Daniel 7 -- 9
Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of a magnificent great image which represented the world empires that would exist in succession during the times of the Gentiles (Daniel 2:1,31-45; also Luke 21:24). These same kingdoms represented achievements admired by the world, but they also appeared to the prophet Daniel in his vision as savage beasts. All the grandeur of Nebuchadnezzar's dream is seen by Daniel as brutality, savage power, cruel greed,and selfish ambition. Daniel said: I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven (political and social forces) strove upon the great sea (Daniel 7:2). The four winds represented the spiritual forces of wickedness which blew in defiance of God and His elect (Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 7). The great sea is a picture of humanity existing in the world in its competition and godless instability. There were four beasts just as there were four parts of the great image dreamed by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:31-45). Four great beasts (the nations of the world) came up from the sea (in succession), different from one another (7:3).
The four savage beasts correspond to the four kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The first beast was like a lion, and had eagle's wings (7:4). As gold is superior among the precious metals, so the lion is recognized as king among animals.
Behold another beast, a second, like a bear, and it raised up itself on one side (7:5), representing the Medo-Persian Empire which conquered Babylon.
The third beast was like a leopard, which had four wings of a bird on its back, representing the Grecian Empire. The four wings of the leopard illustrate the speed with which Alexander the Great conquered the ancient world. The beast had also four heads (7:6), which represent the division of Alexander's kingdom among his four generals after his death.
The fourth beast was different from all the beasts that came before it; and it had ten horns (ten kings). This final beast was dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it (7:7). This reveals ruthless expansion.The ten horns (7:24) correspond to the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's great image, which represent a confederation of ten world rulers (compare Revelation 13:1-5; 17:12).
The fourth beast represents the Roman Empire, which developed a little horn that destroyed three of the other horns. Then Daniel stated: I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn . . . in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. . . . And shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces (Daniel 7:8, 23). This Antichrist shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out (persecute) the saints of the Most High (7:25) in an attempt to create a godless world. The beast of Daniel chapter 7 is the same beast we see in Revelation chapter 17, which also had ten horns (Revelation 17:12).
The horn symbolizes the power and authority of this satanically-inspired man, known as the Antichrist, who destroys everything that stands in his way with the most beastly and barbaric warfare, to achieve his goal of world domination (I John 2:18-22; 4:3; II John 7). However, in the midst of violence, we are assured that it was The Stone (Jesus Christ) who broke in pieces the giant image of Nebuchadnezzar, representing the ruling nations in the times of the Gentiles. We are assured of a day when the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout. . . . then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
As the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14). This vision was confirmed by our Lord as He spoke of the last days. Then . . . they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory in brilliancy and splendor (Matt. 24:30).
7:4 heart means human mind; 7:8 great things means presumptuous things; 7:25 wear out means oppress; 7:28 cogitations means thoughts; 8:7 choler means furious anger; 8:8 waxed very great means accomplished great exploits; 8:21 rough means shaggy-haired male; 8:23 king . . . understanding dark sentences means master of stratagem; 8:24 destroy wonderfully means astonishing destruction; 9:4 dreadful means awesome, revered; 9:7 confusion means shame; 9:25 wall means moat; 9:26 cut off means put to death.
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