Daniel 7


The vision of this chapter is but an extension of the dream of chapter two. Its purpose seems to be to feature the barbaric character of the same kings and rulers of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Set forth is the fundamental concept that all the kingdoms of the world are ruled and overruled by God’s divine providence so as to bring into existence the kingdom of Christ.

That Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 are parallel can be seen in the following comparison.

1. Both chapters speak of four kingdoms followed by a fifth – the Messianic Kingdom.

2. Both present the fifth arriving during the fourth.

‘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.’ Daniel 7:1

Belshazzar was the last of the kings of Babylon. During his reign, Daniel had a dream in which he saw a series of events. He made a record of it at the time set forth, in summary, form its meaning.

‘Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.’ Daniel 7:2-3

He first saw the four winds of heaven bursting forth upon the sea throwing it into commotion. This would indicate the activity of God in stirring up the nations in accordance with His divine purpose. Four beasts, nations, now appear to come forth from this commotion. Each beast is different in appearance.

‘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. “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!’ “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. “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.’ Daniel 7:4-7

The first beast is like a lion with eagle wings.

This is Babylon

It is powerful and swift. This beast or kingdom suffers a setback. Its wings are plucked and the beast was made to stand on its hind legs further hampering it. It has a heart not its own. Thus, the Babylonian Empire would suffer a humiliating setback. After the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the kingdom began to go down through a succession of weak rulers.

The second beast is a bear. It had three ribs in its mouth. The slow but powerful bear would well represent The Medo-Persian Empire. The three ribs have been taken to mean three countries that it devoured during its days of power. Commentaries are not in agreement always as to which three. It could be that the ribs signify further the viciousness of the beast which devoured other nations.

The third beast is described as being like a leopard with four heads and four wings.

This represented the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great who in only eleven years conquered the world. The four heads may represent the four divisions of that kingdom after the death of Alexander when it was divided among four of his generals. More probably is the idea that it reached the four corners of the world.

The fourth beast is different.

Daniel does not attempt to give its appearance as being like some beast. It was such a dreadful and terrible beast that it could not be compared to any animal. It was strong, had iron teeth, and ten horns. This is a fierce monster capable of devouring all that was before it. This beast represented The Roman Empire.

The ten horns represent the ten tributary kings and kingdoms which made up this great empire.

‘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.’ Daniel 7:8

Daniel while looking at these horns saw a little horn coming from among the ten horns. This horn had the eyes of a man and a mouth which spoke great things. The horn here is a symbol of a king but which king? This is the most difficult part of the chapter.

We believe it best fits Domitian who ruled the Roman Empire. The three horns plucked up before it presents no small difficulty also. Any effort to juggle various emperors around it fit this verse is most difficult.

‘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. 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. “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. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)’ Daniel 7:9-12

In these verses, we see the judgment of heaven against these beast-kings. A stream of fire proceeded from God and their dominion was taken away. The books are opened and the beast is brought to trial. While their dominion was taken away their lives were prolonged.

How? They still existed but were now subdued and quiet. These nations could still be recognized by their boundaries, customs and languages, but their power had all vanished.

‘In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 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.’ Daniel 7:13-14

Now the fifth kingdom, the kingdom of the Son of Man replaces these beast kingdoms. It is made up of people from all nations. He will reign over “an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away.”

It is spiritual in nature not having those carnal elements which cause other kingdoms to decay.

‘I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 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: ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’ Daniel 7:15-18

Daniel was grieved over not knowing the meaning of the dream just as was John grieved and cries when he felt there was no one worthy to open the seven seals in Revelation 5:4 to reveal the message therein. Daniel inquired from one of those who ministered to God, an angel, the meaning and was told who the beasts represented. The saints of God would possess the fifth kingdom as kings and priests, Luke 22:29 / Revelation 1:6.

‘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. 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. As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favour of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.’ Daniel 7:19-22

Daniel is particularly interested in the fourth beast. He sought a further explanation. He further describes the fourth beast giving some additional things about him. The unusual horn that had eyes and a bragging mouth is observed making war with the saints, prevailing over them until the saints are given possession of the kingdom.

This speaks not only of the establishment of the kingdom but also of the victory over her enemies. Thus, it speaks of the conflict between the kingdom of God and the fourth beast, and the victory God gives to his people.

‘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. 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. 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. ‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 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.’ Daniel 7:23-27

Admittedly the most difficult problem of this chapter is identifying the horn that arose after the ten horns. He was different from the others and would subdue three kings. To find some Roman emperor who subdued three kings before him is difficult to find. That such happened is not denied.

It is simply that history does not afford us with this information. Some believe however that the description given by Daniel best fits Nero who was emperor of the Roman Empire from 54 to 68 A.D.

Many believe this horn was Domitian, 81-96 A.D., who severely persecuted Christians. Some insist however it has to be Nero since the kingdom came to its full power with the death of Nero in 68 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Notice closely verse 27 of this chapter. It was to be given to the saints when the horn’s dominion is taken away. The kingdom was established with power in A.D. 70 although it came into existence on Pentecost following the resurrection of the Lord.

In Luke 21:31 where Jesus is in the middle of a discussion of the destruction of Jerusalem he says, “Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”

Does this mean the kingdom was not to be established until Jerusalem’s destruction?

Certainly not! The Scriptures are clear that it happened on Pentecost Acts 1 and Acts 2.

What does the Lord mean then?

He is speaking of it being near in possession and power. Under oppression as they were from both Jews and Rome it did not look at times like God was reigning but when these enemies were removed then all doubt is removed.

We see the vindication of God’s people who had been undergoing persecution. They received the kingdom in the sense they had greater freedom to spread the gospel without persecution. Nero seems to fit the description of verse 25. He was vain arrogant, vicious. He had many Christians committed to death.

‘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 7:28

Daniel says this is the end of what he saw and heard. This is the sum of what was disclosed to the prophet. However, he is still concerned and meditated on these matters.

His thoughts on the vision disturbed him greatly. It even affected his countenance in some way. He kept the matter to himself not communicating to anyone his feelings.

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