“I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:
Daniel 7: 15:16
We skip through some important stories to come to the follow-up to the Daniel 2 prophecy which we studied last time:
Daniel 3: Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold and the experience of the fiery furnace for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
Daniel 4: Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream about his pride in building the kingdom and his humiliation of grazing like an ox.
It seems Nebuchadnezzar was very reluctant to believe it was God who “sets up kings and removes kings.”
Daniel 5: Belshazzar’s Feast his fall to Cyrus as predicted by God.
Daniel 6: The plot against Daniel and his experience in the lion’s den.
The point is there are many years between Nebuchadnezzar’s image and the dream of Daniel in Chapter 7.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.
Notice, Daniel wrote down the dream to tell the main facts of the dream.
The content of what he wrote down is found in verses 2-15.
I invite you to read these verses and consider the dream. I predict you will be confused just as Daniel. Here are the “main facts” of the dream. Care to give it a try on interpretation?
1.) 4 winds that stirred up the great sea
2.) 4 different beasts came out of the sea. They were different from each other.
3.) The first beast look like a lion and had eagle wings.
4.) The second beast was like a bear. But it stood up favoring one side and in it’s mouth were three ribs.
5.) The third beast looked like a four-headed leopard with four wings of a bird on its back.
6.) Next a very unique but terrible, fearful, and exceedingly strong 10-horned beast that was eating, stomping, and destroying.
7.) As Daniel continued to look at the 10-horned beast, he noticed that 3 of the horns were plucked up and a mysterious little horn came up where the 3 horns were originally. This little horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and it hand a mouth on it. That mouth said some “pompous” things.
8.) Daniel continued to watch. Then someone called the Ancient of Days appears. A million (thousand thousands) minister before “Him,” but 100 Million (ten thousand times ten thousand) stood before him. It is very likely these numbers are symbolic of countless numbers due to the roundness of the numbers the idea of expressing vast numbers related to an easier number to comprehend i.e., a thousand.
9.) After this multitude settles down, the books are open. What books?
10.) Daniel was concerned about he “pompous words of the 4th beast. He continued to watch until the the beast was slain and its body was burned up in the flames.
11.) The “fifth” power is one that will never be destroyed. God described its ruler as “one like the son of Man coming in the clouds.”
12.) All people, nations, and languages shall serve Him.
That is the framework of the dream Daniel wrote down. Do you understand it? Don’t worry. Daniel didn’t either.
Daniel admitted he didn’t understand the dream and after writing it down, he asked one of the attending angels for an explanation. This we will review, but first let’s review last week’s clear understanding of Daniel 2
Daniel 2 Review:
In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that he did not understand and it troubled him greatly. None of the wise men, I call the “Fakers,” were able to help the King. But God used Daniel and his three companions to both remind the king of his dream and give him the interpretation.
This interpretation comes straight from Daniel and needs “no private interpretation.”
Quite simply, Daniel told the king that four (4) great powers would arise. He identified the first two in scripture as Babylon, then the dual kingdom of the Medes and Persians. After Daniel’s time, the other two powers appear on the scene as history tells us: Greece (Belly and thighs of brass) and finally Rome (Legs of iron).
Rome was the ruling power when Jesus was on the earth teaching and dying for our sins. It was a Roman decree and a Roman cross upon which our Lord died. Rome continued to rule as the disciples went out in the power of the Holy Spirit and built up the church.
Also during this time, the church began to be persecuted as we will see later.
The king’s dream does not stop here. The legs of iron are followed by the feet and toes of iron and part clay. This identifies the fall of Rome into 10 divisions, partly strong and partly weak. Three division were wiped out and there are current countries that have roots in these tribes. The Heruli, Vandals and Ostrogoths were the 3 kingdoms eliminated by Rome.
The prophecy ends with these startling words:
And in the days of these kings (The old division of Rome or what we now call Europe) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”
Daniel 2: 44-45
Over and over, the Bible talks of the 2nd coming as a time of destruction from the Lord. More specifically, it is described as follows:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10
It also includes the unsaved:
…turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;
2 Peter 2:6
“For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.
So when all the kingdoms of the earth is destroyed, God will create a new heaven (old destroyed) and new earth (old destroyed) and the “Rock” and God’s kingdom will fill the who earth. God will be our God and we will be his people.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Revelation 21: 3
In Daniel 7, another dream or vision is given. But this time, it is given to Daniel. Like king Nebuchadnezzar, the dream troubles Daniel and he does not know what it means. But, it is interpreted for him by the attending angels.
Like Daniel 2, we will let the Bible interpret itself and then we will check it out through history.
In this vision of Daniel, we will see that God has a way of revealing truth and the future in a way as to prepare the heart to receive it. Daniel 7 is a principal of repeating and expanding. We will see the same four powers, but with more detail concerning the nature of the powers and we will see the introduction of a terrible power that comes from one of the powers described by Daniel 2.
A verse comes to mind as I write this introduction. Jesus said to His disciples the principal I just described of preparing the heart for truth:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
The apostle Paul said something very similar:
I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able
1 Corinthians 3:2
In the Christian walk, especially as we interact with new Christians, we should be careful to give truth only as they are ready to receive it. We are to be:
Be wise like snakes and gentle like doves.
This vision of Daniel 7 is like meat. It will be new to many who read this and you might not be ready to receive it or digest it,, but the words are certain and can be supported through the Bible and history. As we begin, pray for the Spirit of Truth and let the story reveal itself to you. Keep in mind, you have a loving and forgiving Savior who desires you to find peace and comfort in Him and his revelation.
OK? Let’s begin.
Daniel 7-Part 1
The book of Daniel is about 4 animals that give fear and wonder to Daniel. But, he is particularly interested in the fourth beast and the little horn power. The interpretation is given to Daniel and it goes way beyond the time he is living even until the coming judgment of planet earth.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.
This first verse is important because it gives the time and Daniel’s dream. The first year of Belshazzar would be 540 BC.
Here is what Daniel saw that year:
“I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.”
Verse 2 and 3
As the beasts are described, they look something like below. Very strange! Wouldn’t you agree? They are animals with something unusual about each.
When we read and study the Bible, we should read it as literal unless there is some overall reason to apply symbolism. Here we have good reason to apply the rule of symbolism because of the description of the beasts, but even more important the interpretation given by the Bible itself for these symbols of great beasts. To do otherwise is to lose the message God is giving us. Is that a fair statement? I will explain as we go along.
To help us with the beginning of this prophecy, let’s look at some passages that unlock the symbolic meaning of this prophecy and others. In Daniel’s vision, he is seeing “the four winds stir up the Great Sea.”
What does the four winds and the Great Sea represent?
Revelation describes the four winds in this passage:
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree…”Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
Revelation 7:1, 3
From this passage in Revelation, we can see that the 4 winds represent turmoil, strife, destruction. Another passage supports this interpretation:
Thus says the Lord of hosts:
“Behold, disaster shall go forth
From nation to nation,
And a great whirlwind shall be raised up
From the farthest parts of the earth.”
Even more important is the self interpretation from this Chapter about the beasts. In its interpretation we can see that logically the winds and sea would indeed represent nations arising out of turmoil and wars:
What are the four beasts? Let’s let the angel of Daniel 7 tell us:
“Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.”
If four kings or kingdoms arise, where do they come from? The sea of people and the winds of war.
So early in this prophecy, we can conclude that Daniel is seeing four kingdoms arise from the many people and the results of conquering wars. It is interesting that King Nebuchadnezzar also saw four kingdoms: Babylon, Medes/Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then Rome is divided into 10 kingdoms. It is in the days of these kingdoms that our Lord sets up his kingdom that shall never be destroyed by wars or strife.
Daniel goes on to describe the four beasts in more detail:
The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
Daniel 7: 4
The wings represent the rapidity by which Babylon conquered its foes under king Nebuchadnezzar. But, the wings are plucked and a man’s heart is given to it. The boldness of the Lion wanes as it comes to a close of its earthly domination. The man’s heart compared to the Lion illustrates the weakness that came about as it lay dormant and exposed caused by wealth and luxury.
It is now a perfect target for the next power to arise and take its place. This power is the dual kingdom of the Medes and the Persians and is represented by the bear that raised itself up on one side and had three ribs between its teeth.
And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
Eventually the Persians dominated the kingdom and became stronger than the Medes. They came up “last” as we will see in the prophecy in the 8th Chapter. The Persians also become the dominant power. The command to devour much flesh was obeyed and it left nothing but three bones. These likely represent the three conquests of the Medes and Persians: Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt
This power represented by the bear ruled from the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 538 BC to the battle of Arbela in 331 BC. A time span of 207 years. It fell to the next kingdom represented by the four-headed leopard with four wings of a fowl,
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
If two wings represent speed, then 4 wings on the quick-footed leopard must represent a extremely rapid course of conquests for the next kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great. This corresponds with the Daniel 2 prophecy and history.
Alexander have no parallel in historic annals for suddenness and rapidity.
Rollin, Ancient History, b.15, sec.2, gives the following brief synopsis of Alexander’s marches:-
“From Macedonia to the Ganges, which river Alexander nearly approached, is computed at least eleven hundred leagues. Add to this the various turnings in Alexander’s marches; first, from the extremity of Cilicia, where the battle of Issus was fought, to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in Libya; and his returning from thence to Tyre, a journey of three hundred leagues at least, and as much space at least for the windings of his route in different places; we shall find that Alexander, in less then eight years, marched his army upward of seventeen hundred leagues [or more than fifty-one hundred miles], without including his return to Babylon”
Alexander the Great died succeeded his father Philip II at age 20 and lived to reign only about 11 1/2 years more. He died at age 32. His life spent in the fast lane of wars and debauchery.
Alexander’s empire was divided among his four leading generals:
Cassander (Macedon and Greece in the west)
Lysimachus (Thrace and parts of Asia on the Hellespont and Bosphorus in the North
Ptolemy (Egypt, Lydia, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele Syria in the south)
Seleucus (Syria and all the rest of Alexander’s dominions in the east.)
Next to arise on the world scene is Rome illustrated as the “dreadful” and terrible beast.” It was different from the other powers and it had ten horns corresponding to the 10 toes of Daniel 2:
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
Daniel 7: 7
There is not a beast in nature that Daniel can use to describe this fourth beast and how “dreadful and terrible” it is. It’s great teeth devour and brake to pieces the other countries. The only that that has a recognizable feature is its 10 horns. Again, the same number of the 10 toes of part iron and part clay of Daniel 2.
The nature of Rome was cruel. They perfected the tortuous death of crucifixion believed to have been invented by the Persians. Death by crucifixion could last up to 6 days! It was on a cruel Roman cross that Jesus took the shamefulness of our sins upon himself. This act by the Creator was the ultimate demonstration of the sacrificial love for His creation. It was part of the good news. But, the fact that Jesus arose a victor over the death of the cross that the good news message is most nearly complete. The other part of the good news is that Jesus will one day return to change us and to rescue us forever from the pull and presence of sin. The good news cannot be captured by a list of events in the life of Jesus. it is an experience initiated and propelled by the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit.
We will end Part 1 with a description by Daniel of the 10 horns and the little horn that arose:
And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
Who was this final power that captured the attention of Daniel? This horn had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things and was more stout than the others.
This horn displaces three horns and speaks great things. This power exists today! It will bring the final deception of many people on this earth. In the next post we will discover the identity of the little horn and how it is described in Revelation 13 as the Beast that the “whole world wonders after.”
Despite the little horn’s power, we can trust in the One who is greater. Terrible times will come, but we can find peace in our Lord both day and night.
“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.”