The Book of Daniel Chapter Seven
by Cooper P Abrams III
Daniel's First Prophetic Vision of World History
This first vision of Daniel, recorded in Chapter 7, takes place in "the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon" which chronologically places it after Chapter four and between Chapters 5 and 6. In time the vision was in 556BC when Nabonidus, Belshazzar's father, was king of Babylon. Daniel's reason for placing it here was because the first six chapters present a chronological accounts of the history Babylon. The following chapters 7-12 deal with prophetic events which God revealed to Daniel.
The subject of the vision is the same as King Nebuchadnezzar's first dream, which is the future kingdoms that followed the Babylonian Empire. There are important differences between the two and addition information is given in Daniels vision.
|Nebuchadnezzar's Dream||The Nation Symbolized||Daniel's Vision||Daniel 2:31-36||Daniel 7:1-14||Head was of fine gold||Babylon||This beast was like a lion with eagle's wings Its wings are plucked, and it was made to stand up like a man on its feet, and was given a man's heart.||Chest and arms of silver||Medo-Persians Empire||Bear which raised its self on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told to arise and devour much flesh.||Belly and thighs of bronze||Greek Empire||Leopard, had four wings on its back like a bird and had four heads and was given dominion to rule||Legs of Iron||Romans Empire||This beast was dreadful, terrible and strong with great teeth. It devourer and brake in pieces. It stamped the residue with its feet. It was not like the other beasts. It had ten horns.||Feet of Iron and Clay Mixed||Revived Roman Empire||A little horn arises among the ten horns. Mixed Empire This little horn plucks up three of the first ten horns. Has eyes like a man and mouth speaks great things with its mouth.|
In Verse 9, Daniel sees these thrones being "cast down"which means set down in place. It does not mean they are destroyed, but put in their places. He then sees a vision of God, called the Ancient of Days, sitting on His throne. His garments are white and His hair was like fine wool. The throne was like a flame and had wheels burning with fire. From God came a fiery stream and a million came forward and ministered unto Him. Also a hundred million stood before Him. The scene is of the King who is setting in judgment and then books are opened. Revelation 20:11-15 identifies the King as the Lord Jesus Christ. It describes this final judgment when the unsaved from all the ages are brought before the Lord Jesus to be judged.
Daniel then becomes very watchful as he hears the sound of the pompous words the Little horn is speaking. He watched until it was slain, its body destroyed and it was cast into the burning flame. Revelation 19:26 also records this event as the Antichrist and his false prophet cast into the Lake of Fire. The rest of the beasts had their kingdoms taken from them, but their lives were prolonged for period of time.
As Daniel continued to watch he sees Christ (One like the Son of Man), coming with the clouds from heaven. (See Rev. 19:11-15) This phrase "Son of Man" was Jesus' favorite term to describe Himself. He comes to God and they are brought Him near before Him. To the Son of Man is given dominion, glory and a kingdom that all people, nations and languages should serve Him. This is an everlasting kingdom which can not be destroyed.
Daniel it distraught by what he has seen and it grieves him to point it effects his spirit and he is greatly troubled. He then goes up to one of the one who stood by and asked him what all this meant. He then is told the interpretation of the vision.
Verse 17. The four beasts are four kings which arise on earth. The four kings are of the nations of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.
Verse 18. The saints of God in the end receive the kingdom for all eternity. This kingdom would include all the saved throughout time, but includes the promised Millennial Kingdom of the Jews. The first one thousand years God gives to Israel their promised kingdom and they dwell in it in their human bodies. Thus it is a physical kingdom. But at the end of the Millennium the unsaved of that period are removed from the earth and the unsaved from all the ages are judged. After this final judgment of the lost, the kingdom continues into eternity as the New Heaven and Earth described in Revelation 21-22. All men from this point have received their glorified bodies and dwell eternally with the Lord.
Verses 19-20. Daniel ask for more information about the fourth beast (Roman Empire) which was not like the other beasts who was exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, nails of brass which devoured so many, breaking them in pieces, and stamping their remains into the ground. He asked about the ten horns that were on the head of the beast and of the other, the little horn that arose (the Antichrist), and before whom three of the ten horns fell, who with his mouth spoke great things whose appearance was greater than the others.
Verses 21-22. Daniel then sees the little horn making war against God's saints and winning over them. He sees this continue until the Ancient of Days comes at the end in judgment and the time comes for the Kingdom to begin.
Verse 23. The fourth beast is identified as the fourth kingdom to come to rule on earth. Where as the other nations were powerful, this fourth kingdom is the most powerful. It devours, which means it literally eats up the whole earth, treading it down by its power and breaking it into pieces.
Verse 24. The ten horns are ten kings who arise from within the fourth kingdom. This refers to the Revived Roman Empire that will once again rule headed by the Antichrist. The Little Horn, which is the Antichrist, is diverse from the other kings, meaning more terrible or dreadful than the others. This king shall then arise after the other kings. In other words he follows the old Roman Empire and comes from it, but he more powerful and formidable that the early Roman Empire. When he arises he will subdue three of the kings.
Verse 25. He opposes God and speaks pompous words against Him. He persecutes the saints of God and seeks to prevent the God promised kingdom from coming and tries to change God's law. For a time God allows the little horn to prevail against the saints of God.
The phrase "a time and times and a half" refer to three and a half years of the of the seven year Tribulation. This will be explained later in detail in Daniel 9.
Verse 26. God with His court of judgment takes the Little Horn's kingdom from him stripping him of his power.
Verse 27. The kingdom in all its greatness and power is given to the people of God. This is an everlasting kingdom where all the saints for eternity will serve obey God.
Verse 28. The vision ends leaving Daniel greatly troubled by the vision. He is so unsettled about what all this means that he kept the matter to himself.
In Daniel 2, the image which was like a giant man with a golden head, chest of silver, thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. The symbols of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay refer to the political nature of these four kingdoms. In Daniel 7, God gives Daniel a more detailed vision with addresses the moral fiber of these nations.
Lion with eagle wings is clearly ancient Babylon. In Ezekiel 17:3, the Babylon is referred to as "a great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours."
The Lion is symbolic for strength and might. The eagle is king of the air and the lion of the ground. Solomon had twelve lions of either side of the steps leading to his throne. These lions had wings. (1 Kings 10:20, 2 Chron. 9:19) The statement that the first beast had its wings plucked and was made to walk as a man with a man's heart refers to the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar. (Dan. 4:28-37)
The Bear is the next kingdom that followed and represents the Medo-Persian Empire. This kingdom was like the bear which is known for its strength, austerity and cruelity. Normally a bear eats fruits and berries, but when hungry or given the opportunity will eat flesh, ripping it apart and devouring it. It will attack without mercy.
Raising itself up on one side refers to the Medo-Persian empire being a combination of two nations. The Persian side of the bear was the most powerful. The three ribs refer to the three cities of power within the Medo-Persian Empire of Ecbatana, Borsippa and Babylon itself. Cyrus, who was the King of the Empire took these three cities from the Babylonians. With the power gained by controlling these three cities, Cyrus was able to expand his empire. He did so cruelly by brutally attacking and taking over other nations devouring their people and resources.
The Bear is the next kingdom that followed and represents the Medo-Persian Empire. This kingdom was like the bear which is known for its strength, austerity and cruelity. Normally a bear eats fruits and berries, but when hungry or given the opportunity will eat flesh, ripping it apart and devouring it. It will attack without mercy. Raising itself up on one side refers to the Medo-Persian empire being a combination of two nations. The Persian side of the bear was the most powerful. The three ribs refer to the three cities of power within the Medo-Persian Empire of Ecbatana, Borsippa and Babylon itself. Cyrus, who was the King of the Empire took these three cities from the Babylonians. With the power gained by controlling these three cities, Cyrus was able to expand his empire. He did so cruelly by brutally attacking and taking over other nations devouring their people and resources.
Ecbatana (ek-bat-t-na), was capitol of the Median Empire. Herodutus, the Greek historian, wrote that Dioces who was the king of the Medes asked them to build him a great city. The city was named Ecbatana which was a city contained the kings palace with was in side two circular walls for protection. It was called the most beautiful city in the world at that time. According to the Nabonidus Chronicle, Cyrus the Great, in 550 BC, conquered the city and seized all its treasures. 1
Borsippa, was a city-state twelve miles south of Babylon in the central area of southern Iraq. It was a religious center and was the site of the Ezida Temple dedicated to idol Marduk It was destroyed by the Persian king Xerxes I in the fifth century.
The Third beast, the Leopard which is a predator, refers to the Greek Empire with Alexander the Great as it head. In twelve years (334-323 BC ), he subjugated by conquest or voluntary submission the entirety of the Persian Empire. It was smaller than the great lumbering cruel bear, but the Greeks were known for their swiftness and mobility in warfare.
When Alexander died a premature death his generals divided the empire into four primary kingdoms (the "four heads"). Ptolemy took Egypt and nearby lands. Seleucus received Syria, Asia Minor, and the conquered eastern nations. Lysimachus ruled Thrace and surrounding territories, and lastly, Cassander controlled Macedonia and Greece. This alludes to the four heads of the leopard.
The Fourth beast is not described except to say it was different from the others and had ten horns. It clearly refers to the Roman Empire which historically followed the Greeks. In Revelations 13:1, John refers to this beast as being like a leopard, with bear's feet and a lion's mouth which is the source for the illustration at the right. The Roman Empire was actually a combination of the previous three nations and particularly of the Greek Empire after it was divided. It was much greater in power than the others.
This fourth beast was made up of ten nations. The ten nations are those of the Revived or Restored Roman Empire that is future to out time. However, among these ten nations rises a smaller one called the little horn. It takes control of three of the original ten then rises to power over them all. A horn is used as a symbol of power and strength. In Daniel Eight this beast is symbolized as a the ram which refers it having power in its horns. This little horn is represented as a person because it has eyes and a mouth which defies God. The Little Horn comes to power by conquering three nations, which would mean that he literally rules over three nations he overcomes and in his power subjugates seven other nations. Historically we know that the nation that is being represented is the nations of the old Roman Empire which ruled most of the known world and had its base in Italy and later in Europe. Thus this would indicate this beast, who the Scriptures identify as the Antichrists who will come to power in the seven year Tribulation (Daniel's 70th Week - See Daniel 9:27) and will rule over a European union.
Daniel sees this Little Horn (Antichrist) leading the Fourth beast and being destroyed by God. Only the Little Horn is destroyed, the nations he ruled remain for a time and be included in the Kingdom period when Christ rules the earth in the Millennium.
The Ancient of Days is a name for God. In Revelation 1:14, John represents God as having white hair like wool, white as snow. "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire."
Please note: If you find the material a little confusing please understand that by the end this study it will become clearer to you. As one studies through Daniel one builds his understanding and knowledge. One can see plainly that Daniel did not understand what he was seeing and that most of what was being revealed to him was future to his day. Today we have the great advantage of being able to look back in recorded history and understand the nature of these kingdoms as recorded extensively in history. We however, are like Daniel, in our understanding of the last kingdom, which is yet future to us.
This first vision of Daniel sets the stage for Daniel's following visions and when all are studied the subject of these prophecies will be understood and further it will clarify much of the symbolism of the Book of Revelation. What is important is that through the study of Daniel, God's future plans for the earth can be understood because one can see the panorama of history through the end of time and into eternity in the New Heavens and Earth of Revelation 21-22. This is what Daniel saw.