Skipping over the familiar story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den in chapter six, we move into chapter seven. The shift is like going off the shallow waters of the continental shelf and into a deep ocean trench! But it is as interesting as it is deep.
This is complicated, but let me try to sort it out quickly. Believe me when I tell you that there is a tremendously huge amount of supporting material for what I’m going to say in comparing this chapter with Daniel 2, Ezekiel 38 and 39, much of the book of Revelation, and a number of other passages as well. To put all of that in here would be to write a book – of which many have been written on this subject.
The first six chapters of Daniel are about experiences of his life in the Babylonian and Persian empires. The last six chapters will be the record of various dreams and visions, including this dream of chapter seven that troubled Daniel – as it would anyone who had such a nightmare of beastly animals … but, putting it ALL together, here we go …
This dream came to Daniel about three-fourths of the way through his years of service – in about 555 BC. It is a vision of what would happen after Daniel’s life – depicting “the time of the Gentiles” – from the conquest of Judah until the coming of Messiah’s Kingdom, which we know as the Millennium or 1,000-year rule of Christ upon the earth after his second coming.
Four great beasts come up out of the sea – these beasts representing world empires.
Beast 1 – Lion with eagles wings – represented the Babylonian Empire through which Daniel was living, and particularly the great King Nebuchadnezzar.
Beast 2 – Bear, with one side higher than the other – represented the Medo-Persian Empire, where the Persians were stronger than the Medians – and they conquered three kingdoms – the Lydians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians.
Beast 3 – Leopard with four heads and four wings – represented the Greek Empire and the swift conquering of the world by Alexander the Great, whose empire fell apart and went to his four leading generals. We’ll talk more about this before this week is over.
Beast 4 – A horrifically powerful mongrel beast with 10 horns – represented the Roman Empire. And here is where it gets really hairy!
Let me ask you this – who conquered the Romans? The answer – nobody really… they more or less fell apart. So, putting it all together (all those other passages I mentioned above), in the last times, the Roman Empire will be revived in the European/Mediterranean world. The one horn that rises up boastfully is the Antichrist, the Beast, who unites a coalition of nations around him. He guarantees safety to Israel in a treaty of protection – thus marking the beginning of a seven-year period known as The Tribulation. Halfway through this time, Israel is attacked by kings from the north and south. The antichrist (called also the king of the west) moves to protect Israel, while the attackers are miraculously destroyed by God. Taking credit for this, he breaks his treaty and what follows is a terrible time of 3.5 years of great tribulation.
At the end of this, Jesus returns and wages a war of judgment upon the Beast and all the other peoples of the earth who rebel together against God. This ends the campaign of battle over this final half of the seven years – a campaign (not just a single battle) called Armageddon. Thus follows the 1,000-year kingdom rule of Christ upon the earth, in fulfillment of Scriptures throughout the whole Bible.
Ya got all that? Let me make one big statement of application, and a couple of extra thoughts at no extra charge.
The main idea is this: God is in control of the big picture and is the sovereign over the nations and over all of time. This gives us peace in the midst of living through uncharted times … because … well, honestly, though we don’t know all the details, God has the master charts already drawn up. Daniel, Ezekiel, and later John on Patmos – they got to see some of it and write it down for us to have. Why would God include this in the Holy Scriptures? To give us peace – the knowledge of where it is all headed, and that by being connected to him, we are ultimately in safe keeping.
Extra free stuff …
#1 – As a child growing up in a Bible prophecy-enriched home and church during the era of the Cold War, it was always preached that the country of Germany had to be unified as one land – not divided into East and West Germany. This seemed ludicrous to imagine such in the days of the Iron Curtain. My grandparents talked about this and looked to see this happen, though they died in the 1960s. I lived to see it with the fall of the Soviet Bloc. However …
#2 – A confusing part of the collapse of Russia as a front-burner world power is that this does not comport well with Ezekiel… especially with the loss of Ukraine. For the events of which I’ve briefly spoken about just above to transpire, at a minimum, Russia needs to be a formidable power, and Ukraine as an ally would seem to also best fit the narrative. So what is happening on the world scene right now? Hmm?
Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts
7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
9 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
The Interpretation of the Dream
15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.
“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, forever and ever.’
19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.
26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’
28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”