Click here to get a copy of RealAudio
Please turn in your Bibles to Daniel chapter 7 as we continue our study through the Word of God. And as we move into Daniel chapter 7 we will be moving into the second division of the book. The first six chapters were more historical in nature. The book began with the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar besieging Jerusalem and taking captive some of the young men of Jerusalem including Daniel and his three friends. And the historical part of Daniel continued through chapter 6, through the Babylonian empire and into the Medo-Persian empire. Thus chapter 6 ends the chronological sequence of this book.
Now in chapter 7 we begin the "apocalyptic or predictive" section. Through a series of visions and revelations Daniel is shown the events of history that will unfold. Beginning with Belshazzar and the Babylonian empire through the Medo-Persian empire with Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian, Daniel is shown gentile world kingdoms and then how the nation of Israel will be affected by them. We will also see Daniel tell us about the first and second coming of Jesus Christ in chapter 9. So the visions that are revealed to Daniel cover a large part of history that extends into the future still.
We will also see at the conclusion of chapter 7 that the text changes from the Aramaic language to the Hebrew language. The reason once again is that God is speaking to the Jewish people. The focus is on them, their coming Messiah, the trouble that these world empires will have upon them, and we will deal more regarding these issues over the next several weeks.
Also, keep in mind that the beasts we will be looking at here in Daniel chapter 7 are the same things that Nebuchadnezzar saw in Daniel chapter 2. Now in Daniel chapter 2 the king saw an awesome, beautiful multi-metallic image that represented gentile world kingdoms. But here in Daniel chapter 7 God sees these kingdoms as wild beasts, and we will look at this a little closer as we move on.
1. Daniel tells us that the time frame that these visions occurred were during the first year of Belshazzars reign as king. Historical records tell us that Belshazzar was made to co-reign with his father in 553 BC. Now to put this into a chronological setting, this event took place between Daniel chapters 4 and 5, before the fall of Babylon. In fact, the first 6 chapters of Daniel give to us the historical record and now Daniel is going to give us some prophetic visions he saw during his captivity both under the Babylonians and the Medo-Persians. Thus, Daniel was around 69 years old at this time, taken captive around the age of 16 in 606 BC.
2. As Daniel received this vision he woke up and wrote down what he saw in this vision, the things that God was showing him during the first year of Belshazzars reign.
1. The "four winds" speak of the heavenly powers in which God sets in motion His prophetic plan. It is the sovereign power of God in which the nations of the world are set in motion. These forces are moving upon the Great Sea causing them to "burst forth" and as that happens four great beasts come out of the sea. First of all some say that the "Great Sea" speaks of or symbolizes fallen humanity and thus out of fallen humanity these four beasts will arise. In Revelation 13:1-2 and 17:15 we see some verses that help to support this idea. In Revelation chapter 13 we are told, "Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority." And in Revelation chapter 17 we read "...The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues."
2. Others say that the "Great Sea" is more specific than that. That the interpretation of this phrase, being one that Daniel was use to seeing in the Old Testament, especially in the first five books of Moses or the Pentateuch, specifically pointed to the Mediterranean Sea. In Numbers 34:6-7 we read "As for the western border, you shall have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your western border. And this shall be your northern border: From the Great Sea you shall mark out your border line to Mount Hor." Here we see the boundaries of the promised land given to Israel, and the Great Sea is the Mediterranean Sea. So the Great Sea cant be symbolic, it must be real, right?
3. Which is right? I like the way that John Walvoord puts it. He says "The fact that the beast rises out of the sea is taken by many to indicate that he comes from the great mass of humanity, namely the Gentile powers of the world. Others take it as a reference to the Mediterranean, namely, that the beast will arise from the Mediterranean area. Probably both are true in that the beast is a Gentile and does come from the Mediterranean scene." And not to take the easy way out, I think that he is right, that both are represented as where the beast comes from, a sea of humanity, and more specifically these four beasts will arise out of the Mediterranean area.
4. Remember that Daniel chapter 7 corresponds to the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had in chapter 2. The king saw these empires through the eyes of man. This multi-metallic image was beautiful, magnificent. These kingdoms were mighty and glorious in the eyes of man. But now we see here in chapter 7 how God looks upon these kingdoms. He sees them as wild, ferocious, ravenous beasts. He sees them as they truly are. He sees them as destructive in their actions. I wonder what we see as beautiful and what God sees them as?
1. The first beast is described as a lion with eagles wings. The first empire corresponds to the head of gold of Daniel chapter 2, which is the Babylonian empire. Interestingly enough, both the lion and the eagle were symbols of Babylon in the Bible, you can find them in Jeremiah 4:7 and Ezekiel 17:3 respectively.
2. Now when you think of a lion you think of power, strength and majesty, and that is exactly what the Babylonian empire was like. Also, the wings of eagles speak of its swiftness. This is illustrated to us as the Babylonian empire was on the rise. The fall of Nineveh and the end of the Assyrian empire occurred in 612 BC and Egypt along with Pharaoh Necho were defeated at the battle of Carchemish in 606 BC.
3. But then Daniels vision changes. Its wings are plucked off, the beast then stood on 2 feet like a man and he was given a mans heart. We see here the transformation of this king taking place, from a beast into a man. I think this is illustrating for us the breaking of Nebuchadnezzar, his bout with insanity until he came to realize that "the Most High rules!" Then this beast was changed into a man. His kingdom was restored to him. His heart was changed to that of a mans. This once tyrant leader, this beastly ruler was humbled and changed by God.
4. God continues to work in the hearts and lives of men and women today. God desires to change our beastly hearts to hearts of God, sensitive hearts. You see, as the king found out, you can either walk in humility towards God or you will crawl in humiliation before Him. The choice is yours, but understand that God wants to give you a heart transplant, to make you alive again, spiritually speaking, in Christ!
1. The second beast, which is distinct from the first, is that of a bear and it corresponds to the chest and arms of silver in Daniel chapter 2. It is the Medo-Persian empire. The bear illustrates for us a formidable strength and a sort of lumbering, rumbling gait. This empire won its battles by its massive numbers of men that overtook its enemies. It was a very slow moving army because of its numbers and yet it was very fierce in battle.
2. The strange thing about this bear is it is raised up on one side. That is its front and back paws were raised on one side and it does not mean that it was standing on its hind legs. The point here is that even though the Medes rose first, the Persian army out-shadowed them in this united kingdom.
3. The other strange fact about this beast is that it has three ribs in its mouth and is told to "Arise, devour much flesh!" These ribs represent the conquests this kingdom had made over other nations and specifically Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt. Cyrus, the Persian king and his son Cambyses conquered the Lydian kingdom and king Croesus that was located in Asia Minor in 546 BC. Then they defeated Nabonidus and Belshazzar and the Babylonians in 539 BC. And finally Psamtik III and the Egyptians fell to Cambyses in 525 BC. This kingdom did arise and devour much flesh!
1. After the second beast came a third beast which was like a leopard. This beast corresponds to the belly and thighs of bronze in Daniel chapter 2 and it represents the Grecian empire. The leopard illustrates to us the idea of agility, very cunning, swiftness and an insatiable thirst for blood which was manifested by this kingdom. But then we see this beast having 4 wings on its back which illustrates to us a swiftness that goes far beyond a natural capability.
2. Daniel is speaking of Alexander the Great and the Grecian empire that conquered the whole world very quickly and thus we see the leopard with 4 wings on its back. It speaks of the tremendous speed in which Alexander the Great accomplished this feat. In fact, by the time Alexander the Great reached the age of 32, just 11 years of doing battle, he had conquered the whole known world.
3. The other point is that this beast had four heads which speaks of 4 leaders. After the death of Alexander the Great at the age of 32, we see his kingdom not given to his family but to his four generals. Thus, the kingdom was divided, Cassander was over Greece and Macedonia. Lysimachus was over Thrace and a large part of Asia Minor. Seleucus was over Syria and the Middle East. And Ptolemy was over Egypt. We will come across these men in more detail in future chapters. It is as Daniel said about this great empire in chapter 11, "Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will." Daniel 11:3.
1. After the 3 previous beasts, the lion, the bear and the leopard, comes a fourth beast which corresponds to the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay of Daniel chapter 2. It is the Roman empire that is spoken of here. And here in chapter 7, as in chapter 2, it is seen as one kingdom and not two. The legs of iron represent the Roman empire and the feet and toes of iron and clay represent the revived Roman empire.
2. You might think that this is a strange way to look at this kingdom since over 1500 years has separated the beginning of the Roman empire and its revived format. But remember that the Roman empire was never really defeated but just broke in pieces. Now those different pieces never became a world empire by themselves, but they did have a try at it. But the fact remains that since the Roman empire there has not been a world empire. But as we see today, those pieces are quickly coming together.
3. We have already spent a couple of weeks developing what this revived Roman empire will be like. That this empire encompasses far more than just the European Community. This empire will be a world empire. And my feeling is that the world itself will be divided into 10 regions or kingdoms with leaders over them.
4. Now all the other empires are symbolized by a different type of beast. The lion illustrated the Babylonians. The bear illustrated the Medo-Persians. The leopard illustrated the Grecian empire. But this empire is kind of a mongrel beast. There is no animal to symbolize it. This beast is said to be "...dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong..." Get a picture of this beast with its teeth of iron which will crush anything in its path and then the rest will be trampled under by its powerful feet.
5. As I said earlier the Roman empire broke into pieces and faded off the scene. But in the last days it will be revived again. During this time 10 kingdoms will rise up and will be lead by 10 kings over them. The horns represent the kingdoms and in verse 24 we see the leaders or kings who are over this revived Roman empire.
6. Now during the time of these kings another will arise and he will subdue 3 of these kings, maybe because they refuse to submit to his authority. And this leader will have insight, intelligence and what will flow from his mouth will be pompous words. He will exalt self and put down the Most High God. We will look more closely at this king and what he is all about as we conclude this chapter, but keep in mind, he is the Antichrist.
7. Now as we move to verses 9 through 14, it is almost like Daniel is taking a completely different course. That the ideas of the coming of the different beasts have been set aside and we are looking at something that is completely different. But if you read the kings vision in Daniel chapter 2 you will see that Daniels vision flows out of that dream only now we are given some different details, as we shall see.
1. In Daniel chapter 2 we read "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold..." Daniel 2:44-45.
2. This is kind of a prelude to the judgment of the nations. It is during the time of these kings that Jesus will return and set up His kingdom and judgment against a Christ rejecting world will be issued out. Here we see the title "Ancient of Days" which speaks of His eternal existence. This is illustrated for us in Isaiah 43:13 which says "Indeed before the day was, I am He; and there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?" God has always existed, with my finite mind I dont understand that, but I know that is what the Scriptures teach, and I believe it by faith. I trust that What God has said is true. Now the question we must ask ourselves is who is Daniel speaking of? Is it God the Father or God the Son? Does it really matter? I think it is important. In this verse Daniel is speaking of God the Father and using the title "Ancient of Days." God the Son is seen in verse 13 and the title "Son of Man" is used.
3. We are seeing here the courts of heaven being opened up and the judgment of God about to be issued forth. A judgment of God against a Christ rejecting world. Turn to Psalm 97 and lets read about the Lord who reigns and executes His righteous judgment against the wicked. We read "The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad! Clouds and darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. A fire goes before Him, and burns up His enemies round about. His lightnings light the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory. Let all be put to shame who serve carved images, who boast of idols. Worship Him, all you gods...
...Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments, O LORD. For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; he delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name." Psalm 97:1-12.
4. But what is the judgment of the nations and when does it take place? In Matthew 24:29-30 Jesus said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
And so as Jesus comes back to set up His kingdom He first needs to do some cleaning. The judgment of the nations is a judgment that is issued out on those who have survived the Great Tribulation period. Jesus continues on this subject in Matthew 25:31-46. But lets just look at verses 31-33 to get the flavor of what is going on here. We read "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats."
5. This judgment is to determine who will enter the millennial reign with Christ and who will be excluded from His kingdom. So this occurs at the end of the tribulation period, as the Lord is setting up His kingdom here on the earth. This judgment of the nations is for those that have made it through the tribulation period and not for believers who have died before the tribulation period has started or those who have been raptured up to be with the Lord prior to the start of the tribulation period.
6. Now these verses in Matthew chapter 25 are troubling to some because they seem to indicate that Jesus is speaking of a salvation by works and not by grace. That you have to do this work and you will get in and if you dont, you will be left out. How can that be? Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9 said, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
Understand this, Jesus is not advocating a salvation by works, but a salvation that works! You see, good works are not the root of our salvation, they are the fruit! Jesus Christ is the root and it is by His grace, giving us something we dont deserve nor could ever earn, SALVATION!
But what flows out of a relationship with Christ is reaching out towards others. James picks up on this when he says "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:14-18. Faith in action, the fruit of our relationship with Jesus is seen in the things we do, for Paul did say we were created for good works!
7. Now what has brought this judgment to a climax at this time? The king that has risen out of this empire. It is this man that causes the world to follow after him and turn their backs towards God. What is the fate of this man? Verse 11 tells us.
1. With the destruction of this man we will see the termination of "the times of the Gentiles" spoken of in Luke 21:24, 27. We read "...And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled....Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." It is then the Lord will set up His kingdom.
1. The title "Son of Man" is used of Jesus some 80 times in the New Testament. And in Hebrews chapter 10, speaking of Jesus, Paul tells us "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool." Hebrews 10:12-13. Jesus Christ is the stone not cut with hands of Daniel chapter 2, that struck the mighty image, the gentile kingdoms, to the ground and crushed them to pieces and they were blown away like the chaff from the summer threshing floor. Then this stone grew into a mighty mountain filling the whole earth. It is Jesus Christ who then will rule and reign with righteousness. All the previous world governments will be destroyed by the Son of Man, and His kingdom will last forever!
1. Daniel was grieved by what he saw and unsure what it all meant. But who is this person that makes known to Daniel this vision he had? It could be the angel Gabriel and I will show you why I feel that way. And keep in mind that the angel Gabriel seems to be the angel in charge of announcements. We also see Michael who is the warrior angel, especially for the nation of Israel.
In Daniel chapter 8, during another vision that Daniel had, we see in verses 15 and 16, this point illustrated for us. It says "Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, Gabriel, make this man understand the vision."
And the one that seals it for me is found in Daniel 9:21, where we read "yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering." So I feel that this man in chapter 7 is none other than the angel Gabriel making known to Daniel what this vision was all about.
2. And Daniel is told that these beasts who come out of the earth or the sea of humanity, these kings will not have a kingdom that lasts forever. But those that are the "saints of the Most High" will not only enter the kingdom of God but will inhabit it forever. It is what we are praying for, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
3. But now Daniels interest is focused on this last gentile world kingdom and he inquires to know more about this from Gabriel in verse 19.
1. Notice again how this empire mutilates and pulverizes the inhabitants of the earth. When I think about this verse it reminds me of one of those horror flicks with the grotesque monsters ravaging the earth. How hideous they can make them. And yet there is one big difference between those horror flick monsters and this empire that will emerge. The horror flicks are not real, they are made up in the minds of men. But this empire is real and its power is suffocating -it will have control over the whole earth.
1. This little horn comes up after the 10 horns and as we said earlier that he uproots three of these horns. This horn is described as the Antichrist, though the Bible calls him the beast and the son of perdition. This Antichrist will come on the scene as a man of peace for the first 3½ years of the tribulation period, and then for the last 3½ years all hell will break lose on the earth as his true colors are seen. What are some of the characteristics and workings of this beast? We are told of several here in Daniel.
A. EYES OF A MAN: It speaks of his intelligence. Revelation tells us that he comes on the scene as the man of peace, very similar to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, but he comes "conquering and to conquer." So much for this man of peace. What is this man able to do? In II Thessalonians 2:9-10a we read "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish..."
B. BOASTFUL: Again in II Thessalonians chapter 2 we read "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." II Thessalonians 2:3-4. Also, in Revelation 13:5-6 we read "And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven."
C. CHARISMATIC: This man will have the ability to charm the socks off the people of this world. He will have the world eating out of his hand, and the world will worship him!
D. PERSECUTING THE SAINTS: These are the Jewish and gentile believers who have come to Christ during the tribulation period. It is as Revelation 13:7 says, "It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation."
E. ISRAEL WILL BE UNDER HIS CONTROL: In Zechariah chapter 13 we read in verse 8 of the Jewish people, "And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the LORD, That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it." And in Zechariah 14:2 we are told, "For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city." This persecution will continue on for the last 3½ years of the tribulation period.
F. WORLD WIDE DICTATOR: We have discussed this already, but in Daniel 7:23 we are told, "...and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces." And in Revelation 13 we are told, "...And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation." Revelation 13:7.
G. CHANGE THE TIMES AND THE LAW: We are told in Daniel 2:21 that God "changes the times and the seasons." But here we see the Antichrist attempt to do this. Again, trying to be like God. And whatever he is going to do, be it change moral laws or whatever, it is an attempt to mimic God and to rule the world as god.
1. The Judge will enter the court room and pronounce His righteous judgment upon the beast. And this kingdom will come to an end very quickly and it will never be revived again.
1. This is the end of this vision that Daniel had during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar, which was around 553 BC. And Daniel was troubled by what he saw and yet not fully sure of what it was all about. We have the ability to look at the majority of this account from hindsight, but for Daniel it was mostly future. So he just kept the information in his heart and waited to see what would come to pass. And many times we too must do the same. Gods Word points to the events that will be taking place but many times we must be patient, and wait to see how God is going to do what He has said in His Word. You see, the victory was already won at Calvary, and the Lord is coming to take back what He already purchased with His blood and to set up His righteous kingdom on this earth. As John said, I think we all echo, "...Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" Revelation 22:20.