My friend recently gave me a book to read about Daniel's prophesies. It was written by the Jehovah's Witnesses so I was a bit apprehensive about trusting what it said, but she wanted to discuss it so I read the section on this particular one. As I suspected, there was something dodgy about the way it was presented, which was unfortunate, because really, part of the prediction is quite accurate, and would be impressive, if they hadn't ruined it by trying to make it look like the prophesy is talking about the present day.
So here is the first part of the prophesy in Daniel 2 :29-31. This is about a king who had a troubling dream that no one could interpret. Daniel steps up and describes it to him:
"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.
Daniel goes on to explain what this part of the dream means in Daniel 2:38-41
You are that head of gold. After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 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.
The Jehovah's Witness book called “Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophesy” then gives names to these kingdoms that would rule over Israel. They put it in a chart saying:
Gold represents the Babylonian Empire, which went from 607 BC.
Silver the Medo-Persian Empire from 539 BC
Bronze the Greek Empire from 331 BC
Iron the Roman Empire from 30 BC
Iron and Clay the Anglo-American Empire from 1763 AD
To start the analysis, I added in when each empire ended. According to this book:
Gold represents the Babylonian Empire, which went from 607 BC. to 539 BC
Silver the Medo-Persian Empire from 539 BC to 331 BC
Bronze the Greek Empire from 331 BC to 30 BC
Iron the Roman Empire from 30 BC to 476 and AD in the West
1453 AD in the East
Iron and Clay the Anglo-American Empire from 1763 AD to now
Lots of things leap to the eye already. The prophesy talks about successive rules, while this chart shows a gap of 300 years between the last two Empires. What happened to the Spanish Empire, the Ottoman Empire the Arab empire, among others? Also how could they possibly say that the British Empire and the American Empire are the same? Also, the dates are a bit off – for instance, the Roman Empire started 27 BC. So let's do an honest chart of the powers that ruled over Israel from Daniel's time to now. The chart would look like this:
Gold represents the Babylonian Empire, which ruled Israel from 607 BC. to 539 BC
Silver the Medo-Persian Empire 539 BC to 332 BC
Bronze the Greek Empire 332 BC to 63 BC
Iron the Romans (before and during its empire) 63 BC to 614 AD
the Sassanian Empire 614 to 628
the Byzantium Empire 628 to 637
Ummayad, Abbasid, and Crusaders 637 to 1260
The Mamluk Sultinate 1260- 1516
the Ottoman Empire 1516-1922
the British Empire 1922- 1948
Today Independent with heavy US support 1948 until now.
There is no way that the feet of iron and clay can refer to the present day then. The Jehovah Witnesses Book is totally wrong, and fudging things to fit in with their beliefs that the Messiah will come now. But let's not leave the analysis there. Let's pursue it further.
So which Empire is the one represented by Iron mixed with clay? If the Roman Empire is represented by iron, then it is a time where the Roman Empire still existed, but had been replaced in some parts with other ruling forces. This fits in very nicely with the period between 476 AD and 1453 AD. Thus the Daniel's prophesy ended 1453. There's no way the book of Daniel was written during this time. Most critics would say it is written before 200 BC, so the dream the king had was quite impressive. But then the rest of the prophesy goes:
Daniel 2: 34-35
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 a threshing floor in the summer. 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 says the prophesy means this in Daniel 2:44:
In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
He was obviously referring to the coming of the Messiah but that hasn't happened. But, just for argument's sake, what if the dream was prophetic, even if the interpretation was wrong? What would the stone be that shattered the statue and changed things forever?
To be clear, the dream said :
But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
Assuming that whatever it was had to occur right after the fall of the Roman Empire in 1453, I looked up what happened in the 15th century. What immediately sprung to the eye was that the printing press was invented around 1455.
According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press#Historical_Impact,:
“The printing press was a factor in the establishment of a community of scientists who could easily communicate their discoveries through the establishment of widely disseminated scholarly journals, helping to bring on the scientific revolution.”
So God shattered the old world by introducing an invention that would democratize religion, politics and create a mountain of knowledge that people nowadays would say was the threat to His very survival! Yet, if this is treated as a prophesy, it means God is not an enemy of science, in fact, He wants it to advance!!! So those who oppose the scientific ways of looking at the world actually oppose GOD!
That really is quite ironic given that I started this line of inquiry by reading a book by creationists. I guess God really DOES move in mysterious ways!
Information on the true rulers over Israel taken from:
"Ancient Palestine," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2008
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel#History