Daniel 4: Fulfillment of the Dream, Part 1
May 07, 2015
King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream told him that he would be overthrown for a period of “seven times” (Daniel 4:23, 32 KJV). Daniel boldly told him that he should “break away now from your sins… and from your iniquities” (Daniel 4:27). It is likely that no Babylonian king had ever received such advice from anyone.
The period of seven times applied (as a short-term fulfillment) to a seven-year period in the life of the king himself, where God drove him from his throne. In its long-term fulfillment, it referred to a period of 2,520 years (7 x 360 years) in which he was “eating grass” (Daniel 4:33) like one of the cattle.
In that Daniel’s advice specified that the king should show mercy to the poor in order to postpone or even cancel this judgment, it is plain that God’s sentence was according to the law of equal weights and measures. The king received the same treatment that he had meted out to others. Isaiah 40:6, 7 says, “all flesh is grass… surely the people are grass.” The king had been acting like a bull eating grass—that is, he had been treating his subjects with no mercy, much like a bull believes it is his right to eat grass.
In long-term prophecy, then, we see that the beast empires were to be ruled by men who had as little consideration for the people as a bull has for grass. Such is the mindset of carnal men, and it stands in stark contrast to King Jesus, who was willing to die for the people.
Daniel 4:28-30 says,
28 All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. 29 Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king reflected and said, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself had built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?”
When the king referred to Babylon, it is not clear if he was speaking of the city or of the empire itself. The distinction is only important if we believe that the king was looking at his famous “hanging gardens,” one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Many have speculated that these gardens never existed, because they were never found in the excavations of Babylon. However, it seems that they were located in Nineveh, which was the capital of Assyria prior to its capture and incorporation into the Babylonian empire.
Nineveh was 300 miles north of Babylon near the modern city of Mosul in Iraq. Though King Nebuchadnezzar probably enhanced the beauty of those hanging gardens, Dr. Stephanie Dalley claims that he did not build them.
For centuries, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, has been credited with the birth of a lavishly watered paradise in the fertile crescent of what is now central Iraq in the 6th century BC.
But there is one problem: no remains of the Hanging Garden have ever been found in Babylon. When a German team spent 19 years excavating the site during the last century, Dr. Dalley writes that they “expected to find inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar confirming that he built the garden.”
She adds: “To their dismay, they could not find any possible location with enough space in the vicinity of the palaces, nor did they dig out any written confirmation from the many texts they unearthed….”
Dr. Dalley argues that the garden was never at Babylon at all and Nebuchadnezzar has been wrongly credited with its birth. The true authors of this wonder were the Assyrians at their capital, Nineveh, found near today's city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Nonetheless, the record in Daniel 4 makes no mention of the Hanging Gardens, so it may be that he was actually at the royal palace in the city of Babylon itself.
Wherever he was when he proudly made his statement, it was spoken twelve months after his dream. In other words, God gave the king a grace period of twelve months in which to repent of his mistreatment of his subjects. Such grace periods reflect the mind of God, whose normal practice is to give people time to repent before executing judgment. Even the Babylonian king was given a grace period.
In this we also see that the kings of the world system are directly accountable to God, for they received the Dominion Mandate that had once belonged to the kings of Judah. With that authority came an equal level of responsibility to bring forth the fruits of the Kingdom. This, of course, was not possible, simply because they did not have the calling to succeed in this. Nonetheless, they were held legally accountable, and for this reason, judgment came upon each of those empires in turn.
The twelve month grace period itself, then, represents in long-term prophecy the whole of the 2,520-year period leading to the fall of the last beast system (the little horn). If we break this down into twelve periods, each “month” is 210 years long, for 12 x 210 = 2,520 years.
Likewise, since a prophetic month is thirty days, we can say that each “day” in this twelve-month period is actually a week of years, or one Sabbath land-rest period.
The Twelve Tribes in Captivity
Not only Judah but also the other tribes of Israel were put under these beast empires when Babylon conquered Assyria, for the ten tribes had been deported to Assyria and were under their authority when the power shifted to Babylon. So this twelve-month grace period given to King Nebuchadnezzar—which represents the entire 2,520-year time that the beast nations possessed the Dominion Mandate—represents 210 years of dominion for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
In Numbers 7 we see that it took twelve days for the twelve tribes to dedicate the altar of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. The head of each tribe, on his specified day, gave an offering that weighed 210 shekels, for a total of 2,520 shekels. Each offered one silver dish weighing 130 shekels of silver, one silver bowl of 70 shekels, and a golden pan weighing 10 shekels (Numbers 7:13, 14, 19, 20, 25, 26, etc.).
The number 210 is prophetically significant, because it represents “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jeremiah 30:7), that is, the time of Israel’s 2,520-year tribulation. Recall that Jacob himself had experienced two times of distress (“trouble” KJV), each being 21 years long. First he was a virtual slave in exile for 21 years after fleeing from his brother Esau. Later, he was separated from his beloved son, Joseph, for 21 years.
These two 21-year periods formed the foundational pattern of 21 x 10 years of distress for the Israel nation itself. Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, where they were virtual slaves in exile for 210 years. (The 400 years mentioned in Genesis 15:13 actually begins with the birth of Isaac 190 years before Jacob moved to Egypt. It begins with Abram's seed, Isaac, being born in a land that was not his--that is, in Canaan.)
Years later, the tribes of Joseph were separated from their brethren in Judah for 210 years (931-721 B.C.), until the tribes of Israel (and Joseph) were taken to Assyria. These two times of Israel’s national distress followed the personal pattern set by Jacob himself. The 21 year cycles were short-term patterns, while the 210 year cycles were long-term cycles.
The long-term cycles were then multiplied by twelve, one for each of the tribes separated and exiled for 2,520 years (210 x 12). This was to last until the Dominion Mandate should be given to “the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:22, 27, KJV).
That time of tribulation came as a result of divine judgment upon Israel for its misuse of the Birthright and upon Judah for its misuse of the Dominion Mandate. So even in the dedication of the altar in Numbers 7, we see the 210-shekel offerings being subdivided into 130 70 10. These numbers set forth a picture of rebellion (13) of the nations (70) and the law (10) which brings divine judgment and correction upon them. The number 70 is also the number of restoration of the nations.
Hence, the dedication of the altar in Numbers 7, which served them during their wilderness period prior to entering the Kingdom, foreshadowed a greater wilderness period in Israel’s history. The purpose of the wilderness was to prepare them for the Kingdom. It was to mature them through Pentecost to inherit the Kingdom under the anointing of the Feast of Tabernacles.
We see, then, that the time that the tribes of Israel spent in captivity to the beast empires was not wasted. God was building a new altar and preparing the hearts of the people to minister to God and to the world. He was teaching them the principles of divine government (12) during their time of distress (210).
This is what God was doing during the 12-month grace period granted to the beast empires before divine judgment ended their rule. He was preparing the saints of the Most High to receive the Dominion Mandate and was teaching them to rule with mercy and grace to the people of the earth. In other words, the same advice Daniel gave to King Nebuchadnezzar applies also to the saints of the Most High. Those who do not learn how to rule as servants, taking Jesus as their example, are not qualified to rule in the Kingdom that is now emerging.
This is part 15 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Daniel." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones