When these prophecies are correlated to the last days before Christ returns, it is primarily the fourth world empire which is the most important to understand. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the fourth power (which we have before identified as the empire of Rome) was pictured within the image of a metallic human figure as the legs of iron as well as the feet and toes of iron and clay. At the end of the age, this power will consist of ten nations gathered together from within the same territory that was possessed by the once-united Roman Empire. Not surprisingly, this interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream also fits perfectly within the framework of Daniel’s prophecy of the four beasts. When Daniel begins to write about the fourth beast in chapter seven, he does so with an intensity and depth not found in any of his descriptions of the other three beasts. It is almost as if he sees the awesome power and evil of this future empire as being so overwhelming that he becomes frightened when he catches a glimpse of it. He says that this final empire will be “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly” (v. 7). He also says that it will be different and distinct from all the beasts that came before it.
According to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the fourth empire will be so strong and dominant that it will continue to exist all the way up to the point of God setting up his kingdom. In Daniel’s vision of this beast he tells us exactly how its worldwide supremacy will be accomplished. He symbolically sees the empire as having “great iron teeth” which it systematically uses to devour everything in its path. Daniel further correlates this description with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream by saying that as the beast conquers its enemies it “stamp(s) the residue with its feet“. The devouring iron teeth and the trampling feet of destruction of this fourth beast are unmistakable references to Nebuchadnezzar’s first vision.
However, there is also something significantly different between these two prophecies of empires. Daniel in his vision is mainly seeing the ruthless personalities of the empires (signified by the predator-like nature of the beasts), while in the previous prophecy Nebuchadnezzar was focused to a greater extent on their glory and dominion (signified by the impressive, strong, and valuable metals within the image’s construction)…[more]