Once again (see Daniel 2) we see the four Gentile worldwide kingdoms that oppressed and ruled over Israel (the times of the Gentiles) and even the future kingdom (the revived Roman empire ruled by the Antichrist) except this time they are not seen as impressive metals but ferocious beasts that devour each other. Remember, the Antichrist is also called the beast. (Revelation 13) When God gave the vision to Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2), he was a proud and evil ruler and saw these kingdoms from fallen man’s point of view. Note how differently God sees man in his fallen state- like beasts. In chapters 1-6 we looked at the historical events in Daniel’s life, and in the remainder of book, the next 6 chapters, we will look at prophetic events that God revealed to Daniel concerning the future of Israel, these four kingdoms, the final worldwide kingdom of Antichrist and the fifth and final/eternal kingdom, the kingdom of Messiah Jesus. (Vv. 14, 27) These amazing prophecies were predicted years before they happened with 100% accuracy.
[“Beyond the evidence for the Bible’s correctness (manuscript evidence) and its historicity (archeological evidence), the most important evidence is that of its inspiration. The real determination of the Bible’s claim to absolute inspired truth is in its supernatural evidence, including prophecy. God used prophets to speak and write down His Word and God uses miracles like fulfilled prophecy to authenticate His messengers. For example, in Genesis 12:7, God promises that the land of Israel was to be for Abraham and his descendants. In 1948 Israel was returned back to the Jewish people for the second time in history. This may not seem so astonishing until you realize that no nation in the history of the world has been scattered from its homeland and returned! Israel has done it twice. The book of Daniel predicts with accuracy the coming of the four great kingdoms from Babylon, to Medo-Persia, to Greece, to Rome centuries before some of those kingdoms came on the scene (a time span of over 1,000 years!) with details concerning how they would rule and be broken. This includes the reigns of Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes.” http://www.gotquestions.org/which-book.html]
[“Why Study Prophecy? When we are anticipating an important event, we start counting. Years. Months. Weeks. Days. Sometimes we hang a calendar on the wall and mark off each day, so that we can “see” how near we are to the great and wonderful event. The Bible has information that all of us need today. Don’t we want to know about what is soon to happen right here on earth? Prophecy… • Builds Faith in God • Gives Solid Reason to Believe the Bible • Reveals God’s Plans • Answers Questions about Life • Warns Against a Careless Life • Encourages Patient Waiting • Gives Meaning to the Present • Instructs about Coming Events • Frees from Earthly Perspective” http://www.megiddo.com/prophecyindex.asp]
“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.” (V. 1) These four visions given to Daniel occurred during the historical period sometime after chapter 4 and through chapter 6. (See Daniel 7:1; 8:1; 9:1; 10:1)
“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 (Gentile nations; see Vv.17, 23) were coming up from the sea, different from one another.” (Vv.2-4) The great sea represents “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (Rev. 17:5) and the turmoil and unrest of peoples and nations. (Isa. 57:20) [“Prophecy interpretation note: the reference to these four beasts speaks of their involvement with Jerusalem and the Jewish people. This is an important point to remember when trying to understand Bible prophecy. Many times groups will try to use a literal reference to Israel and symbolically apply it to themselves, forcing an inaccurate interpretation. Cults such as the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons take passages that clearly refer to Israel and apply it to their group. They therefore misinterpret the passage and miss the meaning.” Source: http://www.truthnet.org/Daniel/Chapter7/]
BABYLON – “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.” (V. 4) [“Note that the symbols for Babylon are all in the superlative: Gold is the finest of metals; the lion is king of the beasts; the eagle is lord of the air. Ancient Babylon was a mighty empire. “Wings of an eagle”—the symbolic use of wings is impressively described in Habakkuk 1:6-8, where it is said that the Chaldeans should “fly like an eagle swooping down to devour.” http://www.teachinghearts.org/dre17hdan07.html] “The tearing off of the eagle’s wings probably represents the king’s season of insanity. That the lion ‘stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it’ reflects Nebuchadnezzar’s restoration and human heart thereafter.” (Beth Moore, Daniel, p. 138) “But how can the image be of Nebuchadnezzar if he is dead by the time of the reign of Belshazzar? An alternative view: From these symbols we may easily deduce that Babylon was a kingdom of great strength, and that under Nebuchadnezzar its conquests were extended with great rapidity. But there came a time when the wings were plucked. It no longer rushed upon its prey like an eagle. The boldness and spirit of the lion were gone. A man’s heart—weak, timorous, and faint—took the place of a lion’s strength. Such was the case with the nation during the closing years of its history, when it had become enfeebled and effeminate through wealth and luxury.” http://www.iaua.name/Daniel-Revelation/drdan7.htm]
MEDES AND PERSIANS – “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!” (V.5) [“Raised up on one side”—cf. the two horns of 8:3; the Medes and Persians were unequal. At first the Medes and Persians ruled jointly, but later the Persians rose to be the greater power over Astyages of Medes. The three ribs are the three great conquests that brought the Persians to power: Lydia (defeated in 546), Babylon (defeated in 539), and Egypt (defeated in 525). Like humans, bears are omnivores (not herbivores, as we commonly think of bears eating just berries), so this image of a ravaging bear/beast would resonate in the mind of the 6th Century B.C. individual. “Devour much meat”—this would naturally refer to the stimulus given to the Medes and Persians by the overthrow of the three provinces of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. The character of the power is well represented by a bear. The Medes and Persians were cruel and rapacious, robbers and spoilers of the people. This Medo-Persian kingdom continued from the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus to the battle of Arbela in 331 B.C., a period of 207 years.” http://www.iaua.name/Daniel-Revelation/drdan7.htm] [“As in the image of Daniel 2, so in this series of symbols a marked deterioration is noticed as we descend from one kingdom to another. The silver of the breast and arms is inferior to the gold of the head. The bear is inferior to the lion. Medo-Persia fell short of Babylon in wealth, magnificence, and brilliance.” http://www.iaua.name/Daniel-Revelation/drdan7.htm
GREECE – “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.” (V.6) [“The leopard is inferior to the lion, but more swift. (This leopard has 4 wings compared to the lion’s 2 wings; Alexander was able to accomplish in 10 years what it took other kingdoms generations.) The conquests of Greece under Alexander had no parallel in ancient times for suddenness and rapidity. Alexander was 23 years old when he became King of Greece and set out to destroy Greece’s old enemy, Persia. With lightning speed the armies of Greece quickly defeated Persia, first at the battle of Issus in 333 B.C. against Darius III. Alexander then defeated the Phoenicians at Tyre in 332 B.C., Palestine/Judea surrendered, and he conquered Egypt in 331 B.C. In the ancient city of Nineveh he again met Darius III and defeated him again. Alexander then continued east all the way to the borders of India where his men refused to go any further; they then began the march back. In the city of Babylon, where Alexander was proclaimed a god, he planned to establish his capital. In 323 B.C., Alexander the Great died at the age of 33. He had stretched the Greek Empire from Macedonia to India in 10 years, defeating the most powerful armies of the world.” http://www.truthnet.org/Daniel/Chapter7/]
[“The four heads represent the fourfold division of Alexander’s empire, also known as the Diodachi, on June 10, 323, when Alexander died in Babylon at the age of 33. The four generals who took over the parts of Alexander’s kingdom at his death continued the Greek culture. This is why the New Testament is written in Greek, the result of the Hellenistic influence left by Alexander the Great and his succeeding commanders.” http://www.truthnet.org/Daniel/Chapter7/] [“Thus accurately were the words of the prophet fulfilled. As Alexander left no available successor, why did not the huge empire break up into countless petty fragments? Why into just four parts, and no more?—For reasons that the prophecy foresaw and foretold. The leopard had four heads, the rough goat four horns, the kingdom was to have four divisions; and thus it was. (This will be developed more fully in Daniel 8.)” http://www.iaua.name/Daniel-Revelation/drdan7.htm]
[“Dominion was given to it”— V. 6 NASB – military genius alone cannot account for how Alexander the Great’s army of 35,000 men could defeat the huge Persian army. Before the Greeks conquered Persia, Darius III assembled the largest army ever created (over 1,000,000 men from 40 different nations) to try and stop the progress of the Greeks. He was still defeated by Alexander, in the Battle of Arbela (also known as the battle of Gaugamela), who had no money and only 35,000 men. Alexander was only 25 years old. The independent, warring Greek states allied themselves to fight for their freedom.” http://www.teachinghearts.org/dre04histempires.html#medopersia]
ROME – “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 (the Revived Roman Empire). While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one (Antichrist), 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.” (Vv. 7-8) [“Dreadful and terrifying”—Daniel identifies this beast as dreadful. In contrast to the other three beasts, the Jews were affected most by Rome. Within 107 years, the Temple and the Jewish people would be nearly destroyed. Not until 1948 A.D. would a Jewish nation come back into existence. Inspiration finds no beast in nature to symbolize the power here illustrated. This power is diverse from all the others, and the symbol is wholly different from anything found in the animal kingdom. But nature furnishes no symbol which can fitly illustrate the fourth kingdom. The vision therefore introduces a beast the likeness of which was never before seen, a beast dreadful and terrible, with nails of brass, and teeth of iron, so cruel, rapacious, and fierce that from mere love of oppression it devoured, and broke in pieces, and trampled its victims beneath its feet.” http://www.iaua.name/Daniel-Revelation/drdan7.htm]
“Behold, another horn, a little one” In next week’s study of Daniel 7 we will look at the clash between the Antichrist (the little horn) and Christ, 2,500 plus years before it happens. Guess who wins?
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. Daniel’s prophecy revealed the rise and fall of the four great Gentile worldwide kingdoms before they fell and predicts the fall of the Revived Roman Empire ruled by Antichrist. (Remember, his vision of the fall of Babylon came to him in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar before Babylon fell. See Dan. 7:1) History validates everything God showed Daniel. What does this say to you?
2. Why should we study prophecy in the Bible? What are some cautions we should take when we study prophecy?
3. Here in Daniel 7 we see the second coming of Christ prophesied. How does His second coming affect the way you live your daily life?
4. Have you heard of “false prophets” regarding Christ’s second coming? How did they err and what can we learn from their bad example? How should this affect us?
Disclaimer: Quotes from the above websites do not mean that I agree with all the meanings and interpretations of the prophetic passages in the entire book of Daniel.