Daniel 2: the First or Second Coming of Christ?

Category: The End Times 203 1

The book of Daniel is perhaps one of the most read books in the Bible. The obvious reason is its connection to end-time prophecy. In Daniel, we have sections concerning world empires, the Antichrist, and the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. There are so many different interpretations about these passages it is hard to keep track of all of them, and Daniel 2 is one of the chapters where there is disagreement.

Daniel 2 gives us details about a dream King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had one night. The dream consisted of a large statue that was divided into five major parts which represented different kingdoms: 1) a head of gold (Babylon); 2) arms and chest of silver (Medo-Persia; 3) belly and thighs of bronze (Greece); 4) legs of iron (usually thought to be Rome); and 5) feet and toes of iron and clay (typically believed to be the latter part of the Roman Empire or a revived Roman Empire in the Last Days). After describing the feet and toes, Daniel notes that a rock strikes the statue on the feet and destroys the statue. This rock then grows into a mountain and fills the whole earth. This mountain is the Kingdom of God, and has been interpreted by most Christians as referring to the second coming of Christ (the feet and toes are often thought of as the kingdom of the Antichrist).

However, there is another interpretation of the meaning of the mountain. In his book, False Christ, author Chris White proposes that Daniel 2 does not refer to the second coming of Christ, but to the first coming of our Lord two thousand years ago. He refers to passages such as Matthew 12:28, 13:31-33; Luke 17:20-21; and Mark 1:15. These passages refer to the kingdom of God beginning during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry.[1] White gives other reasons for his belief:

1) The legs, feet, and toes are the Roman Empire.[2]

2) If the feet and toes are the kingdom of the Antichrist then this means the Antichrist will have a weak and divided empire since the feet and toes in Daniel 2 are said to be divided and only partly strong. White says, “The descriptions of the Antichrist’s kingdom in the Bible do not give the impression that it will be weak or divided, but rather that he will have absolute power, and that those who do not worship him will be killed. This does not sound like a weak or divided kingdom.”[3]

3) Daniel 2:42 says that the final kingdom will “be partly strong and partly brittle.” White says, “[T]his is a terrific description of the last three hundred or so years of the Roman Empire. There were times during this period, often called ‘the decline of the Roman Empire,’ in which Rome was partly strong in some ways, but partly fragile in others.” It is even grammatically necessary to see the division of the Roman Empire in these verses into east and west.[4]

4) Verses 41-44 say, “Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”

White believes that verses 41-44 are referring to the eastern and western sections of the Roman Empire pledging their sons and daughters to one another in a political marriage.[5] In the NIV verse 44 is translated “so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united.” The New King James Version translates it as “they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another.”

White gives pretty good reasoning to his interpretation concerning that this is referring to political marriages (mixing/mingling with one another). Since Roman history is filled with examples of political marriages between the eastern and western halves then this is good reason to believe that the Roman Empire fulfills Daniel 2.

The statue of Daniel 2.
The statue of Daniel 2.

Problems with White’s theory

However, White’s beliefs have some problems.

1) To put it simply, the Roman Empire does not fit the description of the legs of iron, and feet and toes. In my article, “Daniel 2 and the Antichrist” I note that Rome falls short of Daniel’s description of the final kingdom in a number of ways. First, 2:40 says that the kingdom of iron will crush, break, and smash the previous kingdoms. Rome never did this. Rome never conquered the Persian Empire (the arms and chest of silver), and one will have a hard time arguing that they conquered Babylon as well (the head of gold).Second, the kingdom of Iron emerges out of the belly and thighs of bronze, which is the Greek Empire. Most think that the divided Roman Empire fits this perfectly since Rome was split into two empires late in its history (eastern and western sections). However, there is a major problem with this. Let me quote from my article on Daniel 2:

“It is likely that the belly represents Alexander the Great. Alexander was strong and had the central authority over his kingdom (as the abdominal muscles are the core/center of the human body). After he died, his empire was divided into four kingdoms. However, only two of them had importance in the history of Israel – the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyrus, and other parts of North Africa. This was the western section of Alexander’s empire. The Seleucids ruled Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and most points eastward toward India. This is the eastern section.

The kingdom of iron will come out of the two divisions of the Greek Empire, and the feet and toes will emerge out of the kingdom of iron. This seems to indicate that five of the ten kings will emerge from the western part of Alexander’s empire while the other five will come out of the eastern part. The ten kings of the feet of the statue reappear in Daniel 7:7, 20; and Revelation 13:1; 17:12-14. Revelation 16:12 tells us about how the Euphrates River will dry up so that the kings of the East can come westward to Armageddon (v. 16). The context seems to point to the kings of the East being identified with the kings that emerge from the Beast.

This presents a major problem for a Roman Antichrist [and the arguments of White]. Why would the western and eastern portions of the Greek Empire (both Middle Eastern) shift into Western and Eastern Europe for the legs of iron (if it is Rome), but shift back to the Middle East for the feet and toes? Daniel 2 seems to point to the fact that the kingdom of iron will emerge in the same area as the Ptolemies and Seleucids.”

Quite frankly, the Eastern and Western Roman Empires simply do not correspond with Daniel 2. The only kingdom that can fit into the description of the legs of iron, and feet and toes of Daniel 2 is the Islamic Caliphate. See my article (link above) for more details.

2) There are various passages in Scripture that point to the fact that the Antichrist will be a ruler over a kingdom that is divided into multiple parts. Daniel 7:7, 8, 24 speak about how the final kingdom will be divided into ten nations, and that the Antichrist will subdue three of them. Revelation 17:12-13 also note that these ten kings will give their power and authority to the Antichrist. The very fact that the Antichrist will have to subdue three other kingdoms seems to point to the fact that there is some kind of division among them.

White argues that the toes of Daniel 2 and the horns of Daniel 7 do not correspond to each other. His reasoning is that there is no mention of ten toes in Daniel 2. He notes that no one mentions the ten fingers or two eyes or ears, so why make special mention of ten toes. When Daniel wanted the reader to pay attention to the number of something he would mention the number (for example, the number of horns, the number of ribs in the mouth of the bear in Daniel 7, etc).[6]

Personally, I think that White’s explanation is weak. First, the toes are mentioned in verses 41 and 42. Second, I do not understand why White brings up ears, fingers, and eyes considering that these are not given any significance in Daniel 2 while the toes are. Concerning the number of toes it is natural for feet to have ten toes just like it is natural that a human statue would have two arms, one head, and two legs. In fact, the number of legs is not mentioned so how do we know there are only two legs? Maybe there are three of four? I personally do not believe this, but I want to point out that even though the number of legs is not mentioned, White still assumes that there are two when he thinks they represent the two divisions of the Roman Empire.

3) The details that the kingdom of iron will become divided do not only describe the Roman Empire, but other kingdoms throughout history – especially the Islamic Empire. The Caliphate was strong and united from its inception during the time of Muhammad to the year 750 AD. After this year, the Caliphate would be slowly divided over the centuries until what we have today – no caliph (unless you count ISIS) and dozens of Muslim countries.

4) The Roman Empire is not the only kingdom in history to have political alliances through marriages. A majority have, including Muslim nations.

5) A major problem for White’s theory is that he places the inception of the kingdom of God during the days of the feet and toes (the end of the Roman Empire in his view). The strongest argument that White gives is that the kingdom of God was established during Christ’s earthly ministry and will grow over time. However, Christ’s earthly ministry would have been during the phase of iron, not iron and clay. So if God meant for the final kingdom in Daniel 2 to represent the first coming of Christ, then he would have had the rock strike the statue in the legs, and not the feet, or the feet would have been included with the iron legs.

Conclusion

Although White’s theory is interesting and a fresh look at the book of Daniel, it falls short. It does not explain all the data very well and ultimately causes more problems than it seeks to solve.

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[1] Chris White. False Christ (Ducktown: CWM Publishing, 2014). 203, 214-215 (Kindle Edition).

[2] Ibid. 203.

[3] Ibid. 205, 229-230.

[4] Ibid. 206-207.

[5] Ibid. 210-211.

[6] Ibid. 230.

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One thought on “Daniel 2: the First or Second Coming of Christ?

  1. Duane Shippy

    I tend to agree with your assessment – Daniel 2 doesn’t quite fit the first coming of the Lord, seems a better fit for the 2nd coming. One thing you didn’t mention was Dan 2:44 where this new kingdom will crush the other kingdoms and will itself endure forever. The other kingdoms end, but the new kingdom is forever and won’t be given to others, which seems to be a geographic kingdom, not necessarily only spiritual. This wasn’t fulfilled in the Lord’s first coming.

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