THE FOUR BEASTS OF DANIEL 7
God gave Daniel this prophetic vision when he was an old man. He wrote every word and told the sum of the matter. The kingdom of Babylon was still in existence, except Belshazzar was now king (V. 1).
Vs. 2 & 3: the vision appropriately came to Daniel at night, for it is of Gentile times which are the darkest time for the Jews. He saw four winds of heaven, they strove upon the great sea. Winds in scripture speak of spirits (sometimes good and sometimes bad). Four is the number of the world, so it is world spirits. They stove upon the great sea, speaking of unstable conditions. Sea in scripture speaks of the Gentiles where as land speaks of Jews in prophetic language. God sees Gentiles as unstable, being toss to and fro. The spirits stir up these Gentile world powers. Four great beasts (beasts speak of unredeemed humanity) come up out of the sea, moving one after the other. So beastly people come up out of the Gentile world system, different one from another and they differ in deterioration and operation, but all are beasts.
V. 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.” This is the Babylonish Empire, (that head of gold in Negbuchadnezzr’s dream image). To begin with Nebuchadnezzar was very much like a lion, greedy, vicious and sinful (a beast spiritually) before he experienced becoming a beast literally. This empire had eagle wings, the ability to soar over other nations and capture them. Daniel beheld until the wings were plucked, this was the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity when he was living in the field like a beast and eating grass like an ox. God certainly plucked his wings. Then he was lifted up and stood on his feet as a man, God restored him out of that condition. Daniel had to know what God was talking about up to this point. But all the rest would be future to Daniel.
V. 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 represents the Medo-Persia Empire. One side is raised up higher then the other. Persia was stronger than the Medes in this duel Empire. A bear is slow and methodical and strong. The three ribs in its mouth represent three nations they devoured (Babylon, Lydia and Egypt).
V. 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.” A leopard relies upon its craftiness and its speed, it is a very fast animal, its speed is greater than the lion and the bear. This represents Alexander the Great as his army overcame the nations by swiftness. It had four wings as a fowl, which is a deterioration, not the wings of an eagle, which is much stronger then birds wings. Birds flutter but do not soar as eagles. Alexander did not soar like Nebuchadnezzar, relying on speed instead of strength. Have you ever watch sparrows flutter over here and the over there. That is how Alexander defeated these armies. He would divide his army in divisions to be in a lot of places at the same time. That is how he conquered. The beast had four heads. After Alexander the Great’s death, the kingdom was divided among his four generals. These four kingdoms were “Syria, Egypt, Greece, Asia Minor (or Rome). “Dominion was given unto it,” God gives dominion to whom he wills. Rom. 13:1, “the powers that be are ordained of God.” God was in all this, He uses the unregenerated people to discipline his people, the Jews. Everything God does, is for a purpose. When He tares down a nation or lifts up a nation, its for a purpose, the providences of God. They are not haphazard, unplanned situations.
V. 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.” Rome began to gain power and defeated all the other generals. They were one time friends, but one general Augustus Caesar began bring them down and defeating them. He was still in power when Jesus was born. About 395 AD the government split into two divisions (Eastern and Western) Rome the western and Constantinople the eastern. This forth beast, the Roman Empire was never conquered. It deteriorated from within by sin and loose living. We see this happening in America today. People can cry for revivals, but unless God changes the way government feels about corruption there can be no change. We might help a few people, but there is NOT going to be a world wide revival, for the Word of God tells us that things will get worse instead of better.
There are eight descriptive statements concerning the fourth beast: (1) dreadful & terrible, (2) strong exceedingly, (3) had great iron teeth, (4) devoured, (5) break in pieces, (6) stamped the residue or people with its feet, (7) was diverse from all the beasts before it, (8) had 10 horns. It was diverse especially as it deteriorated which is represented by the legs and feet of the image of Daniel 2. Rome was great and terrible and broke nations in pieces and stamped the residue with its feet.
Rome certainly threaded upon the Jewish people and stamp the remnant of the people of God with its feet. Notice the semi-colon after the word “it.” Even though it was put there by the translators, it is in a good place, because the rest of this is at a later time. The first portion of the Roman Empire comes right down to the semicolon. All of this is history as far as we are concerned, but the remainder of V. 7 is future. Which we will consider in the next issue.
One last comment on the difference between Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image of Ch. 2 and this vision of Ch. 7; both were God-given and God-explained, yet the view is so different. The stately impressive image of Ch. 2 depicts world rule from the human view, while world dominion as seen in Daniel’s vision of wild beasts is the divine view. Man sees the kingdoms of this world as great exhibitions of human’s extraordinary ability. God look upon them as being bestial in character, brutal and terrible. It is the true picture. In both visions we see the final overthrow of all earthly kingdoms by the second coming of Christ to earth and setting up His everlasting universal kingdom.
To be Continued