115-108 Daniel Chapter 7
In this chapter we revisit the four kingdoms and their kings are seen as wild beast. These kingdoms represent the past, present and the future until the rise of the everlasting Kingdom of God which is the fifth kingdom. We shall see the same kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece and the apocalyptic empire.
These empires behavior is that of wild beast in their savagely, irrationally, and immoral actions. While the people of God behave rationally and morally as men created in the image of God. We also see that the Son of man suffers under the beast but in the end is victorious and receives the everlasting kingdom. Through God’s intervention good overcomes evil in the end.
We must remember that this is a vision of Daniel and is not always logical and in chronological order. There are two parallel activates that are described here. That of the wild beast on earth and the activities in heaven with respect to the One on the throne and His attendants, which monitor the activities.
Thus far Daniel has been interpreting the dreams of others but now we see that he himself has had a vision through a dream. The dream does not come in chronological order, if it had we would have seen it earlier in the book. The vision is an expansion of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar from chapter 2 and appears now as the assurances that have been given to God’s people that He is able to deliver them. Daniel has the vision and then writes in down that it may become a permanent record along with the interpretation.
“The four winds of heaven” indicate that this activity is powered from heaven as the winds of God. God in this book has been titled the King of Heaven. (Daniel; Daniel 4:13 4:37, 26, 31) We have seen reference to the four winds before in the book of the Prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 49:36) The four winds of God has worldwide effect and the Israelite people are well aware as they have been subjected to the winds of God before. (Zechariah 2:6)
The four winds of God break in the great sea which is the Mediterranean Sea. (Numbers 34:6-7; Joshua 1:4; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 15:12, 47; Joshua 23:4; Ezekiel 47:10, 15, 19, 20; Ezekiel 48:28) This probably would have stirred fear into the hearts of the Israelites as they saw the Great Sea as an enemy. (Isaiah 5:30) The Great Sea was restless and tossed up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20) Isaiah also uses the sea to describe the roaring and tumult of nations. (Isaiah 17:12-13) For this reason the Israelite people would not have liked anything arising from the Great Sea.
The first wild beast we see is that of a lion with wings of an eagle. The lion is the king of beast and have been noted for their strength. (Judges 14:18) The lion has been noted for their boldness, (2 Samuel 17:10) ferocity, (Psalm 7:2) and their stealth. (Psalm 10:9) The lion which had the wings of the eagle meant that the wings of the beast were strong. This beast would be capable to bring Israel’s enemies against them. (Deuteronomy 28:49) The Israelite’s may have seen the wings of the lion meaning that it was carried by God. (Deuteronomy 32:11) By the context of the vision this lion would be a fearsome image and come with great strength and stealth and impose a speedy attack.
The Prophet Jeremiah described Nebuchadnezzar as a lion as one coming to make the land desolate and he is also described as a destroyer of nations. (Jeremiah 4:7) The Prophet Ezekiel uses an eagle to represent Nebuchadnezzar as the one who would transplant Israel. (Ezekiel 17:3) Therefore, this coincides with Chapter 2 that King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon are represented by the gold and the lion with eagle wings.
This interpretation becomes more conformed when we see that the lion had its wings clipped which reminds us of the humiliation that Nebuchadnezzar suffered at the hand of God. Following this period of time the beast was given the heart of a man and stood on two feet. This surely signifies the repentance of Nebuchadnezzar towards the Most High and his return to a rational mind and his spiritual growth. Thus we see the swift flying beast became softened and more human like Nebuchadnezzar.
Next we see a beast likened to a bear. The Lion and the bear are often paralleled in Scripture. (Proverbs 28:15; Lamentations 3:10; Hosea 13:8; Amos 5:19) This second empire that we see will be only slightly inferior to the first.
It is difficult to fully understand the meaning of being raised up on one side but the word used is “shetar” and translates to mean magistrate. It therefore could mean rulership and be translated as one rulership. The speculation then would fit with two nations coming under one rulership as the Medo and the Persian. It could also mean that one side was higher than the other signifying two nations with one greater that the other. In Chapter 8 we see one horn was higher than the other. These clues lead to the thought of two empires coming together as one. A great charging bear would certainly be the picture of a great army such as that of Medo-Persia.
The bear has three ribs within its teeth which means that the bear is in the process of devouring and displays the completeness of the bears work. Commentators also see the three ribs representing the three of the nations that the Medo Persians defeated, Lydia, Babylon and Egypt. We may also note the pattern in numbers. In verse 4 we see the two feet in which the lion stood on two feet. In this verse we see the three ribs and in verse 6 we see the four heads. Then in verse 7 we see the ten horns.
We see that the lion was a beast to be greatly feared as was King Nebuchadnezzar who in his insanity became as a best of the field. Later he regained his humanity and again rose to walk on his two feet. He was also given back the heart of a man and was not as fierce as the beast. Belshazzar failed to heed this warning and thus fell to the Medo Persians. In this verse we see the three ribs which represent the succession of the nations that Medo Persia defeated, Lydia, Babylon and Egypt. The four wings of verse 6 represent the rapidness of Greece’s conquest and the four heads are the division that the political powers of Greece suffered after Alexander’s death. In verse 7 we see the ten horns of the final beast. These ten horns represent the 10 European divisions of political power that grew out of the Roman Empire.
The command to the bear was to arise and devour much flesh. King Nebuchadnezzar rose up on two feet and regained his humanity but the bear rises up and is much fiercer which is a downward step. We saw from the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream the four world kingdoms would deteriorate as they progress. More brutality is a backward step from humanity. Therefore, in the consecutive order of these nations they are becoming more beastly.
We have seen the lion of Babylon, the bear of the Medo Persians and now comes the leopard of Greece. The Leopard has four wings on its back and four heads leading the way. The leopard is a swift moving creature. (Habakkuk 1:8) Liked with the Lion the Leopard is also a fearsome creature. (Song of Solomon 4:8; Jeremiah 5:6; Hosea 13:7) Commentators have noted that the use of the number four indicate the world wideness of the rule of the Leopard. This beast is also given dominion and will have control over the Mediterranean world.
When Alexander died his kingdom was divided between his four generals. Two of these generals were prominent north and south of Palestine. The Generals were Lysimachus who ruled over Thrace and Bithynia. Cassamder who ruled Macedonia and Greece. Seleucus who ruled Syria and Babylonia the territories of the east, and Ptolemy who ruled over Egypt, Palestine, and Arabia.
The next beast is the worst of the previous three. It was a beast that Daniel could make no comparison of. That the beast had iron teeth as reminiscent of the fourth empire from Chapter two. It also is a beast that devours and it also stamps with its feet the remaining of civilization. This stamping of feet makes it much more fearsome than the bear. This beast is completely brutal in comparison with the other beast.
From this beast will come ten kings as horns represent power and dominion. (Deuteronomy 33:17 1 Samuel 2:1, 10 Psalm 18:2) These ten kings arise from the forth beast and the kingdoms are diversified. The bear ruled as one kingdom and from the leopard four kingdoms grew but from this last beast 10 kingdoms will emerge. These 10 kingdoms do not remain united.
As the description of this forth beast moves it becomes more intense. From the ten horns a smaller one arises. Though the horn is small it will behave as if it is large and there is another difference from the ten. “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.” Verse 8. Having eyes as a man signifies that it is human in spite of the great claims it will make. There is a pretense here that is gives the impression of being human, being rational and godly and submitting to God but it is a deception. It is a beast but yet is filled with self-pride. It will make great boast for itself and great claims for its future. “Great claims” indicate that his works are above that of God. (1 Samuel 12:24 2 Samuel 7:21, 23 1 Chronicles 17:19 Job 5:9-10 Job 37:5 Psalm 71:9 Psalm 106:21 Psalm 126:2-3 Joel 2:21) We can see that this beast is preparing the final conflict between him as the anti-god against God.
This beast is so corrupt that it begins to destroy itself. The small horn attacks three of the other horns. From the beast very beginning it is a kingdom that loves war. It has now become divided and has no full control over itself. These kingdoms indulge in civil wars and attack each other. (Mark 3:24-26) This small horn will not only attack the other horns but will mercilessly attack the people of God. But the time of this beast is numbered by the coming judgment of God.
This is a picture of a world that is in constant war with itself. It is a world that is in complete rebellion against God and in pursuing its own way. It is a world that is in constant division and at time comes together for brief moments. It at times forms alliances but ultimately comes under the rule of the little arrogant horn.
This forth empire is the final world empire of the last days which began with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We may see its beginning as the Roman Empire but it is not just represented by Rome. The Roman Empire divided into smaller empires under a number of rulers. It is representative of empires in opposition to God’s rule and will go on until the end of time and takes place in Rome.
As the events of the world are unfolding Daniel gives us a glimpse of the activity of Heaven. Here we are given the viewpoint from the heavenly perspective. This is the view from the watchers.
Thus far we have been given the impression that these events will take place without God exercising His will upon earth. But now through the vision of Daniel we are able to see what is happening from behind the scene. God is an active God and the world is never left unto itself. The events of the world are being observed by the heavenly watchers and as the reports come into the heavenly court they are examined. It is here that judgments are made as God is constantly aware of what is happening to His own.
There is divine order to the vision of Daniel. We have seen the growth of the three beast in verses 4-6. Then came the forth beast in verses 7-8. Now we see the heavenly court in verses 9-10. The forth beast is dealt with in verse 11 and the previous three beast dealt with in verses 12.
Daniel continued to dream as another vision came before him. Daniel’s vision now changes scenes as he begins to see what God is doing as these events are unfolding. This new aspect of the vision was in parallel with what the wild beast were doing and the view from the heavenly court. Daniel will see the forth beast dealt with and then move back into time past to see the judgment upon the previous three beast. There are decisions from the heavenly court at different times and the vision moves forward and backward.
In comparison we can look at the vision of John in the book of Revelation chapters 4 & 5, which also speaks of the scene. We see in John’s vision that the court is also observing and in continual worship through the ages. We see in the judgment of the seven seals that it is a flowing judgment and the last seal is but the final summation. The judgments of God are not only in the end time but are made throughout all time.
“Thrones were set up,” while the world was carrying in the course of evil, yet the heavenly court was being set up. As the earth was in turmoil the heavens were also busy. Daniel observed in his vision the deliberate placement of thrones in order to deal with the evilness of the beast-like kings of the world. There is but One King who sits upon the thrones which may have been set up from the time of this vision, or they may have been set up from the time that man had first been judged. This would explain the words of the watcher in chapter 4:14-17. “He shouted out and spoke as follows: “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit; Let the beasts flee from under it And the birds from its branches. “Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, But with a band of iron and bronze around it In the new grass of the field; And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth. “Let his mind be changed from that of a man And let a beast’s mind be given to him, And let seven periods of time pass over him. “This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men.”
This came from the watchers whose decrees determined the events on the earth, which is in response to the tumult of the events on the earth. Here while the world suffered from the beast there was unity in the heavens as all centered on the One who sat upon the throne.
There are different views here of the thrones. It may be that there are more than one throne but there is only One who is worthy to sit upon the thrones. It may be that the other thrones are awaiting His arrival along with His people.
The other view is that the thrones are all the thrones of the world but only the One who is worthy will take His place upon all of them. It may also be in reference to the majesty of His throne to the many thrones of the earth. “For there thrones were set for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.” (Psalm 122:5)
Others see it as thrones for the heavenly attendants who are not mentioned as to not take men’s eye of the One who is worthy to sit upon the throne. There is no other Scripture that would support that thought in the Old Testament. Occupation of a throne in the presence of the holy One would have to be an exceptional person either human or angelic.
Revelation 4:4 was after the Lamb had been slain at which time the people of God could sit upon thrones with the Holy One. “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:21)
Then the One comes and takes His seat in the heavenly court. He is addressed as the “Ancient of Days.” Age is looked as one having the greatest of wisdom and therefore worthy to judge, this in contrast to the earthly beast kings who pass away. He is the everlasting One who is the “Ancient of Days” in the heavens. The “Ancient of Days” was before the beginning.
His clothing was white and His hair pure wool. White is the symbol of purity and He is the righteous One. (Psalm 51:7 Isaiah 1:18 Lamentations 4:7) In the heavenly court all is pure and righteous, and eternal.
His throne is ablaze and the wheels are of burning fire. It is the same as the chariot throne of God in Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 1) The fire is of God’s glory and His judgment. (Ezekiel 1:4, 13, 27) It is with fire that all evil will be destroyed. Around His throne was a countless number of heavenly beings serving Him and to enact His will. He is the “Most High” and is above all things sitting on His throne where all bow and worship. Full of power and deserving of all glory. Then the books are opened and the truth of them examined by God. It has all been recorded through time. These are the records brought to the heavenly court from the watcher who has recorded all through time. This is not the scene of the final judgment but the continuing judgment during the time of the four beast dealing with one and then the other. But this continuing judgment certainly leads to the final judgment.
This may serve to explain the activities of Chapters 3-6 when the court sent dreams to warn men, when the court passed sentences on the wicked and punished them, and delivered the righteous.
We see in these verses that Daniel’s vision in a summary of what happens and what has previously happened. We start at the end and see the effect of the words spoken by the little horn. The beast that the little horn is on will be slain. Its body will be destroyed by the fire of God’s judgment that we saw in verse 10.
Then in verse 12 we see the earlier judgments of the court. The activity of God in His judgements through the centuries. There dominions had been taken away by the sentences of the court. But they had been allowed to remain to the end as other empires until the final end of the forth beast. They had been preserved for a “season and a time,” which was determined by God.
This is consistent with chapter 2 where they were destroyed but allowed to continue without a dominion until the destruction of the forth beast. Therefore their time on earth is extended but there will be no delay in the complete destruction of the forth beast. Again we see that God’s judgment is a continual judgment and not one judgment at the end of time.
We catch a glimpse of the time when the three empires had ended. It is a time when “one like the son of man” comes into the presence of God on His throne. In His appearance he is as a man. Unlike the kings who were likened to beast this one was rational, spiritual and moral, and revealed the image of God. This one like the son of man represents a King and a Kingdom.
He has come into the presence of God to receive dominion, glory and a kingdom. (Later we will learn that the the kingdom and the dominion is given to the saints of the Most High. Thus, the son of man is the representative of His people and comes as the Prince to receive His due glory. He will receive the Kingdom and dominion on behalf of His people. We see this one as the son of David and will be the prince of his people and will be ruler of the everlasting Kingdom. (Ezekiel 34:23-24 Ezekiel 37:24-25 Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 11:1-4 Psalm 89:3-4)
“And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming.” The beast came out of the sea but this man came from the clouds of heaven. In world turmoil and dirt the beast would arise. (Isaiah 57:20 Isaiah 5:30) But this man was from the clouds. God usually travels from the clouds. (Psalm 18:11-12) This does not imply a full divinity it does imply a special relationship to God, even more so when he receives an everlasting Kingdom.
Upon arrival in the presence of the heavenly court the Prince is brought before the Ancient of Days. It is then he is given dominion, glory and an everlasting Kingdom. He is also given authority over the world.
In this vision Daniel learns that one day the chosen prince of the house of David would come into the presence of God and receive the Kingdom. But to learn who this prince is we must turn to the New Testament. In the New Testament we will learn the who, the when and the how.
Jesus came using the title of the “Son of man.” Jesus was the Messiah but using the title of the Son of man left no misunderstanding of who He was. Jesus was the true representative of man, the second Adam. Jesus also used the title to make the claim that He was the One who would enter into God’s presence on the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 26:64)
After the death and resurrection of Jesus He received His Kingship. As we read in Matthew, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) The Apostle Peter testified to this on the Day of Pentecost. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)
Stephen confirms with his testimony. “And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56) The Apostle Paul also shares this news with the Philippian Church. “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 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 2:9-11) For this purpose that the followers of Jesus would be transferred from the powers of a darkened world to the Kingdom of God. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13)
In Daniel we see the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven happened after the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. It was then that He received dominion, glory and His Kingdom. It is true that the full manifestation is yet to be seen and the world awaits for this revelation at His Second Coming. Daniel’s vision was not a manifestation to the world but the actual crowning of Jesus in the heavens. The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesian Church that the people of God will receive kingship alongside with Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6)
This is the beginning of the destruction of the forth beast and will be concluded by the appearance of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:8) When He comes Jesus will receive His own who remain upon the earth and all will be caught up together in the heavens. It is then that the Lord will take vengeance upon the beast and those who have followed him. (2 Thessalonians 1:8)
Once this has happened the people of God will share with their King the glory of His Kingship. (Revelation 3:21) The Christian has received this Kingship in part now. While yet dead in sin Christ has raised them up to the heavenly places with Him. (Ephesians 2:6) This happens while the forth kingdom of the beast is present but Jesus ever reigns in Heaven. His full Kingship will be revealed on earth when He comes to defeat and destroy the forth beast and his kingdom. (Revelation 19:11-16) He is the smiting stone that will being the forth empire to its final end.
Daniel was greatly troubled by the vision that he had just seen. It was beyond the imagination of any man that day as well as today. The vision was real and lasting upon his mind and he longed for an explanation to its meaning. Daniel approached one of the heavenly beings that were near to him and asked for the meaning of what he had seen. The heavenly being answered and said that he would interpret the vision for him.
The heavenly being states that the four kings will arise from the earth not the sea. The idea of the kings coming from the sea was not a literal happening but on that presented ideas. The kings are the most prominent in their kingdoms but they represent the four empires. In verse 23 we will see that the four empires grow from the works of the four kings. Daniel is assured that the people of God need not be concerned of the four empires as they will inherit the everlasting Kingdom. This vision has no reference to the Millennial Kingdom. The four kings are to be recognized as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, and Alexander the Great and the Anti-God.
The holy ones of the Most High does not mean the nation of Israel only. The holy one of the Most High are those who are faithful to God and His covenant and are therefore separated unto him. They are the ones who receive the Kingdom not by their own strength and power. But once they have received it they will possess it for eternity.
Daniel then inquires of his greatest concern the forth beast. From an earthly perspective this beast has been the emphasis throughout the vision. In this verse we see an added feature to the forth beast, he has brass claws. The ten horns are of great interest to Daniel and especially the little horn, the one which caused the fall of the three and had eyes and a mouth and spoke mighty things. The answer will come to him but now the vision moves on.
Daniel now sees further into the history that will soon unfold. This new vision is not a recap but a furthering advancement. We now see that God’s people will be persecuted and it will be very severe. This persecution is also revealed in the vision of the Apostle John in the book of Revelation chapter 19. It is the little horn that wages war upon God’s people and he will prevail against them. His actions against God’s people is so severe that it appears as if nothing will save them.
It is then that the Ancient of Days comes deals with this latest evil as He has with the other empires and the prior part of the forth beast. Now He brings judgment and delivers a right a fair verdict. Once this is complete the people of God will possess the Kingdom. This is a description of the final stage of the forth empire and the final actions of the heavenly court and their work will no longer be needed.
The fourth beast represents the final world empire and rises from the Mediterranean. It is diverse form the other empires in that it will be broken up as we had seen in chapter 2. Its first appearance is the Roman Empire which expands into multiple empires. From these empires will come the Anti-God. The Anti-God will only destroy three of the empires and is the ruler of a section of the world but not the whole world.
The Anti-God is unlike any before him and carves out an area in the Mediterranean. His empire is complete within itself and challenges the people of God and all that is of God. He puts himself in place of God.
The Anti-God will wear out the people of God leaving them in tatters. He will attempt to change the times, which is the times that God has within His power. (Ephesians 1:10) The Anti-God will change the law which was given to men in the Scriptures. He will be set on destroying all of God’s purposes and His truth.
Unlike God who is in control of time the Anti-God will be given time and a half time, meaning the he is not in control of time to be given him. He is unable to know or set the times in which these events are to happen. This is seen in that he persecutes the people of God intent to destroy all but is cut off because he is unknowing of the time of his reign. We see this in Revelation 12:14.
As with all through history God will sit in judgment. God will judge this evil ruler as He has on the previous empires of the world. The Heavenly court will take away the Anti-god’s dominion, it will be rid of and destroyed. God is a consuming fire and His judgment will be to the end, that is, forever. Therefore Satan’s final attempt to prevail against God will fail and he will be defeated to the end.
After the persecution of the Anti-god comes the blessing of the Lord. Those who have been battened down will be lifted up. Those who have been faithful to God will receive the Kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms of heaven. This is the promise of God to His people. (Ephesians 2:6 Revelation 3:21) The people of the Most High is not the earthly Israel but the faithful ones to God whoever they may be.
From the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the everlasting Kingdom we have reached the end of the matter. Daniel was not at ease and deeply troubled by this vision that had been revealed to him from God. It was horrifying to think what lay ahead for the people of God. It was not an easy privilege from God to receive such a vision.