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.
2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds [war and strife] of the heaven strove upon the great sea [multitudes of people].
3 And four great beasts [four great kingdoms] came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
4 The first was like a lion [Babylonian Empire], and had eagle’s wings [speed of conquest]:
I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked [cessation of conquest],
and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart [kings of Babylon] was given to it.
5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear [Medo Persian Empire],
and it raised up itself on one side [Persians],
and it had three ribs [Lydia, Babylon, Egypt] in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard [Grecian Empire], which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl [speed of conquest];
the beast had also four heads [fourfold division]; and dominion was given to it.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast [Roman Empire], dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth [great strength]: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it;
and it had ten horns [ten barbarian kingdoms].
8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn [Papacy], before whom there were three of the first horns [Heruli, Vandals, Ostrogoths] plucked up by the roots:
and, behold, in this horn [Papacy] were eyes like the eyes of man [shrewdness and intelligence], and a mouth speaking great things [arrogant claims].
9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days [God the Father] did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands [angels] ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand [angels] stood before him: the judgment [investigative judgment] was set, and the books were opened.
11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn [Papacy] spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man [Christ] came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days [God the Father], and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is
an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings [four kingdoms], which shall arise out of the earth.
18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast [Roman Empire], which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20 And of the ten horns [10 barbarian kingdoms] that were in his head and of the other [horn -Papacy] which came up, and before whom three fell [Heruli, Vandals, Ostrogoths]; even of that horn [Papacy] that had eyes [shrewdness and intelligence], and a mouth that spake very great things [arrogant claims], whose look was more stout than his fellows.
21 I beheld, and the same horn [Papacy] made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
22 Until the Ancient of days [God the Father] came, and judgment [judgment of wicked] was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
23 Thus he said, The fourth beast [Roman Empire] shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth,
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings [10 barbarian kingdoms] that shall arise: and another [horn – the Papacy] shall rise after them; and he [Papacy] shall be diverse from the first [10 horns], and he shall subdue three kings [Heruli, Vandals, Ostrogoths].
25 And he [Papacy] shall speak great words [arrogant claims] against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High and think to change times and laws [God’s law – the Ten Commandments]:
and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [1260 years].
26 But the judgment [investigative judgement] shall sit,
and they shall take away his [Papacy] dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
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.
28 Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
|a 540 BCl
b 540 – 538 BCl
c 605 – 538 BCl
d 605 – 562 BCl
e 562 BCl
f 538 BCl
g 538 – 331 BCl
h 550 BCl
i 546 BCl
j 538 BCl
k 525 BCl
l 331 – 168 BCl
m 334 – 324 BCl
a 301 BCl
b 301 – 297 BCl
c 301 – 281 BCl
d 301 – 281 BCl
e 301 – 285 BCl
f 168 BC – 476 ADl
g 351 – 476 ADl
h 538 – 1798 ADl
i 476 AD
j 488 AD
k 493 ADl
l 534 ADl
m 533 ADl
n 536 ADl
o 538 ADl
p 1844 ADl
a 1844 ADl
b close of the Judgment
c 1798 AD
d 1844 ADl
e the Millennium
a 538 – 1798 ADl
b 538 AD
c 10 Feb 1798 AD
d 22 Oct 1844 AD
e 21 Mar 1800 AD
f 20 Sep 1870 AD
g 11 Feb 1929 AD
|The Great Sea and the Four Great Beasts
The vision of Daniel chapter 7 was given to Daniel in the a first year of Belshazzar (540 BC). b Belshazzar reigned as co-regent with his father, Nabonidus.
The ‘four winds’ represent strife, war, commotion and political upheaval (Jer 25:31-33; 49:36,37). The ‘great sea’ represents peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues
c Babylonia – The Lion Beast
During the reign of d Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon became the king of kingdoms, likened to a lion – king of the beasts (Jer 50:17,44). The ‘two wings of the eagle’ denote rapidity of conquest achieved during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (Hab 1:6-8).
The ‘wings plucked off’ represents the cessation of conquest after the e death of Nebuchadnezzar, and the ‘man’s heart’ represents the feeble rulership of the latter kings of Babylon until its f fall during the reign of Belshazzar.
g Medo Persia – The Bear Beast
Medo Persia is likened to a bear that mauls and tears its victims in a voracious and cruel manner. It is a fitting symbol when we note that the Medo Persian armies fought in great mobs, relying on strength of numbers to batter and tear their opponents.
In 550 BC Cyrus the Great h rebelled and overthrew the Median Empire. He captured Astyages, king of the Medes, making the Medes subject to the Persians (hence the raising up of the bear on ‘one side’).
The ‘three ribs’ represent the three empires which were conquered by the Medes and the Persians. These were Lydia, Babylonia and Egypt.
In 546 BC Cyrus i conquered Lydia. An indecisive battle was fought at Pteria and the Lydians retired to Sardis, their capital. The Lydian king (Croesus), believing that Cyrus would not fight again until spring, disbanded a portion of his army. However Cyrus followed Croesus and in a battle outside Sardis, the Lydians were defeated and forced into the city. Cyrus besieged Sardis and his men were able to scale the citadel, entering the city and laying it to waste. Croesus was captured.
In 538 BC Cyrus j conquered Babylon. Defeated in battle, the Babylonians had withdrawn within the safety of their city’s impregnable walls. There they made light of Cyrus’ siege by continuing their feasting and revelry. The army of Cyrus was able to divert the waters of the Euphrates river and wade under the city walls, thus entering Babylon without opposition. Belshazzar was slain and Babylon was taken.
In 525 BC Cambyses II (son of Cyrus) k conquered Egypt. The Egyptians were defeated in a battle at Pelusium in the Nile Delta. Cambyses captured Heliopolis as well as Memphis and the Egyptian resistance collapsed. At length the defeated and captive Egyptian king (Psamtik II) was put to death by the Persians in response to a revolt begun by the Egyptian people. Cambyses also led an unsuccessful expedition against Ethiopia, in which a large portion of his army was entirely lost.
l Grecia – The Leopard Beast
Grecia is likened to a leopard that hunts with stealth, speed and cunning. It had ‘four wings’, denoting speed of
After Alexander had died, his Generals divided the kingdom between themselves. Following the a battle of Ipsus, the Grecian kingdom was divided into four portions.
f Rome – The Terrible Beast
The Roman Empire was exceedingly strong – more so than the previous three kingdoms. It was likened to a terrible beast diverse from all the others. It had ‘great iron teeth’ and ‘nails of brass’ (verse 19), it devoured and smashed all the other nations. The iron denotes strength and power and parallels the iron legs of the image in chapter 2.
g The Ten Barbarian Kingdoms
The Western Roman Empire was divided amongst ten barbarian kingdoms, which are represented by the ‘ten horns’ of the vision. The Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Alemanni, Burgundians, Visigoths, Suevi, Ostrogoths, Lombards, Heruli, and Vandals make up these ten divisions.
h The Papacy – The Little Horn
In 476 AD, the Heruli (led by Odoacer) began a
In an attempt to rid the Eastern Empire of the troublesome Ostrogoths, j Zeno induced Theodoric (king of the Ostrogoths) in 488 AD to invade Italy and
The Vandals were the second horn to be plucked up. Justinian’s General (Belisarius) l obliterated the Vandals in 534 AD, because of their heretical Arian faith and their grievous acts of war against Rome.
The Ostrogoths were the third and final horn to be plucked up. In order to gain the support of the Bishop of Rome in his war against the Vandals, Justinian m decreed that he was to have the supremacy of the Pontificate. This decree however, could not be carried into effect until the Ostrogoths (who were Arians and strongly opposed to the Catholic faith) were destroyed. In 536 AD, Belisarius
The displacement of the three horns had made way for the rising of the little horn (Papacy) in 538 AD.
The ‘eyes’ of the horn are the emblem of shrewdness, penetration, cunning, and foresight of the Papal hierarchy. The mouth that speaks ‘great things’ represents the arrogant claims of the bishops of Rome.
These arrogant claims include the assumed infallibility of the Pope, the professed ability of the clergy to forgive sins (indulgences for sin) and the profession that they have the ability to open and shut heaven to souls.
p The Judgment – The Father takes His Place
The phrase ‘cast down’ would be better translated to say that the judgment hall of God was prepared. God the Father took His position as Judge in the investigative judgment. Thousands and thousands of angels were present
At this point, the books are opened and the cases of all who have professed to serve God (both dead and living) come up for examination before the great tribunal. This is to determine, prior to Christ receiving the kingdom, who will receive the reward of eternal life. The cases of the wicked are excluded from this judgment (1 Pet 4:17).
The Demise of the Beasts
The Papacy is to be slain and destroyed in a lake of fire (Rev 19:20). In the terrible day of the Lord the nations of Europe will “burn her [the Papacy] with fire” (Rev 17:16)
The territory and subjects of each of the other kingdoms continue to exist under the power of each superseding dominion. Each kingdom therefore merges into the next and thus their lives are ‘prolonged for a season and a time’.
a The Judgement – Christ takes His Place
Christ passes from the Holy Place into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 8:2), coming before the Father to begin the work of judgment and the final blotting out of sin of those determined worthy of eternal life (Acts 3:19; 1 Tim 5:24).
At the close of His priestly work in the sanctuary,
Daniel was grieved by the vision he was shown and asked an angel about its meaning. He then receives an interpretation of the vision.
The four great beasts represent four great kingdoms that rule the earth (verse 3): Babylon, Medo Persia, Grecia and Rome. However, the saints of the most High (with Christ) will possess a kingdom that shall destroy all these other kingdoms and shall last forever.
Rome – Papal War against God’s People
The descriptions given in verses 7 and 8 are repeated here and the representations are the same.
The persecutions, massacres and religious wars excited by the church and bishop of Rome fulfil the prophecy of verse 21. These include the cruel persecutions of the Waldenses, the Albigenses, and Protestants in general.
The Two Judgements
After the period of Papal persecution was c finished, the Ancient of Days took His position in the d investigative judgment (verse 9). Once completed, the saints will sit with Christ in the e judgment of the wicked, for a thousand years (Rev 20:14), apportioning to them the punishment due for their sins.
Rome – The Papal attempt to change God’s Law
Again, refer to the descriptions and the representations given with regards to Rome in verses 7 and 8.
The Papacy is a spiritual power as opposed to the ten horns or kingdoms, which are purely political powers.
The Papacy in its catechisms omitted the second commandment, as papists believed it was already outlined in the first commandment. This however cannot be the change foretold by Daniel, as the prophecy states ‘he shall think to change times and laws’. This indicates that a deliberate, intentional change was to be made to God’s law. The authorisation of the observance of Sunday instead of the seventh day Sabbath in the fourth commandment directly fulfils this prophecy.
a A Time and Times and the Dividing of Time
360 + 720 + 180 = 1260 years
In prophecy a day represents a literal year (Num 14:34; Eze 4:6). The Biblical year consists of 360 days (Gen 7:11, 24; 8:4) so a year, or 360 days, in prophecy represents 360 literal years.
“A time”, as we understand from Dan 4:25 is a literal
The time of Papal persecution (also referred to in verse 21) lasted 1260 years. It commenced when the b third horn (the Ostrogoths) was uprooted in the year 538 AD which made room for Papal power. For the next 1260 years the Papacy dominated Europe and persecuted God’s people. When c the Pope was taken prisoner in 1798 AD the 1260 years came to their end.
Once the 1260 years were finished the d investigative judgment would follow. Dan 8:14 locates the time the judgment would begin, while Dan 7:9,10,13 describe the opening scenes of the judgment.
In 1800 AD a new Pope was e elected, and the Papal States (his dominion) were reinstated to him. However, by this time, the Papacy had lost it persecuting powers. In 1870, Victor Emmanuel (Italian king) f occupied Rome and added the Papal States to unified Italy. The Pope, a self-imposed prisoner in the Vatican, lost his last vestige of temporal power.
In 1929 Mussolini g declared the Vatican city a sovereign state with the Pope as head of state. This restored dominion will be consumed by a fiery conflagration in the end. (Rev 17:16)
The establishment of the everlasting kingdom begins with the 1844 judgment and is completed at the second coming of Christ when it is given to the saints.
This vision troubles Daniel.