Summary: Daniel describes visions of the future from God’s perspective.
Troubled Dreams in Troubling Times
The Disseminated Details 7:1
As we begin this section, we have concluded the first part of Daniel which composes a historical and prophetical segment. In this second portion, we will be examining the scripture in light of a prophetical and historical perspective. This will be historical only in the sense that with God, all of these events are already historical. They are written and finished. No small detail escapes God’s attention. Futuristic history will run its course through His hands!
God revealed to Daniel in Chapter Two Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel relayed the dream Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t remember and interpreted the dream for him. What Daniel revealed to him was the outward appearance of his kingdom and the ones to follow. Now in Chapter Seven, Daniel has dreams and visions of the inner character and nature of these same kingdoms. God reveals these to us through Daniel that we might not be surprised when these things take place.
We have been taught that God’s people are to discern the times they live in. Daniel was no different. The years of Belshazzar’s, the son of Nabonidus, reign were difficult ones for Daniel. These were the final years of the Babylonian Empire. Notice that Daniel did not give every detail in his dreams and visions but only what the Holy Spirit wants us to know.
The Disturbing Descriptions 7:2-7
Daniel states the dreams he had, beginning in verse two, by describing the turmoil in the Great Sea, which is the Mediterranean Sea. The sea was stirred by the four winds of heaven. This description reveals the Spirit of God stirring the nations to great heights, actions and atrocities. We find in Revelation 17:15 a description of the waters as peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues. Daniel emphasizes the importance by stating, “Behold”. This is noteworthy because it draws attention to God’s sovereignty in the world’s events.
We will note the four beasts given in the dream but will explain the interpretation in the final segment of Chapter Seven. Verse three describes the action that relates in the sea. Four beasts will arise and each will be different. Although different, they are all described as inhuman and daunting.
There is one important thing you should notice. The Bible describes things as or like they are. It is not saying that is what it is but rather what type of nature or character it is. Should I state that my kids are like animals when they eat, you will know I am not calling them literal animals, but rather they behave in a manner in the appearance of animals.
The first beast was like a lion. Its nature is described here. It is not the appearance but its character that Daniel marvels at. It had four eagles’ wings which represents speed. This lion was raised in prominence, made to stand on two feet like a man and then given a heart. I believe this is a reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s prominence, fall, restoration and humanity. Daniel interprets the four beasts as kings or rulers who arise from the earth in 7:17.
The second beast was like a bear. A bear has the reputation of being slow and lumbering but it is methodical in its approach. This bear is the Medo-Persian Empire. It brought to ruin the golden empire of the Babylonians. An inferior enemy defeated a superior enemy. Little is said about this bear except it was given the command to arise and devour. The three ribs symbolize the destruction of Lydia, Babylon and Egypt by the Medes and Persians.
The third beast was like a leopard or panther. It was quick, agile and relentless. The four wings of the birds imply speed. Alexander the Great was the military genius who led the Greeks and conquered the known world before he was in his mid-thirties. He died in a drunken stupor in his own vomit. His kingdom was then divided among four generals who are symbolized by their four heads.
And then there is the fourth beast. All the other empires were pictured as animals. But of this beast, there were no accurate portrayal of an animal. It was an entirely different type of animal. This beast was dreadful to behold. Its teeth were huge and unrelenting. They were far reaching and totally destructive in nature. It destroyed everything in its presence. And then there were the ten horns. This was the only beast with horns. Horns are a symbol of power and strength.
The Devil Depicted 7:8
Daniel contemplated the horns and the “little horn” that arose among them. The ten are growths out of the old Roman Empire. Three horns are plucked out and dismissed by the one “little horn.” The horn depicts power and authority in the Old Testament. These ten rulers have authority and power but are subjugated by the “little horn.” He was brilliant in his dealings with people and spoke arrogant words. He becomes a world-wide celebrity and manipulates those he conquerors.