[This is the text version of my video, “Daniel Chapter 7”.]
At the end of the last class, I said that, if you enjoyed that one, I felt that this next one “would really take you to another level”. I hadn’t been planning to say that. But, afterwards, it did seem right, because this chapter, Daniel 7, does take you to a higher realm. Let me explain that by talking about mountain climbing.
That’s a good way of looking at what we have done so far. In our first class, “An Introduction to Prophecy in History”, it was like we were setting up Base Camp. We began to see the mountain of prophecy, to see God’s vision from the past to the future.
Then we studied Daniel chapter 2. I’m still amazed at how God gave that vision. Because, it was not only exactly what was needed for that day, for Daniel and his people as well as for Nebuchadnezzar and his, but this most understandable chapter helped us to begin to appreciate the basics of prophecy and how God pictures to us the nations of this world as well as His own kingdom to come. Daniel chapter 2 was our “Camp 1”, getting us further up the mountain of prophecy. And now we’re really going to start the climb.
You may be saying, “What do you mean by that?” What I mean is that our first two classes were a good preparation for Daniel chapter 7. Because, in this chapter, God is going to build upon all we’ve learned so far, giving us the same information again, but with much more detail, plus some important new characters and significant future events. The seventh chapter of Daniel begins like this.
DANIEL 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.
This takes place around 553 B.C., over 45 years after the last chapter we studied, Daniel chapter 2. By this time Daniel had served a lifetime as a councilor to the kings of Babylon. He was now in his 60’s.
DANIEL 7:2 & 3 Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse from one another.
There are some incredibly deep truths in this chapter. One of the challenges here is to try to keep all this simple so those studying it for the first time will be able to understand it. I’ll continue to aim this at those who are new to Daniel and to prophecy. At the same time, I hope to point out some of these amazing things without getting into too much detail.
And let me tell you what those four beasts are. Remember the 4 kingdoms that we saw in the statue in Daniel 2? These 4 beasts represent the same 4 kingdoms. In verse 17, Daniel is told, “These four great beasts are four kings…” And verse 23 says, “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth…”
So these 4 beasts represent kings or their kingdoms, the same as the statue did in chapter 2. But in this vision, the increase in information, plus the new characters and events so stunned Daniel that the vision needed to be shown or explained to him 3 times.
DANIEL 7:4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on its feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
But if these beasts of Daniel 7 correspond to the parts of the statue of chapter 2, then how does that fit with this first beast, a lion? In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he was pictured as a head of gold. Here he and Babylon are pictured as the king of beasts, a lion.
The wings being plucked and a man’s heart given to it symbolize Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation, because of his pride, and then his eventual salvation as he turned completely to the God of Abraham, Daniel’s God. This can all be found in the 4th chapter of Daniel.
DANIEL 7:5 And, behold, another beast, a second, like a bear and it raised itself up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said this to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’
We know that the kingdom that followed Babylon was the Medes and the Persians. Does this bear represent that kingdom? In Daniel 2, the Medes and Persians were represented by two arms of silver. Here it’s pictured as a bear, raising itself up on one side. Again we see the emphasis of a dual kingdom, one side being stronger than another.
What about those 3 ribs, is that significant? That could represent the 3 ancient empires that were before the bear, the Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Or the ribs may represent the three main kingdoms Persia first conquered: Media, Lydia, and Babylon.
Why a bear? When the Persians went to war, it was usually as a huge army, or actually armies of many nations, all under Persian leadership. History tells us they would put up to 1½ million men into the field of battle and just grind down their enemies by their sheer numbers and size, like a lumbering, hulking bear.
DANIEL 7:6 After this I looked, and lo another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.
If the lion was Babylon and the bear was Medo Persian, then this must represent Greece in some way. Just as the bronze belly and thighs of brass was Greece in chapter 2, so this leopard is another picture of the Grecian empire. The leopard is one of the world’s fastest animals, which certainly pictures Alexander the Great and the Grecian army’s conquest of all the known world of his day in only 10 years.
But Alexander died in his 30’s and left no surviving heirs. His kingdom was divided between his 4 top generals. So this four-headed leopard was an amazing prediction of the Grecian empire to come, all shown to Daniel over 200 years before it happened.
So far, this has not been greatly different from what we saw in chapter 2. But, we’re about to go into some things that we’ve really not seen before. And of all that Daniel is shown in this vision, this part is what he became most interested in.
DANIEL 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts before it, and it had ten horns.
In Daniel 2 we saw that the iron legs of Rome, along with the feet and 10 toes, was the kingdom to come after the Greeks. It’s almost the same here: a great beast with iron teeth and 10 horns. “Dreadful.” “Breaking in pieces.” What a picture of the Roman Empire. But Daniel goes on to say A “little horn” plucking up 3 of the first horns by the roots. What is that? It seems like this was exactly what Daniel himself was wondering. But he didn’t have time to ask about it, because next he saw this.
DANIEL 7:9-14 I watched till the thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days did sit whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool. His throne was like a fiery flame and its wheels a burning fire.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him. A thousand thousands ministered to him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The judgment was set and the books were opened.
I looked then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke; I watched till the beast was slain, and his body was destroyed and given to the burning flame.
As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
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.
And there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one which shall not be destroyed.
After seeing the vision of the 4 beasts, Daniel is swept up into Heaven itself, to the very throne of God, the Ancient of Days. This is one of the most astonishing visions of God and His throne in the entire Bible. Verse 10 says “…thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.“
Millions ministering to Him. 100 million standing before Him. In those days that must have seemed like the population of the whole world. Perhaps that’s the meaning here. The Ancient of Days, God the Father, on His throne, sitting in judgment, the books open. We’ve almost all heard of “Judgment Day”. It might surprise you to learn there’s going to be more than one Judgment Day. But we can talk about that some other time.
It’s time to explain who this “little horn”, this “Beast” is. God’s Word tells us that, in the last days of Man’s rule and dominion on earth, a demon-possessed dictator is going to arise who will temporarily save the world from total destruction just before the return of Jesus to rule the earth. This chapter is the first time he’s introduced so clearly in God’s Word. But he’s mentioned many more times after this, both in Daniel and in the Book of Revelations. He’s going to appear to be the greatest leader the world has ever known, clever enough to solve all the world’s problems –economic, political and even religious.
God’s Word says that Satan himself at times can seem to be an angel of Light. And this Beast, while charming the world with his smooth words and almost miraculous deeds, will also ultimately oppose God Himself, the truth, love and finally demand that all people worship and obey him. But, as this verse brings out, he will be slain and his body delivered to the flames.
Verse 12 As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
This is not talking about the Beast, the Anti-Christ (as he’s called) of the final End Time. But this is talking about those other beasts we saw at the first, representing the various nations of the world. It says “they had their dominion taken away”, during the future Kingdom of God on earth, “yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” These nations are not going to rule themselves during the future Kingdom of God on earth; they’re not going to be independent. But Jesus and His followers are going to be their rulers in the Kingdom to come.
This is one of the most remarkable visions in the Old Testament. “One like the Son of man is brought to the Ancient of Days.” We already know who the Ancient of Days is. That’s God, the Father. But here “the Son of man” is brought before Him.
Verse 14 And there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one which shall not be destroyed.
Here’s a picture of God, in the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, having this “Son of man” brought before Him. The “Son of man” is given a kingdom and dominion over all peoples, nations and languages, the everlasting Kingdom of God which shall not be destroyed.
In Daniel chapter 2 we saw this Kingdom represented as a stone. The stone smote and destroyed the statue, representing the kingdoms and nations of men. And the stone, the Kingdom of God, went on to fill the whole earth. Here it’s revealed that the “Son of man” is going to receive this kingdom from God. But who is this Son of man? Jesus of Nazareth referred to himself over 80 times in the New Testament as “the son of man”.
I want to keep all this simple. But also I want to show you something from 500 years before the time of Daniel when someone else actually had a brief glimpse of this throne scene in heaven. King David described what he had just seen, in Psalm 110:1
If you look closely, the first “LORD” is all caps. The second “Lord” is not. You have the same picture again, from a much earlier period of history: The LORD GOD, the Ancient of Days, on His throne, speaking to “David’s Lord”, the Messiah to come, to sit beside Him. And David knew that this Messiah to come, “the Son of man”, would also be one of this own future descendants, which Jesus was. So in some ways this vision of the thrones in Daniel chapter 7 was not the first time this truth had been revealed to a prophet of God.
Can you imagine what Daniel felt like after seeing all that? Actually, in this case, we don’t have to imagine because he tells us.
DANIEL 7:15 I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
He doesn’t use so many words but Daniel was a little shook up. “The visions of his head troubled him.” So, what could he do? Let’s see.
DANIEL 7:16 I came near to one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the thing:
You mean there were some other people with him who also saw this tremendous vision? No. It’s pretty clear that Daniel was deep in the Spirit of God at this time. Daniel had one foot in this world and one in the heavenly realm. He was “in the spirit”, so that he was aware of spiritual beings around him. He could perceive angels with him and he asked one of them what was the meaning of what he’d seen. So the angel told him.
DANIEL 7:17 & 18 These four great beasts are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.
There’s not much humor in the Bible. But for many years, this part here almost seemed funny to me. Daniel had just seen some of the most amazing things that any man of God had ever seen. But when the angel was asked about it, all he said was, “These four great beasts are four kings, which shall arise … …but the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom.”
It just always seemed to me like maybe this was not a very talkative angel. And Daniel sure wanted to know more because the next thing that happens is that he just pours out a list of things he really wanted to know about.
DANIEL 7:19 & 20 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, very dreadful, whose teeth were of iron and its nails of brass, which devoured, broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet;
and of the ten horns that were in its head, and of the other horn which came up, before whom three fell,
even that horn which had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.
Daniel had some questions. But, when I was studying this some more, I had another idea about why that angel didn’t say so much the first time around. This experience was, to use a Bible term, “heavy meat”. Daniel was being given profound revelations, even troubling, astonishing visions. The angel knew it was not easy for Daniel to absorb or understand it all. And it might be that way for you right now. So, instead of being kind of quiet, maybe the angel was just going slow. He knew it was necessary if Daniel was to be able to receive, and endure, all he was being shown.
When Daniel asked about the fourth beast, the 10 horns and that little horn, the angel didn’t start talking right away. But the vision began again. And let me just tell you, the next part is a little rough. But it’s the truth and there’s a happy ending.
DANIEL 7:21 & 22 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and overcame them, 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.
Then the angel begins his explanation, verse 23.
DANIEL 7:23 The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be different from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down and break it in pieces.
We already know what the fourth beast is. This is the Roman Empire, pictured in chapter 2 as the legs of iron.
DANIEL 7:24 a And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings which shall arise…
These 10 horns on the 4th beast are kings or kingdoms, nations that have come out of or come from the Roman Empire. Are there any nations today that have come out of the Roman Empire? Yes. Many of the nations of modern Europe have their histories founded in the Romans. England, France, Germany, as well as Italy, Spain, Portugal and others draw their roots back to Rome. So many Bible scholars feel that these 10 horns have something to do with the nations of modern Europe.
DANIEL 7:24 b …and another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first, and shall subdue three kings.
This little horn, this beast, becomes more and more the main subject. Every word here is important. He, the Antichrist, is going to “arise after them“. Perhaps this means he’ll arrive on the world stage as someone new, after these 10 nations are already established, as they are now. He will be “different from the first”. We get the feeling that this beast is not from one of those 10 nations. And he will “subdue” three of them.
Back in verse 8 we read that he “plucks up 3 by the roots”, a little more graphic and possibly violent there. Not only does the Antichrist overthrow (what looks like will be) 3 modern nations of Europe, but it says in verse 21, “he makes war with the saints“… “until the Ancient of Days came”. In other words, until the return of Jesus, coming in the glory of His Father.
These 10 nations are around at that time, of the coming of Jesus, because the Anti-Christ subdues 3 of them and he also makes war with the saints until the return of Jesus and the setting up of God’s Kingdom on earth.
DANIEL 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and shall think to change times and law. And they shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.
This is not just going to be some crazy dictator. In other places the Bible says that the Antichrist will ultimately be fully possessed by the Devil. Not just a devil, but the Devil. And it says here, and in verses 8 & 20, that he is going to “speak great words against the most High”, against God and Jesus.
There have been men somewhat like this in the past. Some of the Roman Caesars, perhaps Napoleon, certainly Adolph Hitler have been foreshadowings of this final world ruler. Men with extraordinary abilities, charming, powerful, almost god-like, possessing powers that seemed super human.
And it says he “he shall wear out the saints of the Most High”, “he made war with the saints and overcame them.”
This could be the most troubling for you. Maybe you’re tempted to worry or fear. And that’s understandable. But God didn’t tell us this to make us worry or fear. He told us this so we’d know that He’s in control, so that we’d be prepared, and believe it or not, so that some us will be there to stand up as God’s strongest witnesses and leaders of His people during this time.
This is the first place in the Bible where these events are so clearly explained but it’s not the last. In later passages we’ll find that it’s not all a totally dark picture of defeat for God’s people. But some of this can sound pretty bad the first time you read it.
And when it says the Antichrist shall make war with “the saints”, it’s not talking about any particular ethnic group or some of the great, famous saints of history like Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Saint Francis of Assisi. “Saints” here just means believers, the people of faith, you and me. I believe he’ll fight Christians, believing Jews and, this might be a surprise to some of you, also those of the Islamic faith. The coming of the Antichrist is predicted in the Koran. He’s called there the “Dejal”. Devote Moslems are not going to going along with worshiping him and the Bible says whole nations will resist him, as all people with true faith in the God of Abraham should.
The Antichrist will “think to change times and law.” Like other dictators of the past, he’ll try to change everything that’s gone before him. Adolf Hitler called his regime the beginning of a 1000 year empire of the German people. When the Communists took over Russia, they tried to institute a 10 day work week, instead of 7, just to get more work out of everyone. But it failed. So this man may say that his rule is “the beginning of a new age of man”, maybe even “the next step in evolution”, all to get the world to worship him, which many, if not most, sadly will do.
Here is one of the most mysterious passages in this chapter. “They shall be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time.” Is the angel indicating some kind of specific length of time for this reign of terror by the Antichrist?
Three and a half years. Now you may be saying, “It doesn’t say years there.” If this was the only verse I had to go on, it would be stretching it. But this is just the first of many verses, all pointing toward a 3½ year reign by the Antichrist before the return of Jesus to set up God’s Kingdom on the earth.
The angel goes on to say
DANIEL 7:26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it to the end.
Three and a half years, that’s all he’s got. “The judgment shall sit.” In other words, what God has planned and ordained is going to happen. After that, “they” (that’s God, Jesus, the angels and us) are going to “take away” the Antichrist, and his followers’ rule on earth, which is going to be destroyed at the return of Jesus.
DANIEL 7:27 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 happiest of all endings. It’s the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth. And it actually says here that the kingdom is not just given to Jesus, but it’s given to “the people of the saints of the Most High.” In other places it says that the believers and receivers of Him and His love are going to rule with Him on the earth. Maybe you didn’t know that.
DANIEL 7:28 Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my cogitations greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed: but I kept the matter in my heart.
Daniel’s “cogitations”, that means his thoughts, much troubled him. Even after the angel explained it all, it still really shook him up. His “countenance”, even the look on his face, was not the same, because it impacted him so strongly. But he kept the matter in his heart.
Many new things we’ve seen in this chapter. Maybe you yourself feel a little like Daniel, a little troubled. Almost more revelation than you can handle. But we really have gone to another level, up into the mountains of prophecy. If you can absorb what we’ve studied today, you’ll have the basics of much of the rest of the book of Daniel, plus an introduction to the Book of Revelation.
Our next class is on Daniel chapter 8. It contains one of the most amazing already fulfilled prophecies in the entire Bible. Also, Jesus Himself, when asked about the future, spoke of things that we’ll see introduced for the first time in Daniel chapter 8. So all of this is so very important to those of us who look for the coming Kingdom of God on earth. See you at the next class, God bless you!