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 Christ.

Daniel 7:1

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.

Daniel 7:4

'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 (see chapter 2).

Daniel 7:5

'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 Babylonians.

Daniel 7:6

'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.

Daniel 7:7

'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.

Daniel 7:8

'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 boastfully.'

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 13.

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 opened.'

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 20.

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. (see Revelation 5)

Daniel 7:15-18

'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 and 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 reign victorious.

Daniel 7:19-22

'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.

Daniel 7:23-25

'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 him."'

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.

Daniel 7:28

'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.