November 27, 2011
The seventh chapter of Daniel opens up with Daniel having a dream and seeing visions. “1In 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. 2Daniel declared,[a] ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4The 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. 5And 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.' 6After 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. 7After 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. 8I 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’” (English Standard Version, Dan. 7.1-8 ). In this passage, God describes and outlines historical events that have happened and are yet to come.
According to Kenneth O. Gangel, the four winds of Heaven in verse 3 stand for God’s sovereign power. The winds of Heaven represent heavenly forces (184-185). The four winds of Heaven caused a great sea to come up. Gangel thinks the great sea is referencing to the Mediterranean Sea (185). According to the Bible Insight website, most people interpret the great sea literally meaning a sea like the Mediterranean Sea. However, it could refer to a biblical sea like the Bronze Sea located in Solomon’s Temple which represents groups of people on the earth. (The Four Beasts Vision Par. 7).
Four beasts appear out of the great sea. The first beast had the appearance of a lion with eagles’ wings. “Its wings have been clipped, its speed eliminated, and now it stands on two feet like a man. The reference to the heart of a man most likely points to the very heart and soul of the Babylonian kingdom, Nebuchadnezzar himself.” The lion stands for Babylon (Gangel 186).
The second beast, the bear, represents the kingdom of Persia. The bulkiness of the bear provides a reminder that a few of the armies of Persia contained a lot of men. There were between 2 million and 1.5 million men in the Persian armies (Gangel 186). The posture most likely represents Persian dominance in the Medo-Persian alliance. The three ribs in the beast’s mouth represent three conquered empires (Gangel 186). These empires were conquered by the Persians.
The third beast, the leopard, had four wings, four heads, and authority to rule was given to it. In 612 B.C., power had been seized from Assyria by Babylon. In 539 B.C., Babylon lost the power to the Medo-Persians (Gangel 187). “Then in 336, leopard-like from his lair in Greece, came Alexander with an army headed by four generals and known, not for its size like Persia (Alexander fought with only about 35,000 men), but for its speed.” Aristotle tutored Alexander. In a very short time, Alexander accomplished certain greatest military history feats (Gangel 187). Alexander’s armies marched compellingly eastward. This continued to occur until he conquered the Mediterranean and the modern day Afghanistan borders (Gangel 187). According to Ted Montgomery, the four heads of the third beast represent four modern regions. The four modern regions are Turkey, Greece, Syria, and Egypt (Par. 19-20).
The fourth beast, a terrifying one, represents Rome. For over seven hundred years from about 250 B.C. to 407 A.D., Rome ruled the world. Rome lived on after the sacking of the city of Rome throughout the Renaissance which still consisted of Roman rulers (Gangel 187). Consequently, the influence of the Roman Empire continued long after its fall. During Daniel’s life, the Roman Empire did not exist. Therefore, the prophetic message predicted future events that were yet to come. On the other hand, this fourth beast can also represent the Antichrist. The little horn is part of this empire. According to Gangel, this little horn represents a vein, celebrated, and conceited ruler instead of an entire kingdom (190).
The next section of Daniel deals with the Ancient of Days. “9’As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.’ 11’I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time’” (Dan. 7.9-12). The Ancient of Days is God the Father (Gangel 192). God the Father judges the fourth beast and the beast is thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is why people identify the fourth beast as the Antichrist. The Antichrist in Revelation is also described as being thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The next section of Daniel deals with the Son of Man. “13’I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed’” (Dan. 7.13-14). The Son of Man refers to Jesus. Jesus used this phrase for himself in Luke 27 times. Not only does the Son of Man stand with the Ancient of Days, the Son of Man received authority, glory, and sovereign power. All nations, men of every language, and peoples worshiped him (Gangel 192-193).
Daniel concludes with a summary of events. “15’As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 'These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.' 19Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. 21As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom. 23Thus he said: 'As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. 24As 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.
27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.'[c] 28Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart’" (Dan. 7.15-28). According to Gangel, there is understanding as to why Daniel was disturbed and troubled in spirit. Daniel has yet to grasp the relationship between the Ancient of Days, the horns, and the beasts. Daniel asks for directions from an informant who might have been an angel (204). The informant tells Daniel that the four beasts are four kingdoms. Daniel obsesses on the fourth beast. Daniel described the fourth beast to the angel. Kenneth Gangel states, “Clearly Daniel was being guided by the Lord to focus on the most important kingdom in end-time events” (Gangel 206). Daniel being guided by the Lord is proof that God entrusted Daniel.
Kenneth Gangel thinks that the fourth beast is the Antichrist and that Daniel chapter 7 reveals the first mention of the Antichrist in scripture. He states, “So, the Antichrist surfaces out of some form of the remaining tenfold units of the Roman Empire, or perhaps a uniquely revived form of that fourth kingdom” (Gangel 208). Additionally, Verne S. Poythress says the tenfold units refer to the ten horns which are ten kingdoms. The ten horns of Revelation’s beast relate to the ten horns in Daniel. They represent the power of the Dragon referred to in Revelation (Poythress 141). The four beasts symbolize four idolatrous kingdoms. The beast in Revelation has characteristics of all four of these beasts (Poythress 138). They are the opposite of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man making them the antithesis of God or the Antichrist.
The saints described in chapter 7 of Daniel are Christians. Gangel thinks that Daniel probably could have thought that the saints represent God’s chosen people of Israel. This promise is not just for the people of Israel though. It is for every one of God’s people (205). Until the Ancient of Days stops the Antichrist, the Antichrist will persecute the saints. After the beast is stopped by the Ancient of Days, the saints end up receiving the kingdom of God (Gangel 207).
The little horn will speak against God. The Antichrist will try to change God’s laws and times. In the end, the Antichrist loses control and power (Gangel 210). Gangel believes that greatness, power, and sovereignty will be given to God’s people, the saints. “God sets up his ultimate and eternal kingdom [b]and all rulers will worship and obey him” (Gangel 210-211). This means that God’s kingdom will live on forever with all earthly rulers obeying and worshiping him.
Daniel is still disturbed at the end of this vision. In fact, he is so distressed that he does not reveal this knowledge. He keeps it to himself. (Gangel 211). According to Kenneth Gangel, “Many questions have been raised over the phrase, this is the end of the matter.” It could simply mean the explanation of the little horn and the four beasts has ended. Known as the greatest chapter by Hebrew scribes, Daniel chapter 7 is the greatest chapter in the Old Testament because it teaches understandable concepts about human history, man, and God (Gangel 211).
God really did entrust Daniel with dreams filled with revelations. The fourth beast tries to destroy every saint in its path; however, God still defeats him. The battle between good versus evil ends with good prevailing over evil. The Ancient of Days wins. Daniel chapter 7 describes human history in the form of 4 ancient kingdoms, but the fulfillment of the prophecy has not been completed. The fulfillment will be complete when God and his saints live in serenity forever.
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