Daniel 7:1-28

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Text: Daniel 7

DANIEL'S VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS
AND THE ANCIENT OF DAYS

INTRODUCTION:

In chapters 2 and 7 we have two dreams or visions recorded. In chapter 2 it was Nebuchadnezzar's dream, but in chapter 7 it is Daniel's dream. The dreams are parallel.

Regarding Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar in,

Daniel 2:28-29 - 28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; 29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.

Thus, God makes known to Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days, . . . what should come to pass hereafter, . . . and what shall come to pass.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream is revealed in Daniel 2:31-35 ,

Daniel 2:31-35 - 31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass [i.e. bronze], 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass [i.e. bronze], the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream reveals the Gentile kingdoms which, one after another, would rule over the land of Palestine and the people of Israel beginning with Babylon.

In Nebuchadnezzar's dream -

1. The Head of the Image is Gold, which Represents King Nebuchadnezzar and His kingdom, Babylon.

In Nebuchadnezzar's dream -

2. The breast and Arms of the Image Were Silver, which Represents Medo Persia, which Conquered Babylon in 539 BC.

This kingdom is identified to Belshazzar in the episode of the handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5:28 .

Daniel 5:28 - . . . Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

The second and third kingdoms are also identified in Daniel 8:1-7 . In this vision Daniel saw a ram which had two horns, and the two horns are identified in Daniel 8:20 as the kings of Media and Persia. Daniel also saw a he goat come from the west on the face of the whole earth which had a notable horn between his eyes. This he goat smote the ram and broke his two horns. In Daniel 8:21 this rough goat is identified as the king of Grecia, and the great horn . . . between his eyes is identified as the first king [i.e. as Alexander the Great].

In Nebuchadnezzar's dream -

3. The Belly and Thighs of the Image Were Brass [i.e. bronze], which refers to Greece, which conquered the Medo-Persian Empire in 333 BC.

In Nebuchadnezzar's dream -

4. The Legs of the Image Were Iron, which represents the Roman Empire, which conquered the Greek Empire in 63 BC.

In Nebuchadnezzar's dream -

5. The Feet of the Image Were Part of Iron and Part of Clay, which Represents the Yet-Future Revived Roman Empire in the Tribulation. The Toes represent Ten Kings or Kingdoms.

In Nebuchadnezzar's dream -

6. The Stone Cut Out Without Hands Represents the Lord Jesus, Who Will Destroy the Four Kingdoms and Rule over the Whole Earth in His future Millennial Kingdom.

In Daniel 7 we see Daniel's dream which parallels Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

I. HISTORICAL DATA - 7:1-3

Daniel 7:1 - In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.

In the first year of Belshazzar = 553 B.C., 14 years before the fall of Babylon described in chapter 5. Daniel is not strictly chronological.

Daniel 7:2 - Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.

The great sea is the Mediterranean Sea.

What these winds are is not specified, but the winds could be spirits and refer to angels.

Daniel 7:3 - And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

Four ... beasts represent the rulers of the four world empires previously described in Nebuchadnezzar's dream in chap. 2 (cf. Daniel 7:17 ).

Daniel 7:17 - These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

Came up from the sea [i.e. from the Mediterranean Sea]. This indicates that these four world empires had to do with the Mediterranean world.

They were diverse from one another suggests that, although these four beasts represent four empires, these empires are not alike.

II. THE VISION AND THE INTERPRETATION - 7:4-28

Daniel 7:4 - The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.

Like a lion, and had eagle's wings. Both the lion and the eagle are symbols (of strength and speed, respectively) which were used of Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 4:7 , 13).

In Jeremiah 4 , Jeremiah is prophesying that God is going to use Babylon to judge Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 4:7 - The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.

Jeremiah 4:13 - Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.

The lion represents the Babylonian empire.

The wings thereof were plucked. The plucking of its wings would slow the beast down and making it stand on its feet as a man and giving it the heart of a man would reduce its strength and tame it somewhat.

Daniel 7:5 - 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.

Like to a bear. It is a symbol of the MedoPersian Empire, known for its strength and fierceness in battle (cf. Isa. 13:17-18).

Isaiah 13:17-18 - 17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. 18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.

Raised up itself on one side indicates the superiority of the Persians in the empire which came up later but became dominant over the Medes in their united kingdom.

Three ribs may represent three major conquests: e.g. Lydia (546), Babylon (539), and Egypt (525).

The bear was told to devour much flesh, which suggests that the empire was operating in accordance with God's instructions rather than on its own.

Just as the lion represented the Babylonian Empire, the bear represents the Medo-Persian Empire.

Daniel 7:6 - 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.

Like a leopard. The leopard represents the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great.

With four wings suggests that it was extremely fast, faster than an ordinary leopard. Greece under the leadership of Alexander the Great conquered the entire Persian Empire with great speed from 334-330 B.C.

After Alexander the Great's death, the empire had four heads; i.e., Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Macedonia (cf. 8:8).

We'll see this again in Daniel 8

Daniel 8:8 - Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

In this connection note one of the visions of the Apostle John in Revelation of Jesus Christ 13:1-2 .

Revelation of Jesus Christ 13:1-2 - 1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

He's speaking of these same three animals in Daniel's vision: the lion, the bear, and the leopard. In Revelation the order is reversed because Daniel is looking forward in time to these three empires and John is looking back in time to them.

In Daniel 7:7-8 - a fourth beast is seen. The fourth beast represents Rome. The 10 horns are explained in verse 24, and the little horn (Antichrist) in verses 24-25. This empire would cease; but after hundreds of years, it would be revived. It is this revived Roman Empire which will have the ten kings and the little horn or Antichrist.

Daniel 7:7 - 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.

Ten horns - They represent ten kings - Daniel 7:24 .

Daniel 7:24 - And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

Daniel 7:8 - I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

The little horn represents the Antichrist and pictures what will happen in the tribulation.

Daniel 7:24-25 - 24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. 25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 7:9 - I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Verse 9 pictures the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ Who will have universal dominion.

Thrones were cast down suggests that thrones were placed in position.

The Ancient of days is a reference to God the Father as Judge (cf. Isaiah 57:15 ).

Isaiah 57:15 - For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

His garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool speaks of His holiness. Cf. Rev. 1:14

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:14 - His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.

Although in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:14 the reference is to the Lord Jesus Christ, in Daniel 7:9 the reference is to God the Father to Whom the Son of Man comes.

Daniel 7:10 - A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands [i.e. millions] ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand [i.e. 100 million] stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

The flaming throne speaks of God's glory which Ezekiel saw. Ezekiel 1:4-5 a, 13-14.

Ezekiel 1:4-5 a - 4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. . . .

Ezekiel 1:13-14 - 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him refers to angels who surround the throne of God, ready to execute His will.

The books were opened is reminiscent of Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:12 .

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:12 - And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Here, however, rather than speaking of judgment on individual unbelievers, it speaks of God judging the kingdoms which He has placed in power.

Daniel 7:11 - I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.

The little horn will speak many boastful things but he will eventually be cast into the lake of fire.

Daniel 7:12 - As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.

It suggests that the first three kingdoms, although conquered, continued to live in the new empires.

Daniel 7:13-14 - This is the first reference to Messiah as Son of man, a title our Lord used of Himself often.

The title "Son of God" is Jesus' divine name (v. 29), "Son of David" His Jewish name (9:27), but "Son of man" is the name that links Him to the earth and to His mission (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

"Son of man" was Jesus' favorite designation of Himself (used more than 80 times) and was based on Daniel 7:13-14 . It emphasizes (1) His lowliness and humanity (v. 20), (2) His suffering and death (Luke 19:10 ), and (3) His future reign as King (24:27) (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Daniel 7:13 - I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

It speaks of Christ coming to God the Father.

Daniel 7:14 - And there was given him dominion [i.e. authority], and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve [i.e. worship] him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

There will be no end to Christ's kingdom. It will continue through all eternity.

Daniel 7:15 - I Daniel was grieved [i.e. troubled, distressed] in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled [i.e. disturbed, kept alarming] me.

Daniel 7:16 - I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

Daniel 7:17 - These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

Daniel 7:18 - But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

These saints refers to saved Jews in the Tribulation, not to believers in the church age. The church age saints are not in view in Daniel.

Daniel 7:19 - Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass [i.e. bronze]; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;

The reference is to the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire has ceased during the church age, but it will be revived in the Tribulation era. Verse 20 deals with the Tribulation era.

Daniel 7:20 - 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.

We have already seen in Nebuchadnezzar's dream chapter 2 that the ten toes refer to ten kings which will rule during the tribulation. Three of them will be destroyed by the little horn.

Daniel 7:21 - I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

The Saints are saved Jews in the Tribulation.

Daniel 7:22 - Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High [i.e. judgment was given in favor of the saints]; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

Daniel 7:23 - Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

The fourth beast is the fourth kingdom. Historically the fourth beast, although greater in extent than the first three beasts, was still limited. However, in the future the fourth kingdom shall devour the whole earth. It will be worldwide.

Daniel 7:24 - And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

The final form of the Roman world power will be a confederation of ten kings who will arise simultaneously in the tribulation days. These ten kings are seen as ten toes in Daniel 2 .

We see that the little horn came after the ten horns (i.e. kings) were already in existence but will also be at the same time as they are. He is also a king.

We see that the little horn uprooted three of the ten horns (i.e. kings).

We see that the little horn had the eyes of a man; so it refers to an intelligent being. He is also a king; so, he is a man.

We have seen in verse 11 that the little horn was arrogant and boastful. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.

Daniel 7:25 - And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

We see that the little horn will blaspheme the most High God.

We see that the little horn will persecute (i.e. wear out) the saints of the most High God. He will persecute the Jewish believers in the tribulation.

We see that the little horn will seek to change times and laws in order to promote his anti-Christian, anti-Jewish program. He will abandon existing laws and institute his own system.

We see that the saints will be given into the little horn's hand until a time and times and the dividing of time, i.e. he will persecute them for three and one half years, the length of the Great tribulation. Time, times, and the dividing of time is demonstrated in Revelation to be equivalent to 42 months or 3 1/2 years.

Daniel 7:26 - But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

God the Father will convene the judgment and the power and authority of the little horn will be removed. He and his kingdom will be completely destroyed. According to Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:20 , he will be cast into the lake of fire.

Meanwhile Christ will set up His Millennial Kingdom.

Daniel 7:27 - And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

It is an everlasting kingdom which will never be overthrown or replaced.

All nations will worship and obey Christ.

Daniel 7:28 - Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations [i.e. thoughts] much troubled me [i.e. were greatly alarming to me], and my countenance changed in me [i.e. it affected his appearance]: but I kept the matter in my heart [i.e. I kept the matter to myself].

CONCLUSION: