If you knew the odds were five to one in your favor of winning a jackpot, would you “go for it”?
Gambling is a multibillion dollar industry. In order to stay in business, the casino and racetrack owners need to take in more money than they give out. Thus, depending on what you are playing and how you play, the odds are always stacked against you: ten to one, twenty five to one, or even a hundred to one. Whatever the odds, you’ll almost certainly lose more money than you make. That’s how the casinos and race tracks survive.
Suppose, though, that you had odds that were five to one in your favor; suppose, too, that those odds offered you something better than any casino could— a sure understanding of what the future holds.
The good news is that the book of Daniel offers just such odds: Five to one odds in your favor for a view of the future. Why, then, gamble against the God who offers you something as precious as that?
The book of Daniel tells about a dream that a young Jewish captive (sixth century B.C.) interpreted for the king of Babylon. In the dream, the king saw a giant statue: The head was of gold, the arms and breast of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and clay. Eventually a giant stone, cut out “without hands,”1 smashed the statue.
Interpretation of the dream
That’s the dream. The interpretation follows: After talking about the king and his power, Daniel says to him: “ ‘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.’ ”2
In other words, Babylon was the head of gold. After Babylon came another kingdom, the silver one, and that’s just what happened: The Medo Persian Empire arose after the fall of Babylon. According to the dream, another empire would come after Media Persia—and that’s what happened as well: The ancient Greek Empire arose after the downfall of Media Persia. One more great kingdom would come; made of iron, it would crush everything in its path. And that was, of course, the Roman Empire, which arose after Greece.
Now, according to the prophecy, only the head was of gold. The arms and breast contained no gold, because the Babylonian Empire had been completely overthrown. The silver, representing the Medo-Persian Empire, was limited to the chest and arms because the Medo Persian Empire vanished when the Grecian Empire arose. The legs of the statue contained no bronze, only iron, because by the time of pagan Rome, the Greek Empire had been vanquished, replaced by the Roman Empire.
But now the distinct separation between the metals, representing empires, ends. Unlike the previous empires, which all disappeared, the Roman Empire wasn’t taken over by another single empire and replaced with an entirely new metal; instead, it was torn apart, vandalized, and divided by various tribes that became the precursors to the nations of modern Europe. These are represented by the feet and the toes of the fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire. Unlike the other nations, which were replaced with an entirely new metal, the feet are still iron—not pure iron, but iron and clay mixed together. This mixture represented the Roman Empire, which was never totally destroyed; it still exists, just in another form.
Iron and clay toes
Look at this depiction of what happened to the latter Roman Empire: “ ‘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. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.’ ”3
Unlike the three empires that preceded it, the Roman Empire wasn’t replaced by a new empire, just as in the vision, the iron isn’t replaced by a new metal. Instead, Rome was divided into the nations that eventually became modern Europe. Some nations were strong, some weak. What an accurate depiction of Europe today, composed of nations ranging in international impact from Great Britain, France, and Germany to Luxembourg and Andorra!
Daniel said, too, that “the people will be a mixture,” again certainly an accurate depiction of modern Europe! How much intermarrying has there been over the years, even today, among the people of Europe, and yet, as the prophecy says, they “will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” In other words, there will not be a single European entity. Despite various economic alliances, such as the European Union, Europe is still composed of separate nations with separate languages, separate cultures, separate borders, and separate political interests. That’s exactly how this prophecy, written about six hundred years before Christ, depicted today’s Europe.
According to the prophecy, one more power would arise: Talking about the nations that arose from the break up of the Roman Empire, now the nations of Europe, it says: “ ‘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.’ ”4 World history will end with the kingdom that God Himself sets up.
Thus, Babylon came and went, as predicted, on odds of one to one. Media Persia came and went, as predicted, two to two. Greece came and went, as predicted, three to three. Pagan Rome arose, as predicted, four to four.
Europe was then divided into various nations, as predicted. Some were weak, some strong, as predicted. They intermarried and mingled among themselves, as predicted. Yet these nations have not become united into a single empire—as predicted, five to five.
Now, from our standpoint, living when we are in earth’s history, the only kingdom that hasn’t come yet is the last one—God’s kingdom. Everything else has come and gone just as predicted.
Thus, looking at this prophecy, we can see that the odds are five to one that the final kingdom, God’s kingdom, will come—as predicted.
No casino can offer you anything even close. How foolish, then, not to throw in your chips with the God who promises to bring it all about. This is the closest to a sure bet you’ll ever have!
Clifford Goldstein writes from Silver Spring, Maryland.