You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine 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 clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
The Babylonian captivity beginning in 605 BC and ending in 596 BC when Jerusalem was conquered by Babylon. Many of Jerusalem’s best and the brightest were carried away into captivity. It was during this deportation that Daniel and his three friends were carried away to Babylon to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. In this section of scripture king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which troubled him. So he ordered the wise men or magicians as they were called of his kingdom to explain the meaning of the dream. However to prove their interpretation was real and accurate he refused to tell them the dream. Nebuchadnezzar required that they not only tell him the interpretation of the dream; but also tell him the contents of his dream. Thereby proving their ability to accurately interpret visions.
It’s not entirely clear whether he forgot the dream or not. However, as the story progresses, it does appear it became a point of contention meant to prove the abilities of the Chaldean wise men. After Daniel and his friends sought help from God, the Lord gave Daniel the interpretation of the dream as well as the contents of the king’s dream. The statue seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was a vision from the Lord. God was showing Nebuchadnezzar all the kingdoms that would rule the world, between his time and the return of Jesus to set up His kingdom.
The head of Gold referred to the Babylonian Empire. The chest and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire which overthrew Babylon. The belly and thighs of bronze represented the Grecian Empire of Alexander the Great. The legs of iron represent the Roman Empire, with one leg representing the Western Empire and the other leg the Eastern Empire. However, the feet which are, made partially of clay and iron represent a revived form of the Roman Empire. This kingdom will have some of the strength of the old Roman Empire signified by the iron; but will also be partially weak signified by the clay. In addition, this empire will be divided into ten kings, or ten ruling bodies. This revived form of the Roman Empire will be the last great empire to rule a majority of the world right before the return of Jesus. Jesus is represented by the stone cut without hands, which wipes away all kingdoms before it. The reign of Christ will be forever and it will fill the entire earth.