The On-Line Commentary
on the Book of Daniel

By Brother Given Blakely.

The Prophecy of Daniel

Lesson Number 19
TRANSLATION LEGEND: ASV=American Standard Version (1901), BBE=Bible in Basic English (1949), DRA=Douay-Rheims (1899), ESV=English Stand Version (2001), KJV=King James Version (1611), NKJV=New King James Version (1982), NAB=New American Bible, NASB=New American Standard Bible (1977), NAU=New American Standard Bible (1995), NIB=New International Bible, NIV=New International Version (1984), NJB=New Jerusalem Bible, NLT=New Living Translation, NRSV=New Revised Standard Version (1989), RSV=Revised Standard Version (1952), TNK=JPS Tanakj (1985), YLT-Young’s Literal Translation (1862).
7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. 2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the
first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. KJV (Daniel 7:1-8)
With this chapter we enter into the most controversial part of the book of Daniel. All manner of strange doctrines and erroneous emphases have been hawked among believers concerning the last six chapters of this book. In order to prepare our minds for what is revealed in this text, it is necessary to recall what has been affirmed to this point. The first six chapters of Daniel are the context in which the second six chapters can be profitably understood. I say “profitably understood” because a considerable amount of teaching relating to Daniel has little beneficial and gratifying value. It either tends to minimize the teaching by accenting history, or render it powerless by disassociating it from living by faith, and assigning it only to the future.
The Lord has revealed a lot of Himself in the first six chapters, much of which was proclaimed to the entire world by Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. While I have already itemized some of these things, I must again draw attention to them. It is in the light of these things that the text before us will have particular relevance and value to us. These all involve direct statements concerning the Lord.
The Lord gave Jehoichim king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand (1:2a).
The Lord gave “part of the vessels of the house of God” to Nebuchadnezzar (1:2b).
God brought Daniel into favor with the prince of the eunuchs (1:9).
God gave “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom” to the four children of Judah (1:17a).
God gave Daniel understanding in all visions and dreams (1:17b).
God revealed Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its meaning to Daniel (2:17-19). Wisdom belongs to God (2:20a).
Might, or power, belongs to God (2:20b).
God changes times and seasons (2:21a).
God removes kings (2:21b).
God sets up kings (2:21c).
God gives wisdom to the wise (2:21d).
God gives knowledge to those men who have understanding (2:21e).
God reveals deep and secret things (2:22a, 28,29,47).
God knows what is in the darkness (2:22b).
The light, or illumination, dwells with God (2:22c).
God gave Daniel wisdom and might (2:23a).
God made known to Daniel what he and his friends prayed for (2:23b).
God made known to Nebuchadnezzar what would take place in the latter days (2:28,45).
God gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom (2:37a; 5:18, 21).
God gave Nebuchadnezzar power (2:37b).
God gave Nebuchadnezzar strength (2:37c).
God gave Nebuchadnezzar glory (2:37d; 5:18).
God gave Nebuchadnezzar beasts of the earth and fowls of heaven (2:38a).
God made Nebuchadnezzar ruler (2:38b).
The kingdom of the God of heaven will never be destroyed (2:44a; 6"26).
The Kingdom of God will not be left to another successor (2:44b).
The Kingdom of God will break all other kingdoms in pieces (2:44c).
The Kingdom of God will stand forever (2:44d).
God the God of gods (2:47a).
God is the Lord of kings (2:47b).
God is able to deliver His people (3:17a).
God will deliver His people (3:17b).
God sent His angel and delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace (3:28).
There is no god who can deliver like God (3:29).
God wrought signs and wonders to Nebuchadnezzar (4:2).
God’s signs are great (4:3a).
God’s wonders are mighty (4:3b).
God’s kingdom is everlasting (4:3c).
God’s dominion is from generation to generation (4:3d, 34).
God rules in the kingdom of men (4:17a, 25, 32).
God gives kingdoms to whomever He wills (4:17b, 25, 32; 5:21).
God sets over kingdoms the basest of men (4:17c).
God decreed what came upon Nebuchadnezzar (4:24).
God’s dominion is everlasting (4:34).
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing before God (4:35a).
God does according to His will in the army of heaven (4:35b).
God does according to His will among the inhabitants of the earth (4:35c).
No one can restrain God’s hand (4:35d).
No one can ask God what He is doing (4:35e).
The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar majesty (5:18a, 19).
The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar honor (5:18b).
Belshazzar’s breath was in God’s hand (5:23).
God numbered Belshazzar’s kingdom and finished it (5:26).
God weighed Belshazzar in the balances and found him deficient (5:27).
God gave the Babylonian kingdom to the Medes and the Persians (5:28).
God is the Living God (6:20, 26).
God sent His angel and delivered Daniel from the lion’s den (6:22).
God is steadfast forever (6:26a).
God’s dominion will be unto the end (6:26b).
God delivers (6:27a).
God rescues (6:27b).
God works signs and wonders in heaven (6:27c).
God works signs and wonders in earth (6:27d).
God delivered Daniel from the power of the lions (6:27).
There are SIXTY-FIVE specific affirmations concerning the God of heaven – all mentioned in chapters one through six! Daniel is mentioned fifty-eight times. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are mentioned fifteen times. Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned thirty-two times. Babylon is mentioned sixteen times. Belshazzar is mentioned six times. Babylon’s wise men are mentioned thirteen times.
“God” is mentioned 39 times, “Lord” 3 times, “Most High” 3 times, “He” (referring to Deity) 24 times, “Him” (referring to Deity) 6 times . . . etc. – all in the first six chapters of Daniel.
Tell me, who is emphasized in this book? Who protected the four children of Judah? Who gifted them? Who delivered them? Who raised up Nebuchadnezzar, humbled him, and restored his kingdom to him? Who brought Belshazzar down? Who gave Babylon to the Medes and the Persians? Who revealed Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams? Who revealed the writing on Belshazzar’s palace wall? This is a book that declares the working of the God of heaven, His Sovereignty, His purpose, and His will. The earth is the Lord’s, as well the fulness of it (Psa 24:1). It is still “HIS” field (Matt 13:24) – the place where He is working out His purpose regarding mankind, created in His own image.
We cannot forget how God has spoken to this point. Things that have been declared concerning the Lord have prepared us for this section of Daniel. Scripture is not random in its presentation. It has focus – Divine focus, and objective as well. The Spirit has shaped and cultured our thinking in the first six chapters. If we have received His message and perceived His intention, we have become acutely conscious of the God of heaven. We have seen the inferiority of earthly governments and rulers. The impotence of mere circumstance has also been established. The earth, even though defiled by the fall, remains the arena in which the God of heaven works. It is still true, “the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa 6:3).
The prophecies before us have a certain characteristic that is worthy of note. Both kings and kingdoms will be described according to their character, as well as times and circumstances. They will be called by names that describe character, not outward appearance: i.e., “winds,” “sea,” “beasts,” “lion,” “eagles’s wings,” “feet of a man,” “a man’s heart,” “bear,” “three ribs in the mouth,” “leopard,” “four wings of a fowl,” “four heads,” “great iron teeth,” “ten horns,” “little horn,” “eyes like the eyes of a man,” and “a mouth speaking great things.” These are found in the text we are presently considering (verses 1-8).
Scripture was never written to provide a mere historical record of the past, or a chronology of events for the future. Of themselves, such facts are powerless, and often even detract from the God who inspired them to be recorded. The emphasis of this part of Daniel is not what will happen, but WHY things will take place. The point will not be who is involved, but the nature of those involved. We will behold the utter futility of opposing the God of heaven, or operating in the earth by any agenda other than His. This world DOES belong to God, and those residing in it are answerable to Him.!
In addressing this text, I will confine myself to what I perceive to be God’s intention. My objective is not to attach names, governments, and times to the text where God Himself has not done so, or apparently so implied. The secret to avoiding confusion in this passage is not forgetting what has been declared concerning the God of heaven to this point. This is a record of His working, His purpose, and His will! The invincibility of His will is affirmed.
“ 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.”
As you can see, the book of Daniel is not written chronologically. After recounting the “lion’s den” experience, the prophet now reaches back several years to recount things the Lord had made known to him. There is a reason for this. In the first part of his book, Daniel recounts the dreams and visions given to others – all of which were interpreted and expounded by himself. Now we begin a section of the book that focuses on things made known to Daniel alone. This is the Lord’s personal ministry him.
The matters now made known and expounded to Daniel are more for the body of Christ than anyone else. Worldly empires are mentioned, but the matters revealed extend far beyond them – even into eternity itself.
“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon . . . ” The “first year” of Belshazzar’s reign was approximately fourteen years before the “lion’s den” experience – somewhere between 556-553 B.C. It is estimated Daniel was about 65-68 years old when he had this dream, or about 52 years after he had been taken captive to Babylon. We cannot be sure of these numbers, but they provide a sort of index of the span of time during which God worked with and through Daniel. If these figures are correct, Daniel was about eighty-two when he was thrown into the lion’s den. Previously I mentioned he could have been no less that seventy years of age when Darius had condemned him. At any rate, it is rather remarkable to consider these things.
This is the ONLY thing God noted that occurred during the first year of Belshazzar’s reign. The eighth chapter notes another dream Daniel had during the third year of Belshazzar’s reign (8:1). The only other Divine comment on Belshazzar related to his last hours upon the earth. He received a message from God early in the evening, and was killed later than night. In heaven’s eyes, this man was wholly insignificant. I do not doubt that countless other individuals also fall into this category.
Daniel’s Ministry
According to accepted Bible chronology, Daniel’s ministry occurred during especially dry and desolate spiritual times. His ministry, starting with his captivity, extending from around 606 B.C. until 535 B.C. – a period of seventy-one years. To provide a context for what we will now behold, a table of the Prophets living during that time is provided below. These dates are not intended to be precise, but are generally correct.
Zephaniah - 618 B.C. - ? Habakkuk - 606 B.C. - ? Ezekiel - 596 B.C. - 571 B.C. Joel - 592 B.C. - ?
Jeremiah - 627 B.C. - 560 B.C. (Writes Lamentations around 586-583 B.C.) Zerubbabel begins rebuilding the Temple - 536 B.C. Ezra - 536 B.C. - 458 B.C. Haggai and Zechariah - 520 B.C. - ? Esther - 480 B.C. - ? Malachi - 450 B.C. - ? Nehemiah rebuilds the walls - 444 B.C.
A Lesson to be Learned
There is surely a lesson to be learned in this perspective. Spiritually dry times are not impossible times! The eyes of the Lord are still ranging throughout the whole earth, seeking to show Himself strong toward those whose hearts are perfect toward Him (2 Chron 16:9). Such a man was found in Daniel. Not only was He given to see something from God, what he was given was extraordinary. The revelations given to Daniel are still challenging to those who are in Christ Jesus and can handle the Word of God.
The people of God are not to complain about the spiritually depraved times and places in which they find themselves. Rather, maintaining their integrity, they are to seek for fresh manna from above. We have Daniel as an example that such efforts are not in vain.
Today, the church has been captivated by spiritual Babylon. All manner of abuses and corruption are about us – just as they were about Daniel. But all is not lost. If we have a heart for the things of God, we can receive from God, even as Daniel did, during “the first year of Belshazzar!” This is not intended to be a mere negative view.
“ . . . Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed . . . ” Other versions read, “saw a dream and visions in his mind,” NASB “had a dream and visions passed through his mind,” NIV and “saw a dream, and visions came into his head.” BBE
The dream to which Daniel refers consisted of a series of visions – like chapters in a book. This was an extended revelation from God in which much was made known. The manner in which He governs the world will be revealed.
While Daniel’s body was heavy with sleep, his mind was productive, receiving from God and personally taking due note of what was seen.
The Same Four Kingdoms
The four kingdoms that were the subject of this dream and visions are the same four depicted by Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Here, however additional insights will be given. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed the deteriorating nature of the kingdoms of the world, confirming they must all eventually give way to the Kingdom of God. Thus, the most significant kingdoms of the world went from gold to iron mixed with clay – from a solitary political entity to divided kingdoms that could not stand.
This vision will show the character of earthly governments – that they are beastly, devouring, and highly oppressive. They are a depiction of the ultimate expression of “flesh,” or the fallen nature. In them we will behold how sin dominates the race, even when “the flesh” is in its most refined, organized, and illustrious state.
The Dream Was Written
“ . . . then he wrote the dream . . . ” Daniel apparently recorded the dream when he received it. Unlike Nebuchadnezzar who dreamed of the same four kingdoms, Daniel awakened to recall in perfect detail what had been made known to him in a dream. This was owing to his affiliation with God through faith. The record he gave of the dream was precise in every way, for “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20-21).
The Dream Was Summarized
“ . . . and told the sum of the matters.” Other versions read, “telling the main facts,” NKJV “related the following summary of it,” NASB “wrote down the substance of the dream,” NIV “he wrote down the dream,” NRSV Daniel was empowered by heaven to write this record.
The idea of the word “sum” is that Daniel wrote down the chief components of the dream. It is not that he wrote only those main points. Rather, his record was like building a house. First he erected the foundation and its pillars, then suspended the details of the dream upon them. To put is another way, he first stepped back and wrote an overview of the whole matter, then proceeded to open up the various components of the dream.
Daniel’s words are intended to confirm that he wrote the dream in its entirety, missing none of its details, capturing all of its message, and recording the heavenly perspective.
“ 2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.”
“I saw in my vision by night . . . ” Daniel receives this vision, by means of a dream, when his flesh was at its weakest point. He obtained it when the world has lost its distracting power, and his enemies were at rest. Yet, when he awoke, he had perfect recollection of what he had seen, and the lucidity to write it down in precise summary and detail. This was of the Lord, and unveils some of the involvements of inspiration.
“ . . . behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.” Other versions read, “the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea,” NKJV “the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea,” NIV “the four winds of heaven brake forth upon the great sea,” ASV “four winds of heaven violently moving the great sea,” BBE and “the four winds of the heavens are coming forth to the great sea.” YLT
In addition to this text, there are frequent references in Scripture to “four winds.”
DIVINE JUDGMENT. “And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come” (Jer 49:36).
A HEAVENLY QUICKENING. “Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live” (Ezek 37:9).
THE RISE OF A GREAT POWER. “Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven” (Dan 8:8).
DIVINE JUDGMENT. “And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those” (Dan 11:4).
DIVINE JUDGMENT. “Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD” (Zec 2:6).
THE GATHERING OF THE SAVED. “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mat 24:31).
THE GATHERING OF THE SAVED. “And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven” (Mark 13:27).
DIVINE CONTROL. “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree” (Rev 7:1).
The Lesson to be Learned
Each of these texts are declarations of the rule of heaven. As Daniel previously affirmed to Nebuchadnezzar, “the heavens do rule” (Dan 4:26). This was the single lesson Nebuchadnezzar had to learn, and it required seven years in the open field with the wild beasts to do so. However, Nebuchadnezzar is not the only one intended to learn this lesson. Belshazzar was judged because he did not learn “the most high God rules in the kingdoms of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses” NKJV (5:21).
The fact that Daniel recorded these things confirms that God intends for us to learn this as well. This world is not governed by its princes, but by God Almighty. Nations neither rise nor fall independently of Him. Kings are not elevated or deposed without Him. They do not come and go under their own power!
Whatever freedom men possess terminates abruptly at the determined purpose of God. There is a level of Divine activity that stands apart from human involvement – an aspect of Divine rule that is executed without any possibility of being thwarted or contravened. Examples of such works include the creation (Gen 1:1) the deposing of Satan in the beginning, and his bruising through Christ’s death (Heb 2:14). There is also spoiling of principalities and powers through the cross (Col 2:15). Then there was the raising up of Pharaoh (Ex 9:16), the calling of Abraham (Gen 12:1-3), the sending of the Messiah (Gal 4:4), and the birth of the church (Acts 2:1-41).
The four winds of heaven speak of powerful and irresistible Divine workings. This text contains some similarities to the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters, or the chaotic deep, prior to creation (Gen 1:2). In this text, as Divine influences move upon the troubled sea of humanity, four governments will surface. They will be the same four governments revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the multi-metaled image. Now, however, their character will be revealed, as well as the manner in which they will develop their various and appointed rules.
The Sea
The “great sea” is the considered to be the Mediterranean Sea upon whose coast Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome were located – the four empires that will now be expounded, and which were introduced in the second chapter of Daniel under the figure of a single image.
Out of social and political trouble and turmoil, and under the government of God, four powerful nations will arise. They will not appear simultaneously, but will come in succession. Their appearance, however, though from a troubled environment, will be under the strict control of God Almighty, and they will not continue one single second past the boundary of His purpose.
Remember, God is the “Governor among the nations” (Psa 22:28), and the “Lord of kings” (Dan 2:47). For some, this means everything appears to be. Or is obviously under the control of God. However, that is not the case at all. According to appearance, things seem out of control and chaotic. That is precisely why the Sovereignty of God is repeatedly affirmed, lest we become confused by visual aspects.
Worldly Governments
Almost all worldly governments have originated as the result of social unrest and agitation, whether they be altogether new, or representative of political change.
The Church
It is the wicked who are “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa 57:20-21). Mark it well, the church is not like a troubled sea, it is the wicked who are so. Before Jesus comes to people in power, they are like the sea of Galilee amidst a violent storm (Mark 4:37-38). After He comes, they are like a vast sea that has been put to rest and thus experiences a placid calm (Mark 4:39). But the world is not so. Outside of Christ its people are like a turbulent and restless sea, foaming out its shame in distress and social agitation.
It is out of this unrest that these four great beasts rise, one after another. They are all brutal, destructive, and violent. They get their way by force, and thus all of them are said to have animalistic traits.
“ 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” Out of the turbulence of humanity and political unrest, four awesome beasts appear. They have no perfect parallel in the natural creation.
“. . . four great beasts . . . ” The word “great” means domineering in character and eminent in power, doing great things. From the standpoint of headship, these beasts “are four kings” (7:17). From the standpoint of their operation, they are four kingdoms, or global powers (7:23,24) – governments that reigned over the world, subjecting it by political strength, not arbitration.
Therefore, as in the previous part of Daniel, kings stand for the kingdom over which they preside. Thus, in the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream, the various components of the image stood for kingdoms (2:37,39,40,41,42,44), yet also stood for kings (2:37,44). These beasts, therefore, are four specific kingdoms ruled by specific kings. Again, we will find they are the same kingdoms and kings as were introduced in the second chapter of Daniel.
Wild, Yet Governed
While they were governed by God, they did not know it, just as the beasts of creation are ruled by God, yet know it not. As it is written, “The wild beats of the field are mine” (Psa 50:11). God has often destroyed people and lands by means of wild and untamed creatures. He sent devouring locusts upon Egypt (Ex 10:14-15), and spoke of causing wild beasts to pass through a country, leaving it desolate (Lev 26:22; Ezek 14:15). He also sent lions among certain nations to destroy some of them because they did not fear the Lord (2 Kgs 17:25).
A Perspective from Revelation
The book of Revelation also speaks of beastly like powers, or governments. Spoken within the framework of the New Covenant, one of these beasts is said to ascend from “the bottomless pit” (Rev 11:7). By this, the Spirit means this power is animated by the devil, though under the ultimate control of God. John also saw another beast “rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns” (13:1). This beast will parallel the fourth beast of our text. Still another beast was seen “coming out of the earth,” docile like a lamb, yet speaking as a dragon, with Satanic tones and emphasis (13:11). This beast represents the false church, which functions organizationally after the manner of the governments of this world.
Without being unduly distracted by these considerations, there is a point to be made before proceeding any further. Earthly governments, or the attempts of men to govern, have a beastly quality about them. Eventually, all such governments come against God, repudiating His truth and opposing His people – even though government has been ordained by God (Rom 13:1-7). We have unfortunately seen this inevitable tendency in our own nation. This circumstance is precisely why the Kingdom of God will devastate all other kingdoms (Dan 2:44). They have the seed of mortality in them, and consequently gravitate to the earth, and tend to be a locus for Satanic activity.
“ . . . came up from the sea . . . ”
The natural creation had its origin by the Word of the Lord speaking over a chaotic domain, where darkness covered the face of the deep (Gen 1:2). These beasts, or kingdoms, surfaced from a turbulent and restless sea of fallen personalities – nations of men who were dominated by sin, ruled by the devil, and ultimately controlled by the God of heaven.
These kings rise out of great civil and political commotion and unrest. Whereas the heavenly kingdom comes from a peaceful and unagitated environment – like a stone cut out of a mountain without hands (2:34,35) – the governments of the world are spawned in agitation and fermentation.
The sea is inconsistent, often moving from placid calm to treacherous tempest with little warning. It is restless, having been in continuous motion and agitation from the moment of its creation until now. It also is potentially destructive. When it throws its stormy waves against the shore, there is little that can stand in its wake. This is all a fitting picture of the sea of humanity out of which these kings and kingdoms arose.
Under Divine Control
Yet, while all of this is certainly true of humanity, yet in the matter of kingdoms surfacing from this sea of personalities, the Lord is ever present. Divine activity is seen in the “four winds of heaven” striving upon the sea. These winds were under the control of heaven, and were working upon the sea of humanity cause kingdoms to both rise and fall. Later in this book, specific mention will be made of two spiritual forces that were associated with two of the kingdoms to be revealed in this text: “the prince of Persia,” and “the prince of Greece” (10:20). While these were not holy forces, they were in subjection to the holy angels, as that text indicates. The point to see here is this: while, according to
appearance, the world appeared to be in total chaos and agitation, the Most High was still ruling over it, working all things together for the good of those who love Him, and fulfilling His purpose to the finest detail. We must not fail to see this. It is critical to the understanding of this book.
“ . . . diverse one from another.” Other versions read, “different from one another,” NKJV and “each different from the others.” NIV
These are not normal beasts, and have no perfect parallel in nature. They are aberrations of what is normal. That is why they are pictured in such a unique way. They are to governments what Solomon was to wise men, Job was to suffering men, and Paul was to the Apostles. They stand out, being unique and excelling. In them we will see the utter futility of opposing God – even in a well organized manner – for all of these governments took their stand against the Lord. Through them, we will be shown the absolute superiority of the kingdom of God. The best, most organized, most ruthless, and most cunning of all human conglomerations cannot stand before the God of heaven! His Kingdom reigns over all other kingdoms, and will be so revealed (4:3).
Further, these all stand alone by their description. They are not the same, but each one is unique, and different from the others. One is not the governmental clone of the other, or just another of the same kind. None are a mere continuation of the one preceding them. All are the same in that they are domineering and destructive. The nature, manner, and objective of their dominion, however, will differ.
“ 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.”
The first government that is depicted is the Babylonian, headed up by Nebuchadnezzar. It is more than interesting that Nebuchadnezzar is referred by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel as a devouring lion and a great eagle with great wings.
“The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant” (Jer 4:7).
“Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?” (Jer 49:19 with 46:26 and 49:28,30).
“And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colors, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar” (Ezek 17:3 with verse 12).
In the second chapter of Daniel Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian kingdom were viewed as a “head of gold.” There, the majesty of the kingdom was viewed. Here, its nature is revealed.
This approach to Divine description should not confuse us, for it is the manner of the Lord to so instruct us. Thus Jesus is viewed as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), “the great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb 13:20), “King of kings” (1 Tim 6:15), “the Deliverer” (Rom 11:26), and “the Head of every man” (1 Cor 11:3). His church is described as His “body” (Eph 1:22-23), “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), and His “bride” (Rev 21:9). Satan is said to be “that old serpent” (Rev 12:9), “the dragon” (Rev 20:2), “a king,” and “Apollyon” (Rev 9:11). In using this type of language the Spirit shows us the nature or character of the person or persons being described. This is called apocalyptic language, and is quite prominent in both Daniel and Revelation. It is intended to instruct us, not intrigue us, tutor us, not tantalize us.
“The first was like a lion . . . ” This is the first beast to rise out of the sea – the first of the four prominent empires. This is a heavenly view, not a strictly historical one as perceived by men. The Egyptian empire, for example, existed before the Babylonian one. It was, indeed, a prominent one when Israel is the focus of our attention. However, Daniel is giving a much higher perspective of the purpose of God, in which Egypt is not as prominent. The Babylonian, or Assyrian empire, was founded by Nimrod (Gen 10:8-10), and increased by the Assyrians (2 Kgs 19:35-36). However, it was brought to its apex through Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans. Therefore, the Spirit begins with Babylon, when the Assyrian empire was at its fullest and strongest. At that point, it was like a mighty lion, ruling all lesser kingdoms. With a dignified presence it strode upon the earth, noted for its majesty, glory, and power.
Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon were unique – like gold among metals, a lion among beasts, and an eagle among birds.
“ . . . and had eagle's wings . . . ” This refers to the swiftness with which this kingdom swept other kingdoms under its dominion. Lands were given to Nebuchadnezzar, and “all nations” served him (Jer 27:6). While all of this happened swiftly, it was actually due to the working of God who “put a yoke of iron” upon the neck of the nations, causing them to serve Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 28:14). Egypt was also given to him for wages (Ezek 29:19).
Thus, the imagery of a lion with eagles’ wings depicts the rapid and ruthless devouring of many nations. The Babylonian empire spread quickly and effectively.
“ . . . I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked . . . ” Other versions read, “its wings were plucked off,” NKJV “Its wings were torn off,” NIV and “its wings were pulled off.” BBE
The ability to move swiftly in conquering other nations was thus removed – like pulling the wings off of a swift and high flying eagle. They were pulled off by the Lord, not men. The same God who gave Nebuchadnezzar the power to move across the landscape of the world with little or no resistence, took that ability from him and his kingdom.
It is as though God drew a boundary line beyond which Nebuchadnezzar could not pass. The Babylonian empire, therefore, ceased to be an aggressive and conquering one. I do not question this involves the time when Nebuchadnezzar was driven from among men and made to eat grass with the beasts of the field. His eagles’ wings were pulled off!
A Lesson
We must learn not to put our trust in seeming successes. The same God who causes men to increase and flourish can take away that ability – like tearing the wings off of a mighty eagle.
“ . . . and it was lifted up from the earth . . . ” Other versions read, “lifted up from the ground.” NIV and “lifted off from the earth.” Septuagint The idea is that the lion-like beast was lifted up from all fours, ceasing to be like a lion. The next phrase affirms it was replaced upon earth as a mere man. Thus, all of its dominance was lost. In other words, the Babylonian kingdom came to an end.
“ . . . and made stand upon the feet as a man . . . ” Being lifted up from its stance as a devouring lion, the Lord put the Babylonian, or Chaldean, kingdom back on earth as a weak man – as compared to a dominating lion. Now the empire became subservient to another kingdom, just like other kingdoms had once served it. The phrase “like a man” does not emphasize man’s glory, but his inherent weakness. This is the sense in which several texts speak of “man,” as the following texts indicate.
“What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?” (Job 15:14)
“Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?” (Job 22:2)
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psa 8:4).
“LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psa 144:4).
“ . . . and a man's heart was given to it.” Other versions read, “a human mind was also given to it,” NASB “and given the mind of a man.” TNK
As I have already noted, this is not intended to show the superiority of man over the kingdom of beasts. Rather, it accentuates the humiliation of a once proud empire to the state of a solitary and weak ordinary man. The king and his kingdom went from being bold as a lion to being fearful and intimidated as a mortal would be before a ferocious lion or other wild and powerful beast of the field.
Do not fail to note this heart was “GIVEN” to the beast. That is, it was assigned to him by the God of heaven. The same God who caused this kingdom to became prominent brought it down to the ground. The same God who raised up a king of prominence and power, brought him down in infamy and shame.
Thus something of the details of the demise of the Babylonian empire are provided. In the vision of the great image, it was only revealed that another inferior kingdom would succeed the Babylonian empire. In this vision, the Lord more precisely reveals to Daniel that all of this would be accomplished by the government of God Himself. He would tear off the wings that enabled the empire to spread. He would change the posture of the government from that of a domineering lion to that of a weak man. Hewould also take away the lust for power and make that kingdom a servant of another kingdom, as declared in the
triumph of Darius (5:31). He would change the nature of that once powerful government from that of domination to one of servitude. This reveals something of HOW the God of heaven governs His world.
“ 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.”
This will be a depiction of the Medo-Persian empire, headed up by Darius and Mede and Cyrus the Persian. The particular emphasis will be on the Persians, for that aspect of the kingdom became the dominant one, with the Median kingdom gradually being absorbed by it. This is the kingdom that was represented by the “chest and arms of silver” of Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream (2:32). That former representation emphasized the inferiority of the Medo-Persian empire to that of Babylon: i.e., “and after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee” (2:39). Just as silver is inferior to gold, so this second kingdom is inferior to the first. Secondly, this is the kingdom that would receive the fallen kingdom of Babylon, as God revealed to Belshazzar in the mysterious writing on the wall: “PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Dan 5:28).
“And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear . . . ” The inferiority of this second kingdom is not meant to suggest it lacked power or influence. Therefore, it is pictured as a bear, noted for its strength and agility, though not for any majesty. Coincidentally, the largest species of bears are said to be found in Media, “a mountainous, cold, and rough country covered with woods.” ADAM CLARKE
The bear is noted for being both cunning and ferocious. Lamentations 3:10 refers to the cunning nature of the bear, who lies in wait for its prey. The bear is also renown for being fierce when it is hungry or robbed of its young. Thus God speaks through Hosea, “I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage” NKJV (Hosea 13:8). Other texts also make reference to the savage nature of the bear (2 Sam 17:8; Prov 17:12). Perhaps it is more than coincidence that young David protected his flock by killing both a lion and a bear (1 Sam 17:36-37).
The figure of a bear emphasizes the cruelty of the Medo-Persians, for which they were especially noted. Isaiah prophesied of the Medes defeating Babylon, and emphasized their bear-like cruelty. “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isa 13:17-19).
A Clarification
It might appear confusing that Isaiah speaks of the Medes (Isa 13:17), Daniel of the Medes and the Persians (5:28), and the overthrow of this kingdom as that of Persia (10:20). This was a combined kingdom, depicted by two arms of silver. At the forefront of their dominion, the focus is upon Darius the Mede. At the latter, it is upon Cyrus the Persian. Yet, it was a single empire. For example, when Darius the Mede drafted a law, it was in strict accord with “the law of the Medes and Persians” (6:8,12,15). In this vision, Daniel will be shown the particular prominence of the Persians.
An Example of Persian Barbarity
We have an example of the execution Persian law in the sixth chapter of Daniel. There, because of the false charges of Daniel’s accusers, their children and their wives were thrown into the
lions’ den with them (Dan 6:24). Compare the reaction of Darius the Mede to Daniel’s accusers, with that of Nebuchadnezzar toward those who accused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 3:24-29). He asked his counselors concerning who was cast into the fire. They were also among those who examined the three delivered men, confirming there was no hurt upon them. But they were not apparently thrown into the fire. The Medes and Persians possessed no such civility.
Here was a kingdom that was noted for being ruthless, particularly when resisted. It was savage in war, having no mercy upon its enemies. Jeremiah also spoke of this kingdom, with particular regard to its overthrow of Babylon. He refers to them as “spoilers,” or “plunderers,” causing all the wounded of Babylon to “groan” (Jer 51:48-56).
Something to Note
In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, four kingdoms were seen. They were successive kingdoms noted for deterioration in value: gold, silver, brass, iron, and iron mingled with clay. In Daniel’s vision of the same four empires, they are seen as ferocious, and increasing in their ferocity: lion, bear, a leopard with wings and four heads, and a “great and terrible” beast, unusually strong, with iron teeth, breaking in pieces, trampling the residue with its feet. Thus, as value decreased, ruthlessness increased. As majesty faded, cruelty and pitilessness grew. Just as it is the nature of human kingdoms to deteriorate in value, so it is also their tendency to increase in ruthlessness and opposition to God. That is the nature of worldly power.
You can see, therefore, what a serious transgression it is for the church of the Living God to adopt the manners of the world. When such a thing occurs, worth immediately begins to degenerate, and heartlessness begins to dominate. Both Daniel and John (in the Revelation) identify the corrupt church with its adoption of the ways of the world – particularly that of the governments of the world. Daniel will deal extensively with this corruption in the ninth and tenth chapters. That, in fact, is the reason for this and the following visions. It is preparing us for the introduction of the church, its corruption, and the ultimate triumph of the Lord Jesus and those aligned with Him. In order to truly profit from this section of scripture, it is imperative that we remember these things.
“ . . . and it raised up itself on one side . . . ” Other versions read, “it supported itself on one side,” Septuagint “It was rearing up on one side,” NLT and “It was rearing up on one side.” BBE
Here is the depiction of a bear with four legs, raising itself up to stand on two. The immediate image that comes to mind is that of a bear standing on its hind legs. The other is that of a bear lying down raising itself up on one side – the right or the left.
Precisely how the bear raised itself up is really not the point. What is intended here is that one part of the government represented by the bear became dominant. Remember, this represents “the Medes and the Persians,” the two silver arms of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s image. This is intended to confirm there came a point in time when the Persian part of the government took the control, becoming dominant. This occurred with the prominence of “Cyrus the Persian” (6:28). The reference to his reign in the last verse of the preceding chapter refers to his prominence, not the beginning of his political power.
From one point of view, Cyrus became prominent in order that he might be used by God to rebuild the Temple, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Of that occasion, the last verse of Second Chronicles reads, “Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (2 Chron 36:23). This was done in order to fulfill the word prophesied by Jeremiah – a word fulfilled by God stirring up the spirit
of Cyrus the Persian (2 Chron 36:22). Concerning the work of rebuilding the Temple, God referred to Cyrus as “My shepherd,” declaring he would perform everything God had pleased (Isa 44:28). He also referred to Cyrus as His “anointed” (Isa 45:1).
In order to equip Cyrus for his work, the Lord gave him power to subdue nations, stripping kings of their power, and opening the gates of their cities to defeat. The testimony of this empowerment is quite vivid. “Thus saith the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else” (Isa 45:1-6).
Isaiah’s prophecy, as well as that of Second Chronicles 36:22-23, is another portrayal of the “bear” raising up on one side – the Persian portion of the government becoming dominant through Cyrus. In history, this man is known as “Cyrus the Great, conqueror who founded the Achaemenian empire, centred on Persia and comprising the Near East from the Aegean Sea eastward to the Indus River. He is also remembered in the Cyrus legend – first recorded by Xenophon, Greek soldier and author, in his Cyropaedia – as a tolerant and ideal monarch who was called the father of his people by the ancient Persians.” BRITANNICA ENCYLOPEDIA, 2002
“ . . . and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it . . . ” The ribs were “between” the bears teeth, as though violently torn out of its victims. An angry bear is represented as doing precisely this by Hosea, which text I have already mentioned. “I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage” (Hosea 13:8). Other versions read, “I will tear open their chess,” NASB and “I will attack and rip them open.” NIV
This imagery depicts the violent overthrow of three other inferior, yet beastly, kingdoms. It is generally understood that these kingdoms are “Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt,” which were conquered by the Medo-Persians. DELITZSCH and KEIL, CLARKE, and many others Whether the text is intended to be this precise or not, I am not sure. The point being made is that this empire, through aggressive violence, literally chewed up other nations, bringing them under its rule. We know from history that all of Asia Minor finally acknowledged Cyrus and Persia to be their head. As I have already mentioned, from the higher perspective, the God of heaven gave Cyrus this power in order that the Temple in Jerusalem might be built without any effective opposition. That is how precisely the Lord governs this world!
“ . . . and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” Having overthrown at least three nations, the Medo-Persian “bear” was not satisfied. This compulsion, however, comes from the heavens, which do rule. The word “they” refers to angelic powers, not the voices of men, for men have no power to give such a command.
Something to Consider
One must remember the type of world during which all of this took place. It is vividly described in the first chapter of Romans, which paints the picture of the Gentile world without any acknowledged Divine influence. The dominance of sin is so compelling it staggers the sensitive heart.
They knew not God (21a).
They glorified Him not as God (21b).
They were not thankful (21c).
They became vain in their imaginations (21d).
Their foolish heart was darkened (21e).
They became fools, although they thought themselves to be wise (22).
They changed the glory of the incorruptible God to corruptible likenesses of man and beast (23).
God gave them up to uncleanness, to dishonor their bodies among themselves (24).
They changed the truth of God into a lie (25a).
They worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator (25b).
God gave them up to vile affections, causing sodomy to erupt (26-27).
They did not like to retain God in their knowledge (28a).
God gave them over to a reprobate mind, so that they did things that were not proper (28b).
They became filled with unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, and malignity (29a).
They became whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, and unmerciful (29b-31).
Although they knew the judgment of God through the flood and the tower of Babel, they continued to practice things deserving of death, also approving of others who did the same (v 32).
The condition of humanity was not excusable. It is my judgment that God used Cyrus to chastise the world, thus reducing how much they could devote themselves to the fulfillment of their lusts, and indulging in all manner of depraved living. From the standpoint of Cyrus and the Persians, they were extending their empire and gratifying their insatiable lust for power. From heaven’s viewpoint, the wickedness of man was being restrained in order that the wrath of God might not be the more stirred up, as it was in the flood. The fact that God promised He would never again destroy the world with water did not mean He would take no measure to restrain the wickedness of men.
Over and above the manipulations of kings and kingdoms, the God of heaven was moving toward redemption.
“ 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.”
As Daniel continues to behold the vision, a third beast rises out of the turbulent waters of humanity. When the second beast appeared, the reason for the demise of the first beast was given: its wings were torn off, it was made to leave the posture of lion, standing like a man and becoming comparatively docile like a man. This time, however, the demise of the second kingdom is not delineated. Rather, the Spirit immediately moves to the third kingdom.
This kingdom was also identified in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It was represented by “its belly and thighs of brass” NKJV (2:32). This is the kingdom of Greece, as was revealed in a later vision given to Daniel (10:20). From the perspective of that first vision, it represented a decline in worth from the kingdom preceding it. In this vision, it is seen as increasing in violence and aggressiveness. This is the nature of all earthly kingdoms. They decrease in worth, and consequently become more aggressive to fulfill their own will.
“ . . . lo another, like a leopard . . . ” This is the Grecian, or Macedonian, empire, which is represented as a gross monster: a swift leopard with four wings and four heads.
The leopard is such a ferocious animal that it is considered a mighty work of God if it chooses to lie down with a young goat (Isa 11:6). Jeremiah depicts a leopard as an animal who watches with a keen eye, ready to devour whenever the opportunity occurs (Jer 5:6). Hosea presents the leopard in a similar way, saying he waits in the way to devour (Hos 13:7). Thus, the leopard is noted for its cunningness and agility – moving swiftly, and devouring its victim. It is an animal of prey, looking for things to devout. Some observations concerning this animal are in order.
It is next in dignity to the lion.
It is distinguished for its fierce nature.
It is swift, moving rapidly.
It patiently waits for its victims, suddenly springing upon them.
We may look, therefore, for this third king and kingdom to be noted for the rapid defeat of its enemies – an empire than quickly and effectively extends its borders with great wisdom and ingenuity.
This is a representation of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), who completely conquered the Medo-Persian empire between 334 and 330 B.C., when only a little over twenty years of age. This kingdom came into being nearly two hundred years after Daniel’s vision. At the time of this revelation, there were no apparent indications that Greece would become supreme, or a world power.
“ . . . which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl . . . ”
Not the powerful wings of the eagle, as Babylon, but four wings of a lower order of fowl. Yet, these enabled the leopard-like power to move with extraordinary swiftness. In twelve short years, Alexander conquered much of Europe, and all of Asia from the Adriatic Sea near Italy, to the Ganges River in Northern India – all of this before he was thirty-three years of age.
Yet, all of this is not intended to give glory to young Alexander, for he was but a pawn on the trestle board of eternal purpose. Here was a man – a young man – whom God raised up and empowered. He gave him the ability to conquer quickly and effectively. He was able to throw down the seemingly invincible Medo-Persian empire, and sweep kingdoms from Italy to India under his wing. Yet, even this rapidly-spreading empire will come to an end, and will be replaced by another.
“ . . . the beast had also four heads . . . ” Here Daniel speaks of a beast with “four heads.” The book of Revelation speaks of one with “seven heads” (Rev 13:1). In both instances, the “heads”speak of different kings that are resident within a single empire (Rev 13:7-8). Later in the book of Daniel, these same four heads will be identified as “four notable ones” (8:8), and “four kingdoms” that shall “stand up out of one nation” (8:22). Daniel eleven speaks of this kingdom being “divided” into four parts (11:4).
Historically, these “four heads” came into existence after the death of Alexander. The chief generals of his army, eager for power, seized differing parts of the kingdom. The four divisions, and their rulers, were,
Thrace and Bithynia under Lysiamchus. Syria and the East under Seleucus. Egypt under Ptolemy. Macedonia under Cassander.
The Grecian, or Macedonian, kingdom continued under these four divisions until it was overcome and replaced by the Roman empire.
“ . . . and dominion was given to it.” Other versions read, “it was given authority to rule,” NIV “and the power of a ruler was given to it,” BBE “was granted authority,” NJB and “Great authority was given to this beast.” NLT
Remember, “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” NKJV (Rom 13:1). Greece did not get its power from men. Even the lofty spiritual ruler that dominated this kingdom could not commence the domination until the power of God was exerted against Persia (10:20). God is at the helm of politics and government! He is the One who “gives” various powers and authority. Behold how often the Spirit makes a point of this.
A man’s heart was GIVEN to it (the lion – 7:4).
Dominion was GIVEN to it (the leopard - 7:6).
The Son of man was GIVEN dominion, and glory, and a kingdom (7:14).
Judgment was GIVEN to the saints of the Most High God (7:22).
An army was GIVEN over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered (8:12).
A crown was GIVEN to a heavenly conqueror (Rev 6:2).
Power was GIVEN for one to take peace from the earth (Rev 6:4).
Power was GIVEN to death and hell over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, hunger, death, and beasts (Rev 6:8).
Power was GIVEN four angels to hurt the earth and the sea (Rev 7:2).
An angel was GIVEN much incense to offer with the prayers of the saints (Rev 8:3).
A fallen personality was GIVEN the key to the bottomless pit (Rev 9:1).
A swarm of locusts were GIVEN power upon the earth to do precisely what God wanted (Rev 9:3-5).
A spiritual despot was GIVEN a mouth to speak great and blasphemous things (Rev 13:5).
This same entity was GIVEN power to make war with the saints and overcome them. Power was also GIVEN him over all kindreds, tongues, and nations (Rev 13:7).
Power was GIVEN to an angel to scorch men with fire (Rev 16:8).
Judgment was GIVEN to those enthroned by the Lord (Rev 20:4).
These are only things pertaining to historical occurrences, as prophesied by Daniel and John. There is, however, an emphasis on this sort of teaching throughout Scripture.
It is GIVEN to some to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God (Matt 13:11).
There are some lofty sayings that can only be received by those to whom it is GIVEN (Matt 19:11).
On the behalf of Christ, it is GIVEN to us to believe, and also to suffer for His sake (Phil 1:29).
The “outer court,” or matters relating to entrance into the Kingdom of God, has been GIVEN to the Gentiles (Rev 11:2). The Holy Spirit is GIVEN to us (Rom 5:5).
Particular and empowering grace is GIVEN to everyone in Christ (Rom 12:6).
All of these are intended to confirm to our hearts that this world, and all that is within it, are under the control of Almighty God. None of these things, regardless of their seeming threat, are meant to frighten those with faith. Rather, they confirm that God is in control, and that He is, in that control, working all things together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).
In this particular passage, the Lord is assuring our hearts that He is moving things toward their appointed culmination. There is a Divine purpose that is driving the events of this world. Nothing is out of control.
Be Aware of These Things
Every person must give diligence to take heed to these things. They have been written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Those who are eager for power and influence must take due note of this circumstance! God will not allow any kingdom to supplant His own. Ultimately, no purpose will flourish but His own, and all who are not in agreement with Him will be ground into powder. There is no way for worldly kingdoms to survive. The ultimate King is Jesus, and no other king can remain for long. The ultimate kingdom is the Kingdom of God, and no other kingdom will finally remain.
“ 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.”
Remember, just as these kingdoms decreased in value, they are also increasing in ferocity and their opposition to the Most High God. Now we come to the fourth beast – and it is the worst and most devouring of all. This is the kingdom that succeeds the Grecian kingdom, and begins to extend itself even further than that historically remarkable kingdom. This beast has no parallel in any of the others, but stands absolutely unique.
This kingdom is the fourth one seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. If you recall that kingdom, and how it was represented in the great image, you will at once see some meaningful parallels. In the king’s dream, this kingdom was represented by “legs of iron, and feet part of iron and part of clay” (Dan 2:33). In opening this matter up, the following was revealed to Daniel. “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these,shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay” (2:40-43).
As each succeeding kingdom appeared, division became more prominent – and division is the prelude to demise. The Babylonian, or Chaldean, kingdom was undivided. The Medo-Persian had two divisions. The Grecian kingdom had four divisions. This kingdom has ten division. Thus, while on the one hand kingdoms are becoming more fierce in their appearance, they are becoming more weak in their basic constitution, being divided.
Not A Particular Beast
The first kingdom was like a lion. The second was like a bear. The third was like a leopard. But there is no beast to which this kingdom is likened. That is because there was never anything like this before. This was the introduction of a different form of government – one that would afterwards be used by Satan to impose upon the professing church. In all of the preceding governments there was something
natural, though parts were exaggerated: i.e., lion, bear, and leopard. But here, in this fourth beast, is something altogether unnatural.
This is the Roman Empire
The Roman empire is depicted by this fourth dreadful and terrible beast, the likes of which had never before been seen. The Babylonian, Chaldean, or Assyrian empire lasted around 230 years. The Medo-Persian empire extended over approximately the same number of years – 229. The Grecian kingdom lasted as long as 400 years. The Roman empire lasted for fourteen centuries. It was more extensive, more powerful, and more awesome than all the kingdoms before it. While Western civilization has been patterned after the social and political innovations of Rome, it is important to recognize heaven’s assessment of this empire. It has no equal. It is more brutal and inhumane. It is the one that crucified the Lord of glory!
Not only does history attest that the Roman empire succeeded that of the Medo-Persian kingdom, Daniel is shown one other vital fact. This was the kingdom during which God would set up His everlasting kingdom (2:44). In this particular passage, the Son of man is introduced (v 13), and the giving of the Kingdom to Him (v 14).
“ . . . behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible . . . ” Other versions read “dreadful and terrifying,” NASB, “terrifying and frightening,” NIV and “a thing causing fear and very troubling.” BBE
The idea is that this kingdom struck terror into the hearts of those who confronted it. In strict accordance with the flesh, kingdoms were growing “worse and worse,” not only decreasing in moral worth, but increasing in all forms of debauchery and violence.
“ . . . and strong exceedingly . . . ” This expression means the strength of this empire exceeded the strength of all that it opposed. None could withstand it.
“ . . . and it had great iron teeth . . . ” Other versions read “huge iron teeth,” NKJV and “large iron teeth.” NASB Once this kingdom got hold of its victims, there was no hope for them. It not only had the desire to destroy, but the means to do so as well.
“ . . . it devoured . . . ” Other versions read, “it hath consumed,” YLT “it ate its victims,” NJB and “eating.” DOUAY
The idea is that this kingdom rendered its enemies powerless and useless. They were reduced to nothingness by their encounter with this despotic power.
“ . . . and brake in pieces . . . ” Other versions read, “crushing some of it to bits,” BBE “crushing to atoms,” Septuagint and “it doth break small.” YLT
The three preceding empires were assimilated by the Romans, without maintaining their separate identity. They were swallowed up by the Roman empire, and beaten into oblivion, so they could not rise again.
Here was a ruthless empire that was hardened in heart, so that no mercy was found in it. Later in this chapter Daniel will be told of this very kingdom, “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom
upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces” (Dan 7:23).
“ . . . and stamped the residue with the feet of it . . . ” Other versions read, “trampled down the remainder with its feet,” NASB “trampled under foot whatever was left,” NIV and “trampled their remains underfoot.” NJB
The imagery is mind-boggling! With iron teeth this beast eats its opponents. What falls from his mouth is crushed into small pieces. Whatever is left from that is then trampled underfoot, as though pulverizing it into dust. Remember, this is heaven’s assessment of this government, which I believe is Rome, as attested by both history and the revelations associated with this “fourth beast.”
Kingdoms subdued by the Romans included Asia Minor, Syria, Cilicia, Greece and Macedonia, Spain, Gaul, Illyricum, part of Germany, and Britain. They were chewed up and rendered impotent by Rome’s invading armies, and made to pay obeisance to Rome as though they were nothing more than vassals.
“ . . . and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it . . . ” Other versions read, “it was different from all the beasts that were before it,” NKJV “it was different from all the former beasts,” NIV “it was different from all the beasts that preceded it,” NRSV and “it was unlike to the other beasts.” DOUAY
There may have been some similarities between the first three kingdoms, depicted as a lion, bear, and leopard. All were strong and predators. All were marked by a certain cunning nature. However, this fourth beast stands apart from them all. We should expect, therefore, that considerable commentary will be made concerning this beast, or kingdom. In fact, it will introduce some considerations that will bear directly upon the coming of the Lord Jesus, and the saints of the Most High God.
This is the beast concerning which Daniel will seek a special understanding (7:19). Much of our comments on this matter, therefore, will be reserved for later, when the Lord addresses this subject with extended teaching.
“ . . . and it had ten horns.” Here is something that was not said of any of the other beasts – at least not in this vision. Later, the Medo-Persian empire will be depicted as a ram with “two horns”(8:3). These are described as “the kings of Media and Persia”(8:20).
In this text, however, there is a certain uniqueness concerning this beastly government that does not allow for a comparison of it with the second beast. Therefore, only it is said to have “horns,” and it has ten of them. These “ten horns” are mentioned two other times in this chapter.
“And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows” (Dan 7:20).
“And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings” (Dan 7:24).
I understand these ten horns to parallel the ten toes of the image seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In that dream, they were seen as a point of weakness. Here they are seen as a point where the power of the beast is exerted. On the one hand, these ten divisions would ultimately be the point from which the kingdom would be toppled. On the other hand, here they are represented as the means through which the government exercises it authority.
The passage also is to be considered in view of the Revelation given to John on Patmos. There he also saw a beast rise up out of the sea having “ten horns” (Rev 13:1). Later John is told these horns are “ten kings” (Rev 17:12), as depicted by “ten crowns” which sat upon them.
Daniel is also told these horns are “ten kings” that will rise out of the kingdom in question. Daniel prophesied at least 630 years before John, yet saw some of the very things John saw – Divinely ordained events on the calendar of heavenly purpose. The same God was speaking to them both – about the same purpose, designed before the world began.
Something to Remember
Keep in mind, the first emperor of Rome was Augustus, who began his reign in B.C. 31, even though considerable influence had been exercised by the Roman government prior to that. Daniel’s prophecy of the rise of Rome, therefore, preceded that rise by no less than 500 years!
I must reserve further comments on this beast until later, when the Holy Spirit will give an extended revelation of some of the appointed involvements of this beast within God’s purpose.
“ 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.”
The uniqueness of this beast demanded further consideration. In God’s kingdom, singularity is not to be ignored, but is always significant – either for good or evil. Blessed is the person who perceives this and inquires into things that appear mysterious at the first.
Many souls turn away from things that are different, or that soar above the norm. But this is not comely for the child of God. There are matters that require more attention, more thought, more meditation. The honey of truth that they contain cannot be casually drawn out, but must be obtained like sucking honey out of a rock (Deut 32:13).
“I considered the horns . . . ” Other versions read, “I was considering the horns,” NKJV “While I was contemplating the horns,” NASB “While I was thinking about the horns,” NIV and “I was watching the horns with care.” BBE
The next part of this vision occurred WHILE Daniel was pondering “the horns.” As he looked at them intently, he saw something taking place that could not have been seen unless he had been concentrating on those horns, which depicted “ten kings.”
A Principle Seen Here
Suffice it to say, there are things that cannot be seen unless our hearts and minds are focused upon the truth. This is particularly true of those unusual and intriguing proclamations that stand out to the
heart and mind. For those in Christ Jesus, these things relate to such things as justification, the imputation of righteousness, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the eternal purpose of God, to name a few. As we gaze upon such lofty things, something more will be shown to us. It is “in light” that we come to “see light” (Psa 36:9), or within illumination that we are illuminated.
“ . . . and, behold, there came up among them another little horn . . . ” Other versions read, “and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them,” NKJV “and behold another little horn sprung out of the midst of them,” DOUAY “I saw another horn sprouting among them, a little one,” NJB and “suddenly another small horn appeared among them.” NLT
While he was looking upon, and considering, the ten horns, Daniel saw another little horn suddenly spring up, or sprout, in the midst of the ten. This is a new thing – something that will be given extensive attention in the remainder of this book. The word “little”applies to the beginning of this horn. Though little at the first, this “little horn” will become prominent.
Whatever is intended by this “little horn,” its presence was not to be found at the first. It came into existence during the prominence of this “fourth kingdom” (v 23), which was noted for having “ten kings” (v 24). What is represented by this “little horn” came from the same source as the other ten horns, and pertained to the same kingdom. It was unique, with some differing characteristics, yet operated on the same principle as the governments of the world – particularly this fourth, and most terrible and ruthless government.
Later in this chapter, the significance of this “little horn” will be made more clear. It will play a significant role in the purpose of God. Here is what is said of this horn: “And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them” (verse 21).
Keep in mind, all of this is occurring under the sovereign rule of the God of heaven, for “the heavens do rule” (4:26). It is God who is “the Lord of kings” (2:47), even the ten that are associated with this fourth kingdom, and the spouting horn that will focus on troubling the saints of God.
I understand this to mean that a kingdom would spring out of this fourth kingdom – one that was different in some respects, yet the same in principle. Further, it would develop gradually, for a while allowing for the continuance of all ten of the kings among whom it had its beginning.
“ . . . before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots . . . ” Other versions read, “before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots,” NKJV “and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it,” NASB “to make room for it, three of the earlier horns were plucked up by the roots,” NRSV “and three of the first horns were plucked up at the presence thereof,” DOUAY “Three of the first horns were wrenched out, roots and all, to make room for it,” NLT and “and three of the first horns have been eradicated from before it.” YLT
In order to make room for this “little horn,” three of the other horns were uprooted – i.e., they were uprooted by the development of this “little horn.”
It was the growth, or development of this little horn that caused the uprooting of three other horns. It would take the place they once occupied. This suggests the uprooting would not be by violence, or military action – something for which the fourth beast was particularly noted.
Thus we have in this “little horn” a different kind of king and kingdom, accomplishing its objectives in a different manner. Yet, it operates on the same principles of the kingdoms of this world, although it appears different from the other kingdoms.
“ . . . and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man . . . ” Other versions read, “in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man,” NKJV and “eyes like human eyes in this horn” NRSV
The four kingdoms introduced in this vision were noted for their beast-like qualities and behavior. They were ruthless, devouring, and forceful in their expansion. Crudeness characterized them all, as they implemented their rules by coercion, pounding their enemies into subjection.
Here, however, we have a new kind of power introduced. In many respects it is related to the ruthless kingdoms before it, yet it appears to be more human, being noted for its intelligence. It has “the eyes of a man.” I understand this to refer to a Satanic substitute for God, whose kingdom is depicted as a wheel within a wheel, moving without restriction throughout the world – wheels whose rims were “full of eyes all around” NIV (Ezek 1:15-18). Thus the Kingdom of God is seen as proceeding with purpose and objectivity, characterized by magnificent wisdom.
The “eyes of a man” in this “little horn” suggest an emulated objectivity, that is, a purpose which appears to be like that of God Himself. It represents corrupted intelligence and depraved understanding. Yet, in the context of the world, it will appear impressive. This kingdom, which will come against the saints of God, will be noted for its shrewd, yet defiled, administration. In other words, rather than coercive power being the means it employs, deception, deceit, and misrepresentation will be employed to overcome men. This is confirmed in a further description of this “little horn.”
One further thing should be said about the phrase “the eyes of a man.” Over and above a comparison to the brutality of the “four beasts,” there is an analogy here of inferiority. That is, this king and kingdom will be inferior to the kingdom of God, with which it intends to compete. While it will take upon itself traits that are quite impressive, and will appear to be most successful in its objectives, it is more like man than it is like God, and therefore destined to fail.
“ . . . and a mouth speaking great things.” Other versions read, “and a mouth speaking pompous words,” NKJV “a mouth uttering great boasts,” NASB “a mouth speaking arrogantly,” NRSV “a mouth full of boasting,” NJB and “a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.” NLT
The “great things” spoken by this “little horn” are not good things. Later, Daniel will be told these “great words” would be spoken “against the Most High” (verse 25). The words, then, will actually be blasphemy, intended to overthrow the purpose of God and bring His people into bondage.
I understand this to be a religious power, that assumes the prerogatives of God, and even comes in the name of Christ. It represents Satan’s effort to overthrow the purpose of God, and defeat the saints of the Most High. The fact that such an extensive section of Scripture deals with this “little horn” shows how important it is that we obtain some grasp of its significance. It is mentioned again in verses 20-25, where the taking of its dominion is declared to be the time when the saints of God will take the kingdom.
This passage is no doubt the one to which Paul referred when he spoke of the rise of “the man of sin,” who would be associated with a great “falling away” (2 Thess 2:3). John the beloved may
also had it in mind when he wrote, “you have heard that the Antichrist is coming” NKJV (1 John 2:18). It is also related to the a beast of the revelation given to John on Patmos, that was animated by the devil. That beast is also noted for his mouth: “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” (Rev 13:5). Additionally, just as Daniel’s “little horn” was given to wear out the saints (7:25), so the beast of Revelation is said to “make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds” (Rev 13:7). There can be no question that Daniel and John are speaking of same foreboding events. Yet, both of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, take care to assure our hearts that God is in absolute control of the situation, and that the saints will ultimately triumph over it all.
I must reserve further comments on this “little horn” for our review of the verses that follow. The Lord unfolds this matter further to Daniel, providing additional details of both the nature and effectiveness of this deceptive power.
It is apparent that the passage before us is one that can awaken lifeless, and often damaging, human curiosity. It is also a text that has been subjected to all manner of human opinion and corruption. The net result of this has been that the text is often viewed as though it is beyond comprehension, or had no relevance for the people of God. I am going to suggest that those circumstances are themselves the result of the reign of the “little horn.”
One of the telling effects of religious delusion is the minimization of Scripture. When corruption in teaching takes place, the doctrines of men always upstage the Word of God. Human traditions are thus vaulted into prominence as the exceeding great and precious promises of God are pushed into the background of theological thought – if not eliminated altogether. This was precisely the circumstance that prevailed when Jesus entered into His ministry. Men were transgressing God’s commandments because of traditions, making them of “none effect” (Matt 15:3,6).
No person should imagine such a condition cannot occur in our day. We are, indeed, living in perilous times, when a person can maintain the identity of “Christian,” while wholly lacking the fruits thereof (2 Tim 3:1-5).
There are specific details given in this vision, as well as great Kingdom principles. None of them must be treated as though they were inconsequential, or unrelated to life in Christ. They all relate to the great salvation we enjoy in Christ Jesus. There is no such thing as an irrelevant word from the Living God! We must labor to take hold of the message being delivered by the Lord.
The extent of this vision confirms its importance. Daniel could not get it out of his mind, and we must not allow it to leave ours. In it the purpose of God is unfolded from the standpoint of its foes. We will behold how Satan seeks to undermine the purpose of the Lord, and how he will be completely frustrated in all of his efforts. God will unfold to Daniel the principle means by which Satan seeks to oppose the people of God. That revelation will be in perfect agreement with Apostolic insights and proclamations.
The importance of this vision is also seen in the fact that is unveils more of the very kingdoms introduced to us in the second chapter – in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image. Something important enough to require extended revelation is important enough for extended meditation. We must not allow the message of this text to escsape us!
All of the world’s kingdoms have certain things in common.
At their best, they are inferior to the Kingdom of God. They eventually oppose the God of heaven and His people.
They tend to be ruthless, executing their own will at the expense of the well being of the people and the glory of God.
They will all be swallowed up by the Kingdom of God, being terminated, and never able to rise again.
In view of these things, the worst of all social corruption is religion that functions according to the principles of worldly governments. This is particularly true in view of our Lord’s words, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). While it is not popular to speak of this circumstance, it is imperative that we do so, alerting people to real conditions.
The Lord Jesus is chosen us “out of the world” (John15:9).
God has given all believers to Jesus “out of the world” (John 17:6).
Concerning Gentile nations (to which all of the beasts belonged), God is taking “out of them a people for His name”(Acts 15:14).
In redemption, “we have received, NOT the spirit of the world”(1 Cor 2:12).
God has “made foolish the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor 1;20), bringing both its wisdom and its princes to nought, or nothing (1 Cor 2:8).
At its finest, the wisdom of this world is “foolishness with God”(1 Cor 3:19).
The “fashion of this world,” even in its most illustrious and impressive appearance, is “passing away”(1 Cor 7:19).
Satan himself is “the god of this world,”working through its ways and manners, and blinding the hearts of men (2 Cor 4:4).
The “course of this world,” or its ways, enslave men to sin, and cause them to be dominated by the devil (Eph 2:2-3).
Wicked spiritual powers, operating under the auspices of the devil himself, rule the “darkness of this world” (Eph 6:12).
The world in its totality, will be “condemned” by God. Salvation and chastening are both intended to extricate us form the world (1 Cor 11:32).
Those who are united to Christ confess with Paul, “the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal 6:14).
Jesus died to deliver us from “this present evil world,” according to the will of God (Gal 4:4).
It is “the world to come” that is the focus of redemption, not this one (Heb 2:5).
Whoever is a “friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Salvation is nothing less than escaping “from the corruption that is in the world through lust”(2 Pet 1:4).
All that is in the world, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are not of the Father” (1 John 2:16). The world “passes away, and the lust thereof” (1 John 2:17).
In Christ, we become citizens of heaven, where our names are written (Phil 3:20-21; Heb 12:23). That circumstance makes us “strangers and foreigners in this world” (1 Pet 2:11).
These things point out the seriousness of alignment with this world – a condemned order. When the church takes to itself the manners of the world, it begins at once to drift away from God. The wrath of God begins to awaken against such people, and they are less inclined to seek mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.
What we will in the remainder of Daniel is the rise of corrupt religion – religion that is patterned after the world’s idea of organization and power. It will at once become apparent to you that we are living in a time when this approach dominates the Gentile church. That makes the passage all the more relevant to us. It is a compelling argument to separate from all such religion.

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