Four Beasts, the Son of Man and the Coming World Ruler
Four Beasts and the Son of Man (Daniel 7)
The first six chapters of Daniel are centred around the royal court in Babylon, and the events that occur which bring together the royal house and the captive Jews – Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The narrative reveals God’s hand on the lives of the faithful young men, and God’s dealing with the pride of pagan kings. A third aspect of the first six chapters – the extremely important revelation that God has control over kings and empires – is now continued in a series of visions given to Daniel. God’s control over the events of history extends to the restoration of the Jews to the promised land, and prophetic insight reveals that this miracle is a mere foretaste of greater things to come, as Daniel’s revelations point all the way to the establishment of the Kingdom.
The 1979 movie about the Vietnam war, Apocalypse Now, was a blockbuster hit winning 9 Oscars. John Milius, the screen writer, chose the title to poke fun at the hippie movement, with their Buddhist influenced “Nirvana Now” philosophy, by entitling his movie “Apocalypse Now”. Milius was implying that rather than world peace, man was heading to chaos, destruction, death and ultimately the end of the world. There are many who likewise interpret the word apocalypse with the end of the world destruction, but that is not the meaning of the word.
Apocalypse comes from the Greek word apokalypsis, meaning “revelation”. The word describes an uncovering, that which was previously hidden, just as a master sculpture would do, when removing the cloth from his latest masterpiece to the delight of his expectant fans. The unveiling reveals what was previously hidden, it just so happens that John’s “revelation” includes cataclysmic judgements from God. Apocalyptic literature is characterized by rich symbolism that shows God’s control over the events of the world, and His active interference in the affairs of mankind.
While Old Testament books such as Joel, Zechariah, Ezekiel and Isaiah are considered to have apocalyptic content, Daniel stands superior to all Old Testament apocalyptic writing. Apocalyptic literature is full of symbols that are seen in dreams and visions. An important rule of thumb when interpreting these symbols, is to find where the symbol is first explained in Scripture. An example of this is the rainbow that John sees encircling the throne of God in Revelation 4:3. The symbolism of the rainbow is first seen in Scripture in Genesis 9:13, as a sign of a covenant promise from God. Therefore, the unbroken rainbow John sees encircling God’s throne, emphasizes that God is a covenant keeping God. To fulfill His covenant with the Jews, and bring about the Kingdom, Revelation reveals that God forcefully intervenes into the world of mankind.
The book of Daniel is the foundation for apocalyptic prophetic writing, all other apocalyptic writing builds on Daniel, including Revelation. A sound understanding of Daniel’s prophecies is essential when attempting the study of Revelation.
The Four Great Beasts (7:1-8)
“1 In 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. 2 Daniel declared, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4 The 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. 5 And 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.’ 6 After 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. 7 After 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. 8 I 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”.
Daniel receives this vision while Belshazzar is still on the throne in the city of Babylon, approximately 553 BC. The vision has an ominous beginning, a windy night blowing over a great troubled sea. Daniel then begins to explain his vision, with four beasts arising from the turbulent sea. The sea being symbolic of the restless masses of humanity (Rev. 17:15; c.f. Isaiah 60:5), the wicked nations of the world in rebellion to God (note: Revelation 13:1, the Beast [Antichrist] rises out of the sea). “The four winds of heaven” is the Ruach Har Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, for it is God that brings forth these nations in the order they appear. These four beasts represent the same empires that were part of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, respectively.
The Dream and the Visions Compared
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is given from the perspective of how mankind views these dominating empires, comparing them to precious and useful metals. While Daniel’s vision reveals how God views these empires as dangerous devouring beasts. There are a number of similarities between the two prophetic warnings:
- Both reveal the progressing of political powers that will dominate the nation of Israel.
- Both point to Rome as the last of the four empires.
- While the fall of the first three empires is prophesied in Scripture, as was the fall of the Assyrian empire before the rise of Babylon to power, Scripture does not predict the fall of the Roman Empire. The end of the Roman Empire is connected to the return of Jesus. In Daniel 2, Jesus is the rock that smashes the statue to pieces by striking the feet, and in Daniel 7, He is the “Son of Man” preparing to judge mankind.
- The intervention by God takes place after a ten-nation entity of man’s rule is established, represented by ten toes in Daniel 2, and ten horns in Daniel 7.
The dream of chapter 2 gives a general outline, while the vision of chapter seven gives more detail, resulting in a clearer picture.
The first beast: the Chaldean or Babylonian Empire (7:4)
“4 The 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”.
The first beast to rise out of the sea was a lion. Lions were greatly admired in the Ancient Near East, being hunted for sport, they were considered an extremely dangerous animal on their own, and as a pride they held a fearsome reputation. Probably the most outstanding artistic representation of a lion is seen in the glazed brick figures that decorated the Processional Street leading from the famous Ishtar Gate in Babylon (sixth century BC).
The Lion with Wings of an Eagle
A lion possessing the wings of an eagle, adds the idea of swiftness to an already long list of fearsome abilities. Statues of winged lions were placed at the entrances of palaces and important public buildings in Babylonia, to bring the protection of magical forces to the structures and their occupants.
As the Babylonian empire was still the dominant power when Daniel received his vision, the winged lion must represent the Babylonian empire. This would match with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue, where Babylon was depicted as the head of gold.
The symbolism of the wings being torn off, and the lion receiving the heart of a man, seems to relate to God’s dealing with Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, and how he became a considerate ruler after his recovery from insanity.
The second beast: the Medo-Persian Empire (7:5)
” 5 And 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’“.
Just as the silver chest, of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue represented the Medo-Persian Empire, so too does the second beast, that “looked like a bear,” in Daniels’s vision. The lion and the bear were the two dominant predators of the Ancient Near East, both being ferocious predators. The bear being “raised up on one of its sides,” represents the Medes who had a vast army, far bigger than that of their allies the Persians. Two years later a further vision confirms this interpretation, when Daniel is shown a ram with two horns, one being larger than the other. Daniel is told by the angel Gabriel that the ram represents the kings of Media and Persia (Daniel 8:3, 20).
Daniel’s vision shows that the second beast was devouring an animal, the bear being depicted with three ribs in its mouth. This not only reveals its ferocity, but also that the three bones may refer to Medo-Persia’s three major conquests – Lydia (546 BC), Babylon (539 BC), and Egypt (525 BC). The bear being an apt description of this large powerful, but slow-moving force, which dominated by weight of numbers in their conquests. Though this is speculation, this interpretation is supported by verse 5, where Medo-Persia was urged to expand its borders in the statement “Get up and eat your fill of flesh!”
The Medo-Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon n 539 BC. This vast Empire dominated the region for 200 years, until two failed attempts to conquer Greece resulted in Alexander the Great turning the table on the aggressor Persians, resulting in the remarkable conquest of Persia by Alexander in 330 BC.
The third beast: the Greco-Macedonian Empire (7:6)
“6 After 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”.
The leopard is a remarkable animal in its ability to adapt and survive in a variety of different ecological areas, so it was a common predator throughout Africa, Asia Minor, and the Ancient Near East. The leopard is a skilled hunter, having a well-deserved reputation for its speed in the kill (Habakkuk 1:8).
Alexander the Great on defeating the Medo-Persians, established the Greek or Hellenistic Empire, which later was ruled by the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings. Alexander’s army was much smaller than the Persian army, so the leopard – renowned for its effectiveness in the hunt – is a very suitable symbol. The wings emphasize the swiftness of Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire, and possibly symbolises the Hellenization (adoption of Greek culture) of most of the known world, the four wings symbolising the four corners of the earth.
On the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C, four of the Greek generals divided up the empire, thus the leopard being depicted with four heads is referring to Alexanders successors: Ptolemy I Soter, Seleucus I Nicator, Lysimachus, and Antigonus I Monophthalmus (one eye).
The fourth beast, dreadful and terrible: the Roman Empire (7:4-8)
“7 After 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. 8 I 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”.
The last of the four beasts is not represent by any of God’s created creatures, it appears to be more like an evil avatar dreamed up by video game designers, or a creature designed by a special effects expert for a horror movie. Daniel describes it as “terrifying and frightening and very powerful,” having fearsome weapons:
- Large iron teeth: Just as Nebuchadnezzar’s statue had iron legs to emphasize the dominance of Rome as the fourth empire, the teeth of iron of the fourth beast also points to the dominance of Rome. Iron symbolising strength, affliction, judgement, inflexible rule and crushing (see “stamped what was left with its feet” in 7:19). The fourth beast is able to crush and devour its victims.
- Bronze claws: Bronze is symbolic of judgement in Scripture, for example, the elements of animal sacrifice at the temple were made of bronze. Claws can be used either to rip and tear at the victim, or to assist in the subduing of the victim, holding the prey while the teeth administered the Coup de grâce.
- Ten horns: An animal’s horns give it protection, and is their chief means of attack; horns represent an animal’s strength and dominance. Easton’s Bible Dictionary states that the horn in scripture “is used metaphorically also for strength (Deuteronomy 33:17) and honour (Job 16:15; Lamentations 2:3). Horns are emblems of power, dominion, glory, and fierceness… (Daniel 8:5 Daniel 8:9, etc.). The expression ‘horn of salvation’ applied to Christ, means a salvation of strength, or a strong Saviour (Luke 1:69). To have the horn ‘exalted’ denotes prosperity and triumph (Psalms 89:17 Psalms 89:24). To ‘lift up’ the horn is to act proudly (Zechariah 1:21)” (1). So, the horn in Scripture represents strength, power, pride and honour. The horns of the fourth beast represent ten kings (7:24), the symbolism of the horns give an understanding of the traits of these leaders, they are men of power and strength, with great hubris – a dangerous combination.
An understanding of the tactics of the Roman army is important to fully understand the significance of the iron legs of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, in combination with the teeth of iron, and the bronze claws of the fourth beast. The Roman army attacked through defence, they had superior armour, equipment and tactics. The Roman soldiers had studs under their shoes which assisted in traction. So, with the superior Roman battle formations, the Roman army would confront the enemy head on, then with their tight formation and with better traction they would force the enemy back, all the time slashing with their short sword (gladius). The enemy was crushed backwards and slashed to pieces. The Roman Empire expanded over vast territories by trampling its enemies with its feet, just as Daniel describes the fourth beast in his vision.
- (1) M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.
Explanation of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:23-25).
The vision of the four beasts had “alarmed” Daniel, but it was the terrible fourth beast that caused him the most concern, and he pressured the angel for an explanation:
“23 Thus 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. 24 As 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”.
The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue revealed a restoration of the Roman Empire (feet of iron and clay), which is destroyed by Jesus at His return. Mirroring this revelation, the messenger reveals to Daniel that the Antichrist emerges from the fourth beast, which leads to the conclusion that it occurs during the last days, and that there will definitely be a restoration of the Roman Empire.
“8 I 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” (7:8).
“24 As 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” (7:24-25).
The “another horn, a little one” in Daniel 7:8 is the Antichrist, and the verse refers to the oratory ability of the man, by saying that he has a “mouth that spoke very great things”. This also emphasizes that the Antichrist will not only be charismatic, but also proud and arrogant. Hitler, a historical type of the Antichrist, is an example of the power and influence the Antichrist will wield through His speeches. The second part of verse 20 calls him “more imposing (stout [KJV]),” which refers to the fact that he will be above others in his field. This very likely applies to the fields of world religion, diplomacy, etc.
To further understand the Antichrist, we need to pay careful attention to what the angel of Daniel 7 revealed about him. He will:
- Subdue three kings (7:24b).
- Speak against the Most High (7:25a).
- Try to change the set times and laws (7:25b).
- Have domination over the saints for “time, times, and half a time” (7:25c).
Daniel 7 gives us our first view of the counterfeit messiah, the Antichrist, and then Daniel 7:26b-27 and 11:36-39 reveal even more about the man, referred to as, “the prince that shall come,” and “another king,” the details of which will be discussed in detail in later presentations. The three revelations combined together, provide us with an excellent insight into the man who will claim to be God’s anointed one, and deceive the world.
General Sun Tzu gave a quote in his book The Art of War which has become famous: “Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated”. Although the quote comes from a pagan man, who had many of the traits of the Antichrist, the words have some value for the Church. God through His prophets has made it abundantly clear that mankind in rebellion to God will follow Satan’s messiah. The Church is provided this information by God so that we are able to pray and warn others. There is a major spiritual battle taking place in the world for the souls of mankind, a believer aware of the deceptions is able to accurately direct their prayers. It is also the duty of the Church to warn of the coming rise of the Antichrist, and his rule during the Tribulation. That understanding will bring multitudes to a salvation knowledge, the hard hearts of those who miss the rapture, will be broken by the weight of fulfilled prophecy during the Tribulation. This is why Replacement Theology is a curse on the Church, a deception from the pit of hell, which has produced an “it will all pan out” mentality in followers of the doctrine. These believers have effectively been neutered by Satan’s deceptions, as they foolishly reject the concept of an Antichrist.
Keeping in mind the quote “know your enemy”, we should take a closer look at the revelation of the angel in Daniel seven regarding the Antichrist:
Subdue three kings (7:24b).
The fourth kingdom is far greater than the previous three kingdoms, and will have a mighty impact on the earth – “devouring the whole earth”. Ten kings, rulers of nations, will be formed together in an alliance; ten in Scripture represents government, law and order. Then an eleventh king arises, and everything suddenly changes. He is different from the other leaders, and immediately subdues three of them. The number ten representing law and order, and the number twelve representing divine government in Scripture, means the number eleven, which being beyond ten, but below twelve is very significant: The number is above the rule of man, but below the authority of God. The eleventh horn represents the immense power the Antichrist will bring to his rule, but also the lawlessness, disorder that will be in rebellion to God (Daniel 7:25).
The ten horns are most often interpreted as representing ten leaders’ rule over ten territories, but as the number ten signifies government, law and order, it is possible that the number represent a United Nations coalition, which will work to bring about a one world government, not necessarily just ten regions. However, the fact that the Antichrist subdues three kings does point to three individual leaders, rather than 30% of a global coalition.
Speak against the Most High (7:25a) … and try to change the set times and the laws (7:25b).
Daniel emphasises the blasphemous nature of the Antichrist when he writes:
“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” (25a)”
The Antichrist will be identified by his opposition to “The Most High and… His saints (KJV).” The man of sin will oppose the things of God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will be a blasphemer of the true God, Jesus and the Church (Revelation 13:5-6; Daniel 7:25), and he will call good evil and evil good. In his development of the New World Order the Antichrist will “change times and laws (Daniel 7:25),” to suit his own designs. His major thrust to establish a one-world-government will include attacks against Judea-Christian morality.
Daniel 7:25, is an extremely important revelation, of how the Antichrist will amend the Word of God with the wisdom of man. We see evidence of this taking place in the Roman Catholic Church, with the Roman Decretalia, which is an authoritative work in the Roman ecclesiastical law. Each Pope, when invested with the “succession,” declares the papal decretals to be true. “He (the Pope) can pronounce sentence and judgements in contradiction to the rights of nations, to the law of God and man… He can free himself from the commands of the apostles, he being their superior, and from the rule of the Old Testament” (de Transcat. Eriscop, cap).
Also, the Roman church claims that “The Pope has power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things even the precepts of Christ” (de Transcat. Eriscop, cap). Notice the wording of this quote matches the prophecy in Daniel 7, that points to the authority of the Antichrist. Daniel 7 refers to the Antichrist as a little horn, (a horn in the Bible is often a symbol of strength and authority [Psalm 89:24; 132:17]). This little horn will blaspheme God and persecute God’s people during the Tribulation, right up until the second coming of Jesus. The warning that the Antichrist will seek to change times and laws, points directly at the proclaimed authority of the Pope:
“The Pope will stand for reason, he can dispense above the law: and of wrong make right, by correcting and changing laws,” (Pope Nicholas, Dist. 96, quoted in “facts for the times”, pp 55, 1893).
Since becoming Pope in 2013 Pope Francis has revealed that he is following a liberal agenda, which is being built upon a globalist ideology. It seems that Pope Francis is laying a liberal foundation upon which the Antichrist will be able to build:
One world religion:
- In May 2013, Pope Francis made a statement that “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics”. When pressed for further clarification Pope Francis said “Even the atheists. Everyone!” The Pope is ignoring the weight of Scripture that is in direct opposition to his statement. Only those that profess a faith in Jesus as their Lord and saviour attain salvation: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Atheists, along with all other false religions, do not recognise Jesus as the Son of God who died on the cross for our sin, therefore the wrath of God “remains on (them)”.
One World Government:
- Pope Francis is a leading force behind the Social Gospel, which strives to eradicate poverty and bring about an equality for all mankind – a socialist one-world agenda. In November 2013 Pope Francis attacked consumerism and capitalism in a papal white paper, he wrote “today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” (Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, September 8, 2015 at 12:16 a.m. GMT+2). Note the goal of the Pope is not salvation for the lost, but a social justice.
- Pollution is a concern for all mankind, but climate change has been taken over by liberals and used as a tool for their globalist agenda. In June 2015 the Pope took a lead role in the climate change debate stating that pollution was a sin, so climate change is then a moral obligation. He called for an international agreement to combat global warming.
- In October 2019 the Amazon Synod was held in Rome. During a tree planting-ceremony in the Vatican Gardens, an idol of the South American pagan goddess Pachamama, who represents “mother earth,” was present. The Pope then made the statement that we all need to repent of our sins against “mother earth”. There is no “mother earth” in Christianity, we have a creator God.
Liberal attitude to LGBT rights:
- In January 2015 Pope Francis granted an audience to Diego Neria Lejarraga, a transgender man. During the meeting Lejarraga asked the Pope if there was a place in the church for him. Anthony Faiola, a journalist at the Washington Post, reported that the Pope’s response was to hug him.
- Then in July 2013 while on a on a flight back from his visit to Brazil, Pope Francis was questioned by journalists on his stance with regards homosexuals, his answer was: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
- Abortion for a Catholic is a very serious offence, referred to as “a mortal sin”. In September 2015 Pope Francis established a time period where woman who had abortions would be granted ‘mercy” to confess and receive absolution from their priest.
To conclude the analysis of verse 25, it is appropriate to take a look at typology:
For the individual studying the many prophetic indicators of the Antichrist and his actions, an understanding of typology is a very useful tool, giving clarification to prophecy. There are Biblical types of the Antichrist such as Pharoah, Goliath, Absalom, Herod and Judas that need to be studied. There are also historical types of the Antichrist such as Napoleon and Hitler. One historical type that helps understand how the Antichrist, a Jew from the line of David, would bring about changes to God’s Word, and persecute His own people, is a man named Karl Marx, the father of communism. “Marx founded an atheistic, humanistic monster that promised justice and alleviation of suffering in the human condition, only to unleash a tyranny that killed more people than Hitler and, second only to Hitler, was the most anti-Jewish force in human history. Yet it came from a Jew. Few things exhibit not only the spirit but the character and the working of Antichrist more than what Marx initiated, yet he was a Jew” (1).
- (1) James Jacob Prasch, Shadows of the Beast, Moriel Ministries, 2011. P431.
The saints will be under his domination for “time, times, and half a time”
“… and they (the saints) shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.” (Daniel 7:25b).
The warning that the Tribulation saints will face unopposed persecution from the Antichrist is stated earlier in chapter 7 when Daniel observes the Antichrist “(make) war with the saints and prevailed over them,” (Daniel 7:21).
The apostle John confirms this grim prophecy for Tribulation saints in the book of Revelation:
“Also he was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given him over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:7-8).
God allows the persecution of the saints as He has given authority to the Beast. The persecution ensures there is no sitting on the fence, you are either with the Antichrist or against him.
The book of Daniel is written for these persecuted saints, it is God’s letter to them in a time like no other. It is a time of the reign of the evil Antichrist, and a time of trumpets and bowls – God’s severe judgement on mankind. The message Daniel carries for these saints is clear – despite all the evidence to the contrary – God is in control. He raises up kings and nations, and He alone brings them down. He is able to take care of his faithful ones, even to the extent of their resurrection to an eternal Kingdom. Though the “little horn” is powerful, he is ultimately defeated by the intervention of Jesus, who will set up his own Kingdom which shall have no end:
“21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until 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” (Daniel 7:21-22).
Recurrent Time Segment in Daniel and Revelation
|Times, time and a half time (i.e. 1+2+0.5=3.5)||Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 12:14|
|42 months||Revelation 11:2; 13:5|
|1 260 Days||Revelation 11:3; 12:6|
Daniel 9 reveals that the Tribulation will be seven lunar years long, a lunar year being 360 days. As the Tribulation is divided into two periods of 3½ years, with the first 3½ years being a time of false peace under the Antichrist, and the second being the Great Tribulation, both Daniel and Revelation repeatedly reference the time period, using years, months and days. There can be no doubt that the Great Tribulation is a literal seven-year period. Thus, when John refers to a 1 000-year kingdom rule by Jesus in Revelation 20:6, this then must also be a literal period of time.
The Beast of Revelation 13
The Beast of Revelation 13 (a combination of all four Daniel 7 beasts) is the Antichrist, the false messiah (Matt. 24:5, John 5:43; 1 John 2:18). He is the final gentile world ruler, also known as the “little horn” (Dan. 7:8, 20, 21, 24) the wilful king (Dan. 11:36), the coming prince (Dan 9:26), and the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3).
Daniel and Revelation compared
|Empire||Statue (Daniel 2)||4 Beasts (Daniel 7)||Heads of the Beast (Revelation 13)|
|Babylon||Gold||The lion||One head|
|Media-Persia||Silver||The bear||One head|
|Greece – Turkey, Syria & Egypt||Bronze||The leopard||Four heads|
|Rome||Iron||The beast||One head (10 horns)|
|Total = 7 heads and ten horns|
The Beast of Revelation represents both king and kingdom. So, the beast (kingdom) will embody all the characteristics of the four world empires that made those empires successful – Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece (Turkey, Syria & Egypt) & Rome.
The beast is the personification of what Satan does with this world power and his throne.
Daniel’s vision of the Throne Room in Heaven (Daniel 7:9-14)
Daniel 7 may be divided into three parts:
- Daniel’s vision of the four beasts.
- Daniel’s vision of the throne room of God.
- The explanation of the vision.
In verse 9 there is a sudden move of focus from the little horn of the fourth beat, to the throne room of God. There is an immense contrast, from the counterfeit messiah, who in his efforts too gain world dominance will speak “boastfully,” to the true world power, the overseeing authority of the Ancient of Days, in His throne room in heaven. The message is clear, although a rampant beast is trampling down all, and a deceitful leader will arise to attempt to claim world supremacy, God is seated in His heavenly courtroom. It is He that is in control of events over all the empires of man, and it is He that will determine their judgement.
The Ancient of Days (7:9)
“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”.
There is always a large amount of symbolism associated with the descriptions in Scripture of God’s throne. God the Father is referred to as the “Ancient of Days” by Daniel, the title, and the depiction of Him with white hair, can give the misleading impression of a decrepit old man with grey hair. This is far from the truth. The use of “Ancient,” with the white hair combine to reveal the eternal nature, and all-knowing wisdom of God. The contrast is clear, empires come and go, but God is everlasting. The Psalmist makes this very clear writing: “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2). In the vision, God the Father is dressed in pure white clothing, along with His white hair which symbolises purity, holiness and righteousness. There is a strong similarity with the appearance of Jesus in Revelation 1:14, both have woolly white hair, a symbol of judgement. The burning eyes of Jesus seeing into the sinful hearts of mankind.
Just as the burning eyes of Jesus symbolise judgement, so too do the “fiery flames” that proceed from the throne of God. The presence of God was a pillar of fire for the nation of Israel in the wilderness, and is also seen in the vision as a formidable consuming fire, of purity, holiness and judgement (Exodus 3:2; 24:17; Hebrews 12:29). The wheels of the throne symbolise speed and mobility, God’s view of unfolding events is not restricted, or blinkered in one direction, He sees all and knows all. Nothing escapes God’s attention, so He is able to sit on the throne of judgement, and rule with an all-knowing wisdom.
A Throne of Judgement (7:10)
“A 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”.
Scripture never uses a number higher than ten thousand, but indicates extreme numbers by the multiplication of ten thousand, which is a hundred million (a billion). So, the multitude before the throne consists of a million doing service before the throne, and a billion standing and observing the proceedings. There are senior advisors who have taken their seats before the throne, anyone granted permission to sit before a king has high standing. Angels are never depicted as sitting, they are always serving, so these privileged members of the court must be raptured believers. To sit on thrones before God is one of the promises made to the Church by Jesus (Rev. 3:21), and Revelation 4:4 depicts 24 elders seated on 24 thrones. The multitudes before God’s throne, and the individuals standing, and those seated on thrones close to the throne of God, are common to both Daniel 7 and Revelation 4.
Verse 10 points directly to the White Throne Judgement of Revelation 20:11-15, Daniel is clear that these individuals “sit in Judgement,” while John sees the thrones as being given to those who had “authority to judge”. Then, Daniel saw that “books were opened,” and John makes the same claim while observing the proceedings of the White Throne judgement. John explains that one of the books opened was the “book of life,” revealing that this book contained all that those being judged had done during their lives – their life history. Scripture seems to indicate that there would be two other books open at the White Throne Judgement. The Bible which is God’s law and would be used to identify a life lived in rebellion to God and His Word. The third book would be the book recording all the names of those who have access to heaven through Jesus. The first book is the book recording an individual’s life, the third book is the book recording those who attained Grace from God, giving them eternal life.
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12).
The message is clear, there have been many great, ruthless leaders, who have sought to control and dominate territories and the people within. They have ruled as king of kings, as tyrants answering to no one, putting fear in the hearts of multitudes, but they are not the ones in control of world events. One day they will kneel before a greater throne than theirs, and submit to a righteous justice, and be held accountable for all they had done.
Visions of Heaven Compared
|Daniel’s Vision (Dan. 7)||John’s Vision (Rev. 4)|
|Multiple Thrones||24 Thrones|
|God – Ancient of Days||God – no title|
|White raiment, white hair||Jasper and sardine|
|Fiery thrones||24 thrones|
|Wheels of fire||7 lamps of fire|
|Fiery stream||Flashes of lightning, thunder|
|Thousands who minister||4 Living creatures|
|Ten thousand who stand before Him||24 Elders/ Sea of glass (sea = people)|
The Beast Is Slain and Thrown into the Fire (7:11-12)
“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. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time”.
Daniel now makes the link between the boastful “little horn” and the scene in heaven. The little horn continues to speak boastfully, but accountability is forthcoming. The Antichrist is defeated at Armageddon, and along with the False Prophet, they become the first two to be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20). There is also a link here to Revelation 18, as Daniel records the beast’s “body (is) destroyed and given over to be burned with fire”. The body of the fourth beast may also be connected with the city of Rome, “a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird” (Rev. 18:2), which is destroyed by fire (Revelation 18:8). The city of Rome being the capital of the fourth beast empire.
Daniel is given the vision of the four beasts by God, to warn the nation of Israel of the progression of empires that will rule over the promise land, and that their authority would be God ordained. The length of their rule would be determined by God, it was He that was in control, and the time allocated would only be a short while, so Israel should remain faithful and not lose heart. The vision moves on from world dominating empires, to a scene in heaven, which reveals that ultimately the Messiah would eventually come and defeat the kingdoms of the world, and then establish His Kingdom (Daniel 2:44; 7:13–14; Revelation 11:15).
One Like a Son of Man (7:13-14)
Daniel almost seems to be in a room with multiple big screen TVs, he is repeatedly saying “I looked,” when he describes a new revelation unfolding. It is like he has to turn and watch as the different TVs are tuned on to display each new clip. The next “clip” Daniel sees reveals the “Son of Man,” which is a term that carries great significance for Christians, as it is a title Jesus used for Himself. To fully understand the significance of this title, we need to refer to one of the most important passages in the Book of Daniel:
“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”.
The term “son of man’ is repeatedly used in the Old Testament as a way of expressing the humanity of a man, Ezekiel for example is repeatedly called “son of man” by God:
“[God] said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.'” (Ezekiel 2:1).
David also uses the term when recording Psalm 8:
“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4).
The term was the most common designation that Jesus used for Himself, He used it as a confirmation that He was the Messiah, He was making a Kesher (link to Old Testament scriptures) pointer to Daniel. For Daniel the vision would appear contradictory, he is viewing what appears to be a human figure, but this individual is treated as God, who after sitting in judgement is granted the Kingdom. Jesus when calling Himself “Son of Man” is therefore saying, “I am the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel’s prophecy!” And, He confirms this in His trial before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:64). The use of “The Son of Man” by Jesus to describe Himself was therefore an accurate indicator of who He was, yet it was ambiguous enough that the corrupt religious fraternity would not be able to accuse Him of blasphemy.
Coming with the Clouds of Heaven (7:13a)
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man”
Daniel in his vision sees what he describes as a human, a “son of man” before the “Ancient of Days”, but he is coming “with the clouds”. He is riding the cloud chariot, which Scripture reveals to us is the exclusive privilege of God alone, as is revealed in the following verses:
- “Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds – his name is the LORD – and rejoice before him.” (Psalm 68:4).
- He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” (Psalm 104:3b).
- “See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt.” (Isaiah 19:1a).
The divine link with clouds is also regularly attributed to Jesus: in Acts 1:9, Jesus ascends into a cloud. In I Thessalonians 4:17 the rapture raises saints to the presence of Jesus in the clouds. Jesus also refers to His return at the end of the Tribulation as “coming on the clouds”:
“They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30b; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27).
“You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62).
John in the book of Revelation confirms the return of Jesus with the clouds, writing:
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him….” (Revelation 1:7a).
“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one ‘like a son of man’ with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.” (Revelation 14:14a).
Into the Presence of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13b).
“ he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.”
in Daniel 7:9, we covered that the term “Ancient of Days” signifies the eternal nature, and all-knowing wisdom of God.
“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”.
This is clearly Adonai, our Lord and Father, clothed in pure white, while seated on a flaming throne. It is before this imposing vision of Almighty God, that the Son of Man makes His appearance and is worshipped! Therefore the Son of Man must be God as well.
He has all Authority and all Peoples Should Serve Him (7:14)
“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”.
On reading Daniel 7:14, there should be a “hallelujah” ringing in your heart, a joy of recognition that a crucified Christ is now victorious, being given dominion and glory by God the Father. Jesus will have His Kingdom, He will be seated on the throne of David, and all nations will serve Him.
Jesus confirmed He had attained this high status when He instructed the disciples that: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18b-19a). The Church is a part of the Kingdom on earth, our service to the honoured Son of Man, our Lord, starts now. We have the privileged position of servant, in the image of Jesus, the Son of God, who humbled Himself to become a servant. Then one day we will stand before the Bema Judgement seat and hear the words “well done my true and faithful servant”. Just as Jesus was elevated and honoured by God, so too will His faithful servants be elevated, and honoured with rewards.
The Everlasting Kingdom (7:26-28)
“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; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. 28 Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my colour changed (turned pale [NIV]), but I kept the matter in my heart.”
When I was completing a course on counselling, I was instructed that the word “but” was a “wipe out word,” it negates all that goes before it. So, in conversation with a person, when you have finished speaking, and the other person in response to your statement says “yes but,” that means all you have said is of no consequence to them. Notice the end of the explanation by the angel on the authority the Antichrist will receive, the angle then says “but”. There will be an accountability for the Antichrist – “the courts will sit in judgement”. The victory will be the Lord’s and He will establish His everlasting Kingdom. The Satanically empowered man may have great authority on earth But, he will be brought to nothing and face eternity in the Lake of Fire:
“I looked then because of the sound of the great (boastful [NIV]) 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. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.” (7:11-12).
There is also an emphasis at the end of the vision, that the Kingdom will be everlasting, Daniel 7:27 repeats the claim that was made in verse 14b, the final Kingdom established by God will be an Everlasting, Indestructible Kingdom (7:14b):
“His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
The start of Daniel 7 reveals the rise and fall of empires, man’s kingdoms are temporary, but the dominion of the “Son of Man,” is an everlasting dominion, that shall never pass away. There is no foe that can rise up to challenge His Divine Kingdom. The Rock of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, destroys the statue that represents the four kingdoms, the Rock then grows into a mountain that fills the earth. That Rock represents Jesus, there will be no more kingdoms of man, the Kingdom of God will endure forever (Dan. 2:44).
The vision of Daniel 7 could not end on a better note:
“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; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (verse 27).
The prophecy ends with a great victory for God, and His saints, with an everlasting Kingdom established, and the assurance that the Son of David, will rule the earth along with His saints.
There are three groups of people who benefit greatly from the message contained in Daniel 7:
- Daniel 7 carried an extremely important message for the Jews of Daniel’s day, outlining the rise and fall of the empires which God would allow to have authority over Israel. The message included the promise of the Messiah and the establishment of his Kingdom, a source of great hope for the downtrodden Jews, continually under the heel of Gentile rulers.
- For the Church, Daniel 7, is one of the most significant portions of prophetic scripture. There is much revealed: 2a). The rise and fall of Gentile empires. 2b) Rome being re-established as the end time power. 2c) The rise of the Antichrist and insights into his character, and his eventual destruction in the Lake of Fire. 2d) The confirmation that Jesus the “Son of Man,” is the Son of God, who is worshipped in heaven, and takes His place on the judgement throne next to the Ancient of Days. 2e) Of great encouragement for the Church is that the “Son of Man” will not only take His rightful place of authority, but also establish His everlasting Kingdom, and his Bride will reign with Him.
- A third group that will be greatly encouraged by Daniel 7 is the Tribulation saints, who will come to understand that God will allow the seven-year rule of the Antichrist. For these believers, this will mean that the evil tyrant will have authority over them, however, Daniel 7 will give them hope. “The saints will be handed over to [the Antichrist] for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever” (7:25b-26). Because man refuses to love the truth, God gives mankind over to deception – the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:11). God will draw a line in the sand – choose whom you serve! For the persecuted saints of the Tribulation, the message of Daniel 7 is that no matter their circumstances, God will still be in control, and so they must not compromise their faith. The kingdom of God will triumph in the End. These saints will know that God has set a time limit on their suffering, which is the 3½ years of the Great Tribulation, then He will deliver His people from persecution: “The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever, (YES) for ever and ever.” (7:17-18).
The key message for all three groups, is that God is in control, He is seated on His throne, and His hand is on world events. God is the judge over all the earth, He reigns supreme (Psalm 2; 82:8; 96:10; 110:6; Isaiah 2:4; Joel 3:12; Acts 17:31; Revelation 19:11; etc.).
The weight of the importance of Daniel 7 must not be underestimated. The Church must preach and teach eschatology. For the most part, the Church has been silent on the End Times warnings from God, and the accusation by the End Time’s Saints will be, “why did they not warn us?”
What we all have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. Though we may be frightened by world events that occur around us, like Daniel was by what he saw in the visions, God will strengthen us and enable us to go through what He requires of us. We will endure. The end of evil is certain. Jesus promised, “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Come soon, Lord Jesus!