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The Book of Daniel
555 BC: Daniel’s Vision of the Four Winds and The Four Beasts
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.
-Chapter 7 through 12, sometimes called the Second Book of Daniel, is mainly occupied with the predictions of the fourth beast, which pertain to the end time.
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.
-“…the four winds of the heaven…” refers to wars, strife and judgments from God (Jeremiah 25:32-33, Revelation 7:1-3). “…strove upon the great sea.” refers to large numbers of people (Revelation13:1, 17:1, 15).
3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
-Beasts, in symbolic passages, represent kingdoms (Revelation 17:8-11) and their rulers, and more than all, the fallen angels behind these kingdoms (Revelation 11:7; 13:18; 17:8). As stated, the sea has reference to great numbers of people i.e., “came up from the people”
The First Beast, A Lion: Babylon
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 was like a lion..." refers to the Babylonian empire. The eagles wings symbolize the rapid pace with which the Babylonian empire conquered its enemies and gained ascendency. The phrase “…I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked,…” pertains to the rapid expansion of this empire until Nebuchadnezzar went insane as a result of pride (Chapter 4:25-26).
The Second Beast, a Bear: Medo-Persia
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.
-On the statue of Chapter 2, the Medo-Persian empire was represented by a breastplate of silver. The statue as seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, represented these kingdoms as man sees them. The dream given to Daniel represents these kingdoms as God sees them, i.e., ferocious. The term “…raised up itself on one side…” simply means that the strength of the Persians ultimately was greater than the Medes. The three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth refer to the bear devouring much flesh. It symbolized the conquest of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.
The Third Beast, A Leopard: Grecia
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.
-This short description defines the Grecian empire under Alexander the Great as a Leopard. This empire would come to the fore about 200 years from Daniel’s day. The four wings of a foul symbolized swiftness out of the proportion to normal conquests. The four heads symbolized the break up of this empire after the death of Alexander at 32 years of age. Heads always symbolize kingdoms in Bible prophecy. Those four divisions were Greece, Thrace, Syria, and Egypt.
The Fourth Beast, Nondescript: Roman Empire
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.
-This beast represents the Roman empire which was the strongest and most powerful of all. It lasted nearly 1,000 years. The phrase “…and it had ten horns.” speaks of that which is a part of this beast for particular reason, but it had nothing to do with the conquests of the original Roman empire. The ten horns portray ten kingdoms which will arise in the latter days, in fact, in the very near future. These ten nations will persecute Israel.
The Ten Horns and the Little Horn: Revised Rome and Revised Grecia
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.
-At first, Daniel did not understand the horns. Even though the Roman empire has come and gone, still the ten horns have not yet risen to power. However, the break up of the former Soviet Union is the beginning of the fulfillment of this passage. If one is to notice, the ten horns were a part of the nondescript beast, which has to do with the territory which the old Roman empire controlled. “…there came up among them another little horn,…” means this one came up after the ten horns were fully grown. The little horn is the antichrist. Three of the horns will be plucked by the little horn, meaning that he will defeat these countries in battle with the others then submitting to him. This will take place in the first half of the Great Tribulation.
9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
-The phrase “I beheld till the thrones were cast down,…” speaks of all the empires, even from Babylon straight through to the antichrist. All of them have already been cast down with the exception of the ten horns and the little horn. However, as surely as the others were cast down, these two kingdoms will also be cast down. “…and the Ancient of days did sit,…” refers to God the Father and His dominion. His Kingdom will remain.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
-In the Hebrew, the number is chiliads of chiliads. It is a Hebrewism meaning countless numbers. “…the judgement was set, and the books were opened.” has to do with the judgment of the nations which will take place at the beginning of the Millennial Reign.
The Little Horn Destroyed
11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
-“…the great words which the horn spake:…” speak of great opposition to God. At the second coming of Christ, the antichrist will be killed and cast into hell.
The Beasts Preceding the Rule of the Little Horn
12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
-“As concerning the rest of the beasts,…” refers to the kingdoms preceding the little horn beginning back with the Babylonian empire. Even though these empires have long since passed away, still, Gentiles rule the world. This is referred to as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). The prolonging will continue until the Second Coming.
The Second Advent of the Messiah
13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
-This “…one like the Son of man…” is The Lord Jesus Christ. We have here The Trinity represented. God The Father i.e., The Ancient of days, The Son of man, Who, as stated, is Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit Who inspired this.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
-This verse corresponds with Daniel 2:35. This kingdom of righteousness will begin immediately after the Second Coming with Christ as its Supreme and Eternal Head.
The Interpretation of the Vision
15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
-The phrase “…one of them that stood by,…” refers to countless numbers who are standing before the Throne of God. Quite possibly, this was Gabriel. However, we have no proof.
17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
-The four kings are, as stated, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. “…which shall arise out of the earth.” simply means that they are people of man, and therefore, not of God. The Kingdom of verse 14 is of God and from God, and consequently, will last forever.
18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
-The saints in this passage refer to Israel, which will be restored and become the leading nation in the world under Christ.
19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
-The fourth beast is a symbol of the old Roman empire. The fourth of four kingdoms in succession. It is mentioned by name only in the New Testament (John 11:48, Acts 2:10, 16:21). “…and his nails of brass;…” presents something added, which is not mentioned in the description given in verses 7 and 8. They symbolize the Grecian empire element of the image of Daniel 2:39, 45. This means that the antichrist will have the characteristics of both the Roman empire and the ancient Grecian empire.
20 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.
-The other which came up is the same as the little horn of verse 8 and is the antichrist, who will come on the world’s scene shortly after the Rapture of the Church (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
-The saints mentioned here are not the church, but rather, Israel. The war spoken of here concerns the antichrist signing a 7-year non-aggression pact with Israel and then breaking it at approximately the midpoint, then declaring war on Israel.
22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
-“Until the Ancient of days came,…” refers back to verses 9, 13 and 14. It does not mean that God the Father will come to planet earth at this time, but He shall direct the proceedings from His Throne. “…and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” refers to the Second Coming of The Lord when Israel will then accept Christ as Savior, Lord, and Messiah, and will be restored and brought back to her rightful place and position.
23 Thus he said, 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.
-The angel Gabriel speaks in verse 17 and 18 in answer to Daniel’s request. Then, Daniel asks more questions in verses 19 through 22. Gabriel now picks up the dialog and continues with the explanation through verse 27. “…and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” refers to the ferocity and total power of the Roman empire. It ruled the world not too much short of 1,000 years.
24 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.
-Some teach that the ten toes and ten horns of Daniel Chapters 2 and 7, are ten barbarous tribes which overran the old Roman empire between AD 351 to 474. However, this is error because of the following:
The God of Heaven is to set up a kingdom on earth in the days of these kings. (Daniel 2:44-45; Revelation 19:11-20:7) It should be obvious to all that The Lord did not set up such a kingdom in AD 351-474. In fact, He has not yet done so. Therefore, it is obvious that the ten horns, representing ten nations, are yet future.
25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
-“…he shall speak great words against the most High,…” is used several times by The Holy Spirit in various ways, drawing our attention to the blasphemy of the antichrist. The phrase “and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” refers to Israel being defeated and being greatly persecuted for a period of 3 ½ years.
26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
-The angel refers back to verse 10. “…But the judgment shall sit,…” refers to the throne of God and the judgment passed upon the antichrist by that heavenly court.
27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
-“…the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven,…” refers to the entirety of the earth with Christ Jesus reigning supreme.
28 Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
-This verse indicates that Daniel, despite the interpretation of the angel, did not fully comprehend the extent of his vision.