DANIEL CHAPTER 7

FOUR BEASTS REVEAL THE CHARACTER OF THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES

In Chapter 7, Daniel presents an overview of Gentile dominance over the nation Israel and Jerusalem.   Recall in chapter 2, Daniel revealed the course that Gentile domination would take. Daniel now reveals the character of the Gentile empires that will oppress Israel. They will be “beastly” in nature, each becoming worse than the previous. Daniel’s dream foretells of the four future beasts that will dominate the nation Israel and the city of Jerusalem. They are beastly gentile world powers because they would function independently of God. When a man lives apart from God, he behaves like an animal, or a beast. The final kingdom of the Antichrist will be a composite of these four ravenous beasts. And not until these gentile nations have run their course and revealed their character will God set up His Millennial Kingdom.

Here is why we need to know these prophecies. Christians will be on the earth during the reign of Antichrist. These prophecies give us important details about the future that God says we need to know in advance, so when they occur we are ready.

THE VISION REVEALED – 4 KINGS (KINGDOMS) TO ARISE FROM THE SEA

Daniel 7:1-3 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon (~553BC when he was co-regent with his father Nabonidus. The book of Daniel is not chronological. Daniel received this vision about 20 years prior to the lion’s den experience of Ch. 6.), Daniel (he is around 65-70 years old and is still under Babylonian rule) had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. 2Daniel said: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds (angels) of heaven churning up the great sea (the Mediterranean). 3Four great beasts (representing four empires), each different from the others, came up out of the sea. (Here, the beasts rise out of the sea. In 7:7 they rise out of the earth. No significance? This dream is similar and parallels Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Ch. 2. The four beasts represent Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Each of these four empires conquered the Middle East and subjugated the nation Israel.)

Daniel 7:4 "The first (beast) was like a lion (the king of beasts, a symbol of power, royalty), and it had the wings of an eagle (the king of birds, swift and majestic). I watched until its wings were torn off (glory of the empire was lost during the insanity of Nebuchadnezzar.) and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man (Nebuchadnezzar’s restoration), and the heart of a man was given to it (referring to Nebuchadnezzar’s experiences in Daniel 4 when he was humbled before God. The first beast represents Babylon as a lion with wings.)

Daniel 7:5"And there before me was a second beast (Medo-Persia – Cyrus defeated Belshazzar 15 years after this vision given to Daniel in 539 B.C.), which looked like a bear (a symbol of strength, ferocious, fierce and devouring, but not as graceful as a lion). It was raised up on one of its sides (Persia became dominant over the Medes), and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. (Probably representative of the major Persian conquests of Lydia (546), Babylon (539) and Egypt (525).) It was told, 'Get up and eat your fill of flesh!' (The bear represents Medo-Persia.)

Daniel 7:6 "After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast (Greece/Syria), one that looked like a leopard (a symbol of speed, an animal of prey with a thirst for blood. Alexander and his rapid conquest of the world was swift and powerful). And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird (swift like a bird, but not majestic like an eagle). This beast had four heads (After Alexander’s death at age 32, 4 of his generals divided the kingdom. Cassander ruled over Macedonia. Lysimachus ruled over Thrace and Asia Minor. Seleucus ruled over Syria and Babylonia. Ptolemy ruled over Egypt and Arabia. Syria was one of the four heads and became the kingdom of the Greek people over which Antiochus Epiphanes – the forerunner of Antichrist – Eventually ruled. See Daniel 8:21-22), and it was given authority to rule. (Greece/Syria is depicted as a leopard with wings.)

Daniel 7:7"After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast (representing the Roman Empire) -- terrifying and frightening and very powerful (Rome’s character was the most vicious, brutal and cruel of all. Isa 27:1 identifies the beasts name as Leviathan.) It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. (It stamped God’s people with its claws - picture Rome as sort of a Tyrannosaurus Rex crushing and devouring the countries it conquered.) It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. (The 10 horns represent a future Roman empire that will reappear in the end time. These final 10 kings of Antichrist’s kingdom will arise from the geographical territory of the Roman Empire.)

Daniel 7:8 "While I was thinking about the horns (the 10 kings of the final beast empire), there before me was another horn (the 11th horn or king), a little one (initially not significant or dominant, or well known, or powerful), which came up among them (The Antichrist will arise from the 10 nations of the Roman empire); and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. (The little horn, the 11th horn, the Antichrist, will subdue and overthrow 3 larger horns of the 10 kings. See Dan 7:23. e.g. Osama Bin Ladin, Ahmadinejad, taking control of Iran, Iraq and Syria.) This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man (great insight to resolve problems of the Middle East, or looked like a man on the outside, something else on the inside – Satan.) and a mouth that spoke boastfully. (Blasphemy against God and the persecution of God's people will be key characteristics of Antichrist's rule.)

DANIEL IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ANCIENT OF DAYS, A HEAVENLY COURTROOM

Daniel 7:9-14 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days (A name for God the Father) 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. 10A 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. (The books kept by God see Rev 20:11. There is hope, however, for the Revelation passage indicates that there is another book called The Book of Life.   The Bible indicates that one can avoid being judged by what is in the books by getting his name into the Book of Life.)

THE LITTLE HORN, ANTICHRIST, WILL BE THE LAST GENTILE RULER OVER ISRAEL AND HIS KINGDOM WILL BE A COMPOSITE OF THE 4 BEASTS

 

11"Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. (The Antichrist will openly blaspheme Jesus during his reign see Dan 11:36-37) I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (When the Messiah returns, only then will the Antichrist will be destroyed.) 12 The other beasts (The first 3 kingdoms of the statue – Modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria) had been stripped of their authority (the dominions of these three ancient kingdoms would be taken away), but were allowed to live for a period of time. (An extension of life will be granted to the first three kingdoms for an appointed period of time.)

 

A very interesting verse! It seems that the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, will be revived and given a temporary extension of life. Daniel tells us that they will exist as a people until the end of the times of Gentiles and the defeat of the Antichrist. This would refer to Babylon – modern day Iraq, Medo-Persia – modern day Iran and Greece – modern day Syria. Interestingly, all 3 have risen to power at the same time as modern day Israel around 1948.

 

When we compare this passage with Rev 13:2 we are given more insight.

 

Rev. 13:1-2 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. [2] The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.

 

It is as if this kingdom of the Antichrist is a composite of the three kingdoms of Daniel 7 – the lion the leopard and the bear. As Rodney Stortz writes in his book Daniel, “the Lord expects us to make this connection.” The final beast empire of the beast will include Iraqis (lion), Iranians (bear), and Syrians (leopard). Today, all three of these empires have an unholy hatred of Israel! There is the view that these beasts represent the conditions of the nations in the Middle East immediately preceding Daniel’s 70th week. In other words, there will be a great struggle among these three nations before the end times begin.)

A VISION SIMILAR TO REVELATION 5 & 10, WHEN THE SON COMES TO THE FATHER TO TAKE THE SCROLL

13"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, (This term is unique to Daniel in the O.T. See Rev 1:12-13. This refers to Israel’s Messiah.) coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days (God the Father) and was led into his presence. 14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men 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 Ancient of Days glorifies the Son of Man and gives Him indestructible and everlasting dominion over all the earth so that multitudes worship Him.)

DANIEL IS DISTURBED BY THE VISION AND ASKS THE MEANING

Daniel 7:15-17 "I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me (Because of the ferocious character and nature of the beasts). 16I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this. "So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17'The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. (Daniel 2 and 7 both identify these 4 beasts which represent the gentile nations; Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. What is now revealed to Daniel is the character of these gentile nations and how beastly these four empires will be toward the nation Israel.)

Daniel 7:18 But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it

forever--yes, for ever and ever.' (Once the dominion of these four beasts have run their course, God’s kingdom will be established and believers will rule with the Lord.)

DANIEL INQUIRES ABOUT THE VISION OF THE DREADFUL FOURTH BEAST, WITH THE TEN HORNS ON ITS HEAD

Daniel 7:19-21 "Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast (Antichrist’s final kingdom associated with Roman empire), 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. (The fourth beast was particularly terrifying. Historically this is the character of the Roman Empire. It also describes the future Roman Empire in its final form. The Antichrist will be a military genius and will use his power to conquer the world and then trample down and overpower God’s people. He will wage war with the saints.)

20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns (from the Roman empire of old, ten future nations will arise, the 10 nations of Antichrist’s final kingdom) on its head and about the other horn that came up (The little horn aka the Antichrist), before which three of them fell (3 nations will fall with his initial rise to world power.  See Dan 7:8, Ez 38:2.)--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 saints and defeating them, (To a limited degree, this occurred when the Romans ruled. But this goes further, to the end times when Antichrist will attack and defeat the saints – the church. See Rev 12:17. This verse has yet to be fulfilled in history.) 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (At the end of Daniel’s 70th week Jesus will set up the Millennial kingdom.)

ANTICHRIST WILL SUBDUE 3 NATIONS IN THE BEGINNING

23 "He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth (Rome). It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. (In the last days, Antichrist will cruelly devour the entire earth.) 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. (Antichrist’s kingdom will arise from a coalition of 10 nations of the Roman Empire. Many have attempted to identify these 10 nations and many theories abound.) After them another king will arise, different (possibly non-European, perhaps Russian), from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings (3 nations of the 10 will fall with his rise, perhaps Rosh, Meschesh and Tubal see Ezekiel 38:2). 25 He will speak against the Most High (he will profane and blaspheme Jesus) and oppress his saints (persecute Christians) and try to change the set times (Muslim calendar?) and the laws (make his own laws or enforce the Koran worldwide). The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time (3 ½ years – second half of Daniel’s 70th week see Rev 11:3, 12:6, 14, 13:5.)

 

Rev. 12:17     Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

 

Rev. 13:7-10

He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. [8] All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

[9] He who has an ear, let him hear.

[10] If anyone is to go into captivity,

into captivity he will go.

If anyone is to be killed

with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. (The words church and saints are used interchangeably in the New Testament. Paul writes to the churches in Gal.1:2 and to the saints in Eph 1:1.)

Here is why we need to know these prophecies! This might happen in your lifetime. If we are all going to be in heaven, missing all this, why this call for “patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints?”

 

26 " 'But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the 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." (Daniel was disturbed due to the ravenous nature and character of this beast which will do great harm to Israel. See Revelation 12 & 13.)

 

When people face a fiery trial, or a lion’s den – there are three scenarios before us:  from Rodney Stortz, Daniel.

 

Situation A – we can be delivered from the fire, from the lions. That’s what we want. Sometimes He chooses A. That’s what I experienced with Josee. It’s happened many times in our lives that we might not know about

Situation B – we can be delivered through the fire. We are going to come out on the other side, but we are going to take us through the trial. This is going through the pain, that grows us, and delivers us from bonds. But we survive to tell the story. In this particular chapter, God chooses B and Daniel is delivered through he lions den, not from the lions den.

Situation C – we can be delivered by the fire straight into God’s arms. C brings us home.

 

WHY THIS IS STILL FUTURE?

1.      The description of the end time has never been fulfilled in history:

a.      The last stage of the Roman empire, described here as a 10 horn stage becoming a world empire, has not yet occurred

b.      The end time will result in the Second Coming of Jesus – it hasn’t occurred.

c.       Following the end time, the kingdom of heaven will be handed over to the saints, and the kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom – it hasn’t occurred.

d.      A complete fulfillment of this passage requires a ruler who will rule the entire earth, a ten-nation confederacy in which the ruler conquers three of the ten kings, and this ruler to be destroyed by God and supplanted by the kingdom of God.