Review the prophet’s vision of the statue in Daniel 2.
As with any proper parable, the image has meaning that branches out into all directions. It bears applications of divine wisdom to far more than one element in human existence, but we do understand that the ostensible point is a moral evaluation of human government. All things are measured against the standards of Biblical Law, and in this case, it’s the Covenant of Noah.
Granted, the passage in Genesis 9 that we associate with Noah’s Covenant doesn’t seem to say that much, but it must be read in the context of assumptions that gave it meaning. What Daniel offers as high praise for the Babylonian Dynasty represented by Nebuchadnezzar is couched in a wealth of background quite foreign to our western world today. That’s precisely the point we find Daniel making, if we can embrace enough of this context to understand the message behind this vision.
In this dream, God depicts the Babylonians as the golden head of the statue. Starting from that point in history, it had strong moral value in God’s eyes. Stop and think about that for a moment. Does not the Hebrew nationalist fervor brand Babylon with hatred for their pagan idolatry? Hebrew thinking was not so simple minded as that. The Babylonian culture arose from the same soil as the Hebrew; Abraham was called out of the Sumerian Civilization, a predecessor of Babylon. The indelible imprint of Sumer still shaped Abraham’s thinking. It wasn’t a wholesale rejection of everything that God demanded of him in calling Abraham to a nomadic existence in Canaan Land; it was the necessity of pulling in elements of wilderness sheikh culture to modify his urban Sumerian background. Anyone familiar with the peculiarities of Mesopotamian Civilizations would recognize much similarity in Hebrew intellectual heritage.
A primary reason Babylon was gold in the vision is the moral value still present there as measured against Noah’s Law. Remember, the Law Covenants as a whole are all about reclaiming a measure of redemption in this life; it’s part of the Flaming Sword guarding the way back to Eden. This is how the Babylonians themselves saw the issue. Their vast libraries of collected works from ancient times were all considered critical resources in seeking harmony with the Created order. Their underlying assumptions about reality were the roots of biblical religion, and the very frame of reference for divine revelation. Yes, there was a good bit of idolatry in all the various applications of those assumptions, but the assumptions themselves were not the problem.
We know that the silver portion of the statue represented the Medo-Persian Empire. It bore a somewhat less valuable background on which to build human government. That’s because the Persian philosophy introduced a critical element of materialism. Still essentially mystical in orientation, it had that one flaw of pulling worldly wealth into their calculations. Though not central, it was still significant. Thus, their philosophical assumptions produced a somewhat less consistent result in terms of God’s moral valuation. Still useful, but not quite the high quality of what came before.
The bronze portion of the statue was Greece, the Hellenist Empire. Bronze was far more durable and less malleable than silver and gold, so it had it’s uses, but it’s not the best government men could have. We must note here that the Greeks themselves, as a whole, were still considerably more mystical than Alexander’s tutor, Aristotle. What we now regard as the anti-mystical Hellenism of his time is more a matter of long-term effects, not their current reality. It’s the effects of Aristotle’s teaching we see today, not his actual beliefs. So in terms of military conquest, Greece’s underlying philosophy was more effective than the Persian approach to things, as humans view such things, but the resulting government was far less rich in helping people recover the path back to Eden.
And the iron legs represented Rome’s unyielding crush of all opposition. They conquered the world easily, but had nothing to show for it in terms of cultural enrichment. Sure, Romans had their great wise philosophers, but only in terms of what made Romans powerful. Their philosophers had very little grasp of moral richness. Again, it wasn’t the matter of their pagan idolatries, but the utter lack of moral grasp in their whole orientation on life. That’s how God saw it. The feet of mixed iron and clay is the natural result of a bad trend.
So the real problem here is that no one quite grasps that the feet represent just about everything since the days of Rome. The Western Crusader “Christianity” has no moral justification for proclaiming itself the stone mountain in the vision. Rather, that false brand of Christian religion is just a mixture of Roman harshness and efficiency with the mud of Germanic tribal heathen blindness to moral truth. It’s not that Western Christianity has crushed its predecessors once and for all; it’s nothing more than a very weak derivative that will itself be crushed by something eternal, something entirely natural and consistent with God’s creation.