Dan. 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.
Obviously, this book does not read chronologically. This chapter jumps back to the time of the beginning of Belshazzar’s reign. The timing is about three years before the events recorded in chapter 6.
This time Daniel had a dream and visions and made a written record of it all. The fact that he records having a dream and visions seems to emphasize how vivid and clear the experience was to him even though it occurred during his sleep.
Dan. 7:2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
This verse immediately made me think of Revelation 7:1, where we are told of four angels holding the four winds of the earth (north, south, east, west).
Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth….
It would seem that the angels are used of God in management of all the things pertaining to mankind. In Daniel’s dream the winds are causing havoc on the great sea, usually a reference to the Mediterranean.
Numbers 34:6-7 And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border. And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor….
(These verses are defining the borders of the land of Israel to Moses, the western border of which is the Mediterranean Sea.)
Ezekiel 47:20 The west side also shall be the great sea from the border, till a man come over against Hamath. This is the west side.
(This verse is part of the revelation given Ezekiel regarding the borders of the land at the time of the millennial temple, again the western border of which is the Mediterranean Sea.)
Joshua 9:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon….
(The Mediterranean is the only “great sea” bordering Lebanon.)
The prophet Zechariah supports connecting the wind to angels.
Zechariah 6:1–5 “And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.”
The word “spirits” is defined as “wind.”
Dan. 7:3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
Great beasts = kings (v17) = kingdoms (v23)
Like Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel dreamed about four kingdoms. I have always been taught that the parts of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream seem to line up with the four beasts in Daniel’s dream. Until now, that has made the most sense to me. I listened to a teaching by Joe Focht several months ago that challenged that understanding. After thinking about it on and off and listening to it again recently, I am looking at this chapter from a fresh perspective. He presents these kings/kingdoms as co-existent with the “little horn,” the Antichrist. As I began to do more research, I was surprised to find that this theory was not new at all—only new to me.
These kings will eventually be “humbled” or “abased” by the Antichrist under his rule. Since Daniel is not told who they are as in chapters 2 and 8, establishing their identities is open to speculation. In fact, that they are not identified and Daniel didn’t connect these kingdoms with those in with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream seems to strengthen the thought that they are not the same.
Since all four of these beasts are singled out for notice, they must represent pretty significant kings/kingdoms on the world scene. I believe the context of the chapter will show them to be impact players during end times that will eventually morph into one beast—the Antichrist and his kingdom.
Focht threw out the possibility of identifying Great Britain and Russia as the first two beasts, and I think they are good candidates.
Dan. 7:4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
Britain’s recognized emblem is a lion that is often pictured standing tall like a man. The fact that it is pictured with eagle’s wings is thought provoking in that the United States, which began as a British colony, is associated with the eagle. That the wings were plucked from off the lion seems to picture the fact that the United States rose to power after forcefully separating from Britain. After the United States declared their independence, Britain began changing from a voracious lion wanting to conquer the world with their powerful navy to being pictured as a man that was no longer a threat to world dominion.
Dan. 7:5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
The bear is the official symbol of Russia, and that nation is often referred to as the Russian bear. This bear is rising up to take action and “devour much flesh.” Though the nation of Russia suffered a setback with the break up of the U.S.S.R., she is once again rising up as a major world power of influence. I am not sure how to identify the three ribs, but I think it is likely that they are nations over which she eventually extends sovereignty.
“they said” – who? Its leaders? A reference to the winds of heavens (v2)? Messenger angels?
Psalms 104:4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire….
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible makes the following comment on this verse: “The meaning here literally would be, "Who makes the winds his messengers," or "his angels;" that is, who employs them to execute his purpose; who sends them out as messengers or angels to do his will.”
I think the significant point is that the bear is being told what to do, and we know that God is the supernatural sovereign ruler that uses both men and nations to accomplish His purposes.
Dan. 7:6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
I think it is significant to note that this beast has four heads. This seems to indicate that it is a coalition of leaders or nations into one kingdom that are united with a common goal. It is also noted that this kingdom was “given” its empire, its sphere of authority.
The Aramaic for “wings” states: “to arch; the back; by extensive the body or self:—+ highest places.” This could denote pride and arrogance as depicted by its leaders. I can’t help but want to connect it in some way to the Muslim world since they are such important players on the world stage in these end times. I also thought of Turkey but could not logically make a connection with four heads unless it becomes one member of such a Muslim coalition.
If the proposed identification is correct, then it seems likely that the beasts are presented in the order in which they arose to power.
Dan. 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: 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.
Dan. 7:8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Daniel is given explanation regarding this fourth beast in the next few verses.
“dreadful” = causes fear
“terrible” = burly, mighty
“strong” = powerful
Iron teeth to devour and break; brass nails to tear apart
Not compared to a known animal; it is unique from the rest.
This beast has 10 horns; as Daniel continues to look, he sees another little horn come up. This little horn is responsible for destroying three of the first ten. This horn is identified as a man, but a man whom the Aramaic would indicate is very compelling and domineering in his character and speech. Because “another little horn” is a man, it makes sense that the other ten horns be men.
Bullinger describes the little horn as “a horn of small beginnings.”
There seems to be a direct connection to Revelation 13 that introduces a beast from the sea (Antichrist) with ten horns and having the characteristics of a leopard, bear and lion (as represented by the rulers/kingdoms of this chapter in Daniel. (See my notes on Revelation 13.)
Revelation 13:1–2 “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.”
It is quite obvious that in Revelation the four beasts are pictured as being one beast. This seems to be telling us that the Antichrist, the fourth beast, rises to power by subduing, unifying and gaining control of the first three beasts.
Chris White made an interesting observation: “If you take the beasts in Daniel 7, that is a lion with wings, a bear, a four headed leopard, and a 10 horned beast, and you combined them all into one beast, you would have a 7 headed ten horned beast with characteristics of a bear, leopard and a lion, exactly what we see in Revelation 13.”
Because of how the beasts are presented in Daniel’s dream, I do not think the first three beasts are the same as any of the ten horns. They obviously identify with the heads of the beast in Revelation.
“like the eyes of man” – The description seems to be inferring that this horn or king has eyes like a man, yet is different. Note that in Revelation this beast is empowered by the dragon. Scripture is clear in identifying this dragon.
Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Dan. 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days 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.
Dan. 7:10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
Daniel is telling us that his vision allowed him to see through to the point where these kings/kingdoms are judged by Almighty God. It’s a scene of a holy and pure God sitting in judgment in a heavenly courtroom. No mercy is to be found in this judgment. It is witnessed by a number beyond Daniel’s ability to express—“thousand thousands…and ten thousand times ten thousand.”
“thrones were cast down” – The Aramaic and the context indicate that these thrones are being positioned as part of the heavenly courtroom. Could this be a reference to the 24 elders in Revelation 4? (See comments in journal on Revelation.)
Ray Stedman notes: “When history reaches its lowest ebb, when the sin of man breaks forth in its most vulgar and most evil forms, then God intends to intervene once again.”
“the books were opened” – This is evidently a record of indictment against those being judged. (There are several records/books kept in heaven. See topical study on the “Book of Life.”)
Scripture reveals that God the Father has delegated all judgment to the Son.
John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son….
In my simple mind, I have no problem with “the Ancient of days” referencing Jesus as well as God the Father, although in verse 13 below we are told that this is definitely referring to the Father. It appears that the Father will personally pass judgment on Antichrist and the Son will execute it.
The phrase “the books were opened” seems to be a reference to the great white throne judgment described in Revelation 20. A question arises because this seems directly connected to verse 11 which is describing the destruction of the Antichrist, and this happens prior to the 1000 year reign of Christ—the great white throne judgment happens after the 1000 years. I resolve this in my mind by realizing that the prophets were not always given inspiration according to chronological fulfillment. On the other hand, prophecy of the scripture doesn’t cover every event in history, and this could represent a special judgment of the Antichrist and his false prophet.
Dan. 7:11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
I think Daniel is still describing the judgment he sees taking place.
Even as judgment is being passed, the “horn,” now identified as “the beast” continues to blaspheme Almighty God. “Great” words make reference in the Aramaic to domineering in character.
The beast, the Antichrist, will be killed and thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Dan. 7:12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
“rest of the beasts” – Only four beasts have been identified—the lion, bear, leopard and the diverse beast that represents Antichrist. After the destruction of the Antichrist, the other three are allowed to continue on the world scene for a time. The word “season” is a reference to an appointed time. The word “time” refers to a set time or year. In other words, these three kingdoms will be allowed to exist for a period of time already predetermined by the LORD.
Revelation 19 tells us that the Antichrist and his armies are killed by the word of Jesus at the final battle of Armageddon.
Revelation 19:19-21 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
Dan. 7:13 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.
Dan. 7:14 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.
After the destruction of Antichrist, we are given a picture of the Son of man (Jesus, God’s son) coming in the clouds of heaven and being ushered into the presence of His Father. “Son of man” was Jesus’ favorite way to reference Himself. He used it in reference to His return to earth as the King of kings.
Matthew 24:30 “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
He also used it in response to the high priest when asked if He was the Messiah, the Son of God. In fact, I think he was referencing these very verses in Daniel.
Matthew 26:63–64 “But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
This reference to the “clouds of heaven” is one that I think could possibly be associated with the “cloud of witnesses” referenced in Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses….
This is when Jesus is given His rightful position as ruler of this world; a position that Satan, through deceit, had been allowed to usurp temporarily.
The word for “serve” includes the idea of worship. Jesus’ position as King is eternal; His kingdom will last forever. It is clearly linked to God’s kingdom as referenced in Daniel 2.
Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
Dan. 7:15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
Dan. 7:16 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.
Daniel awoke from his dream and was grieved (felt a piercing) in his spirit because of what he had witnessed in his vision. He noticed some other beings close by and moved closer to talk to one of them. He asked him if he knew the truth about all that he had seen. (I can’t help but wonder how he chose the person to ask and why he thought he might know more than Daniel did.) I would assume it was an angel that answered him and interpreted for him (as did Gabriel in 8:16 and 9:21).
I am reminded that in chapter 1 we were told that Daniel “had understanding in all visions and dreams” (vs. 17). Obviously, that understanding came through revelation from God. It seems, however, concerning Daniel’s own dreams and visions that God chose to make that revelation through angels.
It seems clear to me that Daniel did not make a connection to his dream and Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Dan. 7:17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
Dan. 7:18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
Note that the angel declares that the four kings “shall arise.” In other words, the four beasts were four kings that were yet to arise—so Nebuchadnezzar could not be one of them.
Bullinger comments: “The two which had already arisen cannot therefore be included: Babylon and Medo-Persia, which almost (at this time) equalled Babylon in extent. The vision is not continuous history, but the prophecy of a crisis: and refers to the ten toes…of Daniel 2.”
The interpreter first clarifies that the four beasts in Daniel’s vision represent four earthly kings. Their kingdoms are doomed to destruction, however, since “the saints of the most High” (those dedicated, consecrated, sanctified by God) will take possession of kingdom earth. Even though the millennial reign (the initial 1000 years) of Christ’s rule on earth will be interrupted by the creation of new heavens and earth, the kingdom will continue on into eternity after that wonderful event that eliminates forever the curse of sin in God’s creation.
Dan. 7:19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, 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;
Dan. 7:20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
Daniel was greatly interested to know more about the fourth beast that was so terrifying that it couldn’t even be compared to a known animal with similar power and strength. I liked the wording of the NIV for the last part of verse 19: “…the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left.”
This beast has ten horns on his head to begin with, but another horn comes up that causes three of the first ten horns to fall. This seems to indicate that the “little horn” (cf verse 8) begins his rise to power and the establishment of his kingdom by conquering three of the ten. His kingdom will eventually expand to include the first three beasts as noted in the comments under verse 7-8 above.
It is at this point that Focht made another important point. The Aramaic for the word “before” is not a reference to a preceding point in time; it means “in the face of” of “in front of.” In other words, all four kings would face each other at the same time.
The Aramaic for the word “look” indicates that the Antichrist will have an intimidating demeanor; and his speech will be intimidating as well according to the Aramaic for “great things”
Dan. 7:21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
The ruler represented by this last horn is able to exert physical power over the saints (those who are sanctified by God; believers). This is information that was not included in the description of the vision at the beginning of the chapter.
Stedman notes that from this “we learn that the time of these four nations arising together will be a time of great and intense religious persecution, a time when war will be made against the saints, and quite successfully.
I think this verse corresponds specifically to Revelation 13:7.
Revelation 13:7 “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them...”
I am reminded that scripture declares that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.
Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
This seems to be another affirmation that the church is not present at this time. The saints of this time have become believers during the 70th week that is designated as part of God’s plan for Israel as explained in chapter 9.
Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
Context of Revelation 13:7 is in reference to the beast that rises up out of the sea, the Antichrist. It also describes him as having ten horns as described in verse 20 above.
Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns….
Dan. 7:22 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.
The power of this “horn” will be for a limited time—“until the Ancient of days came.” I believe this is a reference to the second coming of Jesus to set up His earthly kingdom. The saints, those who have placed their trust in Jesus, will rule with Him.
1Corinthians 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Dan. 7:23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
In verse 17 the fourth beast is called a king and in this verse it is said to be referencing the kingdom of the beast. (Just as we would equate a country today with its ruler.) This fourth kingdom will be different from all the previous kingdoms. I think the description of the beast that rises out of the sea in Revelation 13 testifies to the fact that the kingdoms of the first three beasts will become part of the empire of the Antichrist. Whether he conquers them or they join willingly is not addressed. We do know, however, that he will eventually devour the whole earth through great destruction.
Revelation 13:7-8 “…and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him….”
Dan. 7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
Dan. 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
“time” = a set time, technically, a year
“times” = two years
“dividing” = a half
This fourth kingdom will eventually emerge as a confederation of ten kings. After these ten kings are established, another king, the Antichrist, will come on the scene that will be unique in comparison to the first ten. He will humble or put down three of the first ten kings. I believe this is saying that he will establish prominence by “humbling” or “abasing” three of the kingdoms under his leadership.
This king will be outspoken against the God of heaven and will “wear out” (mentally afflict) those who believe in God. Satan and his followers always take pleasure in blaspheming God.
Revelation 13:4–6 “…they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”
Psalms 74:10 “O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?”
Psalms 74:18 “Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.”
Ray Stedman posits an interesting possibility: “The Hebrew [my note: Aramaic] word that is used for "wear out" is a most remarkable word. It means literally "to afflict," and always with a mental application. It means, therefore, to afflict mentally, and it very strongly suggests the brain-washing techniques which are now being widely developed, using serums and drugs by which the mind, the thinking, is actually changed.
The Antichrist will establish himself in place of God by trying to “change times and laws.” Daniel had already declared that only God has the authority to change times and seasons.
Daniel 2:20-21 “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding….”
Note that the power and authority of Antichrist will be “given” to him for 3.5 years—“a time and times and the dividing of time.”
This timeframe is confirmed by Revelation 13:5; it states that the Antichrist will be in power for 42 months or 3.5 years. This corresponds to the time that the remnant of Israel is protected in the wilderness during the tribulation for 1260 days or 3.5 years. It also corresponds to the fact that He breaks the covenant with Israel at the midpoint of the 70th week, which is 7 years long, which corresponds to the last 3.5 years of that week that commences when he declares himself to be God (cf notes at Daniel 9:27). Paul tells us about this in his letter to the Thessalonians.
2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Dan. 7:26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
After the 3.5 years, the dominion/authority of this king will be completely destroyed. I think this is a direct reference to verses 9-10.
Dan. 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.
After the destruction of the kingdom of Antichrist, the kingdom of the “most High” (Jesus) will be established as an everlasting (time out of mind, to the vanishing point, eternity) kingdom. He will delegate ruling authority to the saints (believers), all of whom will serve (worship) and obey Him.
Stedman notes: “It is the Son of man who comes and takes the kingdom, but then he gives it to the saints of the Most High who join him in ruling over the earth.”
The “everlasting kingdom” mentioned here is directly connected to the “everlasting kingdom” referenced in Daniel 2:44.
Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
Dan. 7:28 Hitherto is the end of the matter.
The interpreter has completed his interpretation.