In Daniel 2:35, the prophet is describing to King Nebuchadnezzar the mysterious dream that had troubled the monarch by night. He describes, “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.” Daniel later in the chapter interprets this part of the dream saying, “It [the stone] shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this.” (vs. 45) The stone is the kingdom of Messiah that will be established at the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he “comes with the clouds of heaven,” and “with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgement on all” (Matt 26:24, Jude 1:15-16). The gentile kingdoms seen symbolically as gold, silver, bronze, iron, and lastly iron-clay are those that correspond to the beast kingdoms of Daniel 7, Babylon, Medo-persia, Greece, Rome, and the Anti-Christ empires respectively.
The first four kingdoms represent the oppression of the gentile nations from the first sacking of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple in 586 b.c. until the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple a second time by Rome under general Titus in 70 a.d., both occurring on the same day hundreds of years apart. While other empires of significance have existed throughout history, none have had such an adversarial relationship with the people of God and specifically Jerusalem as these four world empires. Therefore, they serve as a representation of the opposition of the gentile nations that will gather at Jerusalem to war against God face to face under the leadership of anti-christ.
God is making a point to reveal the final outcome of His dealings with these anti-semitic/anti-jerusalem world empires in advance to King Nebuchadnezzar, the first ruler who left Jerusalem desolate. God is demonstrating His sovereign power in declaring beforehand the ultimate destiny of these world empires that defy the Kingdom of God and its throne in the capital City of David. What will be their fate, and ultimately the fate of all nations that oppose Jerusalem? Total annihilation.
Daniel declares the statue representing the nations became, “like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found.” Both Old and New testament passages expound on this same thought, declaring the finality of the destruction of those nations that will gather to oppose Jerusalem at the end of the age. In our day when the end of the world is a constantly replayed theme in popular media, it may surprise many to know that the world will not end in thermonuclear war, alien invasion, meteorite collision, or a global warming-induced ice age.
The conclusion of human history as we know it, does come to a climax with an invading army from another realm, but the man leading that army has been here before. It is almost inconceivable to many, that it will be the carpenter from Nazareth coming with sword in His mouth and many crowns on his head to make war, and ultimately judge, then rule the nations. It is this man and his heavenly army that will usher in the consummation of this age and a conclusion to world history as we know it. What will he make of the nations that oppose Him at His coming, when for thousands of years he has been warning them through his prophets?
Zephaniah declares, “‘Therefore wait for Me,’ says the LORD, ‘Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy’’ (Zeph 3:8). Zephaniah’s contemporary Jeremiah proclaims to Jerusalem, “For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you’’ (Jer 30:11). Jeremiah expounds on this thought elsewhere saying, “‘The LORD has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the LORD.’ 32 Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Behold, disaster shall go forth From nation to nation, And a great whirlwind shall be raised up From the farthest parts of the earth. 33’ And at that day the slain of the LORD shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground” (Jer 25:31-33). Psalm 110:6 reiterates these thoughts succinctly saying, “He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries.” John describes seeing this specific event in Rev. 19:19, “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army [Jesus’]…21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Ezekiel prophesies this same destruction of anti-christ and the nations aligned with him saying, “You [anti-christ] shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured” (Ezekiel 39:4). Zechariah prophesies during the days of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, “3 And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it…9 It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:3,9) .
Just as Daniel declares that nothing will be left of the nations that oppose Messiah and Jerusalem, so the Psalms, Isaiah, and Malachi all state nothing more than shards, dust, and ashes will be left. Psalm 2:9 says plainly, “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'” Psalm 18:42 states, “Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind; I cast them out like dirt in the streets.” Malachi 4:1 declares in the last verses of the old testament, “’For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch.’” Finally, the greatest of the major prophets, Isaiah, declares, “The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind” (Isa 17:13). Also in Isaiah 29:5 the prophet declares, “Moreover the multitude of your foes Shall be like fine dust, And the multitude of the terrible ones like chaff that passes away; Yes, it shall be in an instant, suddenly. 6 You will be punished by the LORD of hosts With thunder and earthquake and great noise, With storm and tempest And the flame of devouring fire. 7 The multitude of all the nations who fight against Ariel (Jerusalem), Even all who fight against her and her fortress, And distress her, Shall be as a dream of a night vision.” The multitudes of the nations who oppose Jesus at the second coming will be so decimated that when the morning dawns after that great day of battle they will appear to have been nothing more than a passing dream in the night and dust in the wind.
There is a great revelation of the glory, majesty, and splendor of God to be perceived in the finality and decisiveness of Jesus’ victory over the nations. Just as in the brutality and suffering of the cross we see God’s passionate hatred of sin in the marring of His own son as our substitution, we see an equal wrath of God poured out upon sin in the form of those who refuse repentance and reception of Christ’s lordship. It is comforting to know that God is not passive in His justice or incomplete in His working of retribution, but that all will ultimately receive justice and that it will be complete, decisive, and thorough. Either our sin will be judged by God’s wrath on the cross, or in our own frame if we chose not to repent and part with it. We see a picture of this in the totality of the destruction of wicked nations on the day Jesus comes to judge and make war. The personification of human iniquity will be summarily dealt with, “the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thess 2:8). With a “poof” from his mouth Jesus will vanquish the most powerful and wicked man in all of human history. His army of nations will be routed and left for the birds of the air to consume. The drama of David and Goliath will again be played out with Israel delivered, and David’s prophecy to Goliath fulfilled (by the greater David) against gentile nations, “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” In that day the prophecy of Daniel 2:35 will be fulfilled concerning the nations “…the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found” and only the Kingdom of Messiah will stand.