- The Four Kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream– Chapter 7:1-8, 15-28
- a. Overview of Chapter: In this chapter Daniel has one of the most specific visions/prophecies within the covers of the Bible. He dreams of four Gentile world powers that will rise and conquer each other and Israel. This is among the “Time of the Gentiles” which started in 605 B.C. He sees four beast which represent four kingdoms. The first is Babylon, a lion with eagle’s wings. The second is Medo –Persia, the bear with three ribs in its mouth. The third is Greece, the four headed leopard with four wings. The fourth is Rome, the terrifying beast that crushes all. These four beast rise up and show the timeline for which the Gentiles will rule over Israel. This is the reversed order from which God planned when he established Israel to rule over the Gentile nations. God gave Israel through the Abrahamic Covenant. ( Genesis 12:2) Now we await as Jesus comes back to establish his kingdom, set up the rule over the Gentiles and take his bride and all saints into eternity future.
i. We are now back in the Babylonian Empire. In the previous chapter, we were going through Daniel in the Medo-Persian Empire. They had just taken over Babylon and now Cyrus, and Darius the Mede are kings. Remember that in context, we are now back in the Babylonian empire. We are under king Belshazzar, who is the second in command under Nabonidus. Daniel now flashes back to his vision while being under Babylonian rule.
ii. Refer back to previous notes discussing the kingly order of Nabonidus and Belshazzar.
- b. Chapter 7 is one of the most profound chapters in the Old Testament. These four beasts in chapter 7 are also seen in chapter 2 when Daniel interprets king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. This chapter almost starts a new section of Daniel. Chapter 1-6 were more stories of Daniel , for the exception of chapter 2. Chapters 7-12 in Daniel are apocalyptic literature and are the foundation to OT prophecy and eschatological study as it relates to the books of Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation. Chapter 7 reveals the kingdom of God, that will come and destroy the last beastly kingdom. It will come, and destroy the Revived Roman Empire, establish its reign, and bring the nation of Israel under submission and obedience to God, which has been God’s plan since Genesis 12.
- c. Verse by Verse Study:
i. For verses 1-7, Daniel gives an interpretation for in verses 15-28, so I will be referencing both and writing my own explanation using the word of God and history explaining the text.
ii. As we look at the text, let us remember that this is the inerrant word of God, every word, in its original writings was perfect.
iii. These verses in their original writings are still in Aramaic. This vision is about the four Gentile World Powers that will rule over the earth until the day Christ comes back to rapture the church. At that moment, God’s program for Israel is placed back in action, and through the next seven years, God will use 144,000 male virgin Jews and the two witnesses to bring the nation of Israel back to Himself. Upon the end of those seven years, Christ will come back and wipe out the enemies of Israel. We will go into the 1000 year reign of Christ where we will reign with him over this earth in Jerusalem. Christ will rise up at the end of the 1000 years, wipe out once and for all, His enemies on earth. We will then proceed into the new heaven and new earth where we will spend eternity with Jesus.
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter.
- This dream occurs in the first year if Belshazzar’s reign as king over Babylon. It was around 553 B.C. Babylon fell in 567 B.C. Belshazzar, again, is Nabonidus’ co-regent in Babylon . This chapter, occurs between chapter four and five , for chapter six is when Darius reigns and the Medo-Persian empire is established under Cyrus the Great.
- I believe that Daniel writes down the date of his vision on purpose so it would be understood as a sixth century writing and not a second century writing.
- This is a unique vision for it occurs in his dream
2 Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.
- The great sea is the nations of the world like in Revelation 13:1.
- For a better grasp on the nations referenced as the sea or waters look at:
i. Revelation 17:1
ii. In Daniel 7:17 the text says the beast will rise out of the nations, which is a support for this verse meaning nations as well.
iii. Also in Revelation 17:1 , the two beasts come rising out of the sea, which refers to the nations.
- The four winds of heaven may represent God’s sovereign control over the situation as it unfolds. God controls those things which go on in the world, as he will also “get the ball rolling” in this world event.
- When looking at the number four in Revelation, the text says that God has angels at the four corners of the earth ( Rev 7:1) It says “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds of the earth…” This is saying that God was not ready to act, for in the fullness of time He will act and has his rule.
- The Four corners; the great sea means the whole world, all nations. The sovereign and mighty power of God was starting to work among the nations is the four winds and it gets the nations stirred up, hence the coming forth of the first beast, the first mighty nation of Babylon, and coming after that three more mighty nations.
3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.
- The appearance of the four nations has now come : Babylon, Medo-persia, Greece, and Rome. These empires shall come out of the nations, the sea.
- 2. 7:17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.
4 The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.
- This first beast is the empire of Babylon. This vision is describing the four world powers that will rise just as in Daniel 2. In Daniel 2: 38 Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that he is the head of gold. Babylon is the golden head, and here the lion with eagles’ wings. (Daniel 2:32)
- A lion is a symbol of power. The lion is the king of all the beasts and it represents power and royalty. On the gates of Babylon there would be lions in the brick , showing the power of the kingdom.
- An eagle is the king of the skies. The eagle is the bird that rules the skies. So here, the thought is of the power behind this empire with a lion with eagles’ wings.
- For this next part, “ Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.”
- All conservative Bible scholars agree and conclude that it is obvious that this refers to the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar in Chapter four of Daniel.
i. Daniel 4:33- “ Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with dew of heaven till his hear grew as long as the eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like a birds’ claw.
ii. Daniel was so prideful in his ruling of the kingdom that he had to be humbled by God. This is what refers to the “plucking of the wings” of this lion.
iii. After Nebuchadnezzar was humbled, he came back as king and the kingdom wasn’t the same. The kingdom lost their “beast like nature” and hence the verse finishes “ and it was lifted from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.”
- I do believe it is here that king Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in God. I do believe that he came to trust in God and is now in heaven. When you look at his prayer and exultation to God I think his heart was genuine in trusting the One true God of the Bible.
i. Daniel’s faithfulness to his God was the lasting example. What is your example like to the unsaved?
5 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’
- The second beast is the Medo-Persian Empire. There is much dispute over this second kingdom for many critics say this second beast isn’t the empire of Medo-Persia, but in fact just the empire of Median.
- In Daniel 6:8,12, and 15, the Law of the Medes and the Persians is brought up. This is a very clear reference to the fact that these two empires were merged into one empire, the Medo-Persian Empire.
- The symbolism of a bear is interesting. A bear is not fast, or cunning like a lion and eagle. It isn’t agile or skillful. The bear is an animal of blunt ferocity and power.
- The text says “ It was raised up on one side.”The interpretation cannot be certain as if preached as doctrine. Based on history though, one can make certain assumptions and intelligent and logical hypothesis to what this means. From my study and an in depth look at many conservative Biblical commentaries I believe that this talks about the power of Persia being superior to that of Media as they joined into one empire.
- Persia overtook the Medes and took them into their nation and made it stronger. Persia was vastly superior to the Medes and the text “raised up on one side” means that Persia was more powerful and superior to the nation of Media.
- b. It is interesting to look into Daniel 8:3- “ I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It has two horns and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.”
i. This passage is also talking about the Persian Empire being superior to the Median. ( Daniel 8:20)
- 4. “It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth,”cannot be taken dogmatically either. There are a few interpretations to this prophecy:
- a. Some scholars say that is the three main components of the empire: Babylon, Persia, and Media.
- b. Some scholars say that three ribs represent the three nations Cyrus conquered to unify Medo-Persia.
i. Astyages- 550 B.C.
ii. Anatolia – 547 B.C.
iii. Croesus of Lydia – 547 B.C.
- c. Some scholars say that the three ribs represent the three nations Medo-Persia conquered.
i. Babylon- 539 B.C.
ii. Lydia – 546 B.C.
iii. Egypt – 525 B.C.
- 5. The bear is then told “Arise and devour much flesh.”
- a. Some scholars debate over whether this means to devour the flesh of the ribs in its mouth, or to arise and eat more flesh, more nations.
i. From my study I believe that this is showing the Medo-Persia will rise and devour more nations before being taken over by Greece and Alexander the Great.
ii. The text says “ between its teeth.” I believe that this is saying that these three ribs were already done, it was not only in its mouth, but gripped between its teeth and done, eaten, consumed.
iii. The flesh would be more nations that this empire of Medo-Persia could devour.
6 After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.
- The third beast is the empire of Greece. Some liberal critics say that Greece cannot be the third beast. They distinguish Media and Persia as the second and third beasts, with Greece being the fourth beast.
- When you look at history, the description of the Grecian it is perfectly accurate with the third beast.
- There widely accepted view and conservative Biblical view of this passage is that Greece is the third beast. There is not much description about this third beast, but let’s look at what the text says:
- “After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings like a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.
i. “another like a leopard,”
- Leopards are often labeled as an animal that is swift, agile, and aggressive. It lies in wait for its pray and it attacks at the right times.
- Leopards are also very fast and able to move at quick intervals of time.
ii. “with four wings like a bird on its back.”
- The four wings here add to the idea of movement. It is a fast moving and aggressive animal. With four wings, the animal is able to move very fast.
iii. “and the beast had four heads”
- The four heads represent the four generals to which the kingdom was divided when Alexander the Great died. They also symbolize the intelligence of movement in the beast. The beast has four heads so it is able to look in all directions at the same time. It is fierce and smart/aware beast.
- Now to tie this in with Grecian History. The empire of Greece had one of the most profound and tactful military leaders in history. He was a young smart man who knew warfare tactics and by age 33 he had conquered the majority of the known world.
- The empire of Greece was described by the features of the third beast in these ways:
i. “like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back.”
- This represents the agility and quickness by which Alexander the Great conquered the majority of the known world.
- Ex. King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the island fortress of Tyre for thirteen years and couldn’t subdue it. Alexander the great built land stretching to the island fortress and overtook it in seven months!
- By age 32, Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world. Sadly, He died at age 33 because of an infection, Malaria, and died on his way back home.
- His first attack was in 335 B.C. and his last victory was in 322 B.C. before he died of infection. So in 13 years Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world.
ii. “and the beast had four heads”
- These four heads represent his four generals that were placed by him to keep sections of the land. These generals were:
- Lysimachus- Thrace, Bithynia,
- Cassander- Macedonia and Greece
- Seleucus- Syria, Babylonia, eastern part to India
- Ptolemy- Egypt, Palestine, Arabia
iii. “and dominion was given to it.”
- This verse implies that God allowed it to have dominion in the fashion that it did.
- To look at Alexander the Greats conquests here is Zechariah 9:1-8
1 The burden of the word of the LORD is against
the land of Hadrach and Damascus is its resting
place. For the LORD has an eye on mankind and Syria
on all the tribes of Israel,2 and on Hamath also,
which borders on it,
Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
3 Tyre has built herself a rampart and heaped up
silver like dust, and fine gold like the mud of the
streets.4 But behold, the Lord will strip her of her Phoenicia
possessions and strike down her power on the sea,
and she shall be devoured by fire.
5 Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid; Gaza too,
and shall writhe in anguish; Ekron also, because
its hopes are confounded. The king shall perish from
Gaza; Ashkelon shall be uninhabited;6 a mixed people Philistia
shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of
Philistia.7 I will take away its blood from its mouth,
and its abominations from between its teeth; it too
shall be a remnant for our God; it shall be like a clan
in Judah, and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites.
8 Then I will encamp at my house as a guard, so that
none shall march to and fro; no oppressor shall again Jerusalem
march over them, for now I see with my own eyes.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
- The main point of controversy today is the identity of the fourth beast. Some liberal skeptics say that this fourth beast is Greece under Alexander the Great.
- Conservative theologians would say it is Rome. I would personally agree to say the fourth beast is indeed Rome.
- The Roman Empire started in 241 B.C. when Rome conquered Sicily.
- To get into the text:
- “a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong.”
i. The fourth beast is Rome. This verse shows the immensity of the empire of Rome. Rome was a vast empire that was ruthless and conquered to annihilate their enemy.
ii. This beast was extremely strong and great. This empire conquered much territory and many nations.
- “it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet.”
i. This verse here is was distinguishes the fourth beast to be Rome. This cannot describe the fourth beast to be Greece for Greece was exceedingly strong, but it did not devour nations.
ii. Rome was a ruthless nation. It would conquer nations and then go back and kill thousands of people, enslave the people, and treat them as animals. This empire was a terrible and cruel nation.
iii. Rome was the cruelest Gentile world power out of the four here in Daniel 7.
iv. This nation would trample any nation that got in its way and it would ruthlessly kill thousands of people.
- “It was different from all the beasts that were before it”
i. This beast was more cruel and bigger than any nation that had come before it.
ii. Also the NT alludes to the empire in Daniel to being Rome. In Matthew 24:15 it refers to the abomination of desolation, the Anti- Christ, and how he will come and desecrate the temple. This is under the Roman Empire!
- “and it had ten horns”
i. This is a hard part of the prophecy to really get a handle on. It is hard to say dogmatically what the ten horns are, but I believe there is a logical and rationale answer.
ii. I believe the ten horns are ten nations that will rise up. These ten nations will be the Revived Roman Empire. Ten nations will comprise this empire. This empire will rise between the time of the Rapture of the church and the start of the Tribulation.
iii. 7:24 “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,”
iv. Dan 2:44 “And in the days of those kings (ten nations) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,”
- When referring back to Daniel 2, the ten toes are the ten nation revived Roman Empire. These ten toes , which are ten kings, are the ten horns in Daniel 7. It is a revived Roman Empire that will appear to blaspheme the name of the Lord.
- Daniel 2 is the same prophecy as Daniel 7 is:
- Golden Head = Babylon = Lion with eagles wings
- Silver Chest = Medo-Persia = Bear with three ribs
- Bronze thighs = Greece = Four headed leopard
- Iron legs = Rome = Fourth beast
- Iron and clay toes = Revived Roman Empire = 10 horns
- Stone = Jesus Christ = son of man given dominion
v. Daniel 2 is essential to understanding this fourth beast and Daniel 7 in general. These passages go hand in hand and explain each other and they also aid to each other’s interpretation.
vi. The last important concept to grasp from this is that Christ is the last kingdom that will destroy Rome. Christ will come back, destroy Rome, Israel’s enemy, and establish his kingdom, his 1000 year reign.
vii. Timeline of events concerning future events:
- Christ comes and is crucified in 30 A.D.
- Church age begins, which is the gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel.
- Christ will come back, we will meet him in the air, commonly referred to as the rapture.
- God will put His plan for Israel back into motion.
- There will be a 7 year period ( the last week of Daniel) where God will draw his people back to Him.
- This seven year period is split up into two sections of three and a half years each.
i. The first half God will show himself, but the nation of Israel will look to the anti-Christ to save them
ii. The second half is when the anti-Christ breaks the covenant he establishes at the beginning of the 7 year period with Israel.
iii. The second half of this 7 year period is where God will draw them to Himself
- Isaiah 53 says they will realize whom they have pierced.
- God will bring Israel back to Himself, at which time Christ will come down at the end of the 7 years and slay the enemies of Israel.
- God will usher all the survivors of the tribulation ( which will be all believers) and the tribulation, church, and OT saints into his kingdom, where he will reign on a literal throne in Jerusalem for 1000 years.
- At the end of those thousand years Christ will rise up and slay those who rebelled against him, this is the final battle. There will be the Great White Throne Judgment ( judgment of all non- believers).
- Christ then brings down the new heavens and the new earth to where we will reside with Christ for eternity future!!
8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
- “there came up among them another horn, a little horn”
- This little horn is the anti-Christ. Some would say it is Antiochus Epiphanes , but I would say that it is not. He is the little horn in Chapter 8:9. For it describes his conquest and how great he became as a ruler. Also this little horn comes out of Rome. Antiochus Epiphanes comes out of Greece.
- To better understand this passage you must read verses 24-26:
i. 24 “ As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings.25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.26 But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end.”
- 1. “another shall rise after them…shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out all the saints of the Most High…and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and a half a time ( 7 years)…but his dominion shall be taken away (by the Ancient of Days given to the son of man.)”
- 2. This passage describes the anti-Christ coming and blaspheming God. He will be given control for 7 years, he will persecute Israel, but eventually, after 7 years, God will bring back the son of man, Christ, and he will reign for 1000 years.
- 2. “before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots.”
- a. This detailed prophecy cannot be known much about. These events have no happened yet, but the Anti-Christ will come and take out three of the ten rulers in the Revived Roman Empire.
- b. This could be analogous to the three ribs in the bears mouth.
- c. Somehow, we aren’t sure how, the Anti- Christ will come about and destroy three of the kings.
- d. Read Revelation 13 to get more of a grasp on what the Anti-Christ does while he is given dominion for 7 years.
- 3. “And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.”
- a. This implies the intelligence of this anti-Christ.
- b. To look at these great things of which the anti-Christ will speak look at Revelation 13:5
i. He speaks haughty and blasphemous words.