You are on the right track. Several high profile teachers like John MacArthur have reconsidered their views on the origin of these end-time beast.I'm sorry I can't see what you mean here? Can you explain that about the religions I'm not sure I share that view?this can only be a satanic kingdom, where satan gives his power to it
I do not believe the human Empires as listed Babylon, Media Persia, Greek and Rome are the kingdoms that rise from the earth, but I do believe a false religion that combines teachings from each previous false religion, rises from each empire
Babel was the foundation of the first, thus Babylon for which it gets its name is the first the head of Gold
I am almost one hundred percent sure that the coming Beast Empire will be an Islamic Empire/Caliphate. Muhammed's religion did'nt appear until after year 600 AC. I have done extensive research of the islamic religion and their escatology. And it's absolutely stunning to see how much their messiah "Mahdi" resembles our Antichrist and their Jesus "Isa" resembles our false prophet. Their way of executing by beheading, their ambitions to create a global religious empire, their belief that christ is just a prophet, not the son of God makes up the criteria for who antichrist is. Their hate towards Mystery Babylon, etcetera.. All adds up. The beast must be a coming Islamic Empire.
A ten nation Islamic empire is coming and it could happen as a result of the rebellion or apostasy now occurring in the Arab/Islamic world. There could be more than one ten nation empire coming...the king of the north and the king of the south....not sure. I am convinced that the two horned beast represents the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam. In response to the OP I would say that most do make the connection that the fifth kingdom is the millennial kingdom of God. But then again I have a different view of Daniel 2 and 7 so I would actually say it's actually the 6th kingdom mentioned in the great statue. The legs of iron are the fourth past kingdom and the iron and clay are the people of the coming ten nation Islamic Empire.
One of the most detrimental things to a Christian's understanding of bible prophecy is their unwillingness to consider other views and change their minds.