can only mean the end, or last. If "latter" meant sometime in the middle, it would not be latter. We find this word latter appear all throughout Scripture, and in the prophetic context each reference concerns the end of days. Consider Job, who spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (Job 19:23-27) This is a remarkable prophecy of the resurrection and the coming of the Lord to earth at the end of the age. This verse also reinforces the expectation that God will dwell with men upon the earth once again. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that this vision that he received has to do with the end, which is the end of carnal dominion upon the earth.
At first, four kingdoms are represented by four metals on the statue:
1. The head of gold = Babylon
2. The chest and arms of silver = Medo-Persian
3. The belly and thighs of brass = Greece
4. The legs of iron = Rome
The head of gold is revealed by Daniel to mean Babylon (2:38). The chest and arms of silver is said to come after the Babylonian kingdom and will be inferior to Babylon. This is the Medo-Persian kingdom, coming immediately after Babylon (Daniel 5:28), being inferior to it, shared by two to account for it's weakness. The third kingdom which arose after the Medes and Persians was Greece, led by Alexander the Great, represented by the belly and thighs of brass (Daniel 10:20). Finally, the fourth kingdom is at first representative of the Romans, arising after Alexander and subduing the whole known world under it's power. Rome here is represented by the legs of iron. This sequence of kingdoms is reiterated again in Daniel 7 and 8.
Interpreting the gold, silver, brass and iron is quite straightforward, but this is not all Nebuchadnezzar saw. If the vision were to end there, it would certainly not be a vision of the latter days, but the vision does not stop there. As a matter of fact, the most important part of the vision is yet to come.
THE TEN KINGS
It is essential we see that the legs of pure iron become feet of iron mixed with clay. "His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay." (2:33) The legs of iron, as already said, represent Rome at the height of it's power. However, Rome did not remain all that it once was, but weakened, and divided into two separate kingdoms: the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire. "And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken." (2:41-42) Notice that the stone that was cut without man's hands has not yet struck the statue at this point.
Eventually the Roman Empire dissipated and history tells the story of the fragmented remains of what became of it. In Nebuchadnezzar's vision, the Roman Empire was destined to crumble, for the legs of iron get replaced with the feet of iron mixed with clay. The most interesting part of all the statue is the toes, which represent the ten kings who will immediately precede antichrist. The prophetic Scriptures are not silent when it comes to these ten kings. Both Daniel and the Apostle John record highly detailed revelations they were given concerning them:
Dan 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.
Dan 7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
Dan 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Dan 7:26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
Dan 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." (Daniel 7:23-27)
Here the ten kings are described as arising out of the fourth kingdom. Then one shall arise out of them and subdue three of them. We know from the summation of the Bible that this one is identified as the antichrist, who will come in the latter days prior to the return of Jesus Christ. This passage in Daniel 7 also records the antichrist's end, how that he will be destroyed and the Kingdom of God shall be established on the earth and given to the saints.
And so it is we read in Daniel 2:44, that in the days of these kings shall God set up His Kingdom in the earth that shall never be destroyed: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." This is yet to happen, for this is that which will be accomplished in the latter days.
Consider in closing, that the Roman Empire was at it's apex in Jesus' day, while He ministered in Israel for three years and was finally crucified under Pontius Pilate. Caesar Augustus was on the throne, and then Tiberius, and Rome was flourishing as the indomitable ruler of the nations. At this stage on the statue, Rome would have represented the legs of pure iron. Only later in 285 A.D. did the Empire divide into two parts, and the official date which at last marked the end of the Roman Empire was 476 A.D.
According to Daniel 2, the stone which became a mountain struck the statue at the feet, not the legs. "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." (2:34-35) The mountain is the Kingdom of God, which fills the earth when Jesus Christ comes to "smite the nations and make war" (Revelation 19:11-21), "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10), "when he shall come to be glorified in his saints."
Jesus did not come with the Kingdom of God secretly in 70 A.D. The stone did not strike the legs of iron, but the feet "in the days of those kings" when antichrist shall be revealed, and He shall come again to redeem the Church and the earth from the dominion and power of Satan.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!