There will never be an overthrow of Christ’s kingdom. The stone will smash all opposition to His rule.
He was the most powerful leader of the world at the time, but he couldn’t sleep. So Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was willing to hear from one of his conquered captives: a man named Daniel. Daniel was enabled by God to both know and interpret the king’s dream about a startling, human-like image. He said,
“This image’s head was of fine gold; his breast and his arms were of silver; his belly and his thighs were of bronze; his legs were of iron; his feet were part of iron and part of clay. You watched until a rock was cut out without hands, which struck the image upon its feet which were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were broken to pieces together. And they became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors. And the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them. And the rock that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan. 2:32-35).
Even though Babylon (the gold section of the image) was great and mighty, it would not last; the Medo-Persians (the silver section) would take over. But they would not last either; the Greeks (the bronze section) would succeed them. Yet that powerful and extensive kingdom would also be replaced; the Romans (the iron section) would dominate them. All of these nations had control over the people of God and the land of Israel from Daniel’s day forward. There was also a “foot” part to that image, which has not yet come into effect. It will be a collection of peoples and kingdoms that have only partial cohesiveness (represented by iron and clay). In keeping with the rest of the image, this empire will also have dominance over Jerusalem and Israel.1
The Lord Jesus validated that this was God’s will, but He also stated that this period of Gentile dominion would come to an end: “And they shall fall by the sword’s edge. And shall be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the nations until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Lk. 21:24). How would the times of the Gentiles come to an end? We return to Daniel’s interpretation for the answer:
“And in the days of these kings, the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. And the kingdom shall not be left to other peoples, but it shall crush and destroy all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Because you saw that the rock was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it crushes the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what shall occur after this. And the dream is certain, and its meaning is sure” (Dan. 2:44-45).
Gentile empires will have their time. But, in the end, a Rock will obliterate them all. Messiah will come, and once He has crushed and blown away all competing powers, the Rock will become a great mountain that fills the earth, never to be replaced or rolled away. All peoples will be subject to Him, and His glory will be the only glory (Zech. 14:9). “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low…and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken” (Isa. 40:4-5; cf. Mt. 25:31-34 & Rev. 19:11-16).
How did Nebuchadnezzar respond to such an authoritative pronouncement of his kingdom’s destruction?
“I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored Him who lives forever, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His rule is from generation to generation. And all the people of the earth are counted as nothing; and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the people of the earth. And none can strike His hand, or say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’” (Dan 4:34-35).
His grandson, Belshazzar, would later be reminded that his grandfather “knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and that He appoints over it whomever He will” (Dan. 5:21). That statement was made by the elderly Daniel who pronounced the end of the Babylonian empire that very night, as a result of the pride and blasphemies of King Belshazzar: “you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of Heaven…. And you have not glorified the God in whose hand is your breath and all your ways” (Dan. 5:22-23).
Whether humble or proud, the rulers of this world are all mere mortals—no matter how much power and influence they exert in their transient lives. Every breath they breathe is from God, whether they acknowledge Him or not. And God has declared from the beginning that their rule is temporary, and He will have His day!
The last Gentile empire
The foot stage of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision is still future. It will be headed up by a man known as the “beast,” who will be supernaturally empowered by Satan himself (Rev. 13:2). The devil will be enraged because he has lost the war in Heaven and no longer has a place there (Rev. 12:9). So desperate and deluded are the rulers of this world that they will not repent when God shows His mighty hand during the Tribulation period (Mt. 24:21; Dan. 12:1; 9:27; Rev. 16); rather, they will trade their authority to the devil, like Adam did. But they will lose as certainly as Satan will, and they will no longer have a place on earth.
“And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have received no kingdom yet, but will receive authority as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them. For He is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev. 17:12-14).
Then “the times of the Gentiles” will be over in an instant (Dan. 2:35)!
In this interim period, the Lord has given us a message to declare about His will: “Now He strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
Let us not fret about the nations and their rulers (though we should pray for them, 1 Tim. 2:1-4); their time is nearly at an end. Christ is coming back soon for His Bride and will subsequently bring the crushing blow to the kingdoms and systems of this world. While we wait, may we each echo Deuteronomy 32:3-4: “I will proclaim the name of Jehovah, ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock; His work is perfect. For all His ways are just, a God of faithfulness, and without evil; just and upright is He.”
1 The five stages of the vision are five empires which have control over Jerusalem. For this reason, it is perfectly valid that there be no gap between the leg and foot stages of the vision. No empire conquered the Romans, and since then, there has not been an empire that has perpetually dominated Israel. So the next such empire chronologically is the one under the leadership of the beast of Revelation 12, fulfilling Daniel chapters 2 and 9.