Daniel 7 The Voice (VOICE)
7 In the first year of Belshazzar’s reign over Babylon, Daniel had a dream and saw visions as he slept in his bed. When he got up, he remembered the dream and wrote it down. This is the beginning of his record:
These events most likely take place in 554 b.c. They are a flashback to before the feast in chapter 5.
Daniel: 2 As I dreamed that night, I saw a vision: I was looking and saw the four winds of heaven blow in from all directions and sweep across the surface of the Mediterranean Sea,[a] whipping up waves and turmoil within the deep. 3 Four great beasts rose up from the churning waters, each one different from the other. 4 The first to surface was like a lion. It had giant wings like an eagle’s protruding from its shoulders. I watched as suddenly its feathers were plucked and its wings removed. The great beast was lifted up from the earth so that it could stand on two feet like a human being. Then it was given human intellect. 5 After this I looked and saw a second beast rising from the sea, this one resembling a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and in its mouth, gripped tightly between its teeth, were three ribs. And the bear was told to get up and devour even more flesh. 6 After witnessing this, I continued to look and saw another beast appear from beneath the waves. This one was fierce and fast like a leopard. It had a bird’s wings like the lion, but two pairs instead of one coming out of its back. It had four heads, and men bowed to this beast, and it was permitted to rule over them. 7 While I continued to gaze at this vision that night, a fourth beast arose. As if from a nightmare, it was terrifying, more awful and more powerful than anything I had ever seen. Its enormous iron teeth devoured and shattered its prey. Everything was crushed beneath its massive feet. And this fourth beast was unlike the previous three, having ten horns protruding from its head. 8 As I stared at the creature and wondered about the ten horns, suddenly another horn grew out of its head, smaller than the rest. Three of the first horns were pushed up from their roots to make room for the little horn. It appeared to have eyes like a human and a mouth that boasted and bragged of its great exploits.
9 As I watched the vision unfold,
11 I continued to look on the scene and heard the clatter of arrogant words spoken by that smaller horn. And as I watched, the verdict was given, and the sentence enacted: the fourth beast was slain, and its body was destroyed, delivered over to the consuming fire. 12 As for the other beasts, their power and position were taken away, but they were allowed to live for a little while longer.
13 I saw another spectacle in the night visions:
15 As for me, Daniel, I was deeply disturbed by all that I saw; these night visions terrified me. 16 So I approached one of the heavenly beings standing before the flaming throne and asked him to explain exactly what had happened. So he did. And this is what he told me it all meant, the interpretation he gave me to all I had seen and heard:
Heavenly Being: 17 The four great beasts you saw that rose from the wind-whipped sea are four kings who will rise from the earth and come to rule vast empires. 18 But the holy ones of the Most High God will receive that kingdom which will last for all the ages to come, forever and ever.
Daniel: 19 But I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand the whole truth about the fourth beast. It was different from the other three, so fearsome with its iron teeth and bronze claws devouring and shattering its prey and trampling everything in its path beneath its massive feet.
The beasts can be identified by a careful study of history. The lion, bear, leopard, and fourth terrifying beast represent Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. Persia had four kings, so the leopard had four heads. The ten horns of the fourth beast with iron teeth represent the ten dominant Seleucid kings after Alexander the Great’s empire splintered into four regions. The smaller horn is Antiochus IV who put down three potential Seleucid leaders (horns) before him.
Just because a prophecy has been fulfilled once, it doesn’t mean the prophecy is no longer instructive. Daniel’s prophecies are excellent examples of this idea. Written from the perspective of the Babylonian exile, these prophecies describe the coming suffering of God’s people under foreign rule and look forward to a time when God will liberate them. During the next 300 years, the Jews watch Daniel’s prophecies unfold. The Persian Empire is conquered by a Greek, Alexander the Great, in 333 b.c. Alexander’s short reign is followed by the division of the empire into four districts governed by his politically inexperienced generals; Israel is ruled by a string of cruel men—culminating in the reign of Antiochus IV who attempts to turn Jerusalem into a Greek city, bans the Torah, and even builds an altar to Zeus in God’s temple. In the face of such pagan influence, God instigates the Maccabean Revolt of 167-165 b.c. At that time, Jerusalem’s God-fearing traditions return, and Israel is ruled by the Jews. But these historical facts are not the end of God’s message. Within Daniel’s prophecies is a description of the end of the age, a time when evil will be punished and the Liberator will reign.
Daniel: 20 I was intrigued with the 10 horns on the beast’s head and that 11th horn that grew up and uprooted the other 3 horns, that horn with eyes like human eyes and a mouth that uttered arrogant words, that horn that looked greater than the rest. 21 I looked on as that 11th horn waged war against the holy ones; for a while it seemed it might triumph over them, that is, 22 until the Ancient of Days arrived and ruled in favor of the holy ones of the Most High. Now the appointed time had come when the holy ones took possession of the eternal kingdom. 23 The heavenly being told me,
“The fourth beast, like the other three,
28 This is the end of his record.
Daniel: My thoughts on these matters upset me greatly. My face grew pale, but I kept it all to myself.
Daniel 7 New International Version (NIV)
Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts
7 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.
2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
4 “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.
5 “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!’
6 “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.
7 “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.
8 “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.
9 “As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
11 “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. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 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.
The Interpretation of the Dream
15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 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: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’
19 “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. 20 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. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
23 “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. 24 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. 25 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.[b]
26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 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.’
28 “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.”