Daniel Chapter Seven, Taming The Beasts
In our study of Daniel chapter seven, we look at Daniel's dream of
four beasts and their taming at the hands of God. We will see how this prophetic dream
has been mostly fulfilled but the completion will come at the return of Jesus
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a
dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the
substance of his dream.
In chapter 6, we
saw that Darius the Mede had defeated Babylon but, here, Daniel takes us back to a dream
that he had prior to the fall of Babylon. We are told that this dream happened during
the first year of the reign of Belshazzar the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 7:2 & 3
Daniel said: 'In my vision at night I looked, and there before me
were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each
different from the others, came up out of the sea.'
We are introduced to what is the first of three separate visions
that he has in this dream. We notice that the vision happened at night while he was
sleeping and that speaks to the fact that God is revealing something to him that he was
not even seeking. The "great sea" is the Mediterranean Sea and, throughout the Bible,
seas are used as a symbol of Gentile nations. The word wind, here, is ruach in the
Hebrew and the "four winds of heaven" speaks of the Spirit of God. When you get the four
winds acting at the same time, a whirlwind is created and it is a demonstration of the
power of God. We see, here, that the power of God is working on the Gentile nations and
four beasts are called out of them. Throughout the Bible, beasts are symbols of men that
are controlled by the natural (flesh) and have no understanding of the spiritual things
of God. The beasts are also associated with kingdoms as there were no democracies and so
a kingdom took on the character of its leader.
'The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I
watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood
on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.'
The first beast is a winged lion and a lion was the symbol of the
Babylonian kingdom. The wings speak of speed and the Babylonians had the ability to
quickly move their army. The wings were torn off speaks of the fall of Babylon which we
saw happened in chapter 5
when Darius conquered the city. The final part of the verse speaks of the restoration of
King Nebuchadnezzar from his insanity where he went out into the wilderness and lived
like an animal (see chapter 4).
This first beast corresponds to the head of gold on the statue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream
'And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear.
It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its
teeth. It was told, "Get up and eat your fill of flesh!"'
This second beast corresponds to the chest and arms of silver of
the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. This is the Media-Persian empire led by Xerxes
which conquered the Babylonians. The three ribs in the bear's mouth speaks of their
conquest of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. We notice that it was told to eat its fill which
reminds us that it was God who had used them as an instrument of judgment on the
'After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one
that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This
beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.'
This third beast corresponds to the belly and thighs of bronze in
Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Once again, this is the Greco-Macedonian empire led by Alexander
the Great. The speed of his army and their conquest was unmatched and so we see that
they had four wings (more than the wings of the first beast). The four heads speaks of
the fact that when Alexander died (at the early age of just 33), his four generals
divided up his vast empire.
'After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me
was a fourth beast - terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron
teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It
was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.'
Daniel's second vision of the night is of a beast like none he had
ever seen before. The iron teeth refer to its strength and also reminds us of the legs
in the statue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The ten horns are the ten toes of the feet of
Nebuchadnezzar's statue and the fact that they are mixed with clay brings to mind
weakness. This beast is the Roman empire.
'While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another
horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted
before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of man and a mouth that spoke
Unlike the other three beasts (empires) the Roman empire was never
conquered but instead just faded away into history. As we see here, three parts of what
was the Roman Empire will be reunited under the leadership of this other part. This horn
is the beast that John spoke of coming out of the sea (nations) in Revelation
Daniel 7:9 & 10
'As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days
took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like
wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire
was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten
thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were
Here, Daniel speaks of the coming judgment upon this beast as we
see a description of the throne of God. This description is much like that given by the
prophet Ezekiel as he
attempted to describe the glory of God. The scene around the throne of God was also
described by John and he told us the verdict of this court in Revelation
Daniel 7:11 & 12
'Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn
was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown
into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were
allowed to live for a period of time.)'
Daniel continues to describe the judgment of the beast as we see
the result of the trial.
Daniel 7:13 & 14
'In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a
son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was
led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples,
nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.'
Daniel sees Jesus being given the authority to judge from the
Father. This is the same type of thing that John spoke of with the Lamb and the scroll.
'I Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed
through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the
true meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things:
"The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints
of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever - yes, for ever
Daniel did not understand what all of this meant so he asked the
angel. The angel assured him of the victory of the people of God. This is much the same
as what John experienced and why he could say that blessed are those that read and
understand the book of Revelation. Like Daniel, we can be troubled about the things that
are to come or we can rest in the knowledge that God is in control and His people will
'Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which
was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze
claws - the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever
was left. I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn
that came up, before which three of them fell - the horn that looked more imposing than
the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched, this horn
was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and
pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they
possessed the kingdom.'
Now, we are told the reasons that this dream troubled Daniel so
much. First of all, this beast was unlike any that he had seen before while the others
had at least resembled animals that he knew about. The second thing is that he saw the
beast defeating the people of God which was also his people. If his dream was true,
then, that would include him being devoured by the beast.
'He gave me this explanation: "The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom
that will appear on the earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will
devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings
who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the
earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and
oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be
handed over to him for a time, times and half a time."'
The Roman Empire was not defeated but was split in two with the
western half based in Rome and the eastern half in Constantinople.The city would become
the capitol of the Ottoman Empire which would dominate what we call the Middle East. At
the end of World War 1, the empire was broken up into ten pieces: Turkey, Syria,
Lebanon, Palestine, Transjordan, Kingdom of Hejer, Sultanate of Nejd, Yemen, and the
Arab States of the Persian Gulf (United Arab Emirates). The Kingdom of Hejer & the
Sultanate of Nejd became a part of Saudi Arabia. We see that the saints will be handed
over to the antichrist for a period of time that is generally called the first half of
the Great Tribulation.
Daniel 7:26 & 27
'"But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and
completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms
under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.
His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey
At the end of this tribulation, Satan and his followers are put on
trial and stripped of their power. They are cast into hell and the saints will possess
all of the earth.
'This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by
my thoughts and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.'
Daniel knew the future but it was scary to him and he kept it all
to himself for a time.