I would like to continue our look at the Biblical book of Daniel and see what else we can learn about prophecy; how it came true during Daniel’s lifetime and how this prophecy is still coming true today. As you may remember, Daniel is a slave in the Babylon during the reign of king Nebuchadnezzar. The king has a dream that none of his wise men or magicians can interpret and he becomes furious. He begins putting them to death and Daniel is called upon to tell the dream and its interpretation. God reveals both to Daniel and he passes the message on to the king, giving all the credit to God. The dream was of a statue with four main parts (the feet and toes were a continuation of the legs) along with a stone that becomes a mountain that fills the whole earth. The mountain represents the last earthly kingdom, God’s, which is to come in the future. All of the interpretation was given in chapter 2 of Daniel. Of the kingdoms there are 2 mentioned by name, the Babylonian empire and God’s final kingdom. The kingdoms in between are not named, although the parts of the statue give us a description of these kingdoms that we will learn more about today. In Daniel chapter 7, Daniel himself has a dream and this dream along with its interpretation help clarify who these other kingdoms are. Let’s take a look at this dream and see what new insights that we can gain.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it. Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. “And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another. “The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. “And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’ “After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. “After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts. “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. “Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. “As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:1-14)
This dream takes place sometime between the years 553-539B.C. while King Belshazzar is in his first year of his reign (still the Babylonian empire). This was well before the Medo-Persian or Greek Empires conquered Israel so what we are learning about was written before they actually happened. In this dream there are 4 characters that rise up out of the sea. They come in order, one right after the other which is very important to understand. Do you remember how many parts the statue had? That is right, 4 main parts and now we can add to the fact that each one comes right after the other. Here are the 4 animals as they appear in order:
Compare with the 4 parts of the statue:
- Head of fine gold
- Breasts and arms of silver
- Belly and thighs of bronze
- Legs of iron
The lion coincides with the head of gold. We know from the first dream that the head of gold represents the Babylonian empire. The Babylonian empire was famous for the amount of gold that it used and the fact that it worshiped lions. Lions were everywhere, at the gates of the city of Babylon stood two golden lions. Lions were also carved into the wall that surrounded the city. It is not hard to see the comparison and explanation between the two. This is not a far stretch since Daniel sees the dream during the time of the Babylonian empire when he was a slave in Babylon. Also, the description of what happens to the lion explains exactly what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar when he went insane and lived as an animal for 7 years only to have his mind return and be restored to the throne.
The bear coincides with the breasts and arms of the statue. The statue was divided (two separate arms) and the bear is raised up higher on one side that it is on the other. History tells us that the empire that immediately followed the Babylonians was the Medo-Persian Empire. Bears are much larger than lions but are inferior just as silver is inferior to gold. The Medo-Persian Empire was much larger than the Babylonian empire as you look on the map. The bear has 3 ribs in its mouth which represent the 3 nations that the Medo-Persians gobbled up when they came into power (Babylon, Israel, and Egypt). One side of the bear was raised up which suggests that part of the dual empire would be stronger than the other. The Persians were clearly the dominant of the 2 empires as they ruled together.
The leopard coincides with the belly and thighs of bronze from the statue. History tells us that the empire to overtake the Persians was the Greek empire. The strength of the Greek army was its speed. It seemed to move with the speed of a leopard. Also the armor of the Greek soldiers was made of bronze. The significance of the number four will be seen later as we look at chapter 8 but for now just note the 4 wings and 4 heads. Also, just imagine the speed of a leopard that also has four wings attached?
The fourth beast (which there is no name for it because of its savagery) coincides with the legs of iron that were part of the statue. Daniel spends the most of his time explaining this last beast and describing its characteristics. It is different from all the other beasts (animals) that came before it. It tramples down and crushes. Within the explanation of the fourth beasts we get another description of 10 horns which also parallel what we saw in Daniel 2. Do you remember that the feet and 10 toes are an extension of the legs? The 10 horns seem to be an extension of beast number 4. We will get into this meaning in another article but as for now just keep in mind what we see. Remember that one of the rules of interpreting prophecy is to realize that in the middle of one prophecy about a specific time the author can move to another prophecy in the distant future and then move back to the prophecy that he was previously speaking about. History tells us that immediately after the Greek Empire the Romans came on the scene and ruled. The fourth beast is a description of the Roman Empire many years before it came into power.
Finally, the last kingdom that we see in this passage is the Lord’s kingdom which He establishes after these other kingdoms. This kingdom is physical and it dominates over all the other kingdoms. It does not rule along side them. Do you remember the stone that crushed the statue at the feet in chapter 2? Do you remember how it became a kingdom that never ceased? This kingdom in chapter 7 parallels chapter 2. Also God’s kingdom is established during the time of the 10 horns which coincides with chapter 2 where the stone crushed the entire statue during the time of the 10 kings or kingdoms. All people will serve the Lord in this kingdom. The question is do you serve Him now so that you will be able to serve Him then? As the Bible says,
so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)
The choice is yours. You can bow the knee to Jesus today by choice or you will have to do it one day by force and then it will be too late because once you acknowledge Him as Lord by force He then will say to you,
‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:23)
Trust me, you will not like where you end up so make the right choice today and choose to bow down to Jesus as your Lord (Master) and Savior before it is too late.