The book of Daniel gives us this perspective from his time forward
(i.e. Daniel was among those from Judah (Israel) taken captive
by the nation of Babylon in 605 B.C.E. (before common era)).
In the 2nd chapter of the book of Daniel, Daniel interprets the dream
of king Nebuchadnezzer, telling him:
"But there is a God in heaven
that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar
what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of
thy head upon thy bed, are these; ..." (Daniel 2:28)
In the dream, Nebuchadnezzer sees a magnificent statue. Its head
is of gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs
of brass, its legs of iron, his feet part iron and part clay.
"Thou sawest till that a stone
was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet
that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces." (Daniel
He goes on to tell the king the interpretation:
"... Thou art this head of
gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee,
and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over
all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron
"... And whereas thou sawest
iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the
seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as
iron is not mixed with clay.
And in the days of these kings
shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be
destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people,
but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and
it shall stand for ever." (Daniel 2:43-44)
There is a running theme in Daniel concerning these "four
kingdoms". In chapter 8, Daniel has a dream of his own regarding
the kingdoms, and it uses different symbology than Nebuchadnezzar's.
Theangel Gabriel tells Daniel the meaning!
"And he said, Behold, I will
make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation:
for at the time appointed the end shall be."
"The ram which thou sawest
having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia."
"And the rough goat is the
king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is
the first king."
"Now that being broken, whereas
four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the
nation, but not in his power."
"And in the latter time of
their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a
king of fierce countenance, and understaning dark sentences, shall
"And his power shall be mighty,
but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and
shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and
the holy people."
"And through his policy also
he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify
himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall
also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken
without hand." (Daniel 8:19-25)